Hands on: Extraction - PAX Prime 2013
Extraction is a tactical team-oriented first person shooter from one of the original pioneers of class based shooters, Splash Damage. Being a big fan of most Splash Damage's other works, I had a chance to try several rounds of the shooter at this year's Pax Prime.
Splash Damage has a rich history when it comes to cooperative shooters. While still in its infancy, the developer succeeded in creating Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, an incredibly popular objective-based shooter which is still played today despite being released in 2003. From what I saw at this year's Pax Prime, Extraction aims to retain many of the traits that made the original ET so popular without any unnecessary Free-to-Play inconveniences getting in the way.
Extraction takes place in 2020 after a mysterious attack has left London irradiated and uninhabitable. The only ones who now venture into the city are hired mercenaries, out to extract or destroy the secrets left behind.
Gameplay in Extraction revolves around team cohesion. The map presented at Pax had each team taking turns defending and attacking key objectives. In this case, the attackers needed to hack a railroad terminal before planting C4 on a rail-car in order to derail an incoming train filled with delicious data chips. The defenders of course, needed to prevent the attackers from succeeding. Both teams spawn in predefined areas and must move towards the objectives centered in the middle of the map.
Winning isn't just about preventing the attackers from completing their objectives though. Each round is timed, based on the previous attacking team's performance. The less time it takes to complete the objectives, the less time the defenders have next round. This adds an extra layer of pressure, forcing players to play aggressively as they attempt to beat the clock. It also emphasizes the game's reliance on team-play.
Each class in Extraction comes with their own unique look and brings distinct advantages to the team. Health doesn't regenerate and ammo is relatively scarce. Dying can often mean 15 second respawn timers, but the medic -aptly named Sawbones- can revive downed teammates while healing up minor damage with health packs thrown on the ground.. Conversely, some objectives must be hacked which can take several precious seconds. Proxy, a shotgun wielding engineer has access to a hacking tool which makes doing so a breeze.
The key thing to take away from this is the fact that Splash has removed elements which contribute to a lone wolf mentality. Suddenly, one person is no longer effectively capable of handling all the objectives needed by themselves. They must rely on their team to fulfill the roles they selected. This is further exemplified by the lack of grenades which makes Thunder, a class with access to concussion grenades and an LMG, extremely valuable in tight quarters.
Class diversity is where Splash Damage hopes to set Extraction apart from other team-oriented shooters. While only 5 classes were shown during the demo, Splash mentioned we can expect at least 20 for release with more to come after. Each one of these classes comes equipped with their own unique art-style, weapon customization options and special abilities. With so much class diversity, tackling missions becomes less formulaic and introduces innovative strategies.
One final point that was stressed to me during my tour of Extraction had to do with the game's monetization. Paul Wedgwood, CEO of Splash Damage told me bluntly that the developer had yet to talk monetization at all with publisher Nexon. “Right now we are focused on making the best game possible” Wedgwood said. This was later confirmed when I spoke with Nexon America CEO Min Kim, who said the publisher had no plans for players to pay for gear unlocks.
Extraction is currently in closed alpha, with the closed beta expected to start in next couple months.
About the Author
Michael Dunaway has been part of the MMOBomb team for years and has covered practically every major Free-to-Play title since 2009.
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