Second Extinction, a game where you mow down armies of dinosaurs with mini-guns, is now on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. Game Pass members can jump in starting today, thanks to Xbox Game Preview. But will they want to? Game Pass is already a winning platform full of quality titles and classic favorites. As another co-op focused shooter, Second Extinction has a lot to prove – even more so when you consider it’s an Early Access game. To see if this new evolution has what it takes to survive, we’re giving it a second look.
In our first preview, Eric Switzer wrote that “If firing a mini-gun into a crowd of velociraptors sounds like your kind of fun, Second Extinction is 100% as advertised.” The variety of abilities and equipment for fighting dinos made for a strong core. However, he also found that he played most of the available content within six hours. Second Extinction incentivizes players to keep going with unlockable weapon skins and progression through upgrades. But with only one map and six missions, he wasn’t keen to revisit the same gameplay just to keep grinding.
Now that Second Extinction is coming to Xbox, it’s… still just one map. And, according to the official roadmap, it’s going to stay that way. Instead, the developers plan to add depth to the game through new modes, weapons, and enemy types. Two of the planned updates, have taken place since Eric shared his thoughts, and one of these aims to improve upon the repetitiveness that turned him off.
Expedition Mode is the most impactful of these changes. It’s a free-roam style of gameplay where you’re not bound by any one mission, but instead can choose from various quests that reveal themselves as you explore. While it’s still the same map, same spawn points, and same enemies, it does help you tailor the experience to your desires.
For me, it allowed me to get some fun out of solo play. Second Extinction is very much made for co-op. Everyone from the developers to the PR people warned that it can be excruciatingly challenging when you go it alone. The game backs that up by throwing a lot of dinosaurs at you. Even in the low danger zones, against a simple pack of raptors, enemies are constantly launching themselves at you like bullets out of a machine gun. Unlike games like Left 4 Dead, though, the basic enemies aren’t dumb. Raptors will jump side to side, cover themselves with armored plating, and launch toxic slime at you from a distance. Sometimes all three in one encounter.
The missions often happen in the high-danger areas, which were a death sentence to my lonely low level character. They also just eat up a lot of time as even one combat encounter was a desperate struggle against a dino army. Expedition Mode allows me to grind out some upgrades on more manageable tasks and leave whenever I feel like it. There’s also Contracts, which are this game’s take on seasonal quests for limited-time rewards. Weapon skins are typically the prize here. Xbox players missed out on the first few seasons, but will get exclusive events to allow them to earn these rewards.
Another way in which the developers are trying to keep things fresh is through introducing new enemy types. The latest are “necrotic” enemies that infect players with a damaging, impairing purple goop. The scariest of these is a “flatback,” which is the name Second Extinction gives to the Ankylosaurs. These slam into you and knock you down, and that combined with the necrotic toxin is a devastating blow. Taking these bad boys down requires good teamwork and positioning, and is a great example of Second Extinction at its best.
Using every tool to your advantage remains fun, and only gets better when tougher dinos show up. Drop pods play a big role in the gameplay, as the most reliable way to restock on ammo and medkits is to call them in from orbit. Missions also frequently require calling in drop pods to stash hard drives, raptor eggs, and other valuables. The first time you learn that drop pods do kill enemies is a treat, and watching raptors go fling as a pod takes off is still fun for me hours later. Our first preview pointed out that the constant waiting for pods slows the game down, which I can see. But the fact that they’re weaponized helps make up for it.
Yet where there’s a lot of cool new additions, Second Extinction’s biggest challenge remains the same: it needs more to do. Expeditions allow for more player choice, which is always a good thing, but they still come down to playing in the same areas and performing the same tasks. The appeal of Seasonal Contracts comes down to how much you like skins.
Another effort to bolster continuous play is the War Effort. The game tallies what all players are doing and in which parts of the map, and if they succeeded or failed. This causes a shift in dino activity twice a week based on the results. It sounds like a cool idea, but as of my first War Effort tally, I’m not entirely sure how things have changed. I saw words flash on the map, but I don’t really feel the impact in my singular sessions. Perhaps this is simply a matter of time, of experiencing several shifts, or of higher player count changing things more dramatically.
In fact, saying it’s a matter of time sums up my thoughts on Second Extinction. It’s got a lot of great core ideas and makes for a fun co-op time. The Game Pass launch is a fantastic opportunity to bring new players in and hopefully form some dino-fighting friendships. But, even after updates, its staying power is questionable. New dinosaurs and modes are a great start, but not quite enough to pull squads away from Destiny or Apex Legends.
An advance preview code for Second Extinction was provided for this coverage.
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Sergio is the Lead News Editor for TheGamer. But usually he asks people to call him “Serg” because he wants to sound cool like the guy from System of a Down. He began as a convention reporter for FLiP Magazine and Albany Radio’s The Shaw Report to get free badges to Comic-Con. Eventually he realized he liked talking to game developers and discovering weird new indie games. Now he brings that love of weird games to TheGamer, where he tries to talk about them in clickable ways so you grow to love them too. When he’s not stressing over how to do that, he’s a DM, Cleric of Bahamut, cosplay boyfriend, and occasional actor.
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