Starship Troopers Extermination is a multiplayer experience devoted to creatively crafting an experience that is unique among its genre. Growing up watching the film, this early access title from Offworld Industries made me feel like I was at the heart of the cinematic counterpart to this franchise, though it does have some vital kinks to work out.
The tutorial is a bit mis-leading. The game is presented as a FPS, cooperative, building game. Although this technically is an accurate description of the game, the tutorial only teaches you how to build. The building aspect is the most unique aspect to the gameplay, but covering this doesn’t completely teach the player everything they need to know. This might be a design choice, but I think the tutorial should have prepared me for what to expect in an actual match instead of having to learn key gameplay systems on my own.
This meant that my first match was filled with the confusion I am sure John Rico felt in his initial encounter with the bugs. Chaos. I spawned in to hear a team screaming over the in-game chat, “Remember Buenos Aires,” while seeing the bugs come out of the ground in the sand box map that we were playing on. To be frank, my first match of the title filled me with nostalgia and is my favorite experience in the early access to date. Seeing hordes of the bugs rush towards me was exhilarating, and hearing teammates utilize game chat increased the immersion of the experience and is one that is hard to forget.
As I followed my onscreen objectives, I was fighting off bugs that felt ripped straight from the film as an ore machine gathered resources that needed to be brought to where we would build our base. Running out of ammo, I would hear teammates yelling, “Cover me, I need ammo,” as we continued to spray into the bug menace. Once the bugs stopped attacking, we began a phase where we were to construct a base.
This is where the tutorial focused, and it honestly was the shortest part of the mission, though it was the most important. I proceed to place a couple of walls while teammates and I began building the structures that would separate us minutes later from the bug horde. Once the bugs attacked, it was utter chaos. Teammates were marking mortar bugs, and an assault began on the structures we just built, testing our merit. That point of the match was the most entertaining and was filled with exhilarating combat as teammates would drop, and support classes would try to heal downed teammates. Then we heard our “handler” say that it was time to head to extraction.
Our drop ship was coming in quite a distance from where we were defending our base, and the trek there was littered with more hordes of bugs meant to cut us off or kill us. At this point respawning was not an option. As all 16 of us got to the ramps of the drop ship, we heard heroic music play, and, as everyone got on the drop ship, we flew away to a game over screen. If I didn’t say that my first match was a blast, I would be lying.
I selected one of three classes, the Hunter (Infantry). Bastion (Heavy) and Operator (Support) are the other two. I chose the Hunter and stuck with the class for most of my online experiences. The Hunter has a jet pack, assault rifle, grenade, and pistol to start and as you gain experience for matches, you can unlock other weapons from the films and other tools to incentivize sticking to one class. As for the other classes, the Bastion carries heavy weapons, and the Operator can heal troopers on Valaka.
I spent most of my time in quick match, playing on Recruit and Normal. I found the difficulty scaling to be fair, but, since the game does not explain how to work together and build a proper base, the game can get very difficult, very quickly if you don’t have a good team.
As I continued to play, I found that the flow of the matches did get very repetitive, and the progression was very slow and not as rewarding as I would have liked. You really have to grind to get better weapons and tools to make combating the bugs more creative.
Keeping in mind the game’s early access state, I say this with a grain of salt. But, at the time of writing this, I still experience major bugs and performance issues that are very much immersion breaking, and at times these made the game difficult to play. The most common performance issue I had always happened whenever a match was at a climax and my game would suddenly start to stutter and drop frames drastically. I am currently playing the game on a 3070ti Nvidia Graphics card with an AMD 7 5000 series CPU. I am playing far above the minimum settings required for the game, and on medium to low graphics settings. No matter how much I played with my Nvidia Control Panel and Graphics settings, I could not get a stable performance of the game.
At the heart of Starship Troopers Extermination lies a game grounded in nostalgia of the original film. Unfortunately, the experience became less appealing as I played it more, but I am excited to revisit the game after more content is added and the base game is completed. I hope to see expanded environments, maybe the bug tunnels, or some weather conditions. Some new objectives and new game types could be equally as appealing to shaking up the experience. The title has a lot of potential and boasts a game flow that not many survival crafting games have, even though I use that generalization very loosely.
Starship Troopers Extermination is available on Steam in Early Access for $24.99. There is currently no date for the official 1.0 release.