Eyebrows went stratospheric when Capcom first unveiled Exoprimal in 2022. Welcome to a bizarre future in which it rains dinosaurs and the only way to fight back is with armored “Exosuits.” Impressively the concept only gets more bonkers from there, with the first 30 minutes of the game tossing time travel, the multiverse, and a sinister AI into this dino-infested cocktail.
If the high-concept setting didn’t give players pause, the game’s structure certainly did. Exoprimal is a combination of player vs enemy and player vs player multiplayer, proudly sporting the battle passes, microtransactions, and loot boxes we’ve come to expect from the genre, despite launching at full price rather than being free to play. None of this is at all inviting and, in what felt like a bad omen, I only ended up reviewing Exoprimal because no other member of staff wanted to.
But here’s the shocking truth. Exoprimal is, somehow, actually pretty damn great. Honestly, I’m as surprised as you.
At launch, Exoprimal comes with just the “Dino Survival” multiplayer mode. This sees two squads of five racing against each other to complete objectives before being tossed together into a final mission that ends with a very brief player vs player skirmish.
You run to a location on the map and an evil AI begins raining dinosaurs onto you. To move to the next objective, you have to “cull” a certain quota, say 120 Raptors and 5 Pteradons. Rinse and repeat until you get to the final mission, which at lower levels generally sees you escorting a “data bank” to the goal in the face of stern dino resistance.
This is essentially all Exoprimal is for the first few hours, and it quickly gets repetitive. You can mix things up by trying out the various Exosuits, but you’d be forgiven for concluding that this is an extremely bare-bones release with a limited gameplay loop.
Don’t give up! Power on through, get a few levels under your belt, and Exoprimal soon starts getting good. Somewhere between levels five and ten, you’ll begin to unlock new kinds of mission and final objectives, fresh species of dinosaur to blast into scaly chunks, and upgrade chips that let you tailor your preferred Exosuit to your style.
As your levels increase, the chaos ramps up. Soon, you’re in wild ten-player PvE raids against enormous mutated dinosaurs with unique mechanics and limited respawns, requiring every player to lean hard into their Exosuit specialties for victory. By the time you’re in the endgame, you’ll be fighting back against tides of thousands of dinosaurs, T-Rexes rampaging around the map, laser turrets blasting away, and other players firing off their ultimate attacks. I’ve played a hell of a lot of video games over the years, but few have approached the sensory overload of late-game Exoprimal.
Exoprimal also deserves praise for the ways its various DPS, tank, and support suits neatly slot together, to the point where it’s hard to get a truly unviable team in matchmaking (even if you do, you’re free to switch classes mid-mission). Yoo often in this genre, players stuck in the healer or buff roles get the short end of the gameplay stick. Not so here; the Skywave and Nimbus classes let you switch between dealing damage and healing others and even the pure healing class Witchdoctor (armed with just a non-lethal stun-stick) is fun to get to grips with.
There were also gripes during the betas that Exoprimal should have been a pure player vs enemy game. I can see the argument though in practice, the competition from the opposing team adds a sense of urgency and spurs you on to more effective play. But even if one team lags behind, there’s usually at least the possibility of a hail-mary reversal, generally the result of the well-timed activation of a “Dominator” player-controlled dinosaur and chomping your opponents into a fine paste.
On top of all that is a decent plot that gradually explains why it’s raining dinosaurs, bolstered by good voice-acting, and a welcome smattering of comedy. Particular praise has to go to Mark Whitten as the sinister dino-obsessed AI Leviathan. Theoretically, Leviathan is a cold and emotionless machine, but Whitten injects a GLADOS-like glee into lines like “consider this superior dinosaur threat an opportunity for professional growth” or the evil relish behind “Massacre Module activated” or “Summoning Pachycephalosauruses”.
So, Exoprimal is better than you’d expect. All that said, there are quite a few glaring flaws, most obviously a notable lack of map variety. You’ll soon be sick of fighting in the same urban areas, even if the enemies you’re blasting and the objectives you’re pursuing change throughout the game.
Also, once you’ve completed key story missions, they get thrown into your rotation for Dino Survival, and even if every player has completed them, you still have to sit through unskippable cutscenes everybody will have already seen multiple times over. While I’m on that, there were several times where story cutscenes bugged out and played twice, though at least there you can quickly skip the ones you’ve seen.
Ordinarily, I’d begin beating the drum against predatory microtransactions at this point, though I didn’t feel like Exoprimal was trying to worm its way into my wallet (and quite rightly, as it’s priced at $59.99). Leveling up without the battle pass provides a steady stream of in-game currency to spend on upgrades, and I never needed more than the game doled out. Plus, on leveling up you’re gifted loot boxes that deliver decals, emotes, and skins for no extra cost.
This all adds up to a surprisingly fun and engaging game, though whether Exoprimal can avoid becoming yet another online title shuttered before its time remains to be seen. My fear is that most players will judge this by the opening few hours of gameplay, which is the game at its worst and delivers the tiniest slice of the fun stuff. Capcom really should put more content upfront, or at least provide some indication of what’s coming and when you unlock it.
But hey, Exoprimal promised mechs vs hordes of ravenous dinosaurs and delivers in style. I had way more fun than I was expecting and just hope Capcom delivers on the content roadmap. Right now Exoprimal is a great game. With the right support, in six months’ time, it could be an excellent game.
This review is based on the PlayStation 5 version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Capcom.
Exoprimal makes a terrible first impression, but stick with it and it soon blossoms into a bonkers, senses-blasting, and ludicrously fun shooter. By the endgame, you’ll be squaring off with thousands of ravenous raptors, rampaging T-Rexes, sniper Neosaurs, barrages of laser fire, and players popping off crazy ultimate moves. It’s just a shame you have to grind through a very repetitive and limited opening to get there.