Review – Exoprimal

If there are two things that I love, it’s dinosaurs and people in exosuits. I mean… who wouldn’t love those? Putting these two elements together in a videogame is a surefire way to grab my attention instantly. This is why I was intrigued about Exoprimal the moment it was announced. It doesn’t just settle for that premise. It turned the concept into a PvPvE hybrid shooter in a bold move, one which would have been a disaster, one that worried many upon its first reveal. But I have to say: despite its many, many flaws, this is one of the most exciting games I’ve played this year so far.

Exoprimal brings the story into a PvP environment.

The game is set in the year 2043, in a world thrown into chaos after a dinosaur outbreak overwhelmed it. The reason for the outbreak? Don’t ask. It’s dinos. A corporation named Albius has, however, come up with a solution to mitigate the invasion: powerful exosuits to combat these threats, alongside the Leviathan AI to collect combat data. As an exo-pilot, the Leviathan AI core sends you back in time to participate in Wargames, recreations of the dinosaur attack that happened three years prior.

Much like any other live service game (Destiny, Anthem, etc), Exoprimal is heavy on the setting but not so much on the story. The game does tease a mostly interesting world with the Leviathan AI, Aibius Corporation and interdimensional dinosaurs, with a lot of potential. Sadly, it doesn’t capitalise on this. The story is mostly showcase via static images, with the exception of a handful of cinematics. I didn’t mind this issue that much at the end as I was here for two aforementioned reasons: dinos and exosuits.

So like I said earlier, Exoprimal is a PvPvE game and it’s a somewhat complicated one. If you only passively paid attention to the game’s marketing you may be fooled into thinking this is a cooperative shooter. Wargames are the main mode that you will be playing for the vast majority of the time. Wargames pit two teams of five against each other in a race to complete a set number of objectives. Once all goals are completed another round will start and you will be spawned in an identical arena on the opposite side to the enemy team. As you complete your new objectives both teams will then eventually meet in the middle for a PvP battle.

Exo designs are really awesome.

Initially, I wasn’t a fan of this approach. preferring a more traditional cooperative shooter approach, but the more I played, the more I got pulled into these PvPvE mechanics, even looking forward to the satisfying PvP battles that can take place during the final rounds. It’s a tense final encounter that puts the strength of the players against each other. There’s some great potential for counter-play, and you can really turn the tide of the battle thanks to clever use of dominators. These will allow a player from each team to spawn in as a dinosaur to wreak havoc on the opposing team. It can be initially tough to control these dinos, but as you start getting used to those mechanics, they can be devastating.

Gameplay is very much like your standard third-person horde shooter, just with exosuits, of which there are twelve to choose from, split across the holy trinity of classes. You’ve got your standard damage dealers. These will be doing a lot of damage when dealing with giant enemies and hordes. With your standard variety of rangers, snipers and all that good stuff. In terms of tanks, you’ve got a Reinhardt-style shield from Overwatch. However, it’s the healers that I got hooked on, especially Skywave, who soars across the sky to heal teammates whilst doing a surprising amount of damage towards the dino hordes.

If there’s one thing for sure it’s that Exoprimal‘s strong variety across the mechs provides something for everyone. There’s not one here that feels out of place or even useless but depending on the situation you might want to swap them out. For example; a healer might not be the most beneficial in early waves and instead that extra firepower might give you the advantage.

Similarly, once you hit those PvP sections, it might be worth setting one person in your team to the sniper to run interference and focus on enemy players with deadly accuracy. Exoprimal is at its very best when teams are functioning… well as a team! If everyone is doing their own thing then it will be a disaster which is unfortunately the nature of matchmaking. The amount of players who don’t understand that you need to stand on an objective is staggering (Not a fault of the game since it’s made abundantly clear). Also, remember you can switch exosuits at any point during gameplay with a brief cooldown. Adapting is key to victory and Exoprimal gives you tons of tools to play around with.

Dino hordes are impressive.

It’s a surprisingly compelling premise that sits at the focus of Exoprimal but isn’t used to the best potential. The pacing of the game is all wonky. For much of the game’s earlier hours, you will be doing the exact same things that won’t really challenge you. Dinosaur hordes rarely felt dramatic and the opening races are so neck and neck they rarely feel like they are impacting the results. Often being too easy. When Exoprimal unshackles itself from the early game constraints it gets better and much more challenging. New modes unlock and start appearing in the wargames whilst increasingly dangerous and awesome dinosaur types make the hordes much more threatening. At its best Exoprimal is a shockingly good time.

But then something happens as in-game events start shifting with the narrative as interesting things occur. The first time I was pulled out of the match to join a 10-player cooperative battle against a mutated T-Rex was a mindblowing moment. It’s a wow moment every time something like this happens. It makes the truly PvE levels that much more special and exciting. Exoprimal does the impossible and brings its story into the multiplayer in fascinating ways. Even if the story itself falls flat.

Exoprimal runs on Capcom’s own RE Engine, that ever-surprising and never disappointing engine that powers all of their releases. With that being said, it’s a slightly different story in here. The game doesn’t look as detailed as, say, Resident Evil 4‘s remake or Devil May Cry 5, but there’s an argument to be had in this case, as the slightly less impressive visuals allow for the game to render hordes comprised of hundreds, maybe thousands of enemies at any given moment. It’s impressive to look at whilst maintaining an incredibly solid framerate throughout.

Having a redheaded character in a game with dinosaurs and for it to not be Dino Crisis is one of the cruelest moves Capcom has ever pulled.

I do think it’s worth touching on the progression system and store that is present at the launch. For starters, completing games will give you XP that will rank you up, unlock modules, three new exosuits, and cosmetics. Progression is fast enough that new players probably won’t be behind for too long. As for the storefront, you’ve got a standard Battle Pass, a few cosmetics and a quick unlock pack that will instantly unlock these exosuits. It’s not quite pay-to-win, but comes quite close.

Exoprimal is a game that may not immediately hook into you depending on your expectations. I was initially disappointed in the PvPvE focus that is presented at first, but after just a couple of hours, was hooked into it. The game does manage to deliver a very flawed, but still fun shooter experience. This certainly won’t be for everyone, but despite its fair share of issues, it’s one of my favorite go-to multiplayer experiences right now..

Graphics: 7.0

This is not the most impressive showcase of the RE Engine’s graphical capabilities, but the sheer amount of enemies in hordes does impress.

Gameplay: 7.0

The overall gameplay and core mechanics are very simple, but the overall exosuit variety holds them up.

Sound: 6.0

The sound design won’t blow you away. In-game sounds are decent, but the voice acting from the main cast is a mixed bag.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Exoprimal is an ambitiously unique experience that won’t be to everyone liking and the weird pacing doesn’t help this. But if you want something different it’s well worth checking out

Final Verdict: 7.5

Exoprimal is available now on PC, Xbox and Playstation

Reviewed on PC with an RTX 4070, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM.