Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: July 14, 2023


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Exoprimal'

by Cody Medellin on March 16, 2023 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Exoprimal is a team-based action game set to unleash a prehistoric blast from the past on the near future, blending a new co-op experience with a competitive edge.

When you talk about Capcom and team-based multiplayer, the thing that comes to most people's minds is Monster Hunter. The long-running series has become something of a global hit thanks to the thrill of hunting down large monsters; the titles require good coordination, weapon selection, and a bit of luck to take down the beasts with a party by your side. The company has previously tried this with Lost Planet 2, which took the alien-blasting original and transformed it into something similar to Monster Hunter.

If you haven't seen any of the trailers for Exoprimal yet, you may think that you're going into a game that's like Lost Planet 2 but with dinosaurs instead of frozen aliens. Instead, the game plays out more like Capcom's take on the Earth Defense Force series, with dinosaurs replacing the giant bugs. You aren't fighting off against too many strange variations of well-known dinosaur types, but the game has some absurd visuals, such as a waterfall of raptors pouring in from a portal. Your main antagonist is an AI that's tasked you with fighting these dinosaurs over and over again. The opening cut scene treats the arrival of the dinosaur flood like a normal weather report about incoming rain.

The closed beta begins with a basic tutorial that shows off three of the classes. The assault class is the basic run-and-gun type but with the ability to put up barriers for a limited field of protection. The tank is a punching machine but also can deploy a mobile shield to further protect allies from harm. The assist class is a basic healer, and while they can stun enemies with an electric shock, their most interesting power comes from summoning a dinosaur that can be controlled to wreak havoc on the field. There are a few variations of each class in the form of different characters and armor types, and they come with either a gun or sword for their main weapon.

Each class also has a variety of special moves they can call upon, whether it's a turret or bullet barrage. When coupled with the small bits of personality that get hinted at when unleashing these attacks, you'll get a bit of an Overwatch vibe, minus the distinct characters. It helps that each class feels very solid based on personal play and reports from the people we teamed up with, including our very own Adam Pavlacka, who rolled with the tank class most of the time. One thing you will appreciate is that you can change out the class in the middle of a match and not only before respawning. It does mean a short period of time of being completely vulnerable with a lowly pistol as your only defense, but it's a handy way to balance things out or return to something more comfortable if your chosen class isn't cutting it.

The beta's lone mode is Dino Survival, and it can be best described as a PvPvE mode. Played in two teams of five, the objective is to make your way through a level and complete the presented challenges before reaching the final round. Tasks are randomly chosen, so there's no guarantee that you play through the same scenario type upon repeat visits. Some tasks are as simple as meeting the quota of killed dinosaurs, sometimes while protecting an artifact like your VTOL. Other tasks have you taking down bigger dinosaur types like a triceratops or T-Rex. The whole thing is a race, since completing each objective gives you a verbal status report on your opposition along with ghost images of their status, so you'll know if they're still in combat or sprinting to the next hotspot.

The earlier comparison to Earth Defense Force is apt because of how the battles play out. Hordes of raptors and compsognathus swarm you, and while a few might break away and try to get you from behind, most are there as cannon fodder. Ankylosaurus, T-Rexes, and triceratops stomp around and charge at you. The fighting is surprisingly enjoyable at this stage in the game's development.

One thing that we didn't expect are buffs. If you're falling behind, the AI might introduce a special dinosaur that you'll need to kill. Do so, and the leading team will get an especially hard dinosaur to kill or a general difficulty level increase. It's novel and feels like a fair way to ensure that contests aren't determined too early on.

Completing your objectives in a timely manner gives you the advantage of entering the final stage first, and this is a little different due to the randomly selected final objective. The beta gives you one of three objectives to complete, and this is where PvP comes into play. You're now dealing with the dinosaur hordes and the other team of fighters. In continuing with the Overwatch comparisons, one round type has you escorting an energy crate from one destination to another and then protecting it as it gets prepped for teleportation. The energy crate can't be destroyed, but it can get stalled by making it reach its damage threshold — a viable strategy to slow down the enemy team. Cartridge retrieval has you collecting 100 energy cartridges as they spawn into the field in groups. Destroying dinosaurs does nothing, but killing enemy humans means depleting their chip supply and taking it for your own. Finally, there's a hammer mode where one person on the team needs to take a hammer and break down barrier locks before going to the final arena and doing the same there. This time, killing dinosaurs is paramount, since more kills equals more energy for the hammer to break the lock.

Compared to the previous rounds, the final one is chaotic since you're blasting everything in sight. The presence of human enemies means that your chances of dying are increased; they'll whittle down your health and the number of dinosaurs increases tenfold. It becomes a mad scramble, but it feels exhilarating once everyone understands the objective.

There are some things that can still use some TLC before Exoprimal hits retailers. The voice chat kicks in once you reach the pre-match screen but quickly shuts off when you get to the final scoreboard. This also happens when you have a party of friends, and that presents a quandary. You'll either use Discord or Steam Voice Chat to talk between rounds but will want to shut it off in a match since you'll want to talk over the in-game voice chat. Pro streamers might have already devised a system for handling this, but it remains an annoyance for everyone else. The game does a good job of filling in empty spots with bots, but it takes a while to search for a match before going with bots. Confirming any option is a multi-button process, since you'll need to select something and then confirm it before the game recognizes your choice. The buttons can be difficult to read due to the color scheme of the HUD.

The overall presentation is quite nice. The texture work and animations and models for the dinosaurs are well done, and the same can be said for the humans who look like they stepped out of Anthem. The most impressive thing is the sheer number of dinosaurs that can be on-screen at any time, especially with the constant particle effects and explosions. The game doesn't slow down, and despite the chaos, it's quite easy to take a quick read of the field and know what to do.

Currently, the game doesn't work on the Steam Deck unless you change some compatibility settings first. Default settings get you to the initial language selection screen before it crashes to the Deck's OS. Use something like Glorious Eggroll's Proton 7-28, and the game crashes before you reach the epilepsy warning. The latest Proton Experimental is the only thing that'll get you into gameplay, and what you get is pretty good. During the tutorial, the frame rate hovers in the 40fps range, with dips only occurring when you change suits. Settings are a mix of low to medium, and the battery life gets close to two hours on a full charge. Considering that the game runs with Easy Anti-Cheat and is online only, this kind of compatibility early on is a good sign that Steam Deck players can see this game be tweaked further to get a Playable badge.

There's a lot of potential in Exoprimal. The idea of mindlessly blasting dinosaurs is novel, and the solid gameplay keeps you going to see what ridiculous situation may pop up next. The action is chaotic, and the multiplayer is strong enough that you'll want to go another round, regardless of whether you win or lose. We hope that there's something here aside from the multiplayer component, since the lore seems tailor-made for a campaign. We hope to revisit that topic when Exoprimal gets closer to its release date of July 14, 2023.

More articles about Exoprimal
blog comments powered by Disqus