Dinosaurs are awesome. Regrettably, they are rarely seen in video games. So I was eager to play Second Extinction, a new shooter involving both large and small dinosaurs. What I didn’t expect was how much this early access game reminded me of Destiny, or how much fun I’d have playing it.
Second Extinction is a first-person shooter with light RPG elements that can be played alone or in groups of three. It takes place in the future, after mutant dinosaurs have taken over the planet. What caused this to happen? Why have they been mutated? I’m not sure. The intro is brief and doesn’t tell me anything more than it’s up to my mercenary squad to destroy all the dinosaurs and retake the earth. There’s a lot of weight on my back, but I’m willing to give it a try.
Players choose a character, each with their own set of abilities and benefits. One player can hold two main weapons, while another can become almost invisible if they stop moving for a short period of time. Then you return and Earth to complete a quest set in an open world map full of smaller side events and dinosaurs. You can visit this wide open-world without taking a mission, only to discover and complete side quests like gathering dino eggs or triggering radio towers, just like in Destiny. If you’re on a quest or just playing while you destroy dinos, you’ll win XP and money that you can use to upgrade your weapons and unlock new skills. You then use your new skills and weapons too, as you would expect, to destroy still more dinosaurs on additional quests. Repeat as many times as you can.
It’s an easy but powerful loop, and it mostly works as a solo game, though I did feel more distracted while playing alone. Second Extinction likes to swarm you with dinosaurs, but fortunately it’s fun to mow them down or blow them up with bombs or exploding barrels. When you run out of ammunition or health, the game becomes less enjoyable. The game then becomes more of a survival shooter as you crawl across the world avoiding dinos while searching for a campsite or supplies to load up on.
Another feature that this game has in common with Destiny is that there is no way to stop the action since the game is still live. I had to walk away from the game at one point to use the restroom, and I had to cover my wounded character in some trees far away from any dinosaurs. It was terrifying and unforgettable, but I do wish there was a stop option.
When players clear out various parts of the open world and complete quests, they mutually influence the amount of dinos that spawn in various areas. This is reflected in-game by a hazard level that can increase or decrease. The pre-mission setup includes selecting objectives and side quests in easy or more difficult areas: Do you want to gain more XP and resources? You could try performing a mission in one of the most difficult zones that week. Or load into a less difficult, less infested environment for less incentives but a higher chance of survival. The map is changed twice a week to display how players are improving it. It’s a great concept that ideally will be integrated into upcoming upgrades and features.
Second Extinction is part of the Xbox Preview early access program, so it is still in progress, with new content and enhancements arriving in upcoming updates. The developers promise new characters, weapons, and even a horde mode on the game’s official website. Later this year, Xbox and PC crossplay will also be available.
With hopes to expand the game in the future, I’d like to see more dino range. In its current state, you primarily battle raptors and a few raptor variations. There aren’t many larger dinosaurs to encounter, but I’d like to see some aerial dinosaurs or other larger animals. However, the raptors in this game are already terrifying. Perhaps I’ll come to regret asking.
Second Extinction is now available via Game Pass on Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One. Dinosaurs can also be slaughtered on PC through Steam Early Access, where the game was first released in 2020.