Capcom has been on a roll in recent years. As they have constantly released hit after hit with their marquee titles. Ranging from Resident Evil to Monster Hunter, they never fail to impress lately. But one title that has been met with scrutiny since its announcement has been Exoprimal. A new live service game that has just released a couple of weeks ago. When it was first revealed, the game seemed confusing. Considering it showed off solid gameplay but no real details on what the game would be overall.
Developer & Publisher // Capcom, Capcom
Platforms // PlayStation 4|5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
MSRP & Release Date //$59.99, July 14, 2023
Reviewed On // Xbox Series X
It was not until the recent betas for the game that I started to notice that there was a lot to the game that the marketing was not talking about. On the surface, Exoprimal seems like it only offers just some cooperative fun with a player-versus-player twist. But, like almost every game these days, the more I played it, the deeper and deeper the experience got. It went from some casual fun to having a decent story and deeply engaging cooperative-focused encounters that seem directly inspired by Bungie’s Destiny 2.
By the time I finished Exoprimal, the main story turned out to not only have some of the best feeling combat and great graphical fidelity, but so many surprises that I never saw coming. I was left impressed constantly by what lies within.
A Leviathan of a Story
In Exoprimal you are Ace, a new exosuit pilot recruited onto a team called the Hammerheads. When a random swarm of dinosaurs attacks their signature airship on a journey to the mysterious Bikitoa island, Ace and his team find themselves marooned and at the mercy of a crazed A.I. named Leviathan that forcibly enlists Ace in his endless wargames. From there the Hammerheads find themselves in a time-bending journey to take down Leviathan with the help of exosuits across different timelines.
Exoprimal has an interesting way of delivering its story. It lacks a traditional straightforward campaign and instead allows the story to be told as the player continues playing in matches. It does have a great onboarding tutorial segment that is involved with the narrative. But afterward, it drops you into the standard multiplayer matches that tell the game’s story over time through unlockable cutscenes and scripted missions that unlock at certain points. You can always see your progression, and therefore it never feels random, or tedious.
While this is not an ideal method of telling a story for most, it is very intertwined in the game narratively. Leviathan is a crazy A.I. that is able to pull teams of exosuit pilots into his wargames at any time. With only so few rogue agents trying to break the cycle and free not only themselves but Ace and the Hammerheads. It works and the method enticed me to keep playing.
I spent nearly sixty matches just to see awesome cutscenes involving the team either playing poker to take their mind off the situation. Or set up epic set pieces for boss fights. It all felt very worth it by the end and the game’s variety opened up immensely.
The Varied Wargames of Exoprimal
Exoprimal currently has one game mode called “Dinosaur Survival”. This game mode fixates on two teams of five racing against the clock to complete objectives for victory. But there is always a second phase in each match that can either be focused on doing more objectives, or one singular objective that involves the teams fighting each other head-on. It feels very heavily influenced by Destiny 2’s game mode “Gambit”. Considering you can also summon a big dinosaur and control it to wreak havoc on the enemy team.
But on the surface, this is just the standard match structure for a good chunk of the game. Considering as you progress in the story for Exoprimal by playing matches, you unlock more variety for your matches. For example, very early on, there is a point in the story where you have to take on a raid boss co-operatively with the enemy team. The game shifted into something I was not expecting and had a fantastic experience. This happens so many times as you progress in the game’s story and I have seen stuff that matches the quality of the cooperative activities that Destiny 2 achieves regularly.
The game even randomly puts you back into those missions to help new players, and there is a dialogue that makes it into a cohesive situation. My only complaint with this approach is that it all falls to randomness after you unlock these activities. I wish any scripted story mission could be replayed at any time, even with bots so I could relive parts of the game I really loved.
But knowing that this singular game mode houses so much content was such a genuine surprise. Considering it may seem too repetitive to new players, but even at the beginning it felt so content-rich and the matchmaking allowing for either just normal matches or those scripted missions meant that waiting for a match was always less than a minute in my experience.
However, there is so much more that goes into the matches and story in Exoprimal. Such as the different dinosaurs and exosuits.
Mechs and Guns, and Dinosaurs, Oh My!
There are currently ten exosuits in Exoprimal, with unique weapons and purposes to fulfill on a team. For example, Zephyr is a fast-paced melee-based exosuit that is designed to chop down hordes of dinosaurs. Roadblock is a tank that can draw enemies to him and block anything with his massive shield, even big dinosaur attacks. While Skywave can send out constant heals to her teammates while also staying airborne and trapping enemies in a vortex.
Every single exosuit feels very unique to play as and always fulfills a specific useful niche. For instance, Zephyr can be a great crowd-killing exosuit. But if you use Vigilant, the sniper, you can be more effective against bigger, harder-to-kill dinosaurs. Due to her higher focused damage output with headshots. However, she can not take down crowds like Zephyr can do easily. This makes every scenario in a match feel balanced towards specific exosuits. It all comes down to assessing what dinosaurs you have to take down and what you can do to be more efficient.
This is due to the crazy amount of dinosaur variety you unlock over time. You start to uncover not only raid bosses but varied types of the same dinosaurs. For example, the pterodactyl can have either fiery variants that are hard to kill. As well as venomous versions that are swifter than the normal and fiery variant. From a stegosaurus that disables your abilities to a hulking T-rex, every encounter is unpredictable and just feels awesome. The game always used the variety between game modes and dinosaurs to make every match feel fresh. Especially after 60 and more as I continue to play. The exosuits also have a fantastic sense of weight to them that makes combat feel so satisfying.
To go alongside the many exosuits in Exoprimal is some customization that is both cosmetic and not. Every exosuit has a loadout you can customize with rigs that add an extra ability to every exosuit. Such as a handy healing gun for a quick heal, or a giant drill arm to satisfyingly punch a crowd of dinosaurs with. I always gravitated toward the laser rig for most of my loadouts. But I did find good use of the shield rig for my Murasame, the samurai tank, it just worked.
There are also modules that you can slot into your exosuit that add buffs or change exosuit abilities slightly. Such as making Skywave’s vortex have a stronger pull, but reduce the vortex’s duration. As well as adding a follow-up attack to Zephyr’s aerial launch ability that slams enemies down. I really loved a module for Vigilant that could give her a free shot after scoring a critical hit. It made landing headshots more satisfying and impactful in matches.
The final bit is cosmetic customization. Exoprimal does feature skins, emotes, and other minute options like decals or charms that go on exosuits. I found a lot of the charms and decals to be underwhelming and I felt confused by some of the paywalled cosmetics. As some of the cosmetics in the current battle pass look far superior to the packs you can buy outright.
However, players can earn a lot of cosmetics just by playing the game. Best of all the game is generous with its experience point requirements for leveling up. I found myself leveling up at least every match or two while the battle pass progressed every two to three matches. Some levels offer specific cosmetics, while others give currency to buy certain cosmetics and loot boxes you cannot buy with real money.
Suffice it to say however, unlocking cosmetics, useful modifications for exosuits, new game modes, cooperative-focused activities, and great cutscenes by just playing the game felt very rewarding unlike a lot of other live service games these days. I still look forward to continuing leveling up to keep unlocking stuff because of the sheer variety of the game.
Incredible Technical Performance and Decent Music
I played Exoprimal on the Xbox Series X and had zero issues. Both in terms of performance and no graphical problems whatsoever. I did not experience a single crash, stutter, or freeze either. My only complaint about the game is the main menu itself. It takes a few button presses of the same icon across separate menus to start looking for a match. It feels like a weird choice, but I got used to it after a while. Also, the game never told me how to open loot boxes, and I only came across the icon to open them in the menu by chance.
Other than that, the menu was easy to navigate, especially when going to the database to unlock more of the story in scripted voice-over sequences. The database also allowed me to rewatch cutscenes after unlocking enough data in matches. It is a great touch for some of the moments of the story I really enjoyed. While also adding more context to certain lines spoken by characters like Sandy the robot companion.
Exoprimal also features some pretty awesome music as well. It always elevated every match, especially some of the ten-player activities. The usage of rock music and techno beats always felt on point. The game impressed me with its flawless graphical fidelity and the smoothness of its gameplay.
Final Thoughts on Exoprimal
Exoprimal is a strong title, despite what you might see on the surface. The story is good but never reaches any heights of other Capcom titles. But considering how the story is delivered and how interwoven it is with the gameplay and game modes. I thought it served its purpose while offering some pretty unique twists. The game mode and dinosaur variety are very excellent, and the exosuits all felt awesome to play. I just wished there were more options to experience the ten-player activities or scripted missions when I felt like it. But as the game stands, I do heavily recommend Exoprimal. It is gorgeous, it is fun, and delivered a multiplayer experience I was not expecting to love.
Exporimal is available now for $59.99 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Steam, and PlayStation 4|5. It is also available on Xbox Game Pass.
Note – An Xbox Series X|S key was provided for the purpose of this review.