Thanks to the Earth Defense Force games, we already know where the gold standard for fighting an enormous amount of giant bugs (or arachnids, in this game) lies game-wise. Starship Troopers: Extermination features an enormous amount of giant creepy crawlies to blast, albeit with a team-based approach that includes accomplishing various objectives alongside your team and building defences to facilitate said objectives. The game entered Early Access today, and while it is fairly rough in spots, it’s also already a lot of fun.
For new players, there’s just a single mode to jump into until you reach rank 5, which will likely take at least a couple of hours for most. There’s a horde mode coming later as well, but you’re going to have to make do without it if you want to jump in on day one. There’s currently only a single map available, and it’s quite large but not so large that it feels needless. Each match in Starship Troopers: Extermination can hold up to 16 players divided amongst four four-person squads, but all players are on the same side and only compete for the best score.
You have a choice between one of three classes that are self-explanatory — assault, heavies, and support— and each has its own special ability. Assault characters can leap high in the air, heavies build a circular wall around themselves that keeps melee attackers at bay (but keeps them heavy rooted to the spot), and support characters can heal allies in range, which they can also do with stims they carry by hand. The classes all have their own weapons and unlocks, too, so there’s a reason to use them all, depending on your playstyle.
“Starship Troopers: Extermination is a very busy game, and you’ll constantly be swarmed while your many allies fire at will to stem the tide.”
Objectives vary from activating and defending beacons to extracting and delivering ore. At the end of matches, you’ll be building fortifications to keep enemies from attacking a device used to gather data. The building mechanics are simple but easy enough to use, even if it can be somewhat unclear as to just how much space you might be leaving open. But shoring up your defences and repairing them amidst all the turmoil really gets the blood pumping. Members of all classes can revive fallen allies. If they bleed out without being rescued, they can freely respawn as long as the match hasn’t reached the extraction stage.
The shooting in Starship Troopers: Extermination honestly isn’t there yet. I found the guns to feel light and weak and often didn’t feel like my bullets were even connecting with my targets. I needed to look at the crosshair indication just to know if I was hitting my mark. The game’s rifles are possibly a little too unwieldy as well, as I felt like the recoil was just too much in some instances. The rifle that the heavy unlocks upon hitting level two jerks sharply to the left on the very first shot. The game clearly wants you to use the iron sights to mitigate this, but shooting from the hip with it is unnecessarily jarring.
Enemies have a decent amount of variety. You’ll mostly be blasting smaller ones, but larger arachnids will often rush at you, as well as ranged enemies that either shoot at you or fire a powerful explosive in an arc. Standing on your base’s walls and taking potshots at the arachnids attempting to tear down your barricades is hectic and satisfying. It helps that the game supports a large number of simultaneous on-screen character models. Starship Troopers: Extermination is a very busy game, and you’ll constantly be swarmed while your many allies fire at will to stem the tide.
Whenever I first start matches, the frame rate is fine. I tend to get a solid 120 fps. It stays that way up until the base-building section that ends each match, where the framerate drops to less than half that. I’m not sure what causes things to tank, but it’s certainly irksome. And while the game has a fair amount of graphical options, it surprisingly lacks VSYNC, which I didn’t appreciate, as the screen tearing is quite noticeable. Granted, the game’s in an alpha state, so there’s plenty of time for things to change during the year the devs expect it’ll take to fully finish the title.
I’m having a fairly respectable time with Starship Troopers: Extermination, but I’m looking forward to being able to experience it without the framerate issues and, hopefully, with more impactful combat. If you’re looking to blast bugs with friends or even just want to hop online and play with randos, you’ll likely get a kick out of what Starship Troopers: Extermination offers. The player base is already fairly active, and servers were mostly full (although I never saw a full 16 players in one match). All that and more makes the game well worth checking out.