Everyone, apart from perhaps Ian Malcom, loves dinosaurs. They provide a window to a past that’s utterly alien to the world we know, requiring intense creative thought to picture their huge bodies actually roaming the Earth. They are exceedingly, unequivocally cool, but you might feel a bit differently once you’ve come into contact with the mutated dinosaurs of Second Extinction. No matter how cool they might be, they all want to turn you into dinner, or maybe second breakfast.
Having appeared amongst the titles shown off by Microsoft as part of the Xbox Series X software lineup – it’s also coming to Xbox One and PC – Second Extinction immediately stood out thanks to its high-end visuals and the fact that you get to shoot bullets at dinosaurs. It’s hardly high concept, but the game’s near-future setting where mutated dinos have reclaimed the Earth basically gives the perfect excuse for a visceral co-op shooter. It takes cues from Left 4 Dead and Turok to bring us something that could already be a highlight of the next generation’s lineup.
You’re welcomed to this world by Director Pearce of the ERA, who tells us that together we’re going to reclaim the Earth. What he really means is that you and two friends are going to have a go at reclaiming the Earth over and over again, as you fight against the increasingly agitated dinosaur hordes with some like-minded adventurers.
There’ll be four Heroes available as the game enters Early Access this month, with each bringing a separate set of unique and powerful skills which will hopefully help you and your team on the way to assured dinosaur destruction.
Each character can take out a main weapon and a secondary one, with a host of different options available, and within that you can upgrade each of them to become even more powerful, with unique ammo types opening up as you move through each weapon’s upgrade tree. There’s also your character’s Payload, which is a special ability that you can choose from a limited selection, giving you access to ammo or equipment drops or a barrage-style missile attack. As a team you can choose complimentary loadouts to give you the best chance of success.
First up I picked Rosy for my preview playthrough. A tank class character, she boasts tons of health and an insanely powerful minigun that chews through mutated dinosaurs faster than a hungry velociraptor. Alongside her is Amir, an Operative which is Second Extinction’s support class, and then a pair of Trooper’s in the shape of Ortega and Jürgen who fulfil the classic all-round soldier slots. More characters are going to be added in the course of the game’s journey to full release, but straight off the bat these are a likeable bunch of characters and I’m sure at least one of them will be a welcome companion through Early Access.
Once you’re locked in with your loadout, it’s time to get locked into a drop pod and fired down to the surface of the Earth. The remains of humanity have had to evacuate the planet while those pesky dinosaurs have had their fun, and Second Extinction is nailing its sci-fi trappings with flair.
Your team of three can then set out to take on whatever mission or objective you have set up. Second Extinction is a live game, and the seven regions on the map face an ongoing push and pull between humanity and the dinosaurs. Different areas appear on the map showing the current level of threat, and how tough an encounter will be there, with players having to combat that on an ongoing basis, trying to bring an area back under control.
Within that there are Emergence events, where an area can fall completely under the control of the dinosaurs and players across the world will have to team up in a community effort to bring it back under control. These might happen every week, or more or less frequently, but whenever they do appear they’re going to form a focal point for all Second Extinction players.
The dino-shooting action is of course the heart of the game, and Systemic Reaction has already crafted a system that feels fantastic, with movement and gunplay feeling fast and fulfilling. Those Left 4 Dead vibes are strong as you work together as a team to take on the increasingly aggressive, and increasingly large, toothy-types. From the fodder of mutated Velociraptors to huge, glowing Ankylosaurus, they all look exactly as you’d hope, bringing those classic dinosaurs to life in new and terrifying ways.
Systemic Reaction are clearly putting the plans in place for a live game that’s going to continue to evolve, and pull players back week in, week out. Alongside the Emergence events, and growing characters, weapons and Contracts, The War Effort is a community-led meta game, and depending on how players play the game will influence various changes to the game world and Second Extinction’s future.
If you’re looking for a new, next-gen co-op shooter, Second Extinction should be heading straight to the top of your most wanted list. From the incredible mutated dinosaurs trying to tear you to pieces, to the weighty, team-centric gunplay, this is a game surely set for success in the future while pulling on the best parts of the past.