The short answer: No, Tarkov is not real. But there are some real-world inspirations for locations in the game. Most notably is this sanatorium in Strelna near St. Petersburg acting as inspiration for the Shoreline Resort in-game.
Then there’s the case of the Mega Parnassus Mall, also located in Saint Petersburg, which heavily inspired the map Interchange.
Complete with local construction, a distant factory, and a set of very familiar-looking temporary walls.
For now, though, that’s all we can really confirm. However, BattleState Games, the studio behind Escape From Tarkov, has also provided a pretty extensive background for Tarkov available on their community forum.
The Story So Far
The Norvinsk Region Special Economic Zone is established as a commercial gateway between Russia and the rest of Europe.
Tarkov is the city at the center of the Norvinsk Region and booms with commercial success. Shipping lanes open up through newly constructed ports and railways, and industry booms with the inclusion of chemical, clothing, and electronics manufacturing. This success attracts foreign companies and soon Tarkov has all the same boons of most major cities.
But with success comes corruption, as foreign interests such as the TerraGroup start pushing for access to more land and with fewer restrictions. Due to the Norvinsk Region being governed separately from the rest of Russia, this corruption goes on long enough that TerraGroup Labs is able to construct several secret facilities in the area before the government is able to crack down and start keeping track of things.
Once the Russian Government is able to take more direct control of the city, TerraGroup has already begun to use the American private security company USEC as a small private army, covering their tracks and preventing investigation by whatever means necessary. Reporters go missing, a few police officers are found dead, and eventually, there’s an open gunfight in the streets. In response, the BEAR security company, allegedly formed under order of the Russian government, is brought in by the local authorities to assist in stopping the violence and investigating corruption. While everything is focused on TerraGroup, evidence pops up around USEC assisting other foreign companies with illicit dealings. BEAR and USEC may be fighting unofficially, but the political situation around Tarkov keeps growing.
Eventually, the local government makes a move to shut down USEC and TerraGroup’s operations, and this turns into a city-wide lockdown. The fighting escalates, people are evacuated and all hell starts to break loose. Looting, riots, the works, all the while TerraGroup is still violently protecting their research. With most of the population evacuated, the streets are lawless, gangs form, and all that’s left are those scavengers looking to make a buck for themselves in the chaos, and the PMC operatives still trying to bury or dig up TerraGroup’s dirty secrets.