Exoprimal review: Dinos couldn't save this crisis
When I heard that Exoprimal would be about dinosaurs, it immediately grabbed my attention. As a kid who was mesmerized by Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park series, these extinct creatures have always had a special place in my heart. Killing them may not be the perfect way to express it; but as a gamer who thrives on shooters in first or third person, Exoprimal had every element to excite me.
After investing almost eight hours in the last couple of days, I can say that Exoprimal is a fun game, but it has failed to meet my expectations. Capcom's original tries to captivate players in a place that is unique, but lacks the innovation to do so to its maximum potental.
While it is mostly focused on multiplayer and co-op, there is still a story that you can follow. The world that you live in is quite different from its real counterpart. Three years ago, some space-time rifts created unexplained vortexes worldwide that led to the reign of dinosaurs, the creatures that died millions of years ago due to meteor showers.
Exoprimal - Pacific Rim meets Overwatch, Dino outbreak, and a missed opportunity
You play as a character named Ace, an exofighter in the Hammerhead's squad. While you do have the freedom to customize your character depending on your choices, it won't affect the story whatsoever. As you embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of this new world, you'll fight hordes of various dinosaurs, some big bosses, and human enemies as well.
The game's storyline immediately hooked me into exploration as it has all the elements I wanted for this sci-fi prehistoric multiplayer shooter. Time travel, cool portals with dinosaurs, Pacific Rim-esque mech-suits, and an unexplained AI named Leviathan that sends you into a wargame guided by augmented reality; what more could you want? And what's the purpose behind all of these? That's for you to figure out.
The most important thing you must remember is that Exoprimal is not a narrative-driven game. It's mostly a hero-shooter, where you'll find various objectives to complete with your teammates and against your opponents.
Each team consists of five players with different classes. The primary mode of Dino Survival will not only set you the objective to progress, but also pit you against your foe to see which one of you is the best. However, there are times when a bigger crisis will require you to make a pact and take down the common enemy together.
Exosuits are an interesting addition, but could have packed more punch
Exoprimal currently has 10 different exosuits that are divided into three categories; Assault, Tank, and Support. As a player who loves to engage in deadly combat, I immediately picked Deadeye up; it comes under the Assault category.
By using Deadeye, you can easily engage in medium and long-range gunfights. And just like other hero shooters, all the exosuits also have different abilities.
The Roadblock exosuit in the Tank category reminded me of Orissa from Overwatch 2 a little bit. Both of them use some sort of shield to prevent incoming attacks. Using its energy beam, you can also use the Witchdoctor to heal your teammates and attack your opponents and dinosaurs. Although I still have to try out the other exosuits, but I did not find much variety in the gameplay mechanics to intrigue me and check everything out.
As you play the PvP/PvE mode Dino Survival, you simultaneously continue your journey through the story. While it started with time travel, a parallel world, and more mysteries lurking behind the shadows, it eventually failed to hold my interest to invest more time in it.
One cool thing that I feel is unique and extremely fun is the introduction of Dominators in this mode. Not only do you fight with your exosuits against your foes, but you can also control a dinosaur and send it to fight your battles. It's a rig known as Dominator. You can summon a big creature to battle in the wargames by activating it and controlling it to decimate your foes; that's a cool way to play it.
Dino Survival lacks innovation, but is an honest effort
You can choose if you want to play a round of PvP or PvE. Needless to say, the PvP in the mode is way more fun as it requires you to engage directly with the other team from the parallel world as the AI converges both.
However, that comes in the final round. Before that, both teams must complete certain objectives, like killing a swarm of dinosaurs or holding control points. After each match, there will be a cutscene that continues the story you started with. Although, it feels bland due to its repetitive match style and lack of mission variety.
There are a total of 12 kinds of missions/gameplay modes that you can play right now. Except for the Neo T. Rex, which features a mutated T. Rex for both teams to take down, I found nothing unique in the game modes. Whether Escort or Uplink Control, every mission’s layout feels the same, diminishing the fun.
If I see the missions from a completely multiplayer perspective, Exoprimal is similar to other hero shooters. However, with a continuous story that fails to impress, and the PvP and PvE elements, the game is a mixed bag of experiences, and it isn’t easy to keep your focus with all that going on.
Repetitive combat mechanism, Overwatch-esque elements
Coming to the combat mechanics, I mostly used the Assault type exosuit as I love being the one who fires weapons from the front. Exoprimal doesn’t have a massive skill gap like other multiplayer games in recent years. The learning curve is basic and simple, despite all the abilities you need to learn.
The biggest setback I faced in combat was the lack of precision the game needed. When hundreds of dinosaurs crash at you like waves, you fire your weapons instead of focusing on where to.
As the game promised you’d fight against many dinosaurs, I wanted it to be similar to Days Gone. While fighting a horde of zombies, you need to be tactical and precise, but the multiplayer aspect and extremely fast-paced movement has made Exoprimal more casual than it needed to be.
Compared to the PvE elements, Exoprimal does way better when you fight another player. You use your abilities, coordinate with your teammates, and be precise; that’s all you need to beat the opponent team in the last round. Surprisingly, it is more fun than just killing dinosaurs, which does not possess a big threat once you know how to deal with them.
Graphics and performance
Visually, Exoprimal is a game without over-the-top graphics, but it's not bad either. I do believe the developer could have done the Raptors better, though.
The best work that it did was with the neosaurs. These mutated abominations were imbued with unstable energy while traveling through the vortex barriers, and they are pretty dangerous. I still have to explore all of them, so ranking which one is the best looking doesn't seem like a good idea right now.
As for the overall atmosphere and foliage, it worked pretty well with my RTX 3060. The game is well-optimized on PC, and there was never a frame drop for a second despite the 60 FPS cap.
One thing I noticed is that this game's reflections need some work. When there is a reflective surface like water, they get distorted a bit occasionally. It can be a small bug as well and can be fixed easily.
Exoprimal’s server is also running great, as it did not take more than a minute to find any match. I do wish there was a single-player campaign that could focus more on the story. However, playing Exoprimal with your friends on a lazy Sunday is extremely fun for a casual hero shooter.
While the developer tried to build a brand new experience for players to embark upon, many elements simultaneously made the game a mixed bag. It's cool to fight against a dinosaur outbreak, but it could have also packed a punch in terms of gameplay mechanics and the narrative.
Exoprimal is an honest effort that engaged me for quite some time, but I’m not sure what the future holds for the title or if I’ll try it again soon. It tries to bring a plethora of things together, but the execution is where it falls short, and a dino crisis is not enough to save the day.
Reviewed on: PC (Code provided by Capcom)
Platform(s): PC, PS5
Release date: July 14, 2023