Also On: PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC
I don’t even know where to begin. Like many things I love as of late, I go in with cautiously placed optimism. Most people that read my reviews know my love of Capcom and most titles they release. Exoprimal was one, that like most Capcom fans watching the reveal thought, was we were getting a new Dino Crisis. Even one of the main characters looks like Regina. Well, clearly this was not the case, but instead a multiplayer focused 5v5 experience with a story threaded in between matches.
For the record, I’m not one who is very experienced with these types of games, so we will also be treated to some thoughts from fellow editor Tyler Nethers, as we played together during the review process.
I wanted to like Exoprimal and tried to play a match a day when I could not log in for multiple sessions due to varying lengths of matches, but something held back the experience. Only having one mode, which again may be to focus on engaging in the story after playing a good number of matches. As you play matches, win, or lose, you get access to cinematics or visual notes to dive more into the story and what seems to be a sort of loop you are stuck in, which I guess justifies the play mechanic.
The initial portion of the game gives you a tutorial of how the Exosuits work and a bit of a field test with three to get started. Each fall under different classes which help build a full team that works together. You have your Tanks, Assaults and Support. I have to say, the designs of the Exosuits is my favorite part of the game — as they do look kick-ass. The overall feel of the game is smooth as well and there are no performance hiccups which helps the overall experience.
One thing that did hinder the experience for us is we (Tyler and myself) didn’t get to play all matches together and I played a good amount solo. The challenge with this is, if we played together more my progress will not move forward since he was behind. This is disappointing and led to us playing less together due to schedules.
If you do not play with others on a headset or be vocal in a match it can make it very difficult to win matches as teamwork in Exoprimal is a core factor. I lost plenty of matches and I felt a large reason was due to my team picking similar Exosuits and missing an important class, and with no one playing Support, you may as well restart. The combat gives me Left 4 Dead vibes with the sheer volume of enemies, but something about thousands of Raptors pouring out of a big purple slime ball in the sky hits different.
The main premise of the matches is fighting hordes of dinos of all shapes and sizes and finishing before the opposing team. You can choose PvP or PvE or both, I prefer PvE but we did both and one of the coolest components was being able to take control of a large dinosaur and fight the opposing team during the tail end of matches — which can help turn the tide in your favor.
As you play, you progress through the story and level up the Exosuit of choice, which could be a drag if you like to play with various suits and classes. There is a Battle Pass in place also that has its own leveling which is a bit slower than the character leveling. I think once I play a bit more through the season the game will open a bit more and give more level and enemy variety. I just feel locking the story behind a multiplayer mode is a drag but again I see potential here. I’ll let Tyler share his thoughts which may not be as favorable.
Note: Capcom provided us with Exoprimal PlayStation codes for review purposes.
I bounced pretty hard off Exoprimal. A tedious tutorial leads directly into your multiplayer matches which make up the entirety of the game, and offer hardly any reason to stick with it. Playing co-op with Benny was neat, but there is very little team synergy or opportunity to work together. It is a kill fest with busy-ness all over the screen at all times and no real incentive to participate beyond simply killing your fair share of dinosaurs (who quickly wear out both their welcome and their novelty). In a game that so very clearly wanted to model certain aspects of itself on Overwatch, it completely missed the mark.
The conclusion of the semi-asynchronous multiplayer can take several different forms, but a common one is a payload escort that leads to actual PvP fighting, while also fending off the dinosaurs being thrown at you. This combat is messy and ill-defined, just like the parameters for success. The basic principle of “kill all of your dinosaurs at pre-defined locations before the opposing team does and race to the finish” does very little to encourage any further engagement, and the paper-thin story doesn’t offer anything in the way or intrigue either. You unlock new cutscenes and story beats by completing certain numbers of multiplayer matches, but since both the story and the gameplay are lackluster, to say the least, neither one really incentivized me to dig deeper.
Most of the comparisons that spring to mind initially are to Anthem, which is an unfortunate game to find yourself compared with. I, for one, saw the potential with Anthem, while I, unfortunately, do not with Exoprimal. The entire concept feels half-baked and uninspired, which is frustrating in a game with so much promise. “Pilot a giant mech and kill hordes of dinosaurs” should be a relatively simple premise to make exciting, but Exoprimal manages to be one of the most boring games in recent memory. Each match felt like a chore, and I bowed out after just a few hours and let Benny finish out his time for the review.
Exoprimal seemed like it would be a fresh, exciting new experience at first look, but unfortunately only manages to pull comparisons to other poorly executed games while making me wish I was playing something else at every turn. I do not see myself ever diving back in with future updates, as the core gameplay loop is fundamentally at odds with what I find fun in a game. I am incredibly disappointed with this game, but glad Benny was able to find a few silver linings during his time with it.