As you roam the dinosaur infested Earth while playing Second Extinction you’ll come to realise one key thing pretty quickly: these are not the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. You will find there are similar dinos including one of those frilly neck things that killed Wayne Knight at the end of the first film, but otherwise, these dinos are of a different breed. One species wears armoured plates like boxing gloves, another burrows underground and there’s even one that shoots through the air as a bolt of electricity. The T-Rex is as daunting in size as you’d expect but it also glows red in a rage of bio-mutated power and can kill you in an instant. 

Second Extinction takes place on one map that’s broken up into several zones, each with their own areas of interest and mission objectives. You can drop into a mission (literally drop down to earth in a pod), complete your core objective and call in a ship for extraction. Or you can explore the map and take part in secondary objectives to gather materials for upgrading weapons and exp for levelling your character. 

The missions sub-objectives can range from simply clearing some dino-goo off a satellite to protecting a downed ship as it repairs itself. The core objectives aren’t much more expansive in nature either. It usually all comes down to holding a button to activate something and then killing a bunch of dinos in waves before moving to another area. 

I wanted a selfie - image captured by the author

I wanted a selfie – image captured by the author

As a package, it’s easy enough to describe Second Extinction as a combination of Left 4 Dead and Dead Rock Galactic. There’s a lot of things to kill, but an open-world map leaves room for you and your fellow dino-hunters to explore.

Although you can play by yourself if you’re a masochist, Second Extinction is made to be played in teams of three players. I’ve played with both randoms in matchmaking and in a pre-made with Ciaran and Ashley from Explosion Network. The latter is preferred as we were all in a discord call and could both co-ordinate objectives and shit-talk as we played which always makes these types of games more fun.  

After picking from one of four character classes you can jump straight into the action. My preferred was Rosy, a tank character that carries a mini-gun and the ability to place electric fences. The other three classes include a support specialist that can highlight enemies, a sniper class that can perform critical hits on enemy weak points and an evasive assault class that can dash out of tight spots. 

My allegiance to the tank class was less about abilities and more about available arsenal. As much fun as it seeing dinos’ heads explode with the grenade launch available to Amir, the support character, the Gatling gun seemed the best bang-for-buck weapon in the game. This is because the weapons in Second Extinction need a lot of fine-tuning. The assault rifle feels highly underpowered and the shotgun — which deserves to feel bad-ass in this of all games — comes off like you’re firing two under power baby reveal pellets of smoke. And the grenade launch, which is surprising to see as a primary weapon, doesn’t feel anywhere strong enough. I want to see the dino-guts fly and feel like it’s a weapon I should save and use accordingly.  

When you are playing and explosions are going off all around you there’s an appreciation for the Apex Engine. Second Extinction isn’t a stunning game, but it does have moments of beauty and the explosions let off by ominously placed barrels are a thrill. 

A great dodge saves my ass but it’s the artillery support from a friend that was needed to finish the job.

Fortunately, the lack of explosiveness to the weapons is often at the back of your mind as you work to not be overrun by dinosaurs. The smaller ones can seem like pests but are usually doing their job to sidetrack you from bigger threats There’s a giant turtle-like dino that has a tough outer shell protecting its hide and needs to be flipped onto its side before you can deal true damage. A fast-moving rhino-like dino can inflict high-levels of damage but you’re able to chip away at it’s armour to reveal weak flesh. Having these puzzle elements to the dinosaurs is one of Second Extinction’ strongest points and I hope additional dinosaurs that are added to the game require new and interesting tactics to take them down.

As you tear through dinos you’ll pick up different pieces of them left behind that can be used to upgrade your guns between missions. Why you need dino-parts to upgrade your guns, I’m not sure, but it is a satisfying upgrade path none-the-less. Each weapon has its own tree and of course with each character having their own load outs there plenty of upgrades to go around. 

Once you hit rank 5 you’re able to pick up to three active contracts at a time that rewards you with bonus materials or unlockable skins. Being able to pick out of a list instead of being stuck with three random daily rewards is nice.  

Poppin’ headshots on these not-so-clever-girls - image captured by the author

Poppin’ headshots on these not-so-clever-girls – image captured by the author

Looking at the map either prior to picking a drop zone before one of the game’s nine missions, or after landing, you’ll see each section of has its own rank. High tiered areas feature stronger levels of dinosaur activity, but also bring higher chances of rare drops that you need to upgrade your gear.  A ‘war effort’ shared across the game’s servers sees the areas decrease or increase in dinos depending on how often players are making sure to clear out and complete objectives in those select areas. Apparently, if a zone reaches a critical point of being unattended, a special event will trigger, although I haven’t seen this happen yet. 

As the game is in Early Access it’s not surprising I ran into a couple of bugs. This includes some character dialogue looping, dinosaurs literally flying into the air and a menu bug that wouldn’t let me upgrade my weapons until I restarted the game. Nothing too crazy, but worth mentioning none-the-less.

As it stands Second Extinction is in need of some major tweaking, especially in the guns department. But there’s a solid experience here and when it launches in full for PC and the Xbox family of consoles it could be one of 2021’s best co-op experiences. 

Trying to dodge several of these fast-moving beasts at once is a stuggle.

Buy Now or Wait? 

If you have a group of friends that you know you’ll play Second Extinction with it’s moderately priced at $35.95 AUD and can be a lot of fun. For those that will be matchmaking most the time, I’d suggest waiting until full release, or a substantial update to the Early Access build.