When I was a child growing up during the ’90s, I would spend my afternoons coming home from school playing Dino Crisis 2 on the original PlayStation. It was a fun thrill ride gunning down hordes of dinosaurs, collecting an arsenal of over-the-top weapons, and fighting off the terrifying Giganotosaurus, which made the T-Rex look tiny by comparison.
Like many Capcom fans pining for a return to the reptilian horror franchise, I’ve been dreaming that the series would make a comeback in some form. Little did I know I would get my wish in the most unexpected way possible in 2022, at least in part.
Earlier this May, Capcom unveiled Exoprimal, a new action game that no one saw coming. This online-only multiplayer shooter pits players against hordes of dinosaurs and one another in various missions that combines PvP and PvE elements. It is a wild concept, to say the least, and instantly evoked memories of the more action-oriented Dino Crisis 2.
I’ve been playing the Exoprimal closed network test beta on Windows PC via Steam, getting hands-on with a small batch of missions and playable Exosuits ahead of launch. I’ve since realized that aside from fighting dinosaurs, this game has more common with hero shooters like Overwatch and Valorant, and I’m here for it.
What is Exoprimal?
Exoprimal takes place in 2040, where humanity falls under attack, facing never-ending hordes of dinosaurs spawning from temporal vortexes. Mankind’s best bet for survival is the Exofighters, a group of soldiers piloting weaponized mech suits called Exosuits built by the Aibius corporation.
You play as the newest recruit of Aibius’ Exofighters, and your goal is to save the world from this pre-historic pandemonium. The game opens with a character creator where you get to customize how your Exofighter will look outside the Exosuit and a brief tutorial on the game’s controls provided by Aibius’ AI program with a worryingly sinister personality called Leviathan.
Upon creating my character and getting to grips with the controls, it was time to enter Exoprimal’s main game mode, Dino Survival. In this mode, Leviathan pits two teams of five Exofighters against each other in a race to determine who can complete their objectives. Players fight through waves of dinosaurs in PvE missions, culminating in a final PvP stage where both teams fight to the death.
Completing your objectives won’t be easy as Exoprimal features an extensive bestiary of ravenous reptiles headed straight for your head. You have common dinosaurs like Raptors, Pterodons, Triceratops, and T-Rexes, but there are also mutated variants to contend with dubbed “Neosaurs.”
Neosaurs are dinosaurs that have been twisted and altered by the temporal vortexes that summoned them into our time, now boasting superpowers. Their abilities range from summoning regular dinosaurs, shooting energy projectiles, or blowing themselves up if you get too close.
Suit up for battle with the Exosuits
To combat these monsters, you will need to master the weapons and abilities of the Exosuits. They are categorized into three roles: Assault, Support, and Tank, and assembling the right Exosuit composition is the key to victory. The beta has four playable Exosuits available, with more coming soon in the full game.
- Deadeye: A marksman who blasts dinos from a distance using an assault rifle and grenades.
- Zephyr: A speedy martial artist who dashes into enemy ranks to beat them to a pulp using hand-to-hand combat.
- Witchdoctor: A medic who can heal allies and stun enemies using an electric staff.
- Roadblock: A walking tank that can hold back dozens of raptors and even the jaws of a T-Rex using an energy shield and punch their lights out using its giant fists.
Playing around with these Exosuits hammered home Overwatch vibes, with each Exosuit offering playstyles reminiscent of Blizzard’s heroes. Deadeye plays very similar to Soldier: 76, Zephyr is basically Genji without a sword, the Witchdoctor feels like a combination of Zenyatta and Mercy, and Roadblock is essentially Reinhardt if he forewent his hammer and started punching bad guys.
Roadblock proved the most enjoyable, with dinosaurs desperately clawing and biting their way through my shield, before sending those lizards flying with a counterattack. But Roadblock’s best trick comes when you activate its super move.
Each Exosuit comes with a special “super move” that can turn the tide of battle. However, they have an extremely long cooldown timer, so you must carefully decide when to use them. Roadblock’s super move, in particular, has you perform a spinning lariat that generates a massive cyclone to pull enemies in and then launch them into a wall by striking a pose.
Not only was it a fantastic spectacle seeing a tornado of dinos getting plastered against the wall, but this move is also an homage to Zangief, a wrestler from Capcom’s Street Fighter series.
The other Exosuits have their own flashy super moves to play with, and you can swap between which Exosuit to wear at any point during a match to adapt to new, unexpected situations.
The rules mean nothing to Leviathan
You’ll frequently be adapting in Dino Survival. Leviathan has a nasty and cruel habit of changing the objectives players must complete between matches or introducing random elements that spice up the gameplay.
In addition to the typical dinosaur cull missions, sometimes you will need to escort a payload while protecting it from enemies. Other times you will need to collect data chips or steal them from enemy players. If a team falls behind, Leviathan will grant them a device to let them take control of a mini-boss like a Triceratops or a T-Rex to stomp all over the enemy team’s progress.
Leviathan will even interrupt a match to change a mission objective if he feels like it. I did a set of dinosaur cull missions in one match, with a payload escort PvP match at the end. But then, in another match, Leviathan replaced one of the missions with a Raptor Super Swarm mission, forcing my team to fight thousands of raptors pooling out of a temporal vortex.
The most insane instance of Leviathan’s penchant for changing the rules was during my fourth match. He decided to cancel the match halfway through and teleport both teams to another dimension for a PvE-only match. In this special event, both teams have to work together to fend off over 2,000 dinosaurs within a time limit and ensure we stay alive during it because, in this match, there are a limited number of respawns allowed.
Once the battle was over, Leviathan decided to give both teams one final test, a boss fight against a Neo T-Rex. A disgusting abomination with rotting flesh and grotesque growths filled with volatile energy all over its body.
It was an incredibly fun and chaotic boss battle. The Neo T-Rex was shooting mouth lasers, summoning hordes of Neosaurs, and even conjuring a singularity that pulled players in so that it could chomp them down in one bite. When we finally defeated it by knocking it down and obliterating it with all our super moves at once, I was sold on Exoprimal’s premise.
Leviathan’s unpredictable tendencies to change the rules and stack the odds against the players ensure that nearly every match in Exoprimal will feel fresh and different. After defeating the Neo T-Rex, the beta stated that these matches are only a tiny taste of what is to come. If the rest of the full game contains more over-the-top boss fights and Super Swarm horde fights like this beta, I believe I will be addicted to this game for a long time.
The game’s performance was promising, based on the PC beta. I recently upgraded my computer with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 to complement its Intel Core i5-9400 CPU in preparation for this beta, and it paid off. The game ran flawlessly at 1080p with 120 FPS, even when I turned the graphics settings to their highest settings, and hundreds of raptors were on-screen.
As of this article, the PC spec requirements for the PC version of Exoprimal have not been revealed yet. So, if your computer is equipped with the best graphics cards on the market, you should be able to experience Exoprimal at its best with no issue.
I can’t wait to sink my teeth into more Exoprimal
Overall, I have enjoyed my time with Exoprimal so far. The Exosuits were fun to play, the dinosaurs were enjoyable to fight, Leviathan constantly changing the rules keeps things engaging, and it feels exceptionally polished even at this early stage in its development. The controls were tight and could be customized to the player’s liking, and the online networking was perfectly stable with all those enemies on screen.
In an interview with IGN, the game’s director Takuro Hiraoka confirmed that Exoprimal has no connection to Dino Crisis and is its own entity. I can definitely see why after playing it for myself, but that doesn’t stop me from having waves of nostalgia for Dino Crisis 2 while playing Exoprimal, and I can’t wait to play more of it.
If you are a fan of team-based hero shooters like Overwatch, Valorant, and Apex Legends, I highly recommend you keep a close eye on this game. I believe Exoprimal has the potential to be not only one of the best multiplayer games on PC but also one of the best games on Xbox.
Exoprimal is scheduled to be released in 2023 on PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.