Developer: Systemic Reaction
Publisher: Systemic Reaction
Website: Second Extinction | Co-op Action FPS from Systemic Reaction (secondextinctiongame.com
Genre: Adventure, Shooter, Action
Platform: Xbox Series X (Also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 28/04/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Get Ready for a Ride through Prehistoric Times!
Imagine placing Turok and Left For Dead in a blender and firing it up. As a result, Second Extinction is born. I remember when the very first trailer for Second Extinction was shown and the concept was immediately appealing. Pushing itself as a cooperative first-person shooter with up to three players, the main aim is to tackle mutated dinosaurs that have taken over the planet. Now, it is worth noting that Second Extinction has been in early access on PC since the tail end of 2020. This has been fortunate to allow for some thorough testing of the title to build the foundations for the future of Second Extinction.
Second Extinction successfully launched on Xbox consoles on 28th April 2021 and covers itself with the “Game Preview” blanket. Essentially this means that the game isn’t yet finished and is still in several stages of testing and production for a complete product. Whilst the game isn’t completely done there is a hugely satisfying game here to be tried and tested. With it being exclusive to Xbox and PC, the bonus is that if you have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you can download it for no extra cost. Developed and published by System Reaction, this is the same team that bought you Generation Zero.
I’ll get this out of the way nice and early and state that if you’re looking for a deep intuitive campaign with an engaging narrative, then this isn’t that game. If you are looking for that horde-esque type experience where teamwork and communication are vital, then keep reading. After passing through the first cutscene then I would recommend jumping into the short tutorial. This will take no more than ten minutes to complete and will teach you the basics. If you’re a veteran of the first-person shooter world like me and don’t want to be told how to reload and fire, then maybe skip this by.
Modes, Upgrades and Abilities
At the time of writing, there are two main modes to choose from: Mission Select and Expedition. They are both are straightforward. Mission Select does what it says on the tin, you’ll be able to select from various objectives to battle the waves of dinosaurs before your eyes. Expedition is the far more casual approach, allowing you to explore the huge world map at your own pace with your mates, gathering materials and loot along your casual merry way. The development team have indicated that a Horde mode is arriving in September 2021. With another mode to sink your claws into, it is fantastic that the focus on additional content is right into the future.
Before you start any mode you’ll be faced with the dilemma of what character to choose. With five to choose from at present, they all have different weapons and special abilities to boast. Rosy, the first character on the list has a minigun as her main weapon which packs a punch. Alongside this, she can heal her teammates and also has protective qualities about her. I’ll leave you to discover what delightful weapons and powerful abilities the remaining four characters possess. I wouldn’t like to ruin the element of surprise and it is always satisfying to discover these fresh factors in a game like Second Extinction for the very first time.
Cleverly, they have the balance between the individual characters nailed. They complement each other in different ways. For instance, one could use a power to blast a barrage of dinosaurs away temporarily whilst Rosy triggers her healing charge. It is really important to feel natural balance in a game of this calibre and the developers have created some excellent character models and special abilities within them. It almost gave me that Apex Legends vibe, they had a sense of identity beyond the gun you see on the screen.
The Foundations Are Set!
The most important part of a shooter is the gunplay mechanics. How the weapons handle and feel are critical to longevity in a game like this. I’m happy to say that the core shooting feels great, you have a real sense that there is power behind the weapon you’re wielding. Recoil didn’t seem to be a major issue and the vibration feedback to the controller was spot on. No complaints in the weapons department from me whatsoever.
You’ll be pleased to hear that there is the option to upgrade the weapons as you progress through the world. Using the loot and items you’ve acquired through Second Extinction you’ll get the opportunity to fine-tune your guns. With only six weapons at the time of writing and more imminent, you can enhance them through three separate skill trees.
Impact, stability and handling are what form these three skill trees. It is a slow and steady process as you choose your focus on what you want to upgrade and attempt to maximise the upgrades fully. This is where longevity appears in the game, the grinding element of looting to tick off those boxes. It becomes an addictive rinse and repeat factor if that’s your bag, but it doesn’t have to be.
There is currently only one map, but that map is vast in size with several areas to uncover and explore. Environmentally it was sound with snowy hills and mountains with deep caves and crevices to explore. What I appreciated was the weather cycle, one minute it could be hammering with rainfall and the next sun glistening through the trees.
Round up Your Friends!
If you have played Generation Zero then I’d put it on a par with this in terms of graphics. It is aesthetically pleasing but doesn’t go the extra mile to stand out. What I mean by this is, the attention to detail is all about the dinosaurs. They are the bread and butter of Second Extinction and the developers have done an excellent job with the design process of these prehistoric beasts. Whether it is a small but freakishly fast-paced bunch of raptors, or a heavily armoured Ankylosaurus, there is a real variance in design.
You have to be on your guard at all times as dinos can appear from anywhere at any time. Before you know it you become swamped and have to react to the moment. The only downfall with the world map being quite so large is the amount of running you have to do. Yes, the dinosaurs keep you busy in-between, but a few extra side quests or objectives en route wouldn’t go amiss. Again, this is simply something the development team have in mind for future updates.
Another factor to note is that it is near impossible to play as a solo experience. You can play this alone but as I found, you won’t get very far by yourself. No matter how hard you try, you become drowned in a sea of dinos. This could easily be rectified with some tweaks to the regeneration and intensity of the waves.
Overall I’ve had an absolute blast with Second Extinction and we all have to agree that this is still early days for the game. There are some rock-solid foundations for it to become one of the best co-op shooters on the market within time. Their roadmap for the future appears both intriguing and promising. They have aced the gunplay, dinosaurs and the upgrade system within the weaponry. I’m hoping that over time they can flesh out the world map with more to engage with, e.g. variance of extra locations to explore and potentially some secrets and maybe hidden items to uncover.
There is a slight blandness in that respect, but I have to salute that they have the core mechanics firmly in place. Another question mark I have dangling above my head is longevity. I’ve sunk near twenty hours into Second Extinction and almost ticked everything off the list that requires to be done. I’ve enjoyed my time that much with the game that I want to have a reason to persist. There is so much opportunity and capability still with Second Extinction and I feel this is just the beginning. I urge everyone with friends online to give this your time as it is unique and magnificent in its own right. Just promise to remember the words “Game Preview” whilst you’re pumping rounds into a Velociraptor’s head, won’t you now?
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can buy Second Extinction on the Xbox Store.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.