Capcom has been tearing it up in 2023. Between their Resident Evil 4 remake and what is otherwise one of the best fighting games in years in Street Fighter 6, anyone would be impressed with those two games alone in a single year. But then comes Exoprimal, a third-person multiplayer game based around mech suits and… dinosaurs? We’re not going to sugarcoat it either, that’s a weird blend. But we heard Exoprimal out, and we’re pleasantly surprised.
Exoprimal’s dedication to multiplayer matchmaking falters in its early hours but does its best to drive the story forward in unique ways, even if there’s a mechanically sound and downright satisfying game in between. But at the end of the day, mowing down waves of dinosaurs is a great place to start. So mech-suit up, and let’s dive right in.
It’s a Dino Crisis
It’s 2043. Three years have passed since strange vortexes began to open, spilling out waves of dinosaurs to wreak havoc across the world. Players take control of a custom-created pilot named Ace, an exofighter who can utilise a range of unique mech suits in combat. While on a routine mission with your team, the Hammersquad, things soon take a dramatic turn as you crash land on Bikitoa Island, only to encounter Leviathan, an AI force that seeks to use these portals in a series of war games for their nefarious purposes.
Yes, your read that right. The story is then told through various cutscenes as you partake in 5v5 multiplayer matches to discover intel and move one step closer to stopping Leviathan. While I wish the story played more of a part in the opening hours of the game, things take a nice turn a few hours in. Once you feel like you’ve become acquainted with the multiplayer matches, the story soon returns to the forefront of the experience, as certain world events incorporate themselves into multiplayer matches that follow.
These changes include new dinosaurs to fight, as well as new environments and objectives that slowly change the pace and intention of each multiplayer match. I wish these changes came sooner, as I spent the first 10 or so hours feeling as if the experience was throwing me into the same repetitive match, in which teams of five race against each other to mow down waves of dinosaurs, before facing off against each other.
You’ll complete matches to fill out the Analysis Map, which gradually reveals Exoprimal’s narrative. The game aims to collect this data to unveil as much of the plot as possible, although it feels at times that there’s no real way to get ahead, as the game expects you to simply churn through waves of matches to push forward at an even clip. There’s an interesting story at play down the line, which does eventually dive into some interesting emotional moments, mainly based on the origins and intentions of Leviathan. But I do wish these moments were woven together a little closer.
But through it all, Exoprimal feels and looks incredibly vibrant, with performance holding up just as well. While the odd frame rate dip can present itself, nothing ever felt frequent enough to detract from the overall experience.
Exoprimal is usually pitting those teams of five against each other, and in many ways, these matches keep you on your toes. They’re incredibly fast-paced, as you take to take down waves of dinosaurs through a linear map, before you meet up in a central location, to obtain the other team’s payload and take them out. These encounters soon devolve into brutal death matches, as you change between a selection of unique exosuits to work together and gain the upper hand.
But just when you think you’ve got the formula down pat, Leviathan can decide during any random match, to pair together the opposing teams of five, to take down one common enemy, in the form of a giant T-Rex. I wish these matches were also woven together a little tighter, as the sense of chaos felt within these moments stands out as a true highlight. It’s only within these moments that I realised that Exoprimal’s hidden trick was subverting expectations at the right moment.
But while these matches can be shaken up at any point in time, it’s usually one or the other. You can choose to enter PvP or PvE matches, but they both boil down to the same objectives, where you’ll have to take down numerous waves of dinosaurs, only to confront an enemy team at the end. This makes those longer sessions a little tedious at times, although there’s certainly more fun to be had in short bursts. But when you’re not utilising a bunch of unique special attacks in battle, Exoprimal even allows you to take control of your own dinosaurs in combat, as you stomp about and clear waves of enemies on screen, which feels consistently powerful and satisfying.
Choose Your Fighter
For as fresh as Exoprimal’s story and gameplay loop is, the gameplay feels tried and tested. The third-person action is fast and fluid, yet accessible and familiar. Your exofighter can change between 10 exosuits across 3 classes; Assault, Tank and Support. Each class functions as you would imagine, but each suit feels entirely unique. The Assault class is always my go-to option, with the Deadeye suit providing the most fun.
While Deadeye focuses more on traditional ranged combat, you can switch between suits and classes at any time, should you need to provide support with Roadblock, a Tank-class suit that can deploy a wide energy shield on command. While the support class lacks the intended punch at times offensively, there’s no doubt that they’re balanced enough to feel necessary at any given moment, as the Witchdoctior can heal allies within range.
Each of the 10 suits also has its own variant version, complete with new looks and abilities. Along the way, you’ll also unlock modules for each suit, based on the amount of time you spend with them. These modules can then unlock their own abilities, but progression can at times feel a little conflicting. That being said, I do love how these modules can only be applied in certain slots, meaning you’ll have to choose one over the other and cater to your specific playstyle.
This can unfortunately also lead to issues within matchmaking. Too often did I play as Deadeye, only to unlock most of their abilities. But when your teammates each pick Deadeye, someone has to give and pick someone else. But when none of your other exosuits has been upgraded, you rarely feel like you have the upper hand against other teams.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as each suit feels balanced and relevant, but the sheer choice of exosuits on offer makes it hard to progress evenly. While it’s worth picking a suit from each class, I simply found my Deadeye suit became the most effective, and in turn, allowed me to contribute effectively to the team and current objectives. But regardless of your approach, coordination, communication and teamwork feel essential here, so mic up whenever possible.
While I wish certain aspects like the wacky story and 10-player cooperative matches were woven together a little tighter, there’s a lot to love about Exoprimal. From the variety of suits and abilities on offer to the functional, punchy and responsive combat mechanics, the multiplayer-focused drive the experience forward in new and unique ways. While it can take a little bit of time to get the ball rolling, there’s more than enough here in terms of variety to keep players around for the long run.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Functional and satisfying gameplay; Unique narrative; Variety of gameplay options and approaches
Lowlights: Opening hours can feel a little repetitive; Relies heavily on team dynamics and coordination
Publisher: CAPCOM Co., Ltd.
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Windows PC
Review conducted on PlayStation 5 with a pre-release code provided by the publisher.