April 22, 2024

With games like Helldivers 2 going over extremely well, it is a great time for co-op shooters. DogHowl Games is a small, Ukraine-based studio that wanted to try its hand at the genre, but this time, we have a bit of a spin on things. After three years of development, they are finally ready to show the world what they have been working on, and it looks like Level Zero: Extraction will be a thrilling solo or co-op experience with a sprinkle of horror on top.

In my hands-off preview of Level Zero: Extraction, we learned how the game changed over its development. Originally announced as Level Zero, DogHowl Games upped the ante by turning the game into a “multiplayer extraction horror” experience that will surely make players jump.

Photo Credit: DogHowl Games

Extraction titles tend to be pretty straightforward, but here, players will have a few different ways to experience the game. Level Zero: Extraction is a first-person PvPvPvE game. Yes, that is a lot of letters. You can drop in as a single, duo, or trio and get grouped with others to make up the lobby. You can either play as a mercenary or a monster, and your objectives are based on your choice. 

As a mercenary in Level Zero: Extraction, your job can vary. Your number one goal is to survive. From there, you will need to gather loot, find your extraction point, complete objectives, and get out alive. There are a few wrenches in that straightforward plan, though. First, there are monsters running around, trying to do everything they can to stop and ultimately kill you.

Second, there is friendly fire. So, your team can ruin the plan if a stray bullet finds you. And third, if you load in as a solo, duo, or trio, other players will still be in the lobby, and they can attack you. They might do this to gather your loot, take over the extraction point, or, in true mercenary fashion, just for fun. You can share an extraction point with other players peacefully, but that takes some serious trust. 

Photo Credit: DogHowl Games

Once a member of your team dies, they will still be able to help the cause, too. Defeated players become drones who can still have slight effects on the game. Drone players can ping dangers to other teammates, turn lights on and off to disorient other players, reveal their locations or defeat aliens, bring small loot to their team, and are armed with a flashlight. These players can also extract with their team (if they are successful), so they still can gain XP at the end of the fight even though they died. 

All of that is just the merc side of things (no, not Deadpool). You can also jump into Level Zero: Extraction as one of their not-so-pretty monsters. The goal for them is to destroy everyone in sight. To do that, monsters need to stay out of the light and gather eggs, which help them get stronger and gain new abilities. Some of these alien abilities included acid spit, EMP screams, heartbeat scans, and live traps.

Mercenaries need to use light to kill these monsters, while the alien-like creatures have a variety of skills to use against the humans. Light will be both a blessing and a curse in Level Zero: Extraction, though, because though it almost instantly kills these monsters, it also will alert them and other players to your location. Mercenaries also have access to range and melee weapons, such as rifles, shotguns, flamethrowers, nail guns, pistols, grenades, flares, hammers, machetes, and more, which are used against other mercs in the lobby. 

Photo Credit: DogHowl Games

To add to the chaos, the environment in Level Zero: Extraction is also after players. We were told about dangerous NPCs in the levels, which include turrets. The team at DogHowl Games also noted that there will be random blackouts during playthroughs, which can cause all sorts of chaos.

There will be a variety of maps available in game, with some indoors and some outdoors, meaning weather can come into play. Currently, Level Zero: Extraction is designed to be a 2 v 9 composition, but the dev team said that may change slightly. Other ideas were map-dependent, bringing other compositions based on the level’s size or the possibility of beginning matches with less than nine players. At the same time, you wait for the lobby to fill.

And to top it all off, there is also actual progression and lore to explore. Players can find audio logs in their levels to follow along with the story. Loot that players manage to extract can also be used to gain a reputation with traders, earn money, or craft new tools. It wasn’t clear if players who chose to go the alien monster route would stand to gain anything out of individual lobbies, though.

Photo Credit: DogHowl Games

Level Zero: Extraction is being developed by DogHowl Games and published by tinyBuild. It will launch into early access in 2024. There will be a closed beta in March 2024 and an open beta later this summer. Interested mercs and monsters can wishlist Level Zero: Extraction on Steam and follow along on X for more news and updates.

  • Dayna Eileen

    Dayna is an all-Canadian long-time gamer and geek. She absolutely loves introducing the people she knows to her love for gaming and nerd culture. You can often find her writing about tech, gaming and media across the web.

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