Starship Troopers: Extermination is a new online co-op shooter from Offworld Industries. Based on the Paul Verhoeven sci-fi satire classic Starship Troopers (itself based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein), Extermination is a raucous time with up to 16 players. The title is currently in Early Access on Steam, with more content currently in development. While it shares the Starship Troopers name, it bases its visual aesthetic and humorous tone of the film more than that of the novel.
While PC players have no shortage of competent co-op shooters from which to choose, Extermination is well worth their time and money. Outside of its connection to the Starship Troopers canon and lore, the game has plenty of unique aspects to keep players coming back for more. The critical reviews are less-than-stellar, but one look at the user reviews paints an entirely different picture. For players looking to be a citizen and do their part blasting bugs, there’s a lot to love about Extermination.
16-Player Co-Op Mayhem
After originally intending for only 12 players in a squad, the Early Access release in May of this year brought that number up to 16. With increased player counts comes increased fun, as the seemingly unending hordes of Arachnids now have to contend with fully-manned squads. When a game is strictly a cooperative experience, having more friends to play alongside is always a positive.
Having 16 players in a squad might not seem like much compared to hundreds of bugs threatening to swarm you, but trust me when I say every player counts. Not only that, the game features three unique squad types. With 16 players as a cap instead of 12, the potential for more varied squads with balanced approaches increases. The game is an absolute blast to play, and being able to pack a lobby with friends is an experience that harkens back to the LAN parties of old.
Excellent Visuals That Mirror the 1997 Film
At the time of its release, Starship Troopers was critically panned. In the time since, however, the film has become something of a cult classic and an unexpected cautionary tale in the 21st Century. While the targets of the unchecked nationalism and military-industrial complex in the film are alien bugs, the themes still ring true almost 30 years later. And you’d be remiss to not mention that the film is undeniably cool looking.
Rather than attempt to construct its own visual take on the franchise, Extermination does an excellent job of replicating the distinct visuals from the 1997 film. Everything from the look of the troopers to the alien environments and the distinct visual appearance of the Arachnid is recreated in painstaking detail. The game looks as great as it plays and is a treat for fans of the iconic sci-fi film.
Not content to simply be a shooter set in the Starship Troopers universe, Extermination features a robust base-building mechanic. Each level allows players to prepare before an incoming horde of Arachnid threatens to swarm an outpost. Players can use this time to craft bases capable of withstanding an attack from the buggy hordes. The mechanics for building bases are simple and intuitive, but players can ignore them if they wish.
It can certainly give players the edge to have a solid set of walls and defensive positions to rain fire down on bugs, but they aren’t necessary. If players wish to just go it alone as a squad and forego base building altogether, it’s an entirely viable approach. After all, no walls will stop an onslaught of thousands of bloodthirsty Arachnid. Plus, when the dropship arrives and the countdown timer begins ticking down, no amount of base will prevent the need for extraction.
Potential for Hilarity
Speaking of the 1997 film, anyone who remembers it likely also recalls that death is never far behind for every citizen doing their part. The Arachnid are a formidable force and outnumber the troopers in staggering ratios. With only 16 players facing off against thousands of bugs, it tends to result in some occasionally tragic, but more often hilarious, deaths. A simple read-through of user reviews on Steam provides some laugh-out-loud tales of players meeting their end at the hands of the Arachnid.
Essentially, the point of the game is that it’s hard to survive. A competent squad can surely survive and successfully complete missions, but the sentiment of “no man left behind” is easier said than done. With seemingly never-ending hordes of bugs raining down on small squads fighting for their survival, it’s not uncommon for only a handful of your team to make it out on the dropship. It may sound dire, but thanks to the fact that the game replicates the humorous tone of the movies it’s actually unironically a great time.
More Content Coming in the Roadmap
With the title still in Early Access, it’s worth noting that there’s not a lot of content currently available. That said, buying the game now supports the developers and allows them to add more content over the coming year. Extermination is set to enter its full 1.0 release sometime in 2024 and will likely feature a bevy of new content by then. Additionally, when it does release in 1.0, the cost of the game will increase. What limited content there is currently is great, especially if you can get some friends to get the game with you, and it’s better to get in now while the cost of entry is lower.
As far as what’s in the content roadmap, the developer has plans for some great additions to the game. In addition to new levels and base-building options, players can likely expect new classes and options to make the game either more or less challenging. As an example, one of the most recent patches adds the functionality for a horde mode where players simply kill bugs for as long as possible while trying to survive. Normally when someone says a game is buggy it’s a pejorative, but in this case it’s actually a killer time.