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Level Zero: Extraction Looks Like Alien: Isolation With Multiplayer

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DogHowl Games' PvPvE extraction shooter proudly wears its inspirations on its sleeve.

In an industry obsessed with sequels, we somehow never got a follow-up to the brilliant Alien: Isolation from Creative Assembly. In Level Zero: Extraction, plenty of things are different; the development team, the number of players, and the win conditions all come to mind. But elements such as the claustrophobic atmosphere and predator-versus-prey gameplay loop are very much still present and clearly inspired by the sci-fi horror classic, giving this upcoming multiplayer horror game a strong first step in a quickly growing genre.

Level Zero: Extraction (LZE) combines two ongoing trends in multiplayer games: extraction shooters, such as Escape from Tarkov, and asymmetrical horror, like Dead By Daylight. While those two games may be the titans in their respective fields, LZE is made with the hope that mixing them together alongside some novel multiplayer mechanics can help it stand out. As it turns out, in space, your friends can hear you scream.

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Now Playing: Level Zero: Extraction — Official Multiplayer Extraction Horror Gameplay Reveal Trailer

Set in a new story universe where futuristic genetic testing has gone awry aboard a space station, LZE pits multiple teams of human soldiers against each other all while a monstrous alien threat lurks throughout the facility, too. DogHowl Games said multiple betas are planned, and an early access period will follow, so things like team sizes are still to be determined--they may change depending on the map or other factors--but right now, the plan is to have three teams of three soldiers and a pair of cooperating monsters, giving a round four teams total in a 3v3v3v2 format.

For extraction shooter fans, the objective is familiar: Drop in, loot up, and escape before it's too late. That means you'll not only want to fend off enemy soldiers, but also the monsters hiding in the darkness. The monsters can only be killed with light, and during a hands-off demo, the studio explained how there will be several ways for each team to toy with this strategy. Different light sources, like flares, room lighting, and flashlights, will have their own uses, but the monsters can also destroy some lights with attacks like acid spit that extinguish the would-be salvation.

A very clever wrinkle that plays into this is how eliminated players can continue playing as flying drones with limited utilities. Rather than having to spectate a match or quit to the lobby once you've died and your teammates haven't, you can press on as a robot and aid allies by pinging items or screwing with the lights for other teams. Like the team sizes, DogHowl Games says it's still experimenting with the limitations of a drone's abilities, but whatever its toolbelt ends up offering, this seems like a wise way to keep players engaged after they've died in a round.

And players will die, make no mistake. With limited loot to go around and a brutal mix of firearms and melee combat all in first-person, the gameplay I saw had an air of Hunt: Showdown to it. Resource scarcity will drive conflict between humans even when the monsters may not be present. Of course, there's also the opportunity to form uneasy alliances between humans, coming together against their common Xenomorph-like enemy--at least for a little while before they turn on each other near the exits.

There's strength in numbers... for you and the creatures lurking in the shadows.
There's strength in numbers... for you and the creatures lurking in the shadows.

As mentioned, this was a hands-off demo I sat in on, so I can't yet speak to any firsthand experience, but that may soon change. A closed beta for Level Zero: Extraction goes live on March 15, with an open beta to follow later this year before the game eventually launches into Steam Early Access. You can follow along on the game's Steam page for details on joining the beta and more.

What I saw seemed tense and atmospheric, and that's half the battle when you're going for Alien vibes. Hopefully, things like team balancing, gunplay, and progression are similarly well-tuned. If they are, fans of extraction shooters and horror games may converge in a promising middle ground with Level Zero: Extraction.

Mark Delaney on Google+

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Mark Delaney

Mark is an editor at GameSpot. He writes reviews, guides, and other articles, and focuses largely on the horror and sports genres in video games, TV, and movies.

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