Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X|S (Reviewed)
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $89.95 AUD – Available Here
For quite a few years now Capcom has been looking for a multiplayer experience to gain traction and while their previous undertakings with the Resident Evil series have resulted in some less than stellar results, the fairly consistent requests from fans for a Dino Crisis revival has pointed the company in a different direction. No, of course this isn’t a Dino Crisis remake, but Capcom has chosen to focus nearly entirely on Jurassic combat with their latest co-op multiplayer shooter, Exoprimal. With plenty of mech suits to try, dinosaurs to battle against as well as other players, and surprisingly even a storyline to go with it, is Exoprimal a possible multiplayer success for Capcom?
Players take on the role of a freshly recruited exofighter pilot nicknamed Ace who has been assigned to the Hammerhead squadron and given the special task of investigating the events that transpired on the long destroyed island of Bikitoa. Three years prior gigantic vortexes formed across the island, and have spread throughout the world, spilling both normal dinosaurs and enhanced versions into the world and it all seemed to kick off right there on this island. After crash landing on the island, Ace finds themselves forcefully recruited by the rogue AI Leviathan to participate in their wargames against the dinosaurs and other exofighters in the search for the best combat data.
Surprisingly not only is Leviathan capable of transporting Ace back into the past right at the height of the dinosaur outbreak on the island, it is also capable of bringing pilots from across different dimensions to do battle against the dinosaur threat and each other, seeking the best data available for an unknown end. It is up to Ace to work with their Hammerhead team, interdimensional counterparts, and more to try and uncover Leviathan’s plans and the secrets behind these dinosaur outbreaks in what ends up becoming a B-level sci-fi storyline that is far more enjoyable than it has any right to be thanks to its charming cast and interesting ideas.
Exoprimal‘s storyline is an entertaining one and also works quite well with the way the game is structured. As players take part in matches, whether they win or lose, they will make progress in the game’s storyline. This can sometimes mean an entire cutscene with characters talking, making wisecracks, and even interacting with alternate versions of themselves from separate timelines, to simply still images that are then given full voiced descriptions that help flesh out the plot and what is happening in the world of the game. Not only does the storyline contain quite a few surprising reveals and some nice little twists here and there, it also serves as a great reward for playing the game as players will often be able to uncover more of the story alongside their standard battle rewards, at least until the main storyline reaches its conclusion of course and unlocks a yet to be available gameplay mode called Savage Gauntlet..
All combat in Exoprimal takes place in teams of five with the two teams competing against one another in all but one specific game mode. Players can choose to take part in matchmaking that will either automatically search for a PVP based match that will place them in direct competition with the other team during the final objective or a PVE based one that will only offer minor interference through a Dominator. A third, far more valuable option, is letting the game randomly select either of these modes for you and the reason this is actually worth doing is that selecting a random match type will provide a small but notable XP boost to the player’s final score, helping them not only level up their base account level, but also advance along the battle pass and level up their Exosuits faster.
For the most part, each match in Exoprimal will feature the same style of combat with each team of five taking part in wave based combat against a large number of dinosaurs, with more types of dinosaurs and far more dangerous ones appearing as players continue to play the game. The competition here involves “culling” enough of the required dinosaurs fast enough to move onto the next target before the enemy team does, with Leviathan chiming in to tell players whether or not their team is in the lead or falling behind. Once all of the standard missions are completed, the entire team will find itself transported to take on a final objective and the faster they reach this area, the more advantage they will have during the final objective.
This is where PVP or PVE elements will come into play as these final missions can allow for direct combat with the enemy team alongside the standard waves of dinosaurs to slay while completing the final objective. Sometimes the final objective is simply guarding and escorting a data key (payload) while protecting it from dinosaurs and the enemy team, chasing down a fleeing large dinosaur such as a Triceratops and killing it, controlling certain points on the map, item gathering, and more to provide some extra variety during these final confrontations. That being said, while these modes do offer a decent amount of variety through the first few hours of gameplay, they quickly begin to feel similar long before players even complete the main storyline let alone afterwards, especially since the initial rush to the final mission often plays out the same way every time. It is also worth noting that while game modes are planned to be added post-launch, with the first arriving on July 28th, the modes available now are anemic to say the least.
The actual combat in Exoprimal is fast paced, varied, and incredibly engaging thanks to responsive controls and a number of highly enjoyable Exosuits to choose from. Each of the suits available in the game is broken down into three separate categories, Offense, Tank, and Support though even then the way each Exosuit can play can be highly different from another in the same class. One such Tank Suit can deploy a shield that allies can fire through and even bash anything in front of it while another Tank class suit will wield a massive sword to parry, counter, and slash through enemies with ease transforming into a blend of tank and offense. Along these same lines, support Exosuits can focus primarily on healing or buffing others, with one suit capable of flying as well as locking down targets and another capable of dealing plenty of damage while also healing allies by swapping between damaging and healing bullets.
The amount of variety in the way different Exosuits play can make for some incredibly interesting team combinations that can power through the dinosaur threat with ease and when a well-oiled team is moving through challenges, taking down a T-Rex or modified dinosaur is an absolute blast. Movement options feel fast and easy to handle and even reviving fallen teammates is a fairly quick affair, especially with a certain Exosuit that can send out a hologram to revive others. This level of gameplay in the PVE experience is a true delight and can make it easy to sink hours into dino slaying while completing tasks. The same cannot quite be said about the PVP experience unfortunately. As mentioned before, during PVP matches the final objective will place players into the same map, allowing them to fight against one another at the same time they complete objectives. Unfortunately while the game feels properly balanced when it comes to taking on dinosaurs, the balance in PVP is incredibly poor to the point that it makes some Exosuits feel completely useless regardless of their loadout. It is entirely possible to swap between the suit players are using between deaths but not only does this take time, it also leaves the rest of the team scrambling should they find their well-balanced dino slaying team suddenly being wiped by an entire offensive team capable of one-shotting support units and even blasting through a tank’s shield.
On the other side of things, both during PVP matches as well as PVE matches players can find themselves being offered a Dominator. This Dominator will remove its user from the current fight and instead place them in control of an extremely powerful dinosaur capable of unleashing havoc on the enemy team in either gameplay mode. Using the dominator is a very enjoyable experience on either side of the fight, as taking on an intelligent dinosaur controlled by another player feels like a proper challenge while tearing through an enemy team yourself is always a delight. As a result, it often feels like Exoprimal’s primary development cycle was meant to be a PVE experience with some minor interfering through the Dominator, especially thanks to a certain special late-game mode that was then forced to incorporate PVP elements as well, leading to some unbalanced mechanics and a game that feels like it would be far more enjoyable simply being a team-based shooter taking on waves of dinosaurs and gigantic Jurassic creatures only.
As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons players may want to play a randomly chosen match is to gain an experience boost. This applies not only to suits that players will fight with, that then unlock additional modules that can provide various boosts to movement speed, healing, status’, etc. but also their character level and battle pass level. The various items players obtain both through battle passes and chests obtained from leveling are purely cosmetic but it is worth noting that the basic skins and paintjobs in the base experience are incredibly bland, especially compared to what is on offer in the premium battle pass.
Visuals & Audio
Capcom has done a rather amazing job making sure that Exoprimal both looks and ruins impressively no matter what type of action is happening on screen. Players and their team can be battling against waves of raptors while a T. Rex tears through the field and the title will continue to run smoothly. The designs of the dinosaurs are about what players should expect and are impressive in size when players battle larger dinosaurs while the various Exosuits that can be equipped are nicely designed with plenty of little details. As mentioned earlier, the skins available in the generic battle pass and through standard rewards are unfortunately a bit on the simple side, though the premium battle pass does feature some impressive looking skin variations if players are willing to spend a bit extra.
The game features a fairly impressive voice cast, though Leviathan’s voice work as an AI is a bit too generic at times. It is also nice to note that thanks to the game featuring alternate universes there is plenty of room for these voice actors to experiment a bit and it can be a real treat during cutscenes. The soundtrack and sound effects are also handled okay, with dinosaur roars matching what players would expect.
Exoprimal features well-balanced and exciting co-op action with plenty of variety in Exosuits spread across the three primary classes and taking down dinosaurs, be it waves of raptors and towering carnivores to rampaging triceratops and pteranodons, as a team makes for exhilarating gameplay. Unfortunately not only is the game a bit on the bare bones side here at launch but it feels like the PVP elements were either forced in last second or simply poorly balanced to the point that direct team confrontations can feel entirely out of place in what is otherwise a nicely designed packaged that perhaps would be best offered solely as a PVE experience.
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