Exoprimal day one impressions: Is it worth trying? – paynews

Dino-mite

Exoprimal seemed to drift on and off my radar leading up to its launch. It was the game that would show up on a stream, I’d gleefully take in all the cheesiness of a mech-powered dino-horde defense shooter, and move on. Even after playing the beta, Exoprimal didn’t leave too much of a lasting impression.

So maybe that’s why, as I spend today playing the launch version of Exoprimal, I’m a bit surprised by how much I’m enjoying the experience. It’s not taking my breath away, but it’s not boring either. Exoprimal is pretty okay. And yes, part of that is because it’s a game about piloting a mech suit against a horde of otherworldly dinosaurs. It’s fun for a squad, but it’s got an asterisk or two on it.

If you’re unaware of the pitch, Exoprimal is a new shooter from Capcom where mech suit (Exosuit) pilots team up in virtual wargames to take on hordes of dinosaurs that spawn from interdimensional portals. Using a variety of powerful Exosuits—with apparently quite shapely posteriors—you fend off the prehistoric threat alongside your team.

Prehistoric payload

The actual cadence of Exoprimal is bizarre, to say the least. After booting up the game, you watch a few fake commercials for Aibius. They’re the sort of overly produced and polished, cheerful corpo-messages you’d expect to see at the start of a zombie outbreak film. Rather than the walking dead, it’s dinos. And Aibius dispatches willing volunteers, your own create-a-character named Ace included, to deal with the literal torrential dino downpours.

It’s nonsensical. But, it also feels like Capcom knows just how bizarre its premise is, and leans into it. Some of the line deliveries and gags gave me immediate Wanted: Dead vibes. The very premise of being trapped on an island, after some catastrophic events transpire, and forced to participate in war games by a seemingly rogue AI is already bonkers. Then, add dinosaurs.

Screenshot by Destructoid

I still don’t really know why the dinosaurs are in Exoprimal, to be honest. That’s part of the appeal; as you complete multiplayer matches, you unlock lost data. This feeds into a literal mystery circle, where you unlock text entries, static briefings, and eventually story cutscenes delving into the island’s mysteries. It would feel more like Lost, if Lost also had robot suits and dinosaurs.

It works, though! Seriously, it does, if only in a cheesy, not-at-all-serious manner. I’m weirdly curious about how Capcom is going to string this all together. Already, some of the strange early twists have given me a chuckle, if nothing else. But that’s the bizarre, strange story that will take many, many multiplayer matches to see through. Let’s talk about the combat itself.

Past vs. future

Each match will roughly play out the same. In the first phase, your team of five races against a paired enemy team to move around a map, taking out waves of dinosaurs. The different varieties require different tactics; Raptors are easy enough to mow through and act as cannon fodder, while soaring Pteranodons or charging Pachycephalosaur spawns require some positioning and awareness. Also, Exoprimal does do a few common colloquialisms like “raptor” and “T-rex”, but I dig that it will still use full names for something like a Carnotaurus.

While it’s a horde game, much of the first phase felt like dealing with effective and efficient crowd removal rather than “survival.” You can certainly drop down to a big-enough pack of Raptors if you’re by yourself, but the real tension is in efficacy; you’re trying to complete objectives faster than the other team, as you move towards phase 2.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Phase 2 will either see you tackle more PvE content, or enter the PvP mode, which will feel familiar to those who like to push payloads. The team has to escort a data cube to the end point of a map and upload it before the other team. The twist? Rather than ethereal ghosts in each other’s realms, now the player teams can fight each other as both payloads approach the same endpoint. Add in the Dominator, which lets a player hamper the enemy team as a special dino, and it can feel a bit chaotic.

This follow-the-light, shoot-the-targets set-up can start to feel a bit routine at times, so I’m curious to see what obstacles and new challenges Exoprimal throws at me over time. I do wish there was a more PvE-focused mode, though. Even in the PvE section, you’re still racing another team. If Exoprimal had an option to just drop into a map and wipe out hordes of dinosaurs on various difficulties, it might scratch that EDF itch. For now, there always seems to be some competition, and I’d like to see that competition have some variety.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Jurassic combat

The actual shooting and moving feel solid, if not spectacular. It is exactly what it needs to be, and some of the abilities do feel great to land just right, like the sniper suit’s freeze or Deadeye’s frag grenade. Exoprimal really feels like it’s about the mass carnage, almost like a multiplayer dino-mech musou.

It’s really important to note, though, that Exoprimal is a live service multiplayer game, in a day and age where live service multiplayer games come and go pretty fast. This is also a $59.99 game, with a free-or-premium battle pass too, and that’s frequently reason enough for some to stay away. On top of that, if you don’t pitch in for the extras, suits have to be unlocked; we received a deluxe copy for coverage consideration, but have also been looking into what progression looks like for the base game, and it seems “OK” is the consensus.

Game Pass obviously makes the prospect a bit less daunting, if you have that. In fact, Exoprimal really feels most at home there, as a service-y free-to-play game where you can hop in and see if it’s for you. Makes it easier to rope some friends in too, and like a lot of multiplayer experiences, that’s where I feel it shines. Randoms can be hit-or-miss, like any game, but a leaver means a bot will take their place, and that’s not always ideal.

Overall, Exoprimal is a bit more interesting than I’d thought it be. It’s not anything to shout from the rooftops about, but it’s got a little more charm and more enjoyable combat than I was expecting. But that’s just day one. The big question now is, does it have more to offer, or are the 20th and 30th hours going to feel a lot like the first? And does its strange monetization hold back its better ideas? We’ll find out as we frag some more dinos, I guess.

Eric Van Allen

Senior Editor – While Eric’s been writing about games since 2014, he’s been playing them for a lot longer. Usually found grinding RPG battles, digging into an indie gem, or hanging out around the Limsa Aethryte.

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