Exoprimal
Screenshot by Siliconera

Review: Exoprimal Is a Fun Concept That Needs to Evolve

It’s easy to have fun playing online games with friends. The real challenge is for a live service game to be fun on its own. Exoprimal is a fresh take on a saturated genre and an extremely well-made game that manages to be a hell of a lot of fun. While its story and characters are nothing new, they are still charming and entertaining. However, Exoprimal misses the mark in some ways that make it a hard sell to people that might already be committed to other online experiences.

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The hook of Exoprimal is simple. Two teams of five Exofighters compete in a series of wargames designed by rogue AI Leviathan set on the dinosaur infested Bikitoa Island. Add to the mix some time-traveling shenanigans and a corporate conspiracy, and you have a good recipe. After a mandatory tutorial, you get the chance to jump into the game and try the seven Exosuits available from the start. There are three extra Exosuits locked by level, and those can be obtained with real money or with certain editions of the game. For a $60 game, it’s not great to have to grind for the remaining suits.

Exoprimal

Screenshot by Siliconera

Exosuits are divided into Assault, Tank, and Support categories. I recommend players get familiar with at least one in each, as team compositions are extremely important. The hulking, minigun-wielding, armored Krieger Tank suit is my favorite, but I also enjoyed playing with Zephyr, Murasame, and Witchdoctor. Zephyr, in particular, felt straight out from a Devil May Crime game. While options might appear limited so far, 10 new Alpha variants Exosuits are set to release for free after the first major content update of the game.

Regarding game modes, Dino Survival was the only game mode available on release, and it is also the one tied to story progression. This is a PvE (Player vs Enemy) mode that assigns you a variety of missions to complete that change from game to game. New missions unlock as you progress through the story, which happens by viewing the files unlocked after Dino Survival matches and leveling up. Unlocking new missions can take a long time, depending on your number of victories and story progression. The early game can be a very repetitive and walled-off experience until you start unlocking new missions.

Screenshot by Siliconera

In Dino Survivor you’re always competing with another team in some capacity. The final mission of each game can be either PvE or PvP, with the option of random selection. In PvE final missions, once a team beats all objectives the other team has a limited time to finish before they fail. This means that, technically, both teams can win when playing PvE. Meanwhile, PvP final missions are more straightforward. Players will have to complete their objectives in the same map as the rival team, at which point direct fights can happen amongst all 10 players.

There are five mission types in total in Dino Survival, with four different final missions available. The combinations are limited, and the early game experience is heavily focused on Dinosaur Cull. That’s a simple elimination of hordes of enemies. Although the new Savage Gauntlet PvE mode exists, it is a limited-time mode that can only be played during certain dates at specific time slots. This means that Exoprimal remains a repetitive experience even by the point you have unlocked all mission types, with little flexibility in terms of game modes or maps.

Exoprimal

Screenshot by Siliconera

While I found the story and characters in Exoprimal fun, it’s nothing groundbreaking. In the year 2040, time vortexes unleashed a dinosaur outbreak on Bikitoa Island. In 2043, the protagonist and his Hammerheads squad crash-land on the cordoned off island. The rogue AI Leviathan sends player-made protagonist, codename Ace, back in time to 2040. This is when all sorts of dinosaur related wargames are being practiced. With each game, The Hammerheads reveal more of the whole picture on Bikitoa Island while they try to stop Leviathan from whatever it is planning.

The Hammerheads really grow on you and their banter is charming. But since their relationships develop mostly through voiceover over recently unlocked files and the bulk of the play time happens in wargames, there’s no real connection between The Hammerheads and the player. Sometimes you will get a mission in which an NPC will join you and actively participate. These are fun additions, but they only appear randomly as you progress through the story. There’s no way to replay them unless you happen to join a player in the party that is experiencing that point in the story.

Screenshot by Siliconera

Which brings me to another point. Due to the mostly-PvE nature of the game, playing alone in Exoprimal is surprisingly more fun than I expected. You can change Exosuits mid-mission at any time, with the penalty of having to wait a few seconds until the suit loads, during which you are vulnerable. This can help make it easier to adapt to team compositions, but the risk of playing alone means that some players will inevitably land into the role of support or another class that they don’t want to fill at the moment. Playing with friends is still king. The game also includes cross-platform, but it is very lackluster. Even with it, you can only create a party with people in the same systems as you.

My final gripe with this game is probably the biggest one. As I mentioned above, Exoprimal is a $60 game, but it still has a pretty harsh monetization choices. For being a full priced game, it emulates free-to-play game models. The game includes a battle pass, a cosmetic store, and the same loot box system as Overwatch had. The remaining three locked Exosuits require a hefty level and cash grind, but can be purchased with real money. This is a pretty player unfriendly business model. While players can make the decision to ignore the cosmetics, it is still a part of the game.

Exoprimal

Screenshot by Siliconera

When stripped down to its bare essentials, Exoprimal can be a really fun time. However, its strange monetization choices, locked content, repetitive mission types, and rather sparse options on release ends up adding more tedium than fun to an otherwise refreshing experience. Granted, Capcom’s promises of free updates shortly after release might turn Exoprimal into a much more enjoyable and solid game down the line. However, it takes a lot for a live service game to survive a harsh release in a market that is so saturated with plenty of equally interesting free-to-play options. I, for one, would really like to see Exoprimal iron out its kinks and thrive.

Exoprimal is readily available for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows PC.

6
Exoprimal

Exoprimal is an online, team-based action game that pits humanity's cutting-edge exosuit technology against history's most ferocious beasts – dinosaurs. PlayStation 5 version reviewed.

Exoprimal is a very promising concept that is limited by its lack of gameplay variety, lackluster release content, and monetization choices.

Food for Thought
  • Assault suits aren’t the only ones capable of dealing lots of damage. Suits like Krieger and Nimbus are surprisingly effective at taking down larger enemies.
  • Each exosuit AI has their own voice actor with a unique accent, and different personality, which is a fun detail.

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Author
Daniel Bueno
Daniel is a staff writer and translator from the Spaghetti Western land of Andalusia, Spain. He got his start writing for Xbox Outsider in 2022. His favorite genres are RPGs, survival horrors, and immersive sims. In truth, he is a Dragon Quest slime in a human suit.