Exoprimal on PS5
Does familiarity really breed contempt? Because if that old adage rang true, I’d feel nothing but mind-numbing boredom for Exoprimal, which is yet another third-person shooter games-as-a-service title with multiplayer mechanics a ‘la Warframe or World War Z. Instead, I’m kind of smitten with Capcom’s latest dino-vs-mechs co-op shoot ’em up. I know, I know, I’m just surprised as you are. Basically, if I was to condense this review down to one sentence, it’d go something like this: Exoprimal is better than I was expecting it to be, and is a testament to how strangely satisfying shooting tidal waves of walking fossils really is.
Set in a futuristic world where mysterious rifts have randomly materialized spawning legions of prehistoric beasties, Earth as we know it has gone the way of the dodo. Coming to our defense are a bunch of burly exofighters, replete with advanced armor and weaponry, who quickly help to turn the tide of war against the hordes of carnivorous reptiles. These exosuits are designed and built by the Aibius Corporation, which is your typical
shady philanthropic organization that may or may not be connected to the dinosaurs’ origins.
See, while the Aibius Corporation is busy battling the dinos, it’s also responsible for an AI gone rogue called Leviathan, which is hellbent on sending exosuits back in time to relive past wargames like some kind of twisted Groundhog Day in a bid to collect “combat data.” Meanwhile, alongside all of this, we have your team of allies, aka the Hammerheads squad, and they’ve crash-landed on Bikitoa Island, which is the source of where the dino hordes originally spawned.
Story-wise, despite its pretty disjointed delivery, the game does a satisfactory job of parlaying the conflict and drama of this tumultuous world to the player. Really, Exoprimal employs quite a unique approach to its narrative exposition. After all, this is primarily a multiplayer co-op experience where you spend the bulk of your time shooting dinosaurs, outfitting your exosuit, and leveling up.
Spliced in between matches, you’ll be treated to some well-acted and well-produced cutscenes as you continue to demystify the central enigma at the heart of the game: Where did the dinosaurs actually come from? Obviously, I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s worth noting that Exoprimal’s narrative is surprisingly solid, with decent voice-acting, a lighthearted tone, and the ability to dig even deeper to the lore with the game’s in-built Database, which boasts hours of additional dialogue, if you so wish.
Now, moving onto the gameplay, and it’s here where Exoprimal excels. At its core, Exoprimal is a 5v5 PvEvP experience, and the team who completes all their objectives first reigns supreme. For the most part, teams will be funneled through one of several maps by a blue orb, known in-game as the Watcher, and tasked to complete short objectives, like defending a certain area or defeating a specific dinosaur. Occasionally, however, your team will have to simply contend with hulking bosses, though these start to appear more in the late-game.
From the outset, you’ll be able to choose from an Assault, Tank, or Support class, and each offer their own strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I largely opted for the Deadeye exosuit from the Assault class, thanks to its jack-of-all-trades loadout and pick-up-and-play feel. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a high-powered machine gun, rocket launcher, and laser beam, right?
That said, depending on your preferred playstyle, all the classes are totally viable. From the more melee-centric Zephyr to the healing capabilities of the Witchdoctor to the supremely durable heavyweight that is Roadblock, there’s bound to be an exosuit from the 10 offerings available that’ll suit you to a tee. Fortunately, once you’ve chosen a suit you want, you’ll be able to change it on the fly quite easily on the battlefield.
In fact, swapping to another class or exosuit is sometimes paramount to your ongoing success, as your team’s specific makeup can be the difference between stomping all over the competition, or getting your butt handed to you on a dinosaur-shaped platter. Ideally, you’ll want a balanced team with a mixture of classes, as having too many, say, Assault class Deadeyes or Barrages will lead to vulnerabilities during all the carnage, especially as the increasing number of adversaries becomes borderline untenable.
As you can imagine, the bulk of your time will be spent shooting, slicing, or electrifying hordes of dinos. Luckily, the core gunplay is absolutely rock solid, though I had to turn down the sensitivity to get the handling just right. Melee combat is also super satisfying as you tear swathes of enemies asunder, and the addition of deployable support units, like laser turrets, placeable shields, and floating platforms are a nice touch as well.
Adding some extra stickiness to Exoprimal’s leveling and progression is a system that allows players to purchase and customise each one of their rigs with their own three distinct modules. These range from increasing reload speed, reducing damage from dinos, and expanding your health pool to speeding up the time of your Overcharge Gauge cooldown (more on this later), boosting your health recovery time, and increasing your movement speed when your health is low.
As is par for the course these days, to purchase these modules, Exoprimal implements an in-game currency called BiKCoin. Thankfully, these are doled out at a frequent clip, and the module upgrades aren’t too costly. In short, after several matches, you’ll be able to start tailoring your rig to your own playstyle, which is always welcome.
Outside of the modules, each exosuit also boasts its own powerful ultimate ability, known in-game as Overcharge. For instance, Deadeye unleashes a hail of bullets in a large area for about five seconds, Zephyr lets loose a formidable combo of slashes that decimates groups of foes, and Barrage becomes a flaming ball that explodes on impact. These are constantly on a timer and a cooldown, so throughout matches, you’ll want to keep an eye out for when it’s ready so that you can lay waste to those hordes of pesky overgrown lizards. In fact, your Overcharge ability can seriously turn the tide of war to your advantage, if you time it right.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning my one major grievance I had with the game. Essentially, due to the design of the game’s progression, starting out can be a bit of a chore, as you’ll likely have to replay the same few maps over and over again, and the opening hours can suffer from a serious case of déjà vu. This monotony can be a bit of a grind, and if you’re not in it for the long haul, the opening hours could be a major turn-off to some players.
Thankfully, this is ameliorated as you level up and start to access the more challenging maps on offer, but it’s still a sticking point that I can foresee culling some of the more casual crowd who decide to hop into the game. For this reason, I’m slightly concerned about Exoprimal’s overall longevity, which is to be expected when a game like this relies so heavily on an active playerbase.
Nevertheless, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a lot of fun with Exoprimal. With its satisfying shooting, well-designed co-op, and unique yet lighthearted narrative and tone, Capcom’s team-based shooter can often be a genuine thrill, especially when your team synergises together in unison. Sure, it may be big, dumb, turn-off-your-brain fun, but, sometimes that’s all you really need, right?
Limited number of maps.
Can feel a little repetitive after a while.
Longevity beyond launch is still up in the air.