One of Exoprimal’s first Closed Network Tests has come and gone, but the impression it left was quite fascinating. Capcom gave us a taste of what was to come in this PvPvE mecha-versus-dinosaurs multiplayer title and by the time it ended, I was left not only wanting to get back to the action, but also wanting to explore more of what Exoprimal will offer in the whole package. For right now, I was content to fight off tidal waves of dinosaurs and aid my fellow pilots in serving combat data for a mad artificial intelligence in the streets of an urban sprawl.
Leviathan demands your cooperation
So what’s with all of this dinosaur and mech fighting in the first place? Well, that has to do with an AI known as Leviathan. Leviathan’s job is to create defensive machines to help humanity survive no matter what. To that end, it has created special Exosuits and insatiably tests them (and the pilots working them) against various combat scenarios from which it sifts successful designs to be further improved and tested, leaving any failing suits and pilots to be terminated.
For the Exoprimal Closed Network Test, this culminated in the Dino Survival game mode. In this mode, two five-player squads race to defeat dinosaurs and complete small missions before moving onto direct combat with both dinosaurs and each other to collect energy cartridges. The first team to fill their energy meter to 100 wins the match. Kills add more energy to your team’s meter while deaths lose you some energy.
Dino Survival is interesting because the first half of it is essentially a warm-up. It doesn’t seem to have a huge effect on the second half which determines the winners of the match. Nonetheless, as you sprint through the gauntlet of killing raptors, defeating triceratops and t-rexes, and securing areas, it allows you to get a feel for your team’s composition and fighting style. It also tells you who is completing missions in this gauntlet faster. However, when the second half of the match begins - the energy collecting half - that's when things go hard to the paint. Not only do you continue to fight off dinosaurs, but you can then directly engage and battle the enemy squad.
For this network test, there were four Exosuits available to play along with three Rig abilities and it was here I saw just how much composition is going to play a part in Exoprimal. There are tank, offensive, and support Exosuits with very clear roles. Tanks draw fire and soak up damage with defensive and displacing abilities to knock enemies out of position. Meanwhile, offensive Exosuits are damage-dealing powerhouses meant to go for the kills, and support Exosuits keep the squad fit with repairs and buffs while supplying some light offensive capabilities.
Even then, there are multiple suits within each class. Deadeye is your standard gunner in the offensive class, featuring a rifle and grenade ability where Zephyr is another offensive Exosuit featuring melee swordplay and fast movement to make up for its relatively light armor. We only got to see Roadblock in the tank class and Witchdoctor in the support class, but there will be multiple Exosuits in these classes as well to help vary your team composition. And boy, does composition matter right alongside skill. The Exosuits available were all fun to play, but it quickly became apparent how hard it could be to win if my squad didn’t have enough damage, or a tank soaking up bullets and bites, or a healer keeping us fit and scrappy.
The dinosaurs were quite fun too. We battled against raptors and pteranodons as the small fry, but there were also missions to take down rampaging t-rexes and triceratops. These beasts were way tougher to contend with and not advised for solo combat. I had a triceratops charge me and carry me away from the relative safety of my squad where a bunch of raptors and the big jerk ganged up on me all at once. Coordinating around your squad or helping them where applicable will be key to survival.
The Rig abilities also help. These are secondary selections you can equip your Exosuit with. For the Network Test, I had access to the Cannon, Catapult, and Aid launcher. The Cannon fires a hard-hitting blast of explosive ordinance to do big damage, good to pair with offensive Exosuits. Meanwhile, the Catapult allowed me to jump to an ally from a large distance, making a good pick for Tanks looking to defend weaker pals or Supports trying to get in a crucial heal. Finally, the Aid allowed me to fire off a small repair field that helped anyone who entered it, including myself. It was good for Offensive Exosuits trying to stay in the fight or Supports wanting a little extra healing to go with their kit. There are going to be plenty more, and these tools are going to allow players to further specialize in their roles on the team.
Cloudy with a chance of Cretaceous
The small sampling I had of Exoprimal was more than enough to tell me this is a game I’m going to love specializing in and learning where I fit. Even with just four Exosuits and three Rig abilities here, there was enough to make for a fun variety of playstyles. I’m curious to see if Dino Survival changes to make the first half mean more, but as a standard game mode for Exoprimal, it’s still action-packed and enjoyable. With more network tests and expanded features likely to arrive in future playtests, I can’t wait to see what Capcom throws at us next in this game. I’ll be sure to pack my umbrella for the turbulent raptor-heavy forecasts.
These impressions are based on the July 2022 Exoprimal Closed Network Test on PC. Exoprimal is slated to come to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S sometime in 2023.