Exoprimal could be the mech suit shooter of your dreams – Hands-on impressions
It’s no dino snore.
I adore BioWare’s Anthem. In my opinion, it had great potential that was sorely missed, and I think about it all the time. That’s why I’ve paid a lot of attention to Capcom’s Exoprimal over the last year or so, hoping and praying that this will be the exosuit-fighter MMO that stands the test of time. Ahead of the public open beta, I was given a chance to take the game and all ten of its launch Exosuits out for a spin early, and I was not disappointed.
Related: When is the release date for Exoprimal? Answered
Prehistoric cannon fodder
Exoprimal is, first and foremost, an action game, blending elements of hack and slashers with third-person shooters in a tidy MMO package. I only got to play two game modes, Training and Dino Survival, and outside of that tutorial mode the game feels solid. This isn’t a shaky early build of what the game might end up being. It’s a slice of the final product that’s robust and leaves you desperate for more.
Each match revolves around you and a team of three other Exofighters taking on wave after wave of dinosaurs as they spill into the world through portals. Smaller dinosaurs like the Sinornithosaurus and Raptors make up the bulk of what you’ll be fighting. As you progress through each wave though, bigger enemies like the T-Rex and Triceratops are thrown your way. Even though you’re in an Exouit capable of firing lasers and wielding blades longer than a car, when you see them, these dinosaurs still look pretty scary.
As I alluded to earlier, I had access to all ten of the Exosuits that will be in Exoprimal at launch. The sheer range of abilities was overwhelming at first, particularly because the game doesn’t do a great job of categorizing them. Assault Exosuits are built to deal damage, wielding powerful weapons and abilities that will cut through the hordes. Of the four in the game, there’s one for each core play style in any given shooter. Vigilant packs a massive sniper rifle and freezing abilities. Barrage has slow-firing crossbows and bombs that focus on dealing damage through delayed explosions. Zephyr is a blade-wielding Exosuit that loves to get up close and personal, though its lack of defenses is a liability, and Deadeye is a ranger type with an assault rifle and everything you’d expect in a generic soldier.
If dealing with all the damage isn’t your thing, you could try the tank Exosuits. Roadblock is a shield on legs that blocks all incoming damage and hits dinosaurs with its massive fist. Kreiger is a minigun that can talk and produce a shield to keep dinosaurs at bay while it turns them into sieves. Finally, my personal favorite, Murasame, is a samurai Exosuit that can block damage before dealing it back at enemies or get into the fray to slice dinosaurs to pieces. It’s with this Exosuit that I learned you could level up each suit individually through use. This version of the game didn’t show what rewards you’d get for leveling up suits, but it appears as though you’ll get modifiers that enhance their abilities and make you more effective in battle.
The last class in the game is support, with three Exosuits to experiment with. Witchdoctor shocks enemies, stunning them and holding them in place for someone else to shoot while always looking for allies to heal. Skywave blasts out healing auras and focuses on supporting from above, steering clear of any damage. Nimbus was the easiest support Exosuit to use, wielding guns that can be swapped between dealing damage or healing allies.
Every Exosuit has an ultimate ability that charges up over the course of a match. These devastate enemies, getting you out of tricky situations when a Triceratops is goring your allies. This happened more to me than the mostly bots I played with, but I found these powers essential in the final phase of Dino Survival.
Throughout Dino Survival games, you’re competing with another team working through the same waves and rounds. Your overarching goal is to beat them to prove yourself as the better Exofighter. I played against both bots and other players, and no matter how well you perform in the early waves, the final round is the decider. I was beaten to the final objective more often than not, keeping me on the edge of my seat for every match.
What’s the story?
Spoilers for those who don’t want to know before they play. A small portion of Exoprimal’s story is on show in this beta, and it’s much better than I expected. It feels as though a dark force working behind the scenes will slowly show itself, and the origins of the dinosaurs you’re fighting and the ‘dimensions’ you’re batling them in will eventually be revealed. The game suits a Destiny 2 Seasons style of storytelling, and feels like it could be an extension of the Dino Crisis universe, though I’m not holding my breath.
Related: How to sign up for the Exoprimal Open Beta Test
How long will Exoprimal last?
Exoprimal is a game-as-a-service made for MMO fans. While there were definitely more than a few hidden elements in the early beta build I played, it’s easy to read between the lines and see the goals players will chase once they get their hands on it. However, the game modes I played left a lot to be desired. I can easily see the few base modes, including Dino Survival, being stretched with enemy modifiers. While that’s not a bad thing, much more will be needed to keep players around for longer than the first month or so. With hardcore content akin to raids and quests to unlock new Exosuits or weapons, Exoprimal could really compete with the likes of Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Warframe. It all depends on how much is in Exoprimal at launch and how well the game is supported from day one.