Have you ever wondered what would happen if Anthem and Dino Crisis met, had a few drinks, fell in love and had a beautiful bouncing baby? Well, if so, then 1) you’re slightly odd (but I like you) and 2) it appears that Capcom have had the same thought process with Exoprimal.
Their take on the answer is a game called Exoprimal, which features not only the Exo suits of Anthem, but the packs of ravening dinosaurs from Dino Crisis. The game has been on my radar for a little while now and so when news reached my ears of an open beta, well I was straight there. What I hope to present to you now is a series of (possibly) coherent thoughts about what I saw, in the hope of entertaining and informing you.
A beta is defined as: “an opportunity for real users to use a product in a production environment to uncover any bugs or issues before a general release. Beta testing is the final round of testing before releasing a product to a wide audience”. The idea is that developers release their product into the wild, and then an army of keen beta testers can play it and report any issues we find, which will then hopefully be patched before general release. Now, a beta is never going to be the full game, and so it proves here with Exoprimal, as the only mode available to play was the survival mode; a kind of PvE mode mixed with elements of PvP. There was absolutely no sight of the story, new suits or rewards for levelling up. What we had was a straight playtest of only one mode.
This isn’t a bad thing, as it gives us a pretty good handle on how the game is going to look, and hopefully how it is going to play. The news is pretty good on both fronts.
Starting with how Exoprimal is presented visually and it is all pretty groovy so far. The Exosuits that you can choose from are a nicely varied bunch, with very different designs depending on the job they are designed to do The dinosaurs that are dropped in are also a mixed bunch, from basic raptors, via some weird “sniper” and “gas” variants, right up to that of T-rex and Triceratops. The animations of the dinosaurs is very nice indeed, and seeing a herd of Raptors (what is the collective noun for Raptors, does anyone know?) charging towards you is a little unnerving. The sound is excellent throughout too, with lots of guns, roars and involuntary squeaks present as the player gets backed into a corner by a T-rex.
So what about the gameplay itself, what did that reveal about Exoprimal? Well, there are some very nice touches that I can report on, including something that would have been handy in Anthem, to be honest. You know how sometimes you’ll start a mission, only to think “uh-oh, I’ve brought a knife to a gunfight?”. Well, in Exoprimal, you can change the Exosuit you are wearing at any time simply by popping into a menu, choosing the suit you want to wear, and then jumping into the new one. I really like this feature, as it allows us the chance to try out different classes and to help balance out the teams we are put on. A team with no healer is a team that is going to lose, and seeing that gap and being able to plug it makes a big difference.
The suits that you can choose come in three different flavours – there is Assault, my favourite class; the Tank whose job it is to get up close and personal and deflect aggro from the weaker team members; and there is Support, who are basically in case of healing or otherwise, buffing the team. It was the Assault suit called Deadeye that seemed to suit my playing style, yet all suits would come with a basic attack, a couple of special attacks complete with cooldowns to prevent you spamming them, and then finally an ultimate attack; this has to be charged before it can be used. Think of it like the system in Destiny where you cannot throw grenades or use your class ability all the time, and your super needs to be charged up. The combat works very well, and pumping bullets into a massive dinosaur is a lot of fun.
The game mode we were tasked with testing was pretty fun as well. There are two teams of five players with the game set over some five rounds. The first four rounds basically see you tasked with killing a lot of dinosaurs, either in a straight up fight or while defending a set point, and once a round is completed, the announcer will tell you if you are ahead of or behind the other team. The last round is much more in line with that of PvP meeting PvE; you not only go hunting dinos, but you can also kill enemy Exosuits. I’ve played a final round where you have to escort a cart through the streets (it’s a data chip, apparently, but I’ve never seen a data chip so big you can stand on it) and this is very reminiscent of Overwatch 2. There are also modes where you have to gather chips, or need to charge a hammer by killing things, using it to destroy a point.
The modes are pretty varied but a lot of fun. However, the best part about the final mission is that each team is issued a device that lets them control a dinosaur – there is something cathartic about stomping around the place, eating enemy Exosuits and generally ruining everyone’s day. Of course, the enemy can also summon a dinosaur, and they take some killing.
The takeaway feeling I had from the beta for Exoprimal and the main thoughts of my time as an Exofighter is one of hope. Already pretty polished in this early form, I hope that Capcom go all-out with a strong story (to be fair, Capcom don’t usually let us down in this regard), but from what I have played, the future is looking pretty bright for what Exoprimal is trying.
Did you play the Exoprimal beta, and if so, what did you think? The comments section is where you can share your impressions.
Exoprimal is coming on July 14th 2023 to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC through Steam. Find it in Standard Edition for £49.99 and Deluxe Edition for £54.98 from the Xbox Store. The latter adds in a few extra skins.