This Hunt: Showdown-inspired sci-fi extraction shooter is already giving me the F.E.A.R.

A first-person perspective of a soldier carrying a gun making his way through a grey, foreboding forest of dead trees.
(Image credit: Deep Worlds)

Most boots on the ground pseudo-military sims peddle the idea of control. Beautiful Light does not. The extraction shooter peddles in chaos, my teammates unloading on approaching monsters as I try to 3D-print a keycard from this laptop, discarded in the middle of an abandoned village. 

It’s not hard to see Beautiful Light’s influences: the extraction shooter owes a debt to horror fan film SCP: Overlord, but in play the objective-based extraction shooter plays a little like Hunt: Showdown , despite having a flavour all of its own, as several three person teams compete to get their hands on an artefact and hoof it to extraction before you get mauled by the numerous mutants swarming each map or one of the many opposing teams of special ops badasses that are rolling around desperate to get their hands on your artefact. 

In the business, we call this a "hot LZ." (Image credit: Deep Worlds)

This always starts with your team finding one of the laptops to generate your own keycard. Players can generate a keycard at any time, but it only works for them. Hacking is done in real-time on the actual computer screen and my teammates, devs from Beautiful Light creators Deep Worlds, tell me it’s based on a real programming language. It’s lightweight but still feels like a real achievement as gunfire rattles in the background and violence—either actual or implied—is constantly just a few seconds away. 

Then you push towards the high-security facility, fairly safe in the knowledge that every other player on the map will be making their way there or, worse, are already secreted inside one of the facility's blind spots or dark corridors. Firefights ensue, and are instantly lethal: a clean round to the head or a burst of gunfire to the body will end most fights, while the fully automatic weapons I got my hands on buck and jump with recoil that means you’re going to want to learn a bit of trigger control, at least.

We played with three teams of four, while the finished game is aiming to include six squads in each match, but there was still plenty of fighting. In the early phase, everyone is searching for their nearest laptop, and there are enough laptops scattered about the place that teams felt quite distant, but inside the facility there’s close-quarters combat the whole way through as everyone comes together for the same prize. 

Firefights ensue, and are instantly lethal: a clean round to the head or a burst of gunfire to the body will end most fights

PvP combat with high-end military weapons in run-down urban environments will sound like a similar experience to its extraction shooter cousin Escape From Tarkov, but Deep Worlds are describing the game as an objective-based extraction shooter where loot is secondary to the artefact itself, and this gives it a distinct feel. 

It’s much simpler to pick up at this stage than many other extraction shooters too. A tablet slapped to your wrist gives you an instant glimpse at the map with a press of the tab key, and ghostlike dots highlight your team, making keeping track of everyone easier than several other games in the genre. You can revive downed teammates, and several ammo stashes will let you quickly reload in the field. 

Beautiful Light feels, even at this early stage where the UI has several placeholder elements, like a surprisingly polished game. The maps are intricately detailed, with burnt forests and grimy buildings all feeling fairly true to life. On the other hand, weapons look clean and functional, tools for getting a job done. I didn’t get to look at the weapon modification on offer—this playtest showed very little of the metagame underpinning Beautiful Light, only letting us play the in-game portion—but the randomly generated weapons we were kitted out with made shootouts into tense matches of cat and mouse rather than the “instant kill from 500m” that Escape From Tarkov and even occasionally Hunt: Showdown can inflict on unfortunate players. 

Hacking will require a healthy dose of smarts and some fast fingers. (Image credit: Deep Worlds)

Of course, if that doesn’t appeal there’s Beautiful Light’s twist in the tale. After playing a couple of raids against players, the developers nudged me towards going hands on with the Anomaly, a player-controlled monster that can scuttle through vents and climb any surface. Remember Hidden: Source? So does someone at Deep Worlds. With a click of the left mouse button you can lunge at high speed, while a click of the right will have you sticking to any surface like an industrial strength adhesive, letting you move rapidly around the map high above the eyes of curious enemies.

A beautiful place to die. (Image credit: Deep Worlds)

In the open map this is occasionally terrifying, an unease born out of hearing your enemy without being able to get a clear line of sight. Descend into the darkened facility and it’s scary in a whole other way as the anomaly can burst out of a vent or drop down from an inky corner, causing players to erupt into panic, gunfire spraying the walls. 

If Beautiful Light can keep this blend of horror, military sim and accessible gunplay, as the game adds more content and beefs up for its planned 2025 Early Access release, it might be onto a winner. Right now though, there’s more than enough to be excited about, and it’s not hard to imagine the game reverberating with players who are craving something a bit different in a well-colonised genre.