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Extraction: A free-to-play FPS with some solid roots

6:00 PM on 09.05.2013 // Dale North

Splash Damage partners with NEXON

Many of my staff members wander off in the other direction after hearing things like "free-to-play first-person shooter." I get it. But I wanted to see Extraction's debut at PAX this past weekend because Splash Damage were behind it. The folks behind games like Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Brink definitely know their stuff, so I worked it out so that seeing Extraction was my very first appointment of the show. 

Extraction is a team-based FPS free-to-play game, but I saw no indications of that during my meeting and hands-on session. This is a nice, clean FPS with a minimal HUD, some interesting character design, and a gritty, futuristic look. Oh, and maybe too much brown.  But from top to bottom this looks like a well-polished console or PC shooter from a top developer, with none of the nasty free-to-play speedbumps getting in the way. 

Splash Damage CEO Paul Wedgwood explained that they didn't really dwell much on the monetization side when developing Extraction. Even with partner Nexon CEO Min Kim in the same room, Wedgwood admitted to not really knowing how monetization will work. When I asked if that wasn't at least a little bit scary, Wedgwood said that they would figure it out in time. He says that as of now, no financial projections have been written for Extraction. Right now it's not a priority, he says. 

"We know that there is sufficient content in the game that we can find ways to generate revenue with," Wedgwood explained. Splash Damage are a smart group. Hopefully they're smart enough to know that "pay-to-win" sucks. We'll have to wait to see what they do.

Set in London in 2020, following unexplained attacks on the city, Extraction has mercenaries working to either gather or destroy the secrets behind these attacks, depending on which team you're on. In my demo, the map had one team trying to hack a railroad terminal and later blow up a rail car filled with data, while the other team worked to defend it. These two objectives were to be met while going up against a countdown timer. Add in the opposing team and there was pressure from all directions.

Well, not for me as much. I played as a medic -- one of the five classes Splash Damage were showing at the event. They've been playing with about 20 class types in their closed alpha tests, but the five at PAX made for a nice team mix. As you'd expect, the medic is light on firepower, though his reviving paddles make for a fun melee attack. I mostly spent time watching teammates' asses, throwing out health packs for them and myself like there was no tomorrow. 

Teamwork is the name of the game here. Each class has its own abilities and loadouts that compliment the rest. From what I saw, you can't be the lone hero in these objectives. Your scout can get out there and get the lay of the land, but he can't take hits, for example. He'd work with someone stronger to move the team forward. When it came to the hacking objective, some classes, like the engineer, are much faster than others. And me, being the medic -- well, I was always needed as the world is pretty light on ammo and recovery items. 

Even with excellent team work, you'll die sometimes. And with each death comes a lesson. Extraction shows you exactly how you died with models showing you and your attacker in the exact locations the death happened. If you're smart, you'll learn from it. If you're angry, you'll find your attacker and pay them back.

I only saw bit of Extraction, but it seemed solid. With games like Batman: Arkham Origins' multiplayer mode under their belt, Splash Damage know what they're doing it. Extraction also received positive feedback from PAX attendees, with a constant line at their booth for the full four days of the show.

I don't know that it's breaking any ground for the genre, but on the other hand I suppose a polished, respectable free-to-play first-person shooter is pretty rare these days. Splash Damage looks to have exactly that in the works.

Dale North, Former Dtoid EIC
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