Title: Second Extinction – Early Access
Developer: Systemic Reaction
Publisher: Systemic Reaction
Genre: Co-op First-Person Shooter
Available on: PC
Official Site: https://www.secondextinctiongame.com/
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Where to Buy: Steam Store
We’ve all seen the casual theme among the co-op shooter genre. Either you’re blasting away at hordes of zombies, or slaughtering otherworldly creatures in your quest for gold or glory. That may seem like I’m not giving those games much credit, but it’s a tried and true method for this type of game. Left 4 Dead, Deep Rock Galactic, Warhammer Vermintide, all of these series or titles have clear use of this idea. But what if we were to find an adversary in older times rather than modern or otherworldly settings? That’s the exact hole that Second Extinction attempts to fill, a co-op dinosaur shooter from indie developer Systemic Reaction. You’d likely know them from their open-world survival game Generation Zero.
Venturing Into Second Extinction’s World
Second Extinction takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth much different than the one we’re familiar with. On this Earth, dinosaurs have re-emerged stronger than ever, pushing humanity to the brink of extinction. Those who remain are part of the Emergency Response Agency or ERA for short. This space-faring agency has gathered up the last of what humanity has left and has tasked you, the Extinction Unit, to take on the dinosaur forces and reclaim Earth. Across various missions, you’ll help rebuild the ERA’s forces and work towards a brighter future for the human race.
One of the first things you’ll notice in Second Extinction, like most games out there, is the graphical fidelity. While this definitely isn’t the game’s strong suit, it can create some decent setpieces of the wide world you inhabit. It helps too that each location has variance in its design, with infested lands filled with dinos and mountainous regions alike. While you won’t be wowed by the game’s beauty, its ability to create an atmospheric world is worth commendation. Being able to sense not only the remnants of what was once civilization but the true power of the dinos is incredible.
The Sounds of Apocalypse
This is of course supplemented by some somewhat good sound design. The game’s tracks are nothing to run home about, but the sounds portray that weight you’d expect from shooters. Heavy weapons feel intense, precision weapons feel heavy, and your standard offerings all have exactly what you’d hope for. Even some of the dino’s roars, including that of the T-Rex featured on the main art, feel the amount of power they should.
On the contrary, some of what you hear from your own teammates could use a little work. You have a diverse cast of characters by all means, but they don’t feel like a team of seasoned fighters that are more than just teammates. They more feel like different soldiers that don’t really care about those around them. To clarify my point, take Left 4 Dead’s characters for example. They have their own dialogue for sure, but there’s the banter between them as well that makes them feel like friends rather than solo fighters. Second Extinction lacks that banter, so you’re left hearing the characters talk to themselves. It makes things admittedly a little awkward.
The Fluidity of Second Extinction’s Gameplay
But above all else, Second Extinction will likely be remembered for its movement and gunplay more than anything. It remains a rather grounded shooter with the most unrealistic ability being a sideways dash but otherwise feels very fluid and fast-paced. Booking it across the battlefield while gunning down dinosaurs feels equally satisfying and clean due to some great animations. It all intertwines together so well, making the moment-to-moment fights a joy. Admittedly sometimes it can be janky jumping up onto ledges, but where it gets it right overshadows that rather minor flaw.
It does somewhat well in the region of customizing your character as well. You can pick your starting equipment and weapons which have a good variety, but where it really shines is in the weapon upgrades. The system lets you get a specific amount of tokens, which you can then use on stat boosts and perks for that specific weapon. It’s a great system, allowing you to tailor each weapon to exactly how you want to use it. It’d just be nice if this was available for characters as well. It feels like a missed opportunity when you could easily make numerous upgrades to each character’s abilities and passive. Not something impossible to implement in Early Access, but it’s still a shame to be lacking.
The More Worrying Aspects
The weakest area by far, and the most worrying, is Second Extinction’s mission design. There are six missions you can head on, each providing different objectives and letting you complete side objectives around the game world. You can also go into Expedition mode, which forgoes the main missions for strictly venturing out and completing side missions. This is all fun at first until you realize every objective stays in the same place on every mission. While I’m not saying this isn’t feasible to fix during Early Access, it worries me that the game is already this repetitive. In its current state, it wouldn’t be surprising if you feel you’ve seen everything after the first few hours.
Finally, there’s Second Extinction’s polish. It’s nothing in comparison to Cyberpunk 2077, but that doesn’t make it great either. Your game will crash, objectives will bug forcing you to restart, and numerous other glitches are rampant. It is Early Access so it wouldn’t be a shock to see this immensely improved, but keep it in mind if you plan to drop into the Early Access period. It’s nowhere near a polished experience.
Verdict: Second Extinction offers a solid shooter experience that has its great moments. There is a wonderful world and premise to explore, with enjoyable moment-to-moment gunplay to boot. There’s even an intuitive customization system, letting you tailor the experience further to your playstyle. Despite that, it lacks the intricate details that make this genre what it is. There just isn’t as much personality and depth as one could hope for, combined with a lack of polish. Despite that, I’m optimistic about the future of Second Extinction. If the issues listed are fixed during Early Access, this could be a formidable co-op shooter.