First Impressions - Starship Troopers: Extermination
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Starship Troopers is one of the biggest untapped IPs in the medium. While there is certainly better sci-fi media out there (The Forever War and Hunger Games, for example), for reasons I don’t understand, basing a game on an established franchise is something the industry just doesn’t do. Last year’s Starship Troopers: Terran Command was one of the first notable titles to take place in its established setting, and it was bloody fantastic. By using characters and a narrative that have already been accepted as great, the game was able to avoid being yet another generic RTS, and was instead one of the best titles of the year. And while it’s a bit too early to tell if Starship Troopers: Extermination will receive the same praise, based on what’s available in its current Steam Early Access build, my hopes are higher than a cap trooper who hasn’t learned how to use their jump suit properly yet.
In a lot of ways, Starship Troopers: Extermination represents final evolution for military shooters. Using the phenomenal base of Squad, Offworld Industries has created something that encapsulates everything right with modern FPS games. Playing as a soldier in the Mobile Infantry, your goal in each brief round of Extermination is to kill enough AI arachnids to complete a handful of objectives and hopefully extract without the need to spend a few weeks in the medical bay of the Roger Young. This gameplay loop, which also includes an obligatory leveling up system and menagerie of equipment to earn, isn’t especially unique. However, unlike in the now-forgotten Back 4 Blood, it is properly enjoyable.
In case you haven’t played the aforementioned Squad, which uses the same engine as Extermination, the core gameplay elements of the title are nothing short of amazing. Shooting your Morita Assault Rifle, or one of the handful of other guns in the game, feels weighty and impactful. Movement is fast, but not overly so, and the AI are about as intelligent as you’d expect in a game all about killing literal bugs controlled by an off screen vagina with a brain. While actual objectives you complete are relatively simplistic, and usually involve doing little more than moving to a place and fending off waves of enemies, the fights are incredibly intense and chaotic in a good way.
All of those things can also be said about any number of horde-based shooters, but what elevates Starship Troopers: Extermination to the peak of the genre are its non-shooting elements. The most important one of those elements is the game’s setting, and the voice chat that goes along with it. Whereas in a lot of titles, talking to other players is a mostly tactical or otherwise obligatory deal and the lore is non-existent, in Extermination, you actually get to roleplay as someone who isn’t yourself if the world ends or the Ukrainian war goes worldwide. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s what helps make Extermination so enjoyable. Dropping into an ugly bug planet and gunning down everything that has more than two legs while rattling off quotes from 1997’s best film (and Robert A. Heinlein’s despicable pro-war novel) feels properly immersive. While the gameplay is intense and enjoyable in its own right, being able to talk with other players while you pretend to be someone who isn’t simply a soldier in a quasi-modern conflict is an absolute treat to say the least.
“A treat” is also the best noun to describe Starship Troopers: Extermination’s technical aspects. Unsurprisingly for a game based on the glorious and oft-mentioned Squad, its graphics, animations, sound and audiovisual design are all nothing short of fantastic; bugs splatter with satisfying squishes, low yield nuclear blasts almost sear your retinas, and even doing things as as simple as reloading your rifle just feel cool. There also aren’t a lot of bugs that can’t be killed without the help of your rifle, and the game runs surprisingly well even on the somewhat dated PC we played it on.
It should go without saying, then, that Starship Troopers: Extermination is nothing short of great in its current state, and can only get better as time goes on. There’s enough content in it to justify its relatively low cost, and with the promise of more from a developer known to keep fighting that never quits, it’s a safe bet that the game will become one of the best in the medium sooner rather than later. If you’re itching to play an immersive take on an established formula or for more Starship Troopers content, you owe it to yourself to know more about the game by buying it. If you’re bored of FPS games or aren’t a fan of science fiction, I can’t say I blame you, but figuring things out for yourself is the only real freedom anyone really has. So use that freedom and figure out if you think this game is any different from the likes of Left 4 Dead, because nobody lives forever anyway (especially not apes!)
Starship Troopers: Extermination is currently in Early Access. Check back on Jump Dash Roll if you’d like to know more about the game when it fully releases.
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