Extraction Shooter - TV Tropes (2024)

A Sub-Genre of the First- and Third-Person Shooter that also contains elements of the Roguelike and Battle Royale Game, Extraction Shooters can be identified by their core gameplay loop: the player(s) are dropped into a combat zone, then must race to complete objectives, fight enemies and/or hunt down valuable loot before (hopefully) escaping with their lives by reaching an "Extraction Point", often requiring them to Hold the Line in the minutes before their departure. The genre can be further divided into "Scavenger" type or "Objective" type, depending on which aspect of the gameplay is given greater emphasis — completing the mission, or grabbing everything that isn't nailed down.

While extraction elements have cropped up several times in earlier games, particularly Left 4 Dead and PAYDAY: The Heist, the Trope Codifier of the "Scavenger" type and Genre Popularizer is the 2017 game Escape from Tarkov, a hardcore Tactical Shooter where players must scavenge for weapons, equipment and valuables amidst abandoned, war-torn towns and facilities to grow stronger and upgrade their hideout, completing objectives as they progress. While initially rather obscure, owing in no small part to its high skill (and patience) requirements, Tarkov would eventually garner a large following, especially via Twitch livestreams, convincing many game studios that there was money to be made and spawning a whole host of Extraction Shooters that began to emerge in The New '20s, not always to great success.

Regardless of subtype, Extraction Shooters tend to incorporate:

  • A ticking clock — the player(s) need to successfully extract within the given time limit, and can't just slowly creep past any and all threats they run into, or painstakingly ransack the entire map looking for the Rare Random Drop. Once the timer runs out, it either results in an immediate Game Over or makes things much more difficult. Probably one of the most essential aspects of the genre, distinguishing it from turn-based or dungeon crawler games where the player may need to find an exit, but is in no rush to do so.
  • Some form of Resources Management Gameplay. Just as your time in each run is limited, so too are the resources, including weapons, equipment, ammo and health kits, that the players can bring along. Depleting consumables too quickly often means the only option left is to cut any losses and retreat, and inventory loss on death is very common, making it a gamble as to whether the best equipment is worth taking.
  • Missions taking place in small Wide Open Sandboxes in which the player has the opportunity to explore and approach quests as they see fit. Becoming familiar with the layout of the maps, or what you can expect to find on them when randomisation is used, is essential to player development, allowing players to determine the best ways to complete objectives or get the drop on enemies.
  • The ability to access new quests, vendors, and upgrades in-between runs, often via a Hub Level. In "Scavenger" types, this is where Shop Fodder can be disposed of and loot stockpiles rearranged. There will often be multiple factions whom you can purchase items and accept quests from, and a reputation mechanic that affects their feelings towards you and perhaps events in the game more generally.
  • A mix of PvE and PvP elements, sometimes referred to as "PvPvE". Most of the enemies you encounter will be controlled by AI, but multiplayer co-op is often available, alongside several other players scattered throughout the map who can be fought or allied with for a better chance of survival. The latter always carries the risk of one player shooting the other In the Back to get their hands on all the loot.
  • High-risk, high-reward gameplay — death (or a Total Party Kill in co-op) immediately results in Game Over, and a token consolation payout at best in exchange for all time, effort, and resources expended. Correspondingly, the heftiest rewards and best loot require exploring the most dangerous areas or taking on the biggest and baddest enemies.
  • "Realistic" gameplay elements that deliberately set out to challenge the players, taking after Tarkov. You'll need to think strategically, because going in guns blazing will rarely if ever work, and one wrong move will swiftly result in your death — all the more important given the above point.

Scavenger types are a development of the Looter Shooter. While there will be numerous optional objectives and quests, the overriding goal is usually grabbing as many valuable goodies as you can. However, there is a strict limit on the amount players can carry, often forcing them to choose between keeping items that are more valuable, more powerful, needed for quests, or that they just happen to like. Thus, many a player's biggest fear is getting nailed by a sniper just before escaping with that extremely valuable haul. Due to the fundamental importance of looting within these games, they often take place in a Crapsack Scavenger World.

Objective types downplay the loot-acquisition elements in favour of directing the players towards completing specific objectives in each run. Typically, you'll still be scouring the battlefield for resources and other materials, but this is no longer the core of the gameplay. There's generally a stronger focus on PvE and cooperative play, the loadouts your characters use will more likely be permanently unlocked rather than chosen from a stash of equipment, and the game may even feature set characters or classes much like a Hero Shooter.

Extraction Shooters will commonly mix and match aspects of both subtypes, however. But any Extraction Shooter must have said extraction mechanic as a mandatory objective, and the only way to save your progress, with a timer or constant threat pushing the players towards it eventually. Having said that, a downplayed variant is possible where an "Extraction" mode is featured in a game belonging primarily to another genre.

Can be differentiated from other shooter Sub Genres in the following ways:

  • Arena Shooter: Combat typically takes place in limited open-world environments rather than enclosed arenas. Moreover, given the Tactical Shooter aspects of many Extraction games, it's often a good idea not to get into as many fights as possible and instead picking and choosing advantageous battles.
  • Battle Royale Game: While the scavenging for weapons and resources aspect is similar, Battle Royales discard most items collected by the player after a match is complete, resulting in them always starting from scratch, and the objective in Extraction Shooters is to escape rather than be the last man standing.
  • Hero Shooter: While some Extraction Shooters do have fixed characters or classes, the PvP elements are incidental to the main objectives rather than being the entire point of the game.
  • Looter Shooter: While there is significant overlap, especially with Scavenger types, items in a Looter Shooter typically are not lost when a character dies. There is generally greater emphasis on stat modifiers and forming the perfect loadout, and Looter Shooters often take place in a Wide-Open Sandbox with a storyline the player progresses through, rather than time-limited resource runs.

Scavenger-type Extraction Shooters:

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  • Escape from Tarkov (2017): The Trope Codifier, with players scouring abandoned locales for valuable resources while fending off AI-controlled Scavs and keeping a watchful eye out for enemy players. Also well known for its extremely extensive weapon customisation system that averted A.K.A.-47 and exclusively utilised real firearms.
  • The Forever Winter (202X): Mixes the genre with Survival Horror. The player controls scavengers just trying to survive and support a ramshackle community amidst a world ravaged by Forever War, where automated AI direct armies of augmented soldiers, Humongous Mecha and far, far worse that can squash the Player Character like a bug if they're not careful.
  • Hell Is Others (2022): A top-down shooter with Surreal Horror themes, where the player had to scavenge for quest items, resources and blood during 12-minute matches before finding an exit.
  • Hyenas (Cancelled): Included Hero Shooter elements including fixed character classes — the players, the titular Hyenas, were heroic thieves plundering items from Space Stations. A key gimmick was that the extraction point only opens once enough had been stolen while competing teams of players could ambush would-be-escapees and steal their haul.
  • Marathon (202X): A Soft Reboot of the Marathon franchise where the players control "Runners", genetically engineered Remote Body mercenaries searching for riches on an abandoned colony. The reveal trailer strongly suggests a time limit is in play, with a digital countdown timer on the focus character's backpack.
  • Marauders (2022): Set in a space-faring Diesel Punk Alternate History, the player takes the role of one of the eponymous Marauders, completing contracts in order to obtain better gear and ship upgrades.
  • Quasimorph (2023): A Retraux 2D top-down shooter where the player controls cloned Private Military Contractors operating in space — during each mission, you can collect equipment to use in future endeavours, but your entire loadout is lost upon death.
  • The Cycle: Frontier (2022): Follows the Tarkov formula very closely, with the players being scavengers based on a Space Station, searching for loot on an abandoned Death World while competing with other players and building reputation for three different factions. Discontinued and delisted from storefronts in 2023.

Objective-type Extraction Shooters:

  • Deep Rock Galactic (2018) will send four dwarves into the planet in order to perform one of the mining tasks. The team may also collect secondary minerals such as gold or crafting minerals. The team is pressured by waves of enemies and will need to call in extraction when they've finished their objectives, where they flee from the final enemy wave.
  • GTFO (2019): A brutally tough squad-based shooter where teams of players must complete "rundowns" in a mutant-infested Elaborate Underground Base — descending to the required level, completing an objective, then legging it — steadily progressing through a mysterious storyline. The full release in 2021 would make it a downplayed example of the genre by introducing checkpoints in some rundowns.
  • Helldivers (2015): As part of a squad of Helldivers, the players drop from orbit onto a hostile planet, give their enemies a taste of sweet, sweet Managed Democracy, then fall back to an extraction point once the mission is complete and depart via Drop Ship after holding out for a minute and a half at the extraction point. Incorporates some Scavenger elements, given that players can collect Samples during missions to upgrade their Stratagems.
    • Helldivers II (2024) As above, with the perspective changing from top-down to a Third-Person Shooter.
  • Hunt: Showdown (2019): The player is a Hunter of Monsters, pitted against other players in a race to take down a bounty and successfully escape with it. In a slight twist, the game emphasises permadeath — each Hunter is a separate character, and while escaping allows them to level up, dying results in that character and their equipment being lost forever.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist (2011) is probably the Trope Maker. A team of four players attempts to pull off heists, with objectives and loot scattered throughout the map. Once all objectives are complete, unending waves of cops start spawning, forcing the players to head for an escape route. Successful heists reward money and experience, allowing the player to upgrade characters and unlock new loadouts.
    • PAYDAY 2 (2013)
    • PAYDAY 3 (2023)
  • Rainbow Six Extraction (2022): A Spin-Off/Alternate Universe of Rainbow Six Siege where the players control elite operatives fighting the alien Archæans. Players work their way through completing different objectives in every mission, then retreat to an extraction point once they begin to run low on supplies.
  • Second Extinction (2020): The players are a squad of soldiers fighting against mutated dinosaurs on a post-apocalyptic Earth, working towards completing a variety of objectives and then exfiltrating via Drop Ship once done. Discontinued, with servers shutting down in 2024.
  • The End Times: Vermintide (2015) has four heroes fight against swarms of skaven, in order to complete a task and reach the area's exit. They receive a reward at the end of the mission, a random piece of loot. There's also some tomes and grimoires hidden, which occupy an inventory slot but improve the reward when reaching the exit.

Shooters with Extraction game modes:

  • Battlefield 2042 (2021): The "Hazard Zone" mode is an Objective-type experience where players contend with Hostile Weather and computer-controlled enemies to recover, and successfully escape with, data modules from crashed satellites. In 2022, DICE would announce that, while it would remain playable, they were discontinuing further development for Hazard Zone.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022) has the "DMZ" gamemode as part of Warzone 2.0 — players would explore the "Al Mazrah Exclusion Zone" in teams of up to 3 with Scavenger-type loot acquisition and faction objectives being the main draw. Some items and progression rewards acquired here would be usable in other game types.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (2023) would borrow many aspects of "DMZ" for its Zombies mode, with an open world and Advancing Wall of Doom forcing players to extract, as opposed to the round-based horde style in previous games.
  • Fortnite (2017): The "Save The World" PVE mode has missions that involve completing specific objectives before time runs out (Usually 10-20 minutes). These include, but are not limited to:
    • Build The Radar Grid | Build at least 3 radar towers within 20 minutes.
    • Destroy The Encampments | Destroy 5 increasingly-difficult encampments within 20 minutes.
    • Eliminate and Collect | Eliminate at least 100 husks and collect 15 pieces of specimen within 20 minutes.
    • Rescue The Survivors | Rescue at least 6 survivors within 20 minutes.
    • Resupply | Retrieve specific materials within 10 minutes.
  • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (2014) and its sequel Garden Warfare 2 (2016) includes a Downplayed aspect of the genre in the "Garden Ops/Graveyard Ops" mode. After defending an objective from hordes of enemies, the players need to retreat to a landing zone and successfully defend it until they are rescued.
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division (2016):
    • The Dark Zone is a Player Versus Player arena containing some of the best loot in the game, which could only be extracted by calling in a helicopter, leaving plenty of opportunities for hostile players to grab it.
    • In the DLC "Survival" game mode, the player starts with nothing but a pistol and must loot items in order stave off infection, the cold, and numerous enemies to reach a helicopter pad and complete their goal of escaping New York.
  • Warframe (2013): During Missions players can work in teams of up to 4 to complete an objective — upon completion, they must retreat to their Landing Craft in order to successfully complete the mission and receive their loot.

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Extraction Shooter - TV Tropes (2024)

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