Marathon Title

Explain This – Extraction Shooters

Welcome to the first in a series of posts, where I explain the things that your kids may be geeking out about. Just the other day, Sony held their “Playstation Showcase” where some new titles were announced. One of the most intriguing, for gamers of a certain age, was Bungie’s Marathon:

In marketing material, the new Marathon is described as a “sci-fi PvP extraction shooter”, but what does that mean? The extraction shooter game loop typically goes like this:

  1. Gear up with weapons/equipment you have found on other runs, or purchased with currency earned on previous runs
  2. Load into a map with some number of other players
  3. Find gear and items to use or sell
  4. Survive and extract by either killing or avoiding other players *or* die and lose most/all of your gear and loot

Marathon being listed as a PvP extraction shooter may mean the only enemies you face are real humans. Many extraction shooters have AI enemies or other environmental hazards, so I’d be surprised if this stays the case.

Extraction shooters are having their moment now. After Escape from Tarkov exploded to popularity with streamers like Shroud and Pestily playing for thousands of viewers, we’ve entered a time where big-name developers are trying their hands at the genre. If you’d like to try one out now ahead of Marathon’s release, COD’s Warzone 2 has their DMZ mode. If you’d like to stick with a sci-fi aesthetic and avoid war crimes simulator, The Cycle: Frontier is your play. Dark and Darker takes the genre to a fantasy realm with swords and spells. Battlefield gave it a shot, and Dr. Disrespect started a game studio to make an extraction shooter.

What’s so good about extraction shooters? Compare them to Battle Royales, the last new genre that took the world by storm. With a BR, you don’t have a lot of stakes. Sure, if you play one with a ranked mode you might drop a rank if you lose a match badly, but you’ve only spent time. With an extraction shooter, you have to bring your gear in with you, and you can lose it if you die, so you’re out something more tangible. Sure, it’s still just pixels, but if you’ve ever had to mediate between two kids when one blew up a sibling’s Minecraft house, you know ‘just pixels’ has a different meaning. With the increased stakes, an extraction shooter gives the highest highs and lowest lows in video games right now.

Having said that, it’s not for everyone. Dying is truly painful, so if you have a bad day, it’s absolute misery. If you (or your teen) aren’t someone who can laugh off a bad beat (or six in a row), it might not be a great fit. When I was younger, I used to get grumpy because of terrible play by the Buffalo Sabres, Escape from Tarkov would’ve put me in the ground.

Anyway, I hope that explains things a bit. If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.


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