Capcom does not have an excellent track record with multiplayer games. While the Monster Hunter titles have always been solid, games like Umbrella Corps missed the mark with underwhelming gameplay. That puts Exoprimal in a weird position, especially considering that it’s a Capcom dinosaur game that doesn’t use the much-beloved Dino Crisis IP, a franchise fans have been begging to see revived.
This isn’t Dino Crisis 4; it’s something wholly new. Still, I came away pleasantly surprised from my hands-on with Exoprimal’s closed beta, as it’s a much more robust and inspired multiplayer shooter than I expected. While its PvP aspect feels muddled in Dinosaur Survival mode, Exoprimal is a promising cooperative shooter with dinosaurs as enemies and a distinct visual flair.
In Exoprimal, players control soldiers eternally stuck in “Wargames,” where they must survive hordes of dinosaurs because an AI named Leviathan has gone rogue. It’s a light narrative that justifies why players repeatedly do the same mission, but the concept is wacky enough for me to buy into it. Visuals and combat are where Exoprimal shines, though.
Exoprimal is a detailed and crisp-looking RE Engine game but also is as vibrant and colorful as you’d hope a game about mechs fighting dinosaurs would be. If the frame rate can stay stable while fighting off hordes of dinosaurs across all platforms, this could be one of the most visually pleasing games of 2023. As for the gameplay, Exoprimal features flash exosuit weapons and abilities and actually lifts its role-based gameplay out of Overwatch.
While Dinosaur Survival doesn’t copy Overwatch’s PvP experience like Gundam Evolution, exosuits split into Assault, Tank, and Support roles, just like heroes in Overwatch. Some abilities are similar to those of Overwatch characters, and team composition is vital to success. The player character even yells “The cavalry’s here” when getting into the Deadeye Assault exosuit, clearing up any confusion about its influences. Thankfully, Capcom doesn’t have to worry about stepping on Blizzard Entertainment’s toes thanks to its wildly different premise and cooperative focus — at least until Overwatch 2’s PvE content finally comes out.
In this Closed Beta, I had access to two Assault exosuits, one tank exosuit, and one support exosuit. My favorite class so far is the Witch Doctor, a healing-focused exosuit that could directly patch up allies or put out an area-of-effect attack that heals everyone in its vicinity. Offensively, it’s not good on its own, but I found that I enjoyed helping my allies in a way I hadn’t since Mercy and Baptiste pre-nerf in Overwatch.
Gunplay is satisfying, and each exosuit’s special abilities lend themselves to unique team compositions that allow you to mow down dinos efficiently. Players can change their exosuits at any time if need be, although this does leave you exposed without any suit powers for a little bit. If you liked Overwatch’s role-based system and wondered how it’d look in a more cooperative experience, Exoprimal is worth a look.
The one mode available to play during this Closed Beta was Dinosaur Survival. The setting and objectives would vary a little bit from match to match, but the core was always the same: two teams complete a series of objectives independently from each other, with the winner getting a head start in the final leg of the match.
For the most part, the cooperative objectives teams must complete boil down to defeating hordes of dinosaurs big and small. Occasionally, players can even take control of a dinosaur themselves and attack the other team to slow them down. Then, the final objective comes. These final tasks included pushing a payload from one location to another and a deathmatch where teams also competed to collect the most data keys.
These PvP sections are a bit lackluster at present, as Exoprimal’s team-based play and maps aren’t well built for that. It can be fun ravaging your opponent as a dinosaur, but ultimately Exoprimal’s combat works better when you’re fighting hordes of enemies, not other players. As a result, a very crucial part of the game is more frustrating than fun. As the cooperative parts of each match where I had the most fun, I can definitely see myself spending the most time in a purely cooperative mode if the final release has one.
While Exoprimal feels great to play already, the lackluster PvP aspect does make me question how successful this would be as a full-priced game with no single-player component. If the other modes are even better or Capcom makes it free to play, it could be a perfect game for fans of cooperative games, Overwatch, and dinosaurs to check out. At the very least, it shows more initial promise than some of Capcom’s other multiplayer titles, like the long-delayed Resident Evil Re:Verse.
Exoprimal will be released for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X in 2023.