When I think about horde modes in video games, things like Call of Duty’s zombies modes and the aptly named horde mode from the Gears of War series spring to mind. While I’ve never really resonated with them at all, it’s impossible to deny how popular and successful these modes have been, so much so that there are games that are completely built around the concept itself like Left 4 Dead and the upcoming Back 4 Blood. These games are not my jam at all, but somehow I’ve managed to spend a couple of hours with one of these styled games this past week. If you haven’t heard about Second Extinction yet, prepare to be informed by someone with a middling at best level of interest in the genre and an even shoddier level of knowledge about dinosaurs.

As the name might imply, Second Extinction is an objective-based horde-styled game where you and two of your buddies wander around a miserable planet, gunning down all sorts of mutated dinosaurs. In the early portions of the game you’ll mostly be shooting at raptors with a penchant for spin-kicking you, spitting poison at you, and turning invisible, just like I remember learning about in school. There are other, more interesting dinosaurs that will need a good bullet-ing as well, but the majority of what I faced early on were these shitty mutated raptors.

You choose a character to play as, each of which comes with their own suggested loadout of weapons and abilities but you can pretty much just make any character use any weapon you want, which is good considering you could end up like me and get fooled into using what can only be described as the “World’s Most Useless Sniper Rifle”. Not only is it hilariously inaccurate and ineffective, but the scope itself is fogged over and impossible to see through, making aiming through it bizarrely impractical. If you’re looking to play Second Extinction, do not use the sniper rifle.

My biggest complaint with Second Extinction was just how meandering the entire thing felt. I never quite knew what we were doing or why we were doing it, and some of the missions and objectives were either unclear, tedious as hell, or some combination of the two. But despite that we still had a pretty good time traipsing through the snowy landscape towards our next inscrutable goal, all the while utilizing our abilities and various equipment in something that resembled synergy. One friend would call in some ammo, while I would call in equipment or use a stun grenade or satchel charge to really stop a charging dino in its tracks. But it’s hard to tell if that’s something I can credit to the game or just to the fact that I like playing games with my friends.

I don’t think Second Extinction is a bad video game by any metric, and considering that it’s still in early access it certainly has a good foundation to build upon. My biggest hope is that the rough edges and bugs get taken care of, because the game is currently pretty buggy and crashy. Things like dead dinosaurs getting launched into the stratosphere can stay in the game, but the lack of any voice chat control in the game is wild. It must’ve taken us about an hour for us to figure out how to mute each other in the game so we could continue using Discord without hearing our voices doubled. Eventually we managed to mute ourselves through the Xbox app, but boy-howdy did that take way longer than it needed to. And maybe fixing that miserable sniper rifle could be something worth investing some time into.

But if you have Game Pass and two friends who are looking to do what the owners of Jurassic Park didn’t have the guts to, vis-à-vis just gunning down those rogue dinos, then I think Second Extinction might be worth checking out.

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