Exoprimal review: Dino-sore

Exoprimal has some exciting ideas, but the good stuff sadly trickles in at a dinosaur's pace.


Sometimes a game will make an unforgettable first impression. I still remember being in Discord with the Shacknews staff when we all witnessed the "Dinosaur Weather Report" that would eventually lead to the first reveal of Capcom's Exoprimal. It looked like such a cool idea, joining forces with friends to take on swarms of dinosaurs. Unfortunately, Capcom's live service game couldn't totally live up to the expectations set by that epic reveal, even if it does have a few surprises up its sleeve.

Terrible lizards

Suchomimuses in Exoprimal, new dinosaur types that unlock later

Source: Capcom

Exoprimal is one of those games that shouldn't need a hard-hitting or serious narrative. It's a game that just needs to toss players in with a bunch of dinosaurs and tell them to go nuts. However, Capcom tries anyway and the result is nothing to write home about. Users craft a silent protagonist with a scant few character creation options which becomes the lead player in a tale about AI run amok. The idea is that a malevolent AI called Leviathan is pitting players in a series of wargames against vicious dinos that it has transported from ancient times.

It isn't a story that Capcom should overthink, yet somehow manages to do so by providing a supporting cast that ranges from boring to annoying. Completing each game will unlock more nuggets of the story, and the longer it went on, the less I cared about it or these walking clichés that are supposed to be the main characters. One might read this and say, "Ozzie, if you don't care about the story that much, just skip it." Unfortunately, it's not that simple because the story holds the key to advancing Exoprimal's gameplay loop and unlocking something beyond its mundane Dino Survival mode.

Groundhogasaurus Day

Krieger mows down a raptor swarm in Exoprimal.

Source: Capcom

Exoprimal is a team-based shooter in the vein of other live service titles. Capcom does a good job of offering a variety of exosuits to fit various play styles. Those into standard shooting can opt for a well-rounded class like Deadeye, those who want heavy tanks that can protect teammates can use Krieger, anyone looking for someone to withstand stampeding dinos can pick up Roadblock, and those looking for healing can grab Witchdoctor. Players aren't restricted to their selection and can change things up at any time, though more often than not, I've mostly seen other players stick to their favorites.

At the start of Exoprimal, the only way to play is through the aforementioned Dino Survival. This mode pits teams of five against one another in a race to complete various PvE objectives. These will often involve killing as many dinosaurs as possible, but the game will sometimes try and mix things up with area defense objectives. This will pave the way for a final showdown, in which players can either select to be PvE, PvP, or Random prior to the start of each session.

That selection can be slightly deceptive, though. Regardless of the final round chosen, Leviathan will grant teams a "Dominator," which allows one player a chance to invade the enemy team's session with a playable dinosaur, which adds a PvP element to the game anyway. The Dominator can often swing the momentum of a game, which would be a fine way to keep games balanced if it's given to a team that's trailing. Unfortunately, both teams are almost always awarded Dominators and, more often the not, the team that's ahead will get the Dominator at the end of the game just to further cement their lead. It's demoralizing at best and actively irritating at worst for the team that's already running behind.

Here's where Exoprimal becomes both exciting and aggravating. It's easy to spend 3-4 hours on the game, see the same raptor waves, complete the same objectives, hear the same "You are completing objectives slower than the enemy team" phrases repeatedly across numerous 20-minute game sessions, and conclude that that's just what Exoprimal is. However, there's more to it than that.

As players level up, complete more matches, and spend more hours in the game, Exoprimal's story will move forward. Each match will unlock a few pieces of the story, which unlocks audio and data logs. Over time, players will even unlock cutscenes advancing the story. Readers may wonder why this is relevant considering it's already been noted that the story and its characters are boring. Unfortunately, players have to experience it in order to unlock new things in Dino Survival. Eventually, players will begin to see new dinosaur varieties and totally different objective types. It wasn't until roughly the 10-hour mark that I saw my first T. Rex and stegosaurus. It wasn't until about the 15-hour mark that I got an escort objective. Plus, there were instances where I got pulled out of the normal Dino Survival loop and thrown into a boss encounter, some of which require both teams to join forces. Those are the truly cool moments of Exoprimal, and they're locked away behind the glacially slow and excruciatingly dull story. However a live service game's story is meant to unfold, Exoprimal's chosen method is among the worst that Capcom could have chosen.

Jurassic junk

Exoprimal is a frustrating experience because when Capcom pits players against dinosaurs without overthinking anything else, it can be a fun ride. In fact, I bet the Shacknews staff could run an episode of Big Team Building, play Exoprimal for two hours, and have a perfectly fun time. That's assuming, of course, that they're on the same platform because while there's cross-platform play, there aren't cross-platform parties at the time this review is being written.

Unfortunately, the pacing is slower than a triceratops wading through a tar pit. Cooler dinos and greater objective variety should keep players coming back for more, but they're unfortunately locked behind a story that's more tedious than Jurassic World and unfolds just as slowly. This is without even mentioning that cutscenes can sometimes play twice and some story instances (I'm looking at you, Magnum!) will not only play out multiple times, they'll play out with the same unskippable dialogue, the same extended loading times, and the same objectives.

I just want to shoot dinosaurs, man.

This review is based on a Steam digital code provided by the publisher. Exoprimal is available now on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox for $59.99 USD. The game is rated M.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

Review for
  • Strong variety of exosuits
  • Shooting dinosaurs is fun, especially with friends
  • Sudden out-of-nowhere story instances are mostly epic
  • Achingly boring story
  • New content is way too slow to unlock
  • Some story instances repeat themselves
  • Not much game mode variety
  • No cross-platform parties
From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola