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Exoprimal review - carnivorous chaos let down by a lack of variety

Exoprimal’s limited game modes threaten to bury an exceptionally fun co-op shooter that has the potential to be a multiplayer powerhouse for Capcom.

Exoprimal review

Our Verdict

Exoprimal’s blending of the futuristic and the prehistoric is an excellent concept, and it’s served well with satisfying combat and a diverse array of Exosuits. However, it’s let down by some slow pacing and repetitive game modes, and any new live service game needs to be doing more out of the gate to convince players to stick around.

“People. Technology. Under threat from dinosaurs.” Perfect words to introduce an Exoprimal review. Capcom doesn’t waste any time setting up the premise in the opening seconds of Exoprimal, its brand-new gonzo third-person shooter. But since I played the Exoprimal preview, I’ve wondered whether there is more to the game than advertised. The answer is complicated, but there is potential for Capcom to nurture one of the best PS5 multiplayer games around.

That’s when the game gets out of the way itself, though. Diving into Exoprimal feels like Capcom has built a dinosaur empire around simplistic foundations, almost as if a boardroom meeting resulted in the question of: ‘What if we could fight dinosaurs in mech suits?’ This wholesome, imaginative energy runs deep through Exoprimal’s gameplay – you just have to forgo any attempts to introduce the story (of sorts). Rather than take players on a traditional narrative, Exoprimal is content on Marvel’s Avengers’ approach to an extent, throwing players into live-service matches until new cutscenes are unlocked. 

Each new cinematic unravels the situation facing humanity in 2040, in which cross-dimension portals known as Vortexes appear across the globe, unleashing all manner of prehistoric threats. Exosuits are engineered and deployed by tech giants, the Aibius Corporation. These innovations also conjure Leviathan, a sentient AI that goes rogue and forces humans to compete in Wargames – events through time when dinosaur chaos is at its peak, capturing “combat data” as you go. You’re also stuck on the mysterious Bikitoa Island, which harbors its secrets about the dinosaur resurgence. 

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Before you end up shooting, slashing, and smashing your way through all the Exoprimal game modes, there is a suite of ten customizable Exosuits waiting for you. Fancy yourself more of a trigger-happy player? Our Exoprimal tier list will steer you toward Exosuits like Deadeye, Krieger, or Vigilant. I personally found myself enraptured by the melee-focused variants like Murasame or Zephyr. Murasame captivated me throughout the Exoprimal closed beta; a sleek mech that fires up my giddy childhood love for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Zephyr, however, is quicker and meaner, getting up close with Tonfa batons to bonk beasties right on their scaly domes.

Tinkering with Rigs and the Exoprimal module system gives the game’s main mode a sense of progression, albeit a slow one. Rigs act as a backup weapon or tool in your arsenal, ranging from one-shot canons to healing utilities. You’ll be waiting until you hit at least your mid 20s level-wise to get some of the better ones. 

Earning in-game currency to purchase upgrades for your selected modules allows keeping everything tactical. There’s a risk and reward element for the choice of configuration, no matter which Exosuit class you choose to do battle in. It is a shame that Exosuit aesthetics don’t offer an array of meaningful changes beyond skins. It feels like a missed opportunity that these feats of technological brilliance can’t be engineered into wilder, personalized creations. Of course, as a live service game, Capcom is out to ensure your in-game currency (and actual money) is pooled into the game’s cosmetics. One glance at the PlayStation or Xbox store reveals plenty of pieces of paid content already, with the battle pass opting to include a Premium Tier, akin to Fortnite or Modern Warfare 2

Dino Survival is the foundation of Exoprimal’s battles. Each match, which often runs between ten and 15 minutes, serves up objectives like Dino Culling; destroying the absolute living shit out of everything that isn’t a friendly player on screen. Capcom’s past with the Dead Rising franchise rears its head here, throwing a bewildering amount of dinosaurs on the screen to demolish. It is genuinely impossible not to be in awe of how much chaos Exoprimal can bring.

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I found myself laughing out of sheer joy, especially when teaming up with friends, as we combined our efforts to survive the wrath of the enormous T. Rex or Triceratops. Though my matches on PS5 and Xbox Series S lack graphical polish, Exoprimal’s mid-2000s visual identity is compensated by a consistently sturdy frame rate.  

But here’s the catch on top of your mission to get out alive – another team is also running this exact scenario parallel to you in real-time. Hearing the phrase “you are completing objectives slower than the enemy team” repeatedly will make you understand what Andy Bernard’s rage felt like in The Office. I get it Capcom, we’re doing rubbish. Should your teammates wish to do so, everyone could choose the same Exosuit. A team full of minigun-wielding mechs is possible, but it isn’t the smart play for success. Much like Overwatch 2, the strive for a balanced team can be the crucial factor that victory depends upon.

Capcom spares no ounce of creativity when it comes to how each suit works together. Tank Exosuits like Roadblock aren’t just damage sponges but can pave the way forward, while healers like Witch Doctor keep everyone patched up in the background. Unleashing an onslaught of damage with my Zephyr build feels exceptional because of this, with attacks like the Linear Strike, a shoulder tackle that forces every dino away with ease.

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The absolute peak of Capcom’s class design in Exoprimal is Nimbus, which is genuinely one of the best characters I’ve come across conceptually in a multiplayer shooter. Adorned with a design that fits right in with the underrated-yet-forgotten Airblade or Jet Set Radio, Nimbus glides around the map effortlessly providing heals and damage, which are switchable ammo types. You can even fire either of these ammo types in a glorious haze of bullets through Nimbus’ Spreadshot ability, adding an extra touch of versatility to battles. I found myself steadily veering away from the more combat-heavy Exosuits, and settling into my unexpected role as a healer with exceptional firepower when needed.

Exoprimal’s penchant for variety in Exosuits unfortunately isn’t found in its game modes. While there is an option to choose between PvP, PvE, or random engagements, the story’s convenience of being trapped in a time loop isn’t the supporting pillar Capcom might think it is. The Exoprimal roadmap promises new cosmetics, modes, and collaborations with games like Street Fighter 6. The absence of a dedicated horde mode is baffling, especially when all the pieces are already there. The game’s July 28 update brings the Savage Gauntlet mode, offering up a harder variation of Dino Survival that requires players to clear it in the quickest time possible, and while this will be a welcome addition, Exoprimal needs to do much more than that to fix its issues with repetitive, stale game modes.

Conceptually, Exoprimal’s story is begging for Robocop director Paul Verhoeven or Guillermo Del Toro to lend his Pacific Rim credentials to it. But big-screen thrills are lacking as Exoprimal’s story unfolds, encouraging players to open dull dossier folders on the Analysis Map. It feels quite aimless, devoid of any true sense of propulsion, despite the game’s story offering the promise of new locations to fight in. Except you’re never truly aware of when that time will come. 

The game’s initial few hours will eventually bring forth new maps, but the game’s more enticing additions are locked behind a significant chunk of playtime. It wasn’t until two hours with Exoprimal that I finally ventured over to a map that wasn’t an abandoned city. But if you’re wanting a serious challenge, you really need to hunker down. It isn’t until nearly ten hours into Exoprimal that you experience overwhelming boss battles like the Neo T. Rex boss fight. Not only are moments like this capitalizing on the grandeur of Exoprimal’s large-scale gunfights, but it actually encourages every player to work as a ten-person team.

Exoprimal Neo T.Rex fight

This dynamic isn’t available as a standard mode, but the thrill of joining forces to combat an ultimate threat is an absolute highlight. However, most players might not experience it as a result of Exoprimal’s piecemeal approach. Despite unlocking useful Modules and vital upgrades, Exoprimal’s slow sense of progression doesn’t aid its lack of momentum toward its bigger moments. Excellent combat can only take the game so far, and it threatens to leave Exoprimal in a hollow place.

Capcom has tried to explore live service games with RE: Verse, but Exoprimal’s zany concept is its best chance of succeeding in this brutal market, when so many live service titles face dwindling player bases and shutting down for good. There’s no denying that Exoprimal is supremely fun at its best, with satisfying combat and diverse Exosuits to explore. If there were more modes that harness Exoprimal’s more gargantuan moments, I’d feel more confident that it will enjoy some longevity – it could genuinely be a true multiplayer powerhouse down the line. 

Right now, though, your mileage with Exoprimal may vary due to its limited modes, slow unlocking of new content, and washy story.  Despite some riotous combat, your attention might be lost in history – just like your prehistoric foes.