My most anticipated co-op shooter just pivoted to an extraction shooter, and playtest signups are live

Arc Raiders
(Image credit: Embark Studios)

You know that one game that you barely know anything about but find yourself giddily excited for anyways? That game for me is Arc Raiders, a third-person shooter from Embark Studios announced as a co-op game back in 2021. We haven't heard much about Arc Raiders since Embark pushed it back last year in favor of releasing its debut multiplayer FPS first: The Finals.

It turns out Embark hasn't just been continuing development on Arc Raiders since then, it's been reworking it completely into a PvPvE extraction shooter. Executive producer Aleksander Grøndal explained the change in a dev blog published today.

"Over the course of development, ARC Raiders has taken the shape of what we believe to be a truly promising PvPvE survival extraction shooter—a game that stays true to the ARC Raiders universe and that we’re having a blast testing internally."

Arc Raiders' metamorphosis reflects a growing enthusiasm in multiplayer shooters for the "extraction" format: an offshoot of battle royale popularized by Hunt: Showdown and Escape From Tarkov (and more recently Warzone 2's DMZ mode) that emphasizes player-defined goals in spaces with both real-player threats and AI enemies. In Arc Raiders, those AI enemies will be literal robots that patrol a post-apocalyptic Earth.

"Arc Raiders drops players into a lethal but stunningly beautiful future earth, with hair-raising moments of survival and suspense," explains Grøndal. "Human versus machine, human versus human, together or alone, and you versus the sometimes conflicting nature of your own humanity, all in the spectacular backdrop of a landscape littered with the haunting remains of the past."

Still, the extraction genre is new enough that Embark's idea of an "extraction shooter" might differ from what I expect. It's not yet clear if Arc Raiders will be more like Tarkov with regular progression wipes and a focus on faction missions or more like Hunt, which focuses on shorter-term character growth and deeper PvE combat.

Luckily, Embark is holding a closed playtest that may let you find out for yourself. You can sign up for playtesting on the Arc Raiders Steam page right now, though know that the test will be "closed and under NDA, because work remains on the game and we’re not quite ready to reveal everything about it."

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.