Exoprimal is an especially unique title from Capcom. Through an apocalyptic meeting of past and future, players are able to battle hordes of dinosaurs with high-tech gear while trying to unravel the plots of a sinister AI mastermind. This online-based game seeks to combine team-based shooter combat and player-vs-player action. There’s a lot to love about Exoprimal, but its focus on so much at once might still leave a lot to be desired.
Visiting the Future and Experiencing the Past
Exoprimal is set in the years 2043 and 2040, with players continuously visiting the latter time period to participate in wargames constructed by the AI Leviathan. Progressing through these wargames allows players to unravel the mystery of why they were brought to the past and why their ship crashed in the present. There aren’t a whole lot of different places to explore both within and outside of the wargames, but the setting itself is compelling enough to draw players in and unravel Exoprimal’s many mysteries.
While learning more about the world of Exoprimal, players — as the mute Ace exofighter — will commonly engage in banter with their ship’s crew. These characters, while occasionally snarky and sarcastic, are well-rounded enough to keep from being too gratating or annoying. Unfortunately, actually uncovering the story quickly begins losing its appeal, as much of the game’s backstory is presented as voiceovers with a few images of characters floating on the screen. Considering how well the game’s actual cutscenes are presented, it’s unfortunate that there wasn’t more time put into those instead.
Leviathan itself also happens to get particularly gratifying across multiple matches thanks to its repetitive voice lines and lack of wider personality traits. While it shows some more interesting traits occasionally, they only truly appear before or after wargames, with most of its notable lines only relating to how fast or slow you’re going compared to opponents. Other interesting characters show up throughout the story as you progress further and each Exosuit has its own voice and personality, so — fortunately enough — things don’t get too dull during gameplay.
Visually, Exoprimal is impressive. Performance-wise, it’s fantastic. Despite its high PC requirements, players can easily enjoy the game on a wide variety of platforms without a hitch. Any slowdowns are minor at worst, and the game’s quality isn’t heavily downgraded when playing at low settings. There should be no problems in at least testing how the game runs, allowing anyone on the fence to dive into a couple of matches and see what it truly has to offer.
Fast-Paced Dino Destruction
To survive in the world of Exoprimal, players need to take control of many different Exosuits. These can be swapped during missions, allowing many roles to be performed at once. They also come with their own unique weapons to make each playstyle feel truly unique, though some obviously excel in a wider range of areas than others. There might not be a whole lot that players can do with a single suit, but smart switching and good team synergy makes for some varied and fun battles.
Unfortunately, the core gameplay loop lacks a lot of this variety. Early in the game, players will find themselves in a constant cycle of mindlessly gunning down dinosaur hordes before being placed in a final mission. This ranges from escorting a target to its destination or simply gunning down more hordes, with the biggest variance being the addition of rival Exosuits or a player-controlled dinosaur. Later on, objectives become far more varied with the additions of Neosaurs and fully cooperative story-based missions. As fun as those additions are, the lack of variance at the start will almost certainly turn many first-time players away.
How one performs in Exoprimal will depend entirely on how well their team plays with each other. There are a few basic commands available to everyone on top of a voice chat feature that’s always on by default. That is, unfortunately, the extent of communication features. You aren’t able to direct your team to use specific Exosuits or to have a specific teammate pick up the player-controlled Dominator dinosaur. Text chat is a non-feature, so anyone without a microphone is unable to do a thing… and anyone with a microphone might not even know they’re using it. For a game with such intense focus on being competitive, it lacks the options to let more players take advantage of good strategy and teamwork.
It should also be noted that there are very few ways in which you’ll be able to focus on player-vs-environment (PvE) instead of player-vs-player (PVP) gameplay. Even though you have the option to choose which version you want at the start of a match, all it serves is to determine whether you fight enemy players during the final mission. You’ll still have to race them throughout the match to complete objectives faster, and you’ll even need to fight their controlled dinosaur if they decide to use a Dominator. This is to be expected considering the game’s heavy focus on mixing both gameplay styles, though it would have been nice to have a wider range of modes.
This also leads to the game’s greatest weakness, turning it from a promising new experience to one that might become outdated faster than some would expect.
Modern Systems Used in Prehistoric Ways
Exoprimal manages to keep very stable gameplay despite its online nature. But the biggest problem with the game is that it’s always online. Even with the existence of bots, players must always be playing multiplayer if they wish to enjoy the game outside of training mode. Without offline, the game simply cannot be played. This makes sense for most competitive games, but as the main opponents in Exoprimal are NPC dinosaurs, it’s simply another restriction on a game that already lacks player choice.
Because of how the game is structured, it’s difficult to experiment with lesser-used Exosuits outside of training. The lack of solo play combines with the constant competitive aspect of Exoprimal and leads to ever-present pressure to do well. If one team member falls behind, the rest of them have no luck as dinosaur hordes swarm them and the other team steamrolls whatever’s in its way. A mode solely based on PvE is coming to the game in a future free update, but it shouldn’t need so much time after release to share such essential content with fans. The longer the game stays in its current state, the less encouragement new players will have to even attempt improvement.
Even with future updates, it will all mean nothing if Capcom never decides to add an offline mode. As it stands, the story can only be completed by playing through multiple online matches, and the game can only be experienced to its fullest by going through the company’s servers. If those servers ever go offline, then this game will die out completely, and no number of Neosaurs or new Exosuits will change that. In other words, this game will inevitably have a death date. The only way this changes is if Capcom adds single-player options in the future, and there has been no indication that they’ll ever do so.
It was stated from the start that Exoprimal would be a team-focused competitive title. But the fact remains that it doesn’t need to be, especially since the game has well-made bots, fairly engaging story content, and perfectly acceptable PvE gameplay. It would be a shame to see this game go the way of others that didn’t need to always be online, with services ended not long after launch and no way to access the actually fun parts.
Exoprimal is a very fun game with baffling limitations imposed upon its players. Lack of early-game content and forced competitive modes will almost certainly push most newcomers away. Those willing to stay will simply have to watch the clock tick down on this always-online title before its services end and it becomes utterly unplayable. It’s especially a shame because Exoprimal itself has fantastic gameplay with varied Exosuits and some great content further in, but it lacks some of the most essential features a game like this should have.
There’s always the possibility that it will get better, but a full-priced game from a high-profile company such as Capcom shouldn’t have to rely on possibilities. The game should have been delayed to let that content arrive on release instead of letting player counts bleed from a lackluster launch. Without support from the fans, the game will eventually lose its services and end up completely unplayable. However good Exoprimal might be eventually won’t matter if no one can enjoy its content anymore.
– This article was updated on July 17th, 2023