Despite its bizarre premise, Exoprimal’s core loop works tremendously well, providing a team-based multiplayer experience that’s simultaneously unlike anything else and has a strong ‘one more match’ feeling. However, it remains extremely difficult to recommend due to being a full-priced multiplayer-only title.
Has that ‘just one more round’ feeling
Exosuits are varied and satisfying to use
Full-price game with Premium battle pass
PvP segments feel undercooked
Miserable solo experience
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Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release date: July 14, 2023
If you wanted to give someone the elevator pitch for Exoprimal, then you’d better be at the Burj Khalifa. At its core, it’s a 5v5 online multiplayer game with PvE and PvP phases, in which your team of specialist mech suits races through a map to eliminate portal-spawned dinosaurs in the hopes of reaching the final objective with a significant head start. But it goes further even than that ridiculous premise.
That’s because Exoprimal tries to add some value by including a cutscene-rich story. The convoluted events gradually unlock as you play more matches, regardless of whether you win or lose. It’s genuinely well-written with plenty of cute character moments, even if it takes itself a bit too seriously given the premise we’re dealing with.
About said matches, the core loop of Exoprimal is surprisingly fun. It’s an incredibly polished title; each of the ten Exosuits available at launch all have a unique feel, sound design and playstyle. The game absolutely shines in its player versus environment (or PvE) scenarios, as combating the wide range of dinosaurs and their variants feels fantastic in a coordinated team.
It’s a shame, then, that it starts to fall apart in the Player vs Player combat. Fighting other players in Exoprimal simply isn’t satisfying, with a significant lack of impact and feedback that’s very much present in the PvE segments. It lends the game a feeling that it isn’t really sure what it wants to be. That also extends to its outlandish full price tag, with Capcom charging $59.99 / £49.99 for the base game, despite its striking resemblance to a free-to-play model.
Dino May Cry
Let’s start with what Exoprimal gets oh-so right; its PvE aspect, which is what’ll take up the majority of your playtime. Each match of Dino Survival, Exoprimal’s core game mode, presents two opposing teams of five with a series of challenges in the run-up to the final round.
These challenges can be as basic as killing a certain number of dinosaurs, or capturing a point on the map, to tougher objectives like defending a carrier jet for a certain amount of time. Your goal here isn’t just to complete the objective, but to do so in as quick a time as possible. Between phases, you’ll be updated on your progress in relation to the opposing team, with rogue AI antagonist and announcer Leviathan letting you know how speedy you are in comparison like a pit crew announcing split times to a race driver.
This race to the final round is Exoprimal at its best, mainly because fighting hordes of dinosaurs is wonderful fun. It’s not just a handful of prehistoric beasties, either. More often than not, you’ll be faced with Earth Defense Force-sized waves of creatures of varying types. More impressive still is that Exoprimal is able to maintain a solid 60fps performance throughout with only occasional minor frame drops to speak of. This helps the game feel fluid even when the action heats up, with velociraptors spewing out of portals.
These initial phases of dino-scrapping are where Exoprimal excels. Unfortunately, things start to fall apart after this. Dino Survival, currently the sole mode of the game, will have its final round be either PvE or PvP. The former is pretty much a repeat of those opening phases; complete three objectives before your opponents. It feels more than a little tacked on, whereas a straight race to the finish from the beginning would’ve kept matches brief and well-paced.
The PvP round types are certainly more creative. One has both teams transporting a data cube through the map, meeting at a central spot for a final confrontation. Another has players charging up a hammer by killing dinosaurs with it in order to destroy a series of nodes.
What all modes have in common, though, is ‘finish this objective before the other team does.’ In that sense, despite the phase variety, matches in Exoprimal start to grow repetitive after a short amount of time, with the game largely being carried by just how good blasting away at wave after wave of prehistoric beasties feels.
Fits like a glove
Exoprimal, at launch, features ten unique Exosuits for players to jump into, divided across three distinct roles: Assault, Tank and Support. What I really like about these suits, design-wise, is their very distinctive silhouettes. And because each plays so differently, it’s easy to see who others in the match are controlling, and adjust your own strategy accordingly.
The game does a fine job of encouraging players to try out multiple suits, and you’ll likely settle on at least one favorite in each role. That’s something you’ll want to do, too, as team composition is of vital importance in Exoprimal. Thankfully, you’re able to switch to a different Exosuit at any time during a match. One too many Assault suits on your team? Just a couple button presses can have you hopping into a Tank or Support in no time.
I’m personally a huge fan of Barrage, whose grenade launcher and explosive mines can immolate dinos for damage-over-time. When I need to switch, I’ll either opt for Murasame (a sword-wielding Tank with a powerful counter) or Witchdoctor (the game’s pure area-of-effect healer). And because each Exosuit is relatively easy to get to grips with, switching is never a pain, nor does it leave me at a disadvantage outside of the built-in time it takes to actively change suits. If you handle this between rounds, though, you’ll have just enough time.
The Exosuits really are the stars of the show. Each feel entirely unique, and the experimentation phase of finding your favorites is some of the most fun we had during our playtime with Exoprimal.
What’s particularly brilliant about the Exosuits is just how satisfying each is to play. Every suit has at least one ability that you’ll look forward to coming off of cooldown. For example, Roadblock’s stance visibly shifts as he attempts to hold off the hordes with his shield. Then, swatting them into the distance with a shield bash never ever gets old. Similarly, seeing Deadeye’s grenades blast dinos into every possible direction always manages to put a smirk across my face.
Supports aren’t left out of this feeling, either. Skywave’s ability to hover high in the air, dropping both heals and damaging abilities from above, lends a strong feeling of control over the battlefield. Nimbus’s warp skill can also heal the immediate area you teleport to, which is a tricky skill to master, but one that feels especially rewarding as a result.
Exosuits can be further customized with Modules and cosmetics, but these feel largely uninspiring. Modules provide minor stat boosts and a handful are unique to each suit. These unique modules are especially worth slotting into your suits, as they can significantly impact how they play. A favorite of mine is a Barrage module that instantly reloads his weapon when performing a dodge. Another, for Zephyr, shortens his cooldowns when his combo ender is executed with a timed button press. These are the kinds of modules I’d love to see more of in future updates, as there’s real potential for player expression and customizable playstyles here.
Cut 'em off at the Pass
I have to talk about Exoprimal’s monetization now, because for all the good Capcom has achieved here in how the game plays, it’s almost all entirely undone by its business model. Exoprimal is a full-priced game with a single multiplayer mode. More content is coming throughout this year and next, but at launch, I hope you really like Dino Survival because that’s all you’re getting right now.
If you want more content (read: cosmetics) then you might want to pony up for the Premium Survival Pass for an extra $9.99 / £7.99. That’s more expensive than Fortnite’s Battle Pass, and feels far less rewarding in comparison. I’m not a fan of this type of progression in general, but it’s even worse when the pass has one linear track.
It’s for these reasons that I cannot recommend you buy Exoprimal at launch, unless you’re playing at no extra cost via Xbox Game Pass. As fun as the game is, playing solo with other random players quickly becomes a tedious endeavor, especially as Dino Survival’s drip feed of new phase types and dino variants is on the slow side. Yes, Exoprimal is more fun with friends. But what isn’t?
There’s not much in the way of accessibility in Exoprimal at launch. But what is there is certainly welcome. Players are able to reduce or disable the camera shake feature, as well as increase the size of UI elements and subtitles. Lastly, Exoprimal features protanope and deuteranope colorblind settings for those who need them.
How we reviewed Exoprimal
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to complete our review of Exoprimal in time for launch. This is because servers for the game didn’t go live until release day. Since then, we endeavored to play as much of the main content as possible both solo and in a team with other members of the TRG squad.
In our time with Exoprimal, we got to grips with all the game’s various systems, played with all Exosuits, rigs and modules, as well as analyze the business model to decide whether the game is worth your time and money.
If you're looking for some multiplayer titles we actually can recommend, take a look at our best free to play Steam games guide for your next online fix. Alternatively, Exoprimal is available on Xbox Game Pass, joining many of the best Xbox Game Pass games that can be played at the cost of one monthly sub.
Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.