Live service games are seemingly becoming extinct in their own right as of late, but there might just be hope on the horizon in the form of Exoprimal. Developer Capcom repurposes the RE Engine for an all-out assault on mankind’s most extraordinary predators: prehistoric dinosaur baddies. But unlike Resident Evil, ordinary guns and punching boulders won’t get the job done here. Exoprimal is a different beast.
You’d be forgiven for dismissing Exoprimal after its initial uninspiring trailer, but the recent Exoprimal open beta is a welcome shock to my Xbox Series S. The main mode present in the open beta, Dino Survival, is a buffet of dino delights. With a dash of time travel and wild lore antics, Exoprimal’s setup wears its absurd premise proudly. You’ll be immediately tasked by a twisted AI presence called Leviathan to participate in deadly contests known as Wargames.
Leviathan’s introduction is accompanied by a job interview cutscene that layers on the cringe, rather than feeling like a gruelling encounter on The Apprentice. It is a brazen way to introduce the game’s foundations, but like with each wave of enemies, you just have to roll with the punches. Exoprimal’s main mode sees an array of tasks given out throughout each mission, from standard wave-based defence to sabotaging your rivals. Each match is essentially a tug of war for success as players are separated into teams to complete the match in the most efficient manner possible.
However, the multiplayer spectacular here is more Left 4 Rex, as it were, instead of your standard online affair in games like Modern Warfare 2. For now, the beta appears to encompass each objective type available, but other game modes are yet to be revealed.
There is already an impressive amount of mech-suits to experiment with, but I found myself gravitating toward the extremely fun Murasame variant. Forfeiting commonplace weaponry for that of a giant badass katana and sleek movement, this class was an instant hook into Exoprimal’s futuristic fury. The counter-riposte ability is worth its own mention thanks to its glorious animation that feels plucked from Yi-Mou Zhang’s wuxia epic Shadow.
There’s a lot to get acquainted with in Exoprimal and it can feel like a barrage of noise, but it doesn’t take long to become tuned into the right frequency. Bearing arms either with AI teammates, friends, or matchmade players, I found myself settling into the chaos of Exoprimal surprisingly quickly. It all concocts itself into a bizarrely effective cocktail of movies like Pacific Rim, Edge of Tomorrow, and classic childhood TV shows like the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The ubiquitous influence of the former movies’ combat springs to mind, while the latter’s unabashedly goofball humour mingles on the sidelines. And it doesn’t feel derivative in that regard either, instead enhancing Exoprimal’s concept as it unfolds.
Reigning in our team’s defence against a frightening swarm of sinornithosaurus saw me revelling in the potential of my build, eager to test the limits of every suit. Shooting or slicing the living shit out of the AI foes hits the right notes, no matter what kind of weapon you opt to deploy. Using the Murasame’s grapple hook to soar above enemies, before landing a devastating ground attack, is just as captivating as the Witchdoctor support mech to heal allies like a true hero.
To that point, fans of team-based shooters like Overwatch 2 will feel right at home with Exoprimal. Each mech suit is divided into its own subclasses, such as support or defence. There are the usual outliers to be found like a hulkish tank build, though the toys equipped with each suit would make Tony Stark blush, especially as you can swap and customise your suit on the fly, which offers up a welcome versatility for moment-to-moment gameplay. You’ve got a selection of conventional weapons available in primary and special slots, but swapping the latter out for an enormous paralysing shuriken inspires a hilarious grin of satisfaction and glee during combat.
The threat, a seemingly endless supply of assorted prehistoric beasties, oddly corners the game into a tough spot. While I have no complaints about the variety of enemies, I do wonder whether their appeal is limited. Shredding up raptors, t-rex, and pterodactyls is undeniably a blast. But whether the game has the endurance to escape its potentially limiting concept remains to be seen when the Exoprimal release date arrives. Tackling objectives that exist outside the expected live service agenda makes Exoprimal a thrilling concept on paper, as it does away with the normal multiplayer fodder of team deathmatch or a battle royale mode.
Exoprimal has all the tools and the talent to be a winner, as it currently shapes up to be a kinetic circus of bullets, bombs, and badassery. Yet, games of this calibre live and die on fervent player bases. Launching as a day-one release on Xbox Game Pass will surely help, but as the Exoprimal beta dates arrive, it’d be a shame to see Exoprimal meet the same fate as its prehistoric antagonists.