What are Extraction Shooters?

In the world of gaming, no other video game genre is quite as thrilling as extraction shooters. In this game style, players must battle each other with the threat of equipment loss always looming over them. 

If you’re a fan of shooters and are looking to get into a different kind of game, you may have heard the term “extraction shooter” thrown around. While there are a variety of different kinds of extraction shooters out there, they all share commonalities that make them one of the most brutal game types in existence. Here’s what you need to know about extraction shooters, plus a few top titles you can play right now.  

What are Extraction Shooters?

Extraction shooters are video games where players select equipment or a “loadout” and enter what is known as a “raid.” Similar to the battle royale genre, in Extraction Shooters, players are dropped into raids and must battle it out for the level’s loot, then extract without dying. 

Extraction shooters, at times, can be brutal. Many of the most popular titles implement inventory and equipment loss on death, which means if you die, you lose the equipment you brought into the raid. 

While most extraction shooters are player-versus-player (PvP) focused, many utilize player-versus-environment (PvE) elements in the form of NPC enemies that players can take out for extra loot or experience. Some more niche extraction games, like the pixel-art Zero Sievert, are exclusively PvE. 

What are the Top Extraction Shooters?

The top extraction shooters currently available include:

  • Escape from Tarkov
  • Marauders
  • The Cycle: Frontier
  • Hunt: Showdown
  • Call of Duty: Warzone DMZ
  • ZERO Sievert

The most popular extraction shooter available is Escape from Tarkov (EFT). More akin to a military simulation than an arcade shooter, EFT has various game mechanics players must learn to be successful in a raid. Compared to games like ARMA, EFT can be challenging, especially for newcomers to the genre. 

Escape from Tarkov Screenshot holding an M16
Image: Battlestate Games

Another less punishing extraction shooter title is Marauders. In this game, players can team up in groups of up to four and pilot a spaceship to enter each raid. Marauders still requires tactical gameplay but is much more similar to traditional FPS. 

What is the Extraction Shooter Gameplay Loop?

While the extraction shooter gameplay loop might differ depending on the game you are playing, it typically follows a similar chronological order. 

  1. Choose equipment and gear. 
  2. Select a raid and load it into it. 
  3. Loot as much as you can while battling PvE and PvP elements. 
  4. Extract from the raid alive. 
  5. Sell your winnings and buy more powerful gear. 

What are Other Elements of Extraction Shooters?

In most extraction shooters, there is an “extraction point” that is somewhere on the map that players must enter to leave the raid and complete the mission. Depending on what game you’re playing, this might entail traveling to a certain spot on the map or going through a portal to get back to your base. 

Many extraction shooters also have level progression. Progression often unlocks more powerful weaponry or pieces of equipment that will help you in your raids. Many implement passive progression by unlocking pieces of equipment for your base, which will generate various currencies over time. In many games, the most powerful items may be locked behind this progression. 

Marauders Spaceship Screenshot
Image: Small Impact Games

Another commonality is many extraction shooters have some sort of vendor that you can visit when returning to your base. These vendors often have more powerful items that you can use to gain the edge in raids, and players can often sell items that are gained in the raid to gain currency. 

Extraction Shooters are one of the most stress-inducing genres of games out there, but also one of the most innovative and fun. Unlike other titles that opt for deathmatch-style gameplay, in extraction shooters, every engagement matters. It’s more than possible to continually die and never make it out of a raid alive, making future raids nearly impossible, which is part of the genre’s appeal. 

Similar to survival titles like Rust, inventory and weapon loss on death can be a startling blow, especially if the gear that you have on is high tier and it took you a long time to obtain it. While this is the downside of playing extraction shooters, it’s also the same reason the game genre is so popular, as it’s a way to raise the stakes. 

Now that you know what an extraction shooter is, you should have a better idea of whether you want to play them. If this all sounds intimidating to you, we suggest Marauders or The Cycle: Frontier, as we’ve found these two games less punishing than other titles. 

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