Exoprimal PS5 Review. Capcom takes a break from revitalizing its old favorites to put out a ‘new’ IP. With a fantastic concept and the promise of daft times ahead, can Exoprimal become Capcom’s newest monster hit? Find out in PlayStation Universe’s PS5 review.
Exoprimal Review (PS5) – Overburdened Dino Shooter is Far From Pterrible
Whatever else there may be to say about Exomprimal, you have to give Capcom some credit for channeling its peak years by saying yes to a pitch as 2001 as this. I understand the initial disappointment that a Capcom game featuring dinosaurs isn’t a new Dino Crisis, but fighting swarms of dinos in fancy mech suits? You can’t deny that there’s an appeal to that.
Bless its little scaly socks, it wants to tell a story about why dinosaurs are pouring out of portals to fight the illegitimate children of Overwatch and Zone of the Enders. Look, the story doesn’t matter all that much, but I do appreciate that it leans heavily into its time-traveling, technology gone wrong melodrama in between bouts of punching previously extinct creatures back to the dawn of time.
The cast of human characters kind of reminded me of Binary Domain. That underappreciated gem from the Yakuza team before it became big-time. Loosely based on real actors/characters, but skewed into a stereotypical pastiche (for instance, one is Otacon by way of Ben Whishaw). Having a character that looks like Dino Crisis’ Regina is no happy accident either. It almost feels like a bold stake from Capcom to say ‘Look, that game ain’t coming back’.
And if you’re going to infer that, you kind of need to make your ‘not Dino Crisis’ game a banger. Exoprimal is fun, that’s not up for debate. It’s visually interesting. That’s a fact. But it’s also a needlessly cluttered trough of bad online practices. If the front of Exoprimal is reminiscent of turn-of-the-century Capcom. The back end holds that unmistakable smell of that awkward 2008-2016 era.
Welcome To The Raptors
Let’s focus on the good stuff first though. Exoprimal deals with its dino-smashing action in two distinct modes. Both feature online competitive play between two teams of five players, but one puts you psychically in contact with another team, whilst the other sees you competing against the ‘ghost’ of another team. In the psychical version, the action is akin to Overwatch’s package delivery multiplayer. You shoot dinos as they try to swarm a protected item, and at some point, both your path and that of the other team converge. Then it becomes a two-way battle between mechs and dinosaurs.
The other checkpoints are mini-hordes where you’re racing against the spectral opposition to get to the finish line first. That’s achieved by making the most of teamwork and slaughtering your prehistoric pests as swiftly as possible.
The important part here is ‘how?’ and that’s where the exosuits come into play. There’s a small selection of different chassis for willing meatbags to stuff themselves into and they are divided into typical classes such as Tank and Support. In the fine tradition of every multiplayer title that encourages and rewards playing different roles beyond ‘I can shoot the most things!, Exoprimal ensures each class has some worth, even if not every exosuit is worthwhile to use.
No matter what the skills, each suit has some attacking power, and in the case of support characters, that often sees defensive and aid skills double up as offensive weapons. I had a lot of fun playing support because of this. It’s not exactly flawless, but it really makes playing a support role enjoyable in a way many multiplayer titles are unable to do.
The mixture of horde mode chaos and frenetic multiplayer PvP may feel a touch odd at times, but it does work. I’m less fond of the direct PvP stuff because there’s something quite interesting in the ‘Ghost Mode’ iteration that turns a daft shooter into a racing game with guns and giant reptiles. Seeing the opposition’s red spectral form just behind or ahead of you is a great motivator to press on and tackle whatever monstrous nonsense you can find next.
So to the bad stuff. It’s telling that the majority of what’s wrong with Exoprimal is fixable and isn’t necessarily technical issues. Exoprimal is a live service game in all the worst ways. Battle Pass has a bare-bones launch experience (albeit a fun one), and progression that feels artificial and slower than a tortoise in glue.
This is a full-price game and that always ends up grating me. I can still say I enjoy the game and recognize the nonsense being peddled in front of my eyes. If I like a Call of Duty game, I generally find it worth my time and get plenty out of it, but it never ceases to disgust me that there are mountains more stuff trying to pry money out of your hand after forking out the best part of a hundred quid. No, you don’t have to buy it, but without fail these are the games designed to push you toward supplemental payments. I’m not claiming to be smug smarty pants about wasting money on a live service game that hasn’t yet justified its existence (my payments to Konami for eFootball will hold me accountable there), but there’s a big difference between a free game doing it and one that costs cash money just to get started.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Capcom wheeled back some of this nonsense in the future, but given the company’s attitude to self-inflicted online failure in recent years, I would be even less surprised to see Exoprimal’s remains dug up in a decade or so to the bemusement of video game historians who have no idea what the hell it is.
The story of Exoprimal is a story as old as…well, the last ten years of video game development. A fun, yet undercooked experience that will live or die by the decisions made for its future in the next six months. It could have come out of the gate with more promise than this, but even with Capcom’s redemption arc in full swing, it couldn’t resist a quick dip back into the dirty toxic waters of its lowest point. So we are left with this.
Either play Exoprimal now in case it dies before it gets to improve or wait for that improvement. I’d lean toward the former just because what is there if you ignore the murky stuff, is really good fun. What Exoprimal is now as a game is unlikely to get too much better, so just play it while it’s at its ‘purest’ and broom it for a while or indeed forever.
Exoprimal is now available for PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.