Like all live service games, Exoprimal is going to live and die by its player population. If it catches on, it might not go the way of the dinosaurs. Although it's frontloaded by the same repetitive content, if you give it a chance, Exoprimal offers so much more in its later hours. Since I thoroughly enjoyed Exoprimal in most aspects, the least I can do is tell you why you shouldn't skip out on this one.
Exoprimal is a cooperative third-person action game developed and published by Capcom. Two teams of five compete head-to-head and race against each other to complete objectives faster than the other, which occasionally leads to direct confrontation. With a full story and 10 powered Exosuits to choose from, gameplay is where Exoprimal truly shines.
Slaying Dinos Never Felt So Good in Exoprimal
Fans of Gears of War's Horde mode or Call of Duty's Zombies will find much to love with Exoprimal. There's something so satisfying about slaying waves upon waves of enemies, and Exoprimal certainly doesn't hold back. Fighting against overwhelming odds is a staple of this game, and it's not uncommon to see hundreds of dinosaurs on screen at once.
Spilling forth from time distortions are dinosaurs thirsty for Exofighter blood. The first five hours or so are rather repetitive in that you're seeing the same dinosaur types in the same two or so maps. Come to find out, Exoprimal makes a bad first impression. By progressing the story, you'll start to see that Capcom was more ambitious than we thought.
Indeed, there are many more dinosaur types than I expected. you'll go from fighting hordes of vicious raptors and flying pteranodons to, eventually, dinosaurs that have more in common with Lovecraft than the Jurassic period. As a result, fighting dinosaurs in later games feel much more robust and diversified.
Most dinosaurs have their own moves and weak spots. The triceratops, for instance, has a broad and sturdy head. Shooting the head does little damage, so while the tank of your group of Exofighters tries to get the triceratops' attention, the rest of the group should try to get around the head and shoot its weaker body.
The T. Rex, on the other hand, is as vicious as you'd expect. Where it lacks in armor it makes up for it in sheer power and damage output. As you play and progress through Exoprimal's stages, your tactics will have to change as well, which creates an exciting and frantic environment.
From what I can tell, there are around five different stages in Exoprimal. You'll end up playing the two or three for most of the game, which is a shame. Strangely, seeing a brand new map after hours and hours of gameplay makes the somewhat repetitive cycle of the maps a bit more exciting.
Map encounters are randomized, so you'll have different objectives and routes every time. Most of the time, you're tasked with killing a set amount of dinosaurs in an area, but other times you'll have to defend an area or escort an NPC. Despite the simplicity of these objectives, the absolute absurdity of slaying thousands of dinosaurs per map never gets old.
The jewel of Exoprimal's stages, however, is when all ten fighters are transported into one area and must work together as a team. Typically, this happens when a critical part of the story is reached. With nine allies on your team, the action is amped up to 11 and the sheer amount of dinosaurs that spill forth from these rifts reach the point of absurdity.
Exoprimal's Tools of the Trade
There's something therapeutic about Exoprimal, and that's in part due to the number of dinosaurs Capcom shoves in front of you. The second part of it is the Exosuits themselves, which make your average Spartan from Halo look like a normal soldier by comparison.
Exosuits are split into three basic roles: assault, tank, and support. The roles are self-explanatory, with assault fulfilling the damage-dealing role, tank to soak up damage and support to heal and aid allies. I made sure to try out every suit, and Capcom does a wonderful job at creating a diversified and exciting roster of Exosuits to choose from.
Indeed, no suit feels the same -- even those within the same category feel unique. Assault's Deadeye is your standard run-and-machine gun class with a grenade launcher. It's a safe, inoffensive option. Seeing the impact of your grenade on a horde of raptors never failed to delight me.
Zephyr, a fun melee-based Assault class is quite different from the Deadeye and zooms around the map, slashing through enemies at close range. The other two Assault classes -- Barrage and Vigilant -- fulfill their own niche, making a diversified group of suits to choose from.
Tanks are fun in their own right, and my favorite of the three is most certainly the Roadblock. This hulking mass of armored steel can taunt enemies and block hundreds of smaller dinosaurs at the same time with its shield.
With the Roadblock, I pulled off some cinematic and just stupidly awesome feats of strength. Going toe-to-toe with a charging triceratops and single-handedly stopping its charge is so ridiculous, but so cool.
The Support variant of Exosuits is an invaluable asset to any team. Not only do they heal allies, but they also typically have some way to crowd-control enemies or debuff them.
The quirkiest of these suits is the Witchdoctor. Armed with a staff that shocks foes at close range, groups of dinosaurs can get stunned and mopped up by your Assault class comrades. Hell, the Support Exosuit Nimbus can straight-up fly, which no other in the game can claim to do.
As you can tell, suits are quite diverse. The depth of Exosuits only deepens as you progress and level them up. Attaching various modules to your suit enhance its abilities in wonderful ways. The potency and range of the Witch Doctor's shock staff can be amplified through the use of a module.
In essence, you're able to tweak these Exosuits to your preferred playstyle, adding unexpected depth to Exoprimal's gameplay. Some modules, while a tad mundane with simple stat increases, add to the feeling of progression and increase your power in a gratifying way.
Exoprimal's Biggest Folly
Alas, as much as I'd like to say Exoprimal was an excellent game, the presentation of the story truly hindered my enjoyment. I don't think I've come across a story as promising yet uninteresting as Exoprimal's. While there's a genuinely deep narrative woven throughout this game, its portrayal leaves much to be desired.
Players experience the story by gathering data from their missions. Data is then thrown into an in-game database. This database is full of nothing but audio logs, and it's through audio logs that 95 percent of the story is told. It's genuinely difficult to pay attention or care about a story comprising nothing but static images, and characters talking about these images.
With dozens upon dozens of these logs in the database, you're likely going to be tired of the whole ordeal before you've reached even halfway completion. Occasional cutscenes primarily take place within the same exact location and feature the same handful of characters talking with each other.
One of the most bizarre choices Capcom made with Exoprimal is its silent protagonist. You're Ace, a badass Exosuit pilot that is portrayed as much of a character as the rest of your crew. Except, where everyone else has a voice actor and personality, you do not.
Characters often talk to and refer to Ace, but Ace just stands there and makes a small gesture or facial expression in response. That's... it. It's a puzzling choice given the Exosuits themselves talk and have more unique personalities, even though Ace is the one piloting them.
I wouldn't be so disappointed if there wasn't some promise found within the story. For some background information, your Exofighter crew crashes on the island of Bikitoa, where a terrible incident took place, destroying most of the island's population and is also the cause of dinosaur outbreaks across the globe.
Unraveling the mystery and escaping this island is your goal. The mystery deepens and unfurls as you progress, showing that the narrative is actually more complex than it would appear.
Exoprimal didn't really need a reason to justify us fighting dinosaurs. It's such a ridiculous concept, I don't think anyone would question it. Yet, the lengths it goes to expand upon why dinosaurs are appearing, why you're forced to fight against them and so much more -- it's truly intriguing were it not for this lame attempt at conveying a story through a glorified audio book.
Exoprimal Review | Final Thoughts
This game's longevity is entirely dependent on its player base. While Capcom already has a strong roadmap paving the road ahead -- one filled with Capcom crossovers and even new game modes -- I fear most won't give Exoprimal a fair shot.
The story can be skipped, but the initial several hours of gameplay cannot, and I'm afraid the opening might just be too sparse in content to attract an audience. What held me over was the excellent gameplay on top of the superb graphics and sound design that we've come to expect from a premium Capcom title.
If you do decide to give Exoprimal a shot, stick with it. My initial score for Exoprimal shot up significantly, and it's because this game kept surprising me in so many different ways. With even more content on the way, I can see this becoming an unlikely hit -- if, and only if, its player population doesn't make this game go the way of the dinosaur first.
Exoprimal was reviewed on PS5 with a copy provided by the developer over the course of 20 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Satisfying Gameplay that Opens Up Over Time
- Exosuits are Diverse and Fun to Use
- Graphics and Overall Presentation are Excellent
- Frontloaded with Repetitive Content -- Until Later
- Uninteresting Method of Storytelling