As a kid, everyone has been fascinated with the great reptiles of the past. This can be from the smallest Oculudentavis (over half an inch long, and researchers think the animal was smaller than the bee hummingbird, the smallest known modern bird) to the largest of all the dinosaurs the Argentinosaurus (a long neck dinosaur that could get up to 110 ft and weigh over 220 tons). Every kid wanted to find a fossil or go see a museum to be awe-struck at one of these creatures from long ago. Most kids dreamed of hunting them more than anything else and thanks to Systemic Reaction, those dreams have come true with their newest release Second Extinction.
Second Extinction is a world ruled by hordes of mutated dinosaurs and you get to be part of a unit of one to three players tasked with stopping them from bringing upon the end of humanity. This 1 to 3player online co-op shooter takes place in short and mostly very intense combat operations. Not only do your actions help prevent the world from becoming a huge dino buffet but together with the rest of the community, this group effort will shape the course of the war against the dinosaurs altogether.
For me, while playing Second Extinction, I got a huge feeling of the games like Left 4 Dead or Vermintide from the co-op mechanics of the gameplay. I also got a classic Turok feeling as well but mostly because of the dinosaurs. Second Extinction is very forward with the co-op experience at its core. Now that doesn’t mean you can not play this solo. I tried that many times, but I will be straight with you, I failed almost everything I tried to do. The game for just a solo player is so hard and difficult that you need a crew to help bring these behemoths down. Systemic Reaction states that they want you to gather two of your friends and just mow down a bunch of mutated overgrown and very angry reptiles in this entertaining FPS. And man they give you a ton of unlockable and customizable weapons and gear to wipe out all would-be threats.
Now when it comes to the missions in Second Extinction, they are pretty self-explanatory. It is as simple as dropping in with a group of two of your comrades and completing a bunch of tasks that will have you exploring various parts of the fully explorable map. Then the hard part of course is to survive long enough to be extracted from the safari so that you can then retrieve your rewards. Each of these missions can take as little as 10 minutes or up to 20 minutes to complete on Normal difficulty. Then when you bump the difficulty up, the time will increase drastically. And if you try to do these solo without 2 more players, you may as well add another 10 minutes to almost 45 minutes per the difficulty setting. With every successful extraction, you’ll receive a score based on your performance. Depending on this score, you’ll get collected research points, and these will help you with upgrading gear, weapons and even leveling up.
My squad found out a nice little trick to get the most out of the rewards and a better chance of acquiring the rare resources required for certain weapon upgrades. These extraction points are ideal for dragging out and slaying hundreds or thousands of dinosaurs instead of jumping on the dropship. Farming the extraction on Insane for upwards of 45 minutes is incredibly rewarding on the resource and experience front, and despite the endless waves of enemies, with the right loadout and utilizing the unlimited supply of ammo pickups, it’s easy to survive and leave when you’re ready or if things are getting a little too hectic.
When it comes to characters, this is where knowing how you play and who your friends are playing becomes very interesting. There are five playable characters to choose from in Second Extinction, each with unique passive, tactical, and special abilities that are worth exploring before deciding who best matches the player’s play style. I had the most fun playing when I was Jürgen Winter. He considers himself to be a big game hunter and is a master marksman. He has three abilities that I enjoyed the most. With his Low Profile and Mask Scent abilities, I was able to sneak up on even the most alert prey and start picking them off while my other two squad members got into position.
There are seven regions of the map to explore and each one has a threat level indicator that is either low, medium, or high. Depending on the severity of the threat the dinosaur presence may be lesser or greater, camps to claim may or may not be occupied by dinosaurs, and insertion or extraction points may not be available until they are repaired. Regions with high threat levels also have Emergence Events which seem so far limited to Overmutation, an area that contains large eggs that need to be destroyed that is occupied by a large number of raptors. Presumably, more variety will come over time but for now, this is the only one I’ve come across in my experience.
With all this game has going for it, I did find some of the game to be uninspiring. First off, there is a small variety of dinosaurs to eliminate. So far I have found only 4 unique dinosaur types with a handful of variations to each one with their abilities that are different. Some can shoot electricity while others can spit acid for instance. There are seven variants of raptors, two types of Styracosaurus, known in-game as Bulls and two types of the Ankylosaurus referred to in-game as Flatbacks that accompany the Tyrannosaurus Rex for a total of twelve enemy types.
An issue that I ran into was that every once in a while I would lose all my gained experience and levels and also would lose my weapons. So then we would have to redo missions again to regain all of the resources that we lost to recreate items and gear that we already had. I think this happened three times in the course of my playing the game.
Second Extinction is visually appealing with a great and soundtrack. The environment looks decent, and the enemy designs are cool and interesting even if there’s only very little here and there. The score is dramatic at the right times and the sound effects are satisfying, especially the first time you hear the all mighty and powerful Tyrannosaurus Rex roar.
Second Extinction is pretty rough around the edges in terms of its gameplay, mission variety, and enemy diversity but because it’s still in Game Preview, there is plenty of room for it to grow and adapt to player feedback. They take feedback very seriously on the Discord servers that they visit with players on multiple times a week. There are still disconnection issues, and for me, the biggest problem was when my two friends were not able to be on trying to join another 2 people to run with. There were many times that I waited for over 20+ minutes and still was not able to get in and play with a group.
With all that said, I think that Second Extinction is moving in the right direction. With tweaks here and there and more enemies and ideas coming forward, this game could be a great time killer. For anyone that likes playing games like Left 4 Dead, this would be ideal once the game comes to full fruition. Instead of killing hordes of zombies like most games are nowadays, take a step into the bigger game hunting and slaughter million-year-old reptiles. Second Extinction is available on PC right now through Steam for $24.99 and on Xbox Game Pass for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Series S.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Second Extinction for the PC provided by Avalanche Studios Group and Systemic Reaction.