Exoprimal Preview – A very different breed of dino crisis

Exoprimal Header

Did you ever think that Anthem would have been better if it just had a few more dinosaurs in it? Exoprimal, Capcom’s latest throw of the multiplayer dice, is a game that’s seemingly based on that elevator pitch. That wasn’t all they included though. Exoprimal has a bunch of Anthem-style mech suits, some Left for Dead swarm shenanigans, and of course there’s a hint of Dino Crisis, by way of Overwatch. There might be some Monster Hunter in there too. If that sounds like a game design fever dream, it is, but slamming all those things together is also a heap of fun.

We had the chance to check out Exoprimal’s Closed Network Test, showcasing its Dino Survival mode where your team of five has to work together against the enemy AI, racing and fighting a rival team in the quest for supremacy.

First things first, you need to decide on a character, and then which of those sweet mech suits you’re initially going to hop into. Making a character is straightforward stuff – almost too straightforward – I’m hoping to see rather more in the way of customisation from the full game. I supposed I shouldn’t complain as I was able to make a beardy bald man, but what if I wanted to make a beardy bald man with an eyepatch? Either way, their screentime is minimal, as you’ll generally be sealed into a high-powered Exosuit.

There’s a host of different Exosuits to choose from, and they fall into the traditional MMO/Hero Shooter tiers of boasting their own unique skills while fulfilling a core role, whether that’s tank, assault, or support. The Deadeye suit is the Johnny Everyman option, with chunky third person shooter gunplay and a healthy mix of armour and dexterity. Roadblock is a tank, and he’s basically Reinhardt from Overwatch, with a large energy shield to protect your more delicate friends. This suit also lets you melee dinosaurs with giant robot fists, therefore making it the best.

Exoprimal Tank Class

There’s a few more unique aspects to Witchdoctor, one of the support suits, as his main attack electrocutes and paralyses the dinosaurs so they can be despatched by others. He also drops a large healing field, which proved to be utterly essential, and buff teammates directly with additional speed and overshield.

All of the different suits we’ve seen have powerful super moves alongside their central ones, and the developers have done a great job so far of making each one feel powerful and meaningful in its own way. The final game will have a host more suits to try out, and it’s going to be interesting to see which prove the most popular. The main oddity? Regardless of the character you’ve created to in habit the suits, the suits themselves have different voices. It’s odd.

You’re not tied into a choice, though, and if things aren’t working with your team synergy you can hop out mid-battle and call in a new Exosuit. In one game where we were getting absolutely rinsed a change to a tank character helped to make the difference, and we were (shockingly) victorious. It certainly helps to ensure that encounters are dynamic and that it’s never over till the fat Triceratops croaks.

That extra haste is likely key to success in the Dino Survival mode, with the opening minutes a set of concurrent PvE challenges where you race against the enemy team to get through the different dinosaur waves ahead of the other – you see their holographic projections doing battle through the same world you’re fighting in. The winner of this section gets a leg up in the final showdown, where teh game suddenly decides that it’s now Overwatch. Most commonly we were fighting to be the first to collect 100 energy cartridges – these will forever be, as far as our team is concerned, printer cartridges – while another had you escorting a special box along a set path, fighting off waves of dinos on the way to the goal.

Exoprimal Special Attack

The end of Dino Survival changes tack and you find yourself in direct team-based combat against the opposition, utilising all of the skills that your Exosuit has and working together. It was immediately apparent that lone-wolfing won’t work here, and you really have to pull together if you want to succeed.

The one instance where that’s not entirely true is Exoprimal’s party piece; you can take control of a T-Rex. Banging a glowing collar on a large dinosaur is always going to be fun, and the game takes a few notes here from Monster Hunter Rise’s Wirebug mounting by letting you chomp on the competition for a while. It’s ridiculous, and it’s also brilliant, which I have a feeling is going to sum up my overarching feelings about the game going forward.

There was also a surprise switch up with both teams now having to work together to fight a Neo T.Rex. All 10 players fight against this challenging monstrosity, dodging laser beam attacks, fending off adds, and generally trying to stay alive. It felt challenging, and it was a fun change of pace after a few rounds of Dino Survival, the AI teleporting us to this fight in a strange virtual space, instead of the destroyed cityscapes of the rest of the game.

Exoprimal T.Rex

Exoprimal’s story is set to be just as weird and wonderful as the gameplay pitch. Led by a domineering AI, you’re teleported into battles and led into encounters where dinosaurs are summoned. The goal is to prove yourself and develop ever-better Exosuits, or something. There’s some Starship Trooper vibes to the opening informercial, that’s for sure, even if the pronunciation of the Aibius corporation sounds like the acronym for irritable bowel syndrome…

Capcom love a spot of multiplayer gaming, but their history with such things isn’t always as consistent as you’d hope. Will Exoprimal shine alongside Monster Hunter? Served regularly with loving updates, and huge additional DLC? Or will it be more like Resident Evil Survive? Left to rot like Raccoon City’s undead inhabitants? Exoprimal has a heap of things going for it, even if they’ve been cribbed from other games. I can’t wait to try more.

Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.