The Age of the Extraction Shooter is Approaching

extraction shooters

Extractomania is running wild!

In the last few years, the concept of the ‘extraction shooter’ has gone from a niche, underappreciated topic to an industry-leading idea. Once pioneered by the likes of Battlestate Games’ Escape from Tarkov, the extraction shooter genre is now bursting at the seams with competing titles – and there are plenty more on the horizon.

Boasting intense combat-fuelled scenarios, a higher-than-average challenge, survival mechanics, and a trust-absolutely-nobody operating model, extraction shooters are (not so) quietly becoming immensely popular, and over time, gamers worldwide are becoming hungrier for the genre.

Is the age of the extraction shooter well and truly approaching?

An Impressive Lineup

It may have started in earnest with Escape from Tarkov, which was released in 2016, but by today, the extraction shooter trope has been attempted (for better or worse) by some of the biggest developers on the planet. It took years for Escape from Tarkov to become popular, aided by Twitch campaigns and the rise of content creators, but in recent years, it has hit epic proportions of success – until several self-inflicted controversies brought Battlestate Games into a dark place.

We’ve seen the likes of Activision, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft try and get in on the action with varying degrees of success. Call of Duty’s DMZ mode was a short-lived, player-vs-environment-focused attempt at an extraction shooter, while Battlefield 2042’s Hazard Zone was a fast-paced, unsuccessful stab at the extraction genre. It has been an experiment for some and a fast trip back to the drawing board for others, but there’s one thing that’s a constant – more developers are trying to find success in this space.

In the coming years, we’ll be seeing plenty of extraction shooters make it to the market:

In addition, several extraction shooter-style games have been on the open market for some time:

  • Hunt: Showdown
  • Zero Sievert
  • Hawked
  • The Cycle: Frontier (retired)
  • Marauders
  • Escape from Tarkov
  • Arena Breakout (mobile)

It’s getting a little dense in the genre, but why is this particular category only becoming popular now, some ten years after the concept first surfaced?

Popularity Project

It might have once been considered the best, but Tarkov has taken a hit recently.

For the most successful extraction shooters, there’s something special and deeply satisfying about entering a raid, completing objectives, winning fights, securing loot, and then making it to your extraction point without being horrifically slaughtered in the process. It’s akin to gambling; you never know what the next raid will hold or what the next box you open will contain. That’s how Escape from Tarkov has retained a dedicated player base in recent years – that adrenaline rush gained from player-vs-player combat and the ever-present sense of not knowing what’s coming next.

It’s such a basic principle that it seems remarkably accessible, but most extraction shooters tend to be complex affairs. Let’s think of it in literal steps:

  1. Get in
  2. Do stuff
  3. Get out

But it’s the freedom that lies therein that also attracts players to these games. Most extraction shooters feature sandbox environments that will see every player enter with a different goal in mind. Players are free to take whatever weapons or equipment they want with them on their journey, and how they play is entirely up to them. That ticks your ‘immersion box’, right there.

Furthermore, most extraction shooters tend to be quite realistic, which is another win with a particular crowd of gamers. These days, shooters boast impressive ballistics, intuitive health and survival mechanics, inventory management, and sumptuous visuals, and these elements combined with a sense of utter freedom and the tantalising anticipation of never knowing what’s around the corner are enough to grab gamers hook, line, and sinker.

But Who Takes The Crown?

Exoborne’s developer thinks there’s an opportunity to steal the top spot.

In an interview in April, a director working on Exoborne, a developing extraction shooter, made revealing and pertinent statements about the genre:

A couple of extraction shooters have attracted quite a lot of players, but they’re not really mass market yet. I think Exoborne has an opportunity to attract a mass market audience. One way to do it is to be first and to be disruptive. Another way is to be technically the best or offer social systems nobody else does. I think there’s still an opportunity to be the best in this genre.

Escape from Tarkov was considered the best extraction shooter in the business until recent controversies surfaced, effectively decimating the game’s social image. Many extraction shooters are created and labelled ‘Tarkov clones’, which is another sticking point. To that end, many developers have started leaning into being as innovative as possible to break free of any mould and stand themselves out amongst the ever-growing crowd.

Exoborne allows players to take to the skies and fight inside cataclysmic weather systems.

Gray Zone Warfare removes time-based restrictions and gives players an enormous open world to explore.

Marauders sends players into space in a twisted alternate universe.

Beautiful Light fuses traditional extraction shooter mechanics with vicious monsters.

Which of these games – developing or released – will climb the ranks and be named the best extraction shooter in the coming years? There’s a rapidly expanding audience ready to lap up these games, but how long will it be before the genre – like battle royales – starts to feel tired and overdone?

Let us know in the comments how you feel about extraction shooters.

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  1. been playing an incredible solo extraction shooter called “SPT” (couldnt possibly imagine what ~that~ stands for) where the bots are terrifying and the gankers and hackers are non existent and you should definitely get it.

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