Exoprimal Beta Impressions – No Dino Crisis Here
Well, here’s a feature I never thought I’d be writing. Between my own personal beef with Capcom for STILL NOT GIVING US A DINO CRISIS REMAKE YET and the other FG team members riffing on me during Exoprimal’s reveals for that previous reason, it’s rather a strange turn of fate.
Yet through some cruel and oxymoronically awesome twist, the Exoprimal beta has somehow won me over. Not just slightly, a huge amount. Myself, Rossko and Josh all suited up to take on the dinos from the sky and it’s fair to say we had a rip-roaring time.
That’s not to say Exoprimal will be in the game of the year contentions, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t anything other than ridiculously over-the-top and surprisingly challenging good fun. Want to know more about the game with dinosaurs dropping in their thousands from a wormhole in the atmosphere? Of course you do.
“They Can Fly Now?!”
As I’ve said in previous Jurassic World Evolution 2 reviews: dinosaurs are just cool. Put them in any media, especially a video game, and you’re onto a winner.
Exoprimal takes that concept and not only runs with it, it full blown Forrest Gump sprints across America with it. Swarms of dozens of raptors will manifest literally from orbs in the sky, accompanied by your historical favourites like the T-Rex, Anklyosaurus, Triceratops, Dilophosaurus and others.
In some specific instances, the numbers hit hundreds. All shearing, swiping, gnawing and gashing at once. Crowds of raptors could be deceptively devastating should you be cut off from your squad, while a rogue Carnotaurus can tear your exosuit apart in seconds. Not only are the sheer crowds of carnivorous beasts a visual spectacle of teeth, they pose a strong challenge.
Figuring out how to handle each variant of dinosaur while simultaneously managing the current objective was rewarding and engaging in its own right. The Anklyosaurus requires more precision and tactical use of abilities to actually do damage (slowing down your progress significantly), while a Triceratops can ram your entire team into oblivion should you fall foul of bunching up.
Better pick your class effectively then, huh?
“I Hate To Admit How Much Fun I’m Having”
Now that we have the excitement of dinosaurs out of the way, let’s talk what Exoprimal had to show off to us.
The beta included a single mode – Dino Survival – which blended a unique mix of both co-op and PVP elements. Two teams of 5 players (with replacement bots for dropouts) simultaneously attempt to complete a series of objectives, with the team finishing first declared victorious.
In the initial tasks, teams are separate and can’t influence the others, except through an AI-decided drop that allows a player to take on the role of a superpowered extinct beast to disrupt the others’ progress. If a team is lagging behind significantly, the AI may also upgrade their opponent’s dinosaur foes in-line with their collective score.
That’s until you reach the final round, when both teams now collide as well as facing off the swathes of armour skinned creatures. From my experience as a trio and then playing solo, it did feel like if one team is unbalanced skill-wise, the chance of victory is nil. It can feel a bit deflating to instantly know you’re outmatched after the first objective (particularly as the team that gets to the final round gets a headstart as it is) and Exoprimal’s attempts to balance the odds don’t feel quite there just yet.
The mode itself is great. Objectives range from culling X amount of creatures to protecting a cargo ship or scientist and then for the final round involves charging massive AoE (area of effect) hammers to break barriers, protecting a destructible cube (a la Overwatch’s Payload game mode) or collecting chips faster than your enemy team.
Having a squad to play with and synergising your classes is going to carry a lot of the enjoyment in modes like these, which I’ll admit, wasn’t something I was expecting coming into the beta.
“Man, This Gun is Sick!”
Exoprimal’s biggest surprise was the Overwatch inspired class system. You can swap out between either an Assault, Tank or Support exosuits at any time during a match. Each class type has multiple different suits to choose from; for example the Tank has a minigun and shield toting hulk alongside a towering Samurai, while Assault suits can range from your standard assault rifle trooper to a comically powerful sniper or a grenade-lobbing ravager.
Each exosuit comes equipped with a primary attack, throwable AoE, a supercharge ability and a variant of a power attack. I found all of them to be pretty unique and whether I was aiding the squad as a support healer or watching Rossko deal out damage with grenades while Josh was tanking crowds, I was having a great time.
The fact we could switch up at any time mid-match really encouraged experimentation and adapting to whatever needs our team had at that stage of a map. Which, I think is going to be most important in the online and competitive variants of Exoprimal. Melee focused classes are going to do squat against Pteranodons while a team of only Tanks simply won’t deal enough damage to succeed in most objectives.
Finding that sweet spot of mixing up roles between the team and working to everyone’s strengths was superbly satisfying. Having tried each of the classes myself, I already have 3-4 favourites, but the versatility and effectiveness of each class meant most were seen on the MVP screens at the end of matches. This demonstrates how well balanced things feel on the whole already.
That’s not to say it’s all looking perfect just yet. Mansumane in particular seems to be a whirlwind of destruction in PVP encounters and we each found ourselves querying how that player completely rinsed us so fast, so some fine-tuning is definitely still needed.
“Miles Is Eating Humble Pie… Again”
Aside from what’s already been mentioned, it’s worth stating that Exoprimal is simple fun. There’s lots of dinosaurs, you have to kill even more of them. Occasionally, you’ll kill other players too. I’m most excited for what other modes and content the main game is going to offer. However, on this limited showing, Exoprimal is already much higher in my expectations than I gave it credit for.
The level design feels well-crafted, even if the aesthetics feel a bit bland. The chaos of combat should probably break the game yet it runs serenely no matter how many gnashing teeth are ripping at your exosuit and overall, the graphics for effects, explosions and character models look pretty good.
There’s some minor kinks that’ll need to be ironed out before launch like unbalanced matchmaking and a couple of classes seemingly being overpowered in the right hands, but overall this was a seriously enjoyable and rewarding time. Given it’s only one mode, with no indication of the reward systems or other content, that’s a strong first impression.
Well done, Exoprimal. You’re not Dino Crisis, and for that I’ll never quite forgive you. But on this showing, maybe Capcom have another dinosaur-themed IP that could tear apart the industry. Just please give our remake as well.
Lastly, a word from our dear Rossko:
‘Dinosaurs. Fall. From. The. Fucking. Sky. And. You. Are. In. Interchangeable. Exo-suits. 10/10. No notes’.
What else could you possibly need to hear to know that Exoprimal is one to be excited for?
Exoprimal is releasing July 14th for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One and Windows. You can pre-order now.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this preview, we took part in the game’s open beta. For our full policy, please go here.
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