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Review: Exoprimal - Even shooting hoards of dinosaurs can't save an empty game

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

In case you weren’t already aware, Capcom has been killing it. The company revealed in May of this year that their net sales have grown and set new records year-over-year for the last six years.


I mean it’s not really a surprise when you look at the games they’ve released during that time. Monster Hunter World, Monster Hunter Rise, Devil May Cry 5, Resident Evil Village, and Street Fighter 6 to name just a few of their more recent, well-received releases.


With so much success, especially in these large, well-known franchises, I feel like your average AAA publisher would be less eager to take a risk on brand new IPs. Admirably, this isn’t the case with good, old Capcom as their latest release is the all new Exoprimal.


However, is this competitive shooter good enough to keep Capcom’s winning streak going? I’d say, at the moment, no. Not really.


The story’s characters are inoffensively bland and not memorable at all, but you’re fighting dinosaurs with mech suits so they don’t take anything too seriously.


Set in the year 2043, Exoprimal sees a rampant AI program called Leviathan opening rifts through space and time to pull pilots of fancy Exosuits into an endless stream of wargames. Why? For data, apparently, to make even better Exosuits.


Oh, and the wargames see those pilots, you included, going up against swaths of dinosaurs. Why dinosaurs? Because robotic suits fighting against dinosaurs are, in professional terms, totally sick.


Yes, the story of Exoprimal is extremely goofy. Which is fine, because the story is basically nonexistent after you finish the game’s tutorial.


As briefly mentioned above, Exoprimal is strictly a competitive multiplayer shooter. Two teams of five compete to finish dino-killing objectives in the fastest time possible. The story only exists through cutscenes and audio logs that you unlock as you complete matches.



Exoprimal review screen

Image: Capcom


The story’s characters are inoffensively bland and not memorable at all, but you’re fighting dinosaurs with mech suits so they don’t take anything too seriously. This is good because the idea of mech suits fighting an endless stream of interdimensional, time-traveling dinosaurs that drop from the sky like they’ve been poured from one of those giant buckets you see at a children’s water park is a very goofy and fun thing.


No matter how many dinos were crawling over one another, getting blown up, or thrown through the air my game didn’t stutter or drop a frame even once.

Not only are the dino swarms a goofy premise, but they’re actually a technical achievement. Every single match I’ve played of Exoprimal ran at a beautifully steady sixty frames.


No matter how many dinos were crawling over one another, getting blown up, or thrown through the air my game didn’t stutter or drop a frame even once. A feat that’s made even more impressive since ten players are connected to a match and their Exosuit abilities are flying around at the same time. Also, there’s just so, so, so many dinosaurs.


One would think that having so much going on would make the game hard to read, and one would be surprisingly wrong. When you start out it’s a lot to take in, sure, but the more I played the more I was able to appreciate just how neatly the game’s HUD is implemented.


Nothing ever feels like it’s getting in the way, highly-detailed and polished animations on both Exosuits and dinos convey action beautifully, and no explosion or visual effect is ever overwhelming either. Provided you turn off the disgusting plague that is floating damage numbers in the settings, of course.


Yes, it’s all very pretty and blowing up a pack of raptors is delightful, but is it fun to play? Yes! There are ten different exosuits (three must be unlocked by leveling up and using in-game currency or you can use real money), and each one is a blast to use.


Their designs and animations are stellar, their abilities make them feel distinct from one another, and there’s quite a bit of depth in the way that you can use them to take down your prehistoric prey. Roadblock, for example, is a huge, tanky fella that can give large groups of foes a shove with his Shield Blast.


This is good for pushing things back and giving your teammates some room, but it’s even better when you find opportunities to bash large groups of dinosaurs off of cliffs for a bunch of instant kills.



Expoprimal review screen 2

Image: Capcom


Now, considering all of the glowing praise I’ve given Exoprimal so far, you might be confused about that point earlier in this review where I said It doesn’t really continue Capcom’s streak of strong releases.


This is because despite all of the polish and effort that’s gone into making the game look and play great, there is only one game mode. One. That’s it. Even more frustrating, is the fact that it’s a PvEvP game mode. Why, Capcom? I thought I was here to fight dinosaurs, not other players.


It’s extremely upsetting to be told you’re not having fun fast enough.

True, you do fight dinosaurs, but I completely despise the fact that I’ll be having a great time making those giant lizards extinct again until the AI Leviathan interrupts my joy saying, “You are completing objectives slower than the enemy team.” Who cares?


You don’t even see the enemy team for ninety-eight percent of the match anyway. It’s extremely upsetting to be told you’re not having fun fast enough.


You will see other players, however, in two different ways. The first is Dominators. These are powerful abilities that can be used once per team by one player in each match’s “final mission.”


You gain the ability to control one of the larger dinosaurs, (triceratops, carnotaurus, or a t-rex) and invade the enemy team’s world. This is admittedly fun, and it’s a great way to allow teams to either catch up or cement their lead. At the same time, I’d much rather just be fighting increasingly difficult hordes of giant AI dinosaurs.



Exoprimal review screen 3

Image: Capcom


The other way you’ll run into enemy players is far worse and completely baffling to me. In the very last moment of a match, players forget all the dinosaur killing they’ve been doing and everything devolves into a wildly unbalanced PvP brawl of Exosuit vs Exosuit.


It’s so bizarre, and a team’s lead can be completely lost if you aren’t as good at fighting player-controlled Exosuits as you are at killing dino hordes. Why would you be? It’s not what the entire game has been about until the last possible second.


Imagine you’re taking a math test, and right before you solve the last problem you’re told to write an essay on the influence that Edgar Allen Poe’s work had on southern gothic literature. It’s one of the weirdest and poorly thought out game design choices I’ve seen for quite a while.


Stranger still, is that the game has raids which see ten players working together against enormous bosses and wackier, unique dinosaurs, but said raids happen completely randomly in matchmaking. Why? Why not allow people to matchmake into the modes they’d like to play?



Expoprimal review screen 4

Image: Capcom


The sole saving grace here is that a PvE mode does exist. Though it shouldn’t be labeled PvE, because it’s the exact same game mode that has teams racing to complete objectives, but there’s no nonsensical Exosuit fight at the end.


Which makes the opposing team thing really redundant. Thankfully, Capcom has said that a true PvE mode will arrive on July 29, but until then there’s only one way to engage with the game.


Once again on the frustrating side of things, Exoprimal is a live-service game. That can be good when things like a (hopefully) fun PvE mode arrives and the game’s promised 10 Exosuit variations that are set to arrive in August finally show up, but these regular content drops are also a pain.


If you bought Exoprimal for its full retail price, you might be wondering why you have to wait weeks and months for the game to feel more complete. Also, as recent months have taught us with games like Marvel’s Avengers, Spellbreak, and Knockout City, being a live service game with promises of regular content doesn’t guarantee your survival.



Exoprimal review screen 5

Image: Capcom


Speaking of survival, Exoprimal also has a “Survival Pass” that costs even more money. But, this is just to be expected from any multiplayer game these days, isn’t it?


On the bright side, Exoprimal has plenty of Exosuit and weapon skins that you can earn solely by playing the game which is an admitted breath of fresh air when compared with contemporaries.


The core gameplay loop and presentation of Exoprimal are solid. Shooting dinos as each one of the Exosuits is great fun, and there’s some depth to be found in how you use your abilities and support your teammates.


However, one game mode isn’t enough, especially when it’s so hyper-fixated on competing with other players in what feels like it ought to be an exclusively PvE experience. Hopefully, plenty of strong additions will find their way to Exoprimal sooner than later, but as it stands right now this is an extremely polished dino shooter that doesn’t have enough bite.


Pros:

  • Runs beautifully

  • Stellar animations and designs

  • Each Exosuit feels great to play


Cons:

  • Only one game mode at time of writing

  • Too much focus on PvP in a PvE experience

  • Having to wait weeks for content


Score: 7.5/10


Reviewer played on Xbox Series X. A key was not provided by the publisher.


Exoprimal is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, and PC


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