With the latest resurgence of 2009’s Left 4 Dead 2, players are still clamoring to gun down hordes of monsters alongside their friends. Looking to fill that void is developer Systemic Reaction’s dinosaur co-op shooter, Second Extinction. Set in a future where mankind has retreated to space, mutant dinosaurs have completely overrun planet Earth. Releasing into Early Access tomorrow, October 13th, Second Extinction places you in the blood-soaked shoes of a resistance fighter. Your mission is to reduce the dinosaur threat in various regions throughout Alaska by completing different tasks such as rescuing dropships or demolishing dinosaur hives. All of this sounds great, but if you’re attempting to tackle Second Extinction by yourself, be prepared for a steep, unforgiving challenge.
Drawing inspiration from other co-op action games such as Warhammer: Vermintide 2 and World War Z, players can play as one of four unique characters. Each of these dino-slaying masters boast their own unique abilities and gear, most of which are suited to playing with others. Unlike different games in this genre, Second Extinction does not give players A.I. comrades if you cannot find two more people to join your squad. This makes battling swarms of angry velociraptors quite tricky for those wanting to venture out on their own. Given that the majority of abilities are focused on supporting your allies, it can be tricky to survive out in the wilds alone.
This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, as you can fully complete any mission offered either by yourself or with a team. Having played the game both ways, I can say without a doubt the former is far more difficult, even for a skilled FPS player like myself. Second Extinction’s difficulty doesn’t scale based on how many people are playing, so don’t expect a lighter amount of dinosaurs to stand in your path. Given you only earn experience by actually completing missions, starting out solo is exceedingly difficult. Not only will your weapons not have any upgrades, but some firearms won’t even be available right from the start. It crafts a frustrating loop where you struggle to beat missions to upgrade gear, only to die and not make any real progress towards improving your chances.
Obviously, this won’t be the case for everyone, as I more than expect some users to quickly blast through the content by themselves. However, for a person of average skill level, Second Extinction is unrelenting in its difficulty. This is typically alleviated by having others fight alongside you, as they can offer additional support, pull aggro from dinosaurs, or just help obliterate waves of mutants faster. You can also tackle multiple objectives as a team, allowing you to divide resources to quickly accomplish your goals. Doing this by yourself is impossible since all the responsibility rests solely on your shoulders. If you’re brand new to Second Extinction I strongly recommend playing with others, even if they are random users.
Wait, you still want to fight the dinosaurs alone? Seriously?!
Fine, it’s your funeral.
If you are determined to venture into Second Extinction by yourself, I urge you to select Jürgen as your character. While he is limited to scout rifles, assault rifles, and shotguns, Jürgen’s abilities are superb for solo players. His Q is a sticky bomb that can be thrown out and manually detonated by shooting it. Not only does often outright kill packs of smaller raptors, but it’s perfect for shattering armor on Digger Raptors or knocking over an Ankylosaurus. This also makes short work of any dinosaur hives that may pop up while you’re exploring and trying to complete objectives.
Jurgen can become temporarily “invisible” to the dinosaurs by masking his scent or lower his detection rate by crouching. This gives you the ability to quickly disengage from combat to heal, recover ammo, or complete a critical part of your mission. Patience is key when playing solo, as it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and surrounded by hungry apex predators. Unless you are tasked with defending something, it’s better to take it slow and methodically kill your enemies. I recommend prioritizing any of the larger raptors first, as they will buff all the smaller ones if left alone for too long. Additionally, any ranged enemies like Acid Raptors should be dealt with swiftly, since they can be a real nuisance when you’re trying to kite swarms of dinos.
As for weapons, I found the Assault Rifle to be a generally solid weapon for those just starting out. It has decent accuracy, can be easily fired from the hip, and hits hard enough to bring down tougher enemies. Shock grenades are also quite useful since they stun dinos in a large radius, allowing you to widen the gap between you and them. I also recommend you carry Health Stims to keep you alive during the fray. Not only can these be refreshed by picking up equipment boxes, but they combo wonderfully with Jürgen’s Mask Scent skill. Your drop pod can be whatever you prefer, but I always like having ammo on demand since you’ll be using a lot of bullets.
Thankfully, Systemic Reactions released a roadmap for Second Extinction that teases selectable mission difficulties. Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the major issues plaguing solo play, allowing more anti-social resistance members to still meaningfully contribute to the battle for humanity.