On the heels of Tarkov's worst week ever, a new rival extraction shooter is looking to woo its disgruntled audience

In Gray Zone Warfare, an assault rifle-wielding private military contractor advances through a field. Other combatants follow behind, while a scout helicopter flies in the distance.
(Image credit: Madfinger Games)

Tactical FPS Gray Zone Warfare is set to launch in early access tomorrow⁠. It's an exciting release given this shooter's mashup of Arma-style milsim realism and extraction gameplay, but the recent upheaval around Escape From Tarkov's monetization catastrophe has all eyes on Gray Zone as a potential Tarkov killer.

There's plenty of other heat in the extraction shooter realm right now, but Tarkov carved out a special niche with its highly realistic, modern military aesthetic and gameplay: time to kill in Tarkov is extremely fast, and bullet wounds have to be attended to lest you bleed out, leading to firefights that are as much about situational awareness and getting the drop on foes as they are fast twitch aiming. Underpinning that knife's edge combat is an unforgiving, winner-take-all scavenger economy that turns every decision into a risk-reward gamble.

Gray Zone seems to promise something similar, albeit with a tropical setting and more generic Private Military Contractor-core vibe as opposed to Tarkov's distinct brand of post-Soviet desolation. Gray Zone Warfare was already on our resident milsim-likers' radars, including getting a spot as part of PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted showcase last November, but Tarkov's week in crisis makes the release of a promising Tarkov-alike all the more noteworthy.

In my book, $150 is a lot to ask for a game, but Tarkov dev Battlestate went and unveiled a $250 version of its early access shooter, one with exclusive content $150 pack purchasers (who were promised "all future DLC") wouldn't get. That went about as well as you might expect, and Battlestate finally relented after days of digital rioting on the official Tarkov Discord, granting $150 players access to the exclusive mode that drew the most ire.

But goodwill is still at an all-time low, making this an opportune time for an upstart like Gray Zone to eat Tarkov's lunch⁠—provided developer Madfinger can actually bring the goods. One thing that makes me nervous is a chart in the Steam gallery of various Gray Zone Warfare purchase options ranging from a  $35 "Standard Edition" to a $100 "Supporter" package with exclusive in-game gear⁠—that's not quite up to the level of Tarkov's $150 and $250 monsters, but it does rhyme.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.