Second Extinction is a game that makes great sounds on paper. Developed by a small veteran studio within Just Cause creator Avalanche Studios, this is a Left 4 Dead-style co-op shooter that lets players fight an army of vicious dinosaurs.
There’s a lot of excitement, but unfortunately SecondExtinction hasn’t yet responded to the possibility. Fortunately, it’s still an Early Access title, so there’s still plenty of time for Systemic Reaction to reach its full potential.
Let’s take a closer look at what has been available so far. The base game currently comes with 6 missions and 4 operators. Each operator has his own set of weapons and abilities, from heavy characters carrying machine guns to agile snipers for stealth. These distinct characters are well-balanced and show how Second Extinction fits into team play.
All six missions in the game are set on one large map featuring areas of different difficulty levels. Each mission works like a Left 4 Dead mission, with an evolving number of objectives to take players to larger areas. However, Left 4 Dead creates suspense by the AI director massaging the pace of the campaign, while Second Extinction flattens and relies too much on hordes of dinosaurs to reach players while running for many purposes. I can’t challenge.
My first big problem with Second Extinction came from that balance. Obviously a cooperative game, but instead of having a party with other players, you have the option to play alone. That’s what I first tried to try out how the game works and understand the basic gameplay system before jumping into multiplayer. This was a big mistake. Second Extinction is designed entirely with co-op in mind, and the hordes of dinosaurs far outnumber you, making it nearly impossible to play on your own. This can easily be fixed by balancing the number of dinosaurs, but at this point the options are virtually redundant.
That leads to my second problem. That means the number of players has already been scammed. Until November, Second Extinction decreased. The simultaneous player peak in November was 404, down from the peak of 2,000 in October. At the speed at which Second Extinction is losing its player base, it quickly becomes virtually unplayable – if you do, it will be extinct. Early Access games go through mountains and valleys depending on the number of active players, but this is a real problem and can be difficult to solve with a focus on co-op multiplayer.
Weapon upgrades and a contract system add some depth to the game, giving players additional goals and motivations to repeat missions. Unfortunately, I don’t think these systems are enough to make the game itself interesting. The mission itself feels like a busy, unstimulated job in a barely noticeable environment where you do almost nothing on good assumptions. However, this does not mean that Second Extinction is unlikely.
The design of the dinosaurs is amazing. There are some truly intriguing enemies that look pretty good while presenting a variety of challenges to the player. By balancing, I think dinosaur involvement is much more enjoyable and less frustrating. The character design is also noteworthy, with a very diverse mix of four different characters and builds. Each character has its own passive, tactical, and special abilities that even help with the possibility of combat.
At the moment, Second Extinction is an interesting concept, and it hasn’t reached what it is possible. Fortunately, Avalanche Studios’ past experience with the Just Cause series may be what the game needs to do to meet player expectations, but only time is known.