Second Extinction for Xbox and PC preview: A roaring good time

Second Extinction Key Art
Second Extinction Key Art (Image credit: Systemic Reaction)

Months after its reveal on Inside Xbox earlier in 2020, the cooperative shooter Second Extinction. A team of up to three players takes on hordes of dinosaurs, is finally available for the first time through Steam's Early Access program. Curious to see what the game was all about, I jumped in with some squadmates — and after seeing what Second Extinction has to offer out of the gate, I'm confident that it will grow into an excellent title that Xbox and PC players alike will love.

Life has found its way

At its core, Second Extinction is best described as ordered chaos; hordes of countless mutated dinosaurs rush you nearly at all times, but with the wide array of tools and weapons at your team's disposal, you can effectively thin out the reptile armies. There are four classes to choose from: a support expert that focuses on bursts of damage and highlighting targets for the team, a long-range sniper who can pick off targets with critical hits, an area denial tank that can hold down chokepoints with a minigun and electric fences, and an evasive trooper who can dish out consistent punishment while bobbing and weaving in and out of combat. All four classes have their strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out how to work together with teammates to make the most of your abilities is great fun. After each mission, you get an opportunity to upgrade your weapons as well, which will improve your combat prowess next time you go into the field.

Good teamwork isn't just fun, though — it's necessary. The dinosaurs that have taken over Earth are no slouches in combat, and each one of them poses a unique threat. Aside from your basic raptor that charges you head-on, there are some interesting dinosaur variations. For example, one type of raptor is covered in a chitin-like substance that serves as armor, and it requires focus fire to take down quickly. Another type of raptor spits corrosive balls of saliva at you, dealing damage-over-time. One type of raptor even shocks you with electricity, stunning you briefly and interrupting your actions.

Often, though, the raptors are just playing support for the bigger threats (literally). One large dinosaur, a giant triceratops-like beast with an armored head, charges directly at you at high speed, forcing you to dodge or take heavy damage. Another, an ankylosaurus with a spiky, armored shell, tanks damage done to most of its body unless you can find a way to flip it onto its back and expose its stomach. Finally, the iconic t-rex can rip apart isolated players in seconds and require effective, coordinated targeting of its weak spot to eliminate. Combined with their wide array of raptor allies, these dinosaurs are quite a challenge and add plenty of thrill to the experience.

A unique approach

Source: Systemic Reaction (Image credit: Source: Systemic Reaction)

Something unique to Second Extinction is how it approaches level design. While most cooperative shooters are linear in nature, Second Extinction takes place in a semi-open world where players can choose to approach each mission however they want. Want to land across the map from your objective and take an epic combat-filled journey through dangerous areas to it? You can. Want to just land in a safer area right by the objective? You can do that, too. This freedom is cool, and it allows you and your friends to enjoy the game at your own pace.

The non-linear design is helped by the diverse play space. There's everything from mountain ranges to abandoned towns on the map, and each one of these locations provides a unique backdrop for your dino-slaying. Going through each area and figuring out how to best use the terrain against the dino horde feels awesome, and the game's dynamic weather system ensures that no area will ever look or feel the exact same if you return to it later.

There's room for improvement, but that's expected

Source: Systemic Reaction (Image credit: Source: Systemic Reaction)

While there are definitely many things that Second Extinction could use — for example, some extra polishing, more weapons, and more dinosaurs — that kind of thing is expected from an Early Access game, and the foundation that developer Systemic Reaction has created is excellent. As the game develops over time, I'm sure that it will only get better with stuff like more content, features, and quality-of-life improvements.

The game, while exclusively available on PC for now, will also be available for Xbox consoles later down the line, including both the Xbox One family of consoles as well as the next-gen Xbox Series X and Xbox-Series-S. With the aforementioned improvements made to Second Extinction, I can easily see it becoming one of the best Xbox shooters.

Second Extinction is available for $25 on Windows 10 PCs right now. You can get a Steam code for it on GreenManGaming for $20, thanks to a sale.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.