Exoprimal feels like it’s already fighting from underneath, as it might not have been what many long term Capcom fans were hoping for when it was originally announced. This isn’t Capcom’s first dalliance with dinosaurs in their games after all. Dino Crisis is sitting right there, waiting for a Resident Evil level remake all of its own, but that’s a whole other issue. The point is, Exoprimal is already sitting in a precarious position, and after playing the beta for a few hours, I’m not sure if it’ll ever escape it.
It’s not that Exoprimal is a bad game, because how could the prospect of murdering thousands of dinosaurs while wearing an exosuit ever be a bad thing? There’s incredible fun to be had here, even if it’s just in the spectacle of seeing an overwhelming tidal wave of raptors looking to tear you and your squad to pieces. With a range of classes, weapons, tools and enemies, along with some unique ideas, Exoprimal will definitely be a hit for some people, but it might just be too complicated to gain a mainstream foothold.
The core gimmick with Exoprimal, aside from the dinosaurs and exosuits, is that it’s a 5v5, PvPvE hero shooter. That’s fairly complex in and of itself, but on top of that, the mode featured in the Open Beta, Dino Survival, plays out like a race rather than a straightforward deathmatch. Both teams compete separately to complete a series of objectives as quickly as possible, including protecting certain locations or culling massive amounts of dinos, before being whisked away to a final mission, and it’s here where PvP comes into play.
Players pick their exosuits from one of three classes, Assault, Tank and Support, and they can freely switch characters to suit the team’s needs better either on the fly or whenever they die. You’ve got your standard archetypes here, with Deadeye being your typical gunner class, Vigilant acting as a sniper, while Roadblock and Witchdoctor are your aggro pulling barrier tank and AoE healer respectively.
Obviously, there’s more characters than just those four, but each one has their own role and function, and teams do better when a wide range of bases are covered. Having at least one tank and support on your team will put you in a better position most of the time, though good luck trying to explain that one to any random players on your team who are refusing to switch off the Assault classes. It’d be interesting to see if Exoprimal would benefit from some kind of Role Queue system like Overwatch, locking people into classes before a match starts, but that’s likely an issue for when the game comes out.
The gameplay itself is fast and frantic, as you’re almost always being inundated on all sides by dinosaurs or other threats, which is certainly exciting. For the most part, you’re also made to feel powerful enough to deal with these threats, with Roadblock in particular being a particular highlight. Holding your barrier up to stem the tide of raptors, with dozens of them pushing your back only for you to hit a shield bash and send them all flying, is utterly brilliant.
As the Dino Survival mode is like a race, Exoprimal also has catch up mechanics and other ways to screw with the opposing team. The losing side is often given tools like the Dominator, which allows a player to become a dinosaur for a short while, causing some havoc for the enemy team. Pulling off a good use of a Dominator and tearing through an enemy team is great fun, though a coordinated team can easily fend off a rampaging player dinosaur.
Like a T-rex’s dinner, there’s so much to sink your teeth into with Exoprimal, but at a certain point, it might be that the game will become its own biggest obstacle. Perhaps this is coming from a place of personal bias, but I happen to love games that do things a little differently, but over the past few years, so many games like that have been shut down, delisted and removed entirely from storefronts, never to be seen again. Games like Rumbleverse, Gigantic, Knockout City and others, a lot of which have been endorsed on this website.
With Exoprimal’s various idiosyncrasies, it feels like it might struggle to find an audience beyond the usual diehards, especially because that the game is launching for £50 with no campaign or single-player story content to speak of. Sure, Exoprimal is launching onto Xbox Game Pass on day one, so there’s going to be some players at launch, but a near full-price launch for an online-only multiplayer game these days is almost a death sentence in and of itself.
There’s a lot of potential here with Exoprimal, but it’s a case of whether or not anyone will be there to pick up what the game is putting down. My heart wants to say yes, because I did have quite a bit of fun with this scrappy dino shooter, but seeing other multiplayer games be shut down recently has made me cautious. Let’s just pray we don’t see Exoprimal going extinct.
An Xbox beta key was provided for the purposes of this preview.
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