Capcom has been firing on all cylinders off the recent successes of Street Fighter 6 and Resident Evil 2 Remake. With the announcement of Exoprimal, I was immediately intrigued by the chaotic concept of dinosaurs flowing from the sky like waterfalls. Being a lifelong fan of dinosaurs and connoisseur of the hero shooter genre, this game, on paper, possesses qualities of a fun and refreshing entry into the 2023 landscape. After completing Exoprimal’s roughly 20-hour campaign and sinking a generous amount of time into each pilot, I’ve concluded this game wasn’t ready to launch and isn’t worth the full price tag. Let’s dive in.
So what exactly is Exoprimal? Exoprimal picks up in the year 2043. Three years have passed since a cataclysmic event occurred in which purple vortexes summoned legions of dinosaurs around the world. During those three years, the megacorporation Aibus used its technology and command of elite fighters known as Exopilots to fight back and repel each impending vortex. Exopilots harness the power and abilities of advanced Exosuits to counteract the dinosaur’s mass numbers and strength.
At this point, we meet our rag tag group of protagonists, the Hammerheads. Our character, Ace, is newly recruited and regarded as the best pilot ever produced. While performing a standard patrol mission, the crew is forced to crash land on the mysterious and conveniently placed island of Bikitoa. Upon reaching the island, Ace is transported back in time to 2040 to forcibly compete in a series of “wargames” against hordes of dinosaurs. The quest to break the wargame cycle, find out what caused the first dino outbreak, and learn Leviathan’s endgame is the basis of Exoprimal’s narrative.
From the beginning, the storyline of Exoprimal doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t expect the player to either. The first handful of cutscenes are horribly paced, filled with cheap dialogue, and set the expectation level low for what to expect moving forward. The Hammerhead crew spends the entire campaign sitting in the ship tossing out poorly written jokes or going offscreen to conveniently discover a hidden clue to progress the story’s next puzzle. Bikitoa Island is supposed to be housing mysteries alongside the answers to said mysteries, but we never experience one scene of it. Without spoiling plot points, the game attempts to throw plot twists and turns throughout, but simply offers one of the most boring and least intimidating antagonists I’ve experienced in recent memory.
Ace is silent throughout the story and possesses no personality to offset the lack of speaking. Delegated to high fives and nodding to other crew members, this is one of the few moments in gaming where the main character could’ve been absent and nothing in the narrative would’ve changed. The newest member of the Hammerheads, Majesty, is touted as the best Exopilot in the company aside from Ace and could’ve taken the spot in the wargames. Every member of the crew contributes to solving storyline mysteries except for who we as the players control. It’s a baffling and frustrating experience as we’re delegated to watching the dots connect rather than connecting them ourselves.
The lone bright side to Exoprimal’s lackluster story is how the story unfolds and progresses. After every wargame, small details are unlocked in the databank of the game’s Analysis Map. The map functions like a murder mystery with each entry slowly unveiling pieces of information about the main objectives. This is also where small lore entries and character details are unlocked, which cover Exoprimal’s commendable world-building. Honestly, I enjoy this style of storytelling, but only when the source material is executed well enough to keep my attention.
While Exoprimal’s narrative falls short, the gameplay itself has bright spots that are enjoyable. The game blends online multiplayer, player versus player versus enemies (PvPvE), and the hero shooter genre in a way that feels fun and functions well but lacks depth. Players have a selection of Exosuits to choose from with each kit garnered to play one of three roles: Assault, Tank, and Support. Every suit features a specific weapon, class abilities, ultimate, and rig. While the guns and abilities aren’t interchangeable, players can choose from six different rigs which can provide offensive or defensive support.
Role lock is also absent as players can freely swap between suits to adapt and compensate for needing more healing, damage, etc. While the Exosuit kits possess a fair amount of power fantasy with strong abilities and weaponry, almost every kit feels inspired by a character from existing hero shooters like Overwatch and Paladins. The lack of innovation held back my experience as the presence of Exosuits with future technology embedded could’ve led to fresh and mind-bending abilities.
Modules are Exoprimal’s variation of a perk system. Exosuits can be equipped with three perks that heavily strengthen a pilot’s power. They’re unlockable by leveling up and then purchasing with an in-game currency called Bikcoins. The modules are well-rounded and fairly simple, such as increased damage reduction or quicker reload speeds. Highlighting the system, however, are specific mods tailored to enhancing the kits of the Exosuit. I was surprised at how much more fun the kits felt when cooldowns were reduced or a specific ability was altered to become a stronger variation. It allowed the kit of every unit to flow better and feel stronger as a result.
Dino Survival is Exoprimal’s sole game mode. Two teams of five players race via the storyline’s wargames to complete varying objectives interwoven throughout stages while fending off waves of randomized dinosaurs. The objectives range from defending a specific location to escorting a VIP Exosuit Pilot to a predetermined spot, all of which aren’t new or innovative. Sadly, the stages all feel and run the same except for having a different skybox, which degrades the fun factor over time.
Upon reaching the final mission objective, players try to reach a predetermined goal and have the opportunity to combat other players from the opposing team for the first time. This can be turned off at the main menu for those who exclusively want to play without any PvP components, but I recommend keeping it toggled on, as it adds some change to the cycle. Unfortunately, this is the only spot of PvP combat, is balanced poorly, and misses a huge opportunity. Implementing more player engagements, adding a catch-up mechanic, and forcing more enemy management whilst dealing with other players would make the game feel less formulaic.
This makes headway into Exoprimal’s biggest problems. The pure absence of foundational and core features discourages anyone from coming back or replaying. Offering only one mode at launch while advertising as a live game with seasonal content being road mapped is frustratingly ignorant and isn’t enough to keep players engaged long-term. A Survival Gauntlet mode is coming July 28th, but how will that differ from Dino Survival other than lasting longer and increasing difficulty? There are no announcements regarding an exclusive PvP mode, and crossplay with friends is simply being considered? The game features crossplay matchmaking, but I can’t invite my friend who has a PC copy to play. These are bare minimum features of games launching in this era and especially ones charging $60 dollars.
Finally, let’s discuss microtransactions. Exoprimal features a total of ten Exosuits to choose from. However, only seven are available at launch unless you either purchase a Head Start Kit or unlock them via Bikcoins after reaching a certain player level. Thirty percent of Exoprimal’s roster locked is behind either grinding the game, or microtransactions. Loot boxes also return in the form of “War Chests” alongside a Survival Pass which rewards cosmetics and Bikcoins as your level up. Browsing through the store, Exoprimal’s purchasables are purely cosmetic and artistically well done. It’s a small silver lining in an otherwise rough implementation.
As we discussed in our group gameplay, if you buy the “big daddy” edition of a game, you would expect to get everything available at launch. However, when booting up Exoprimal for the first time, you already have two other bundles you can spend $20-$30 on for extra skins such as a Football Player. It just felt a bit off putting to boot up the game and see MORE you would need to buy to have all of the day-one content.
It’s rough for Exoprimal to miss so badly with Capcom’s other projects hitting it out of the park lately. The game has fragments of fun that get buried under a half-baked release. Hopefully, over the next year or more Capcom can add the components sorely lacking and give me a reason to come back, because I really want to love this game.
Noah is the resident weeb who spends most of his time gaming and watching anime. His goal is to expand his skills while meeting new people. You have probably seen him feeding the other team kills in Overwatch Comp or speculating Star Wars and One Piece. Follow him on twitter @RigsbyNoah.
Adam is a musician and gamer who loves his partner in crime, Regan, and their two pets Rey and Finn. Adam is a fan of Star Wars, Mass Effect, NFL Football, and gaming in general. Follow Adam on Twitter @TheRexTano.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
Exoprimal’s dreadful narrative and foundational mishaps drain the life out of the fun to be had, leading to one of Capcom’s roughest outings in recent years.