Hands On: Exoprimal PS5, PS4 Shows Early Promise, But May Not Have Staying Power 6
Image: Push Square

Capcom has been on a winning run with critically acclaimed releases like Street Fighter 6 and the recent Resident Evil 4 remake. Oddball dinosaur shooter Exoprimal always looked like a risk to its unflinching reputation, however: the publisher doesn’t have the best track-record with online shooters – just look at the dour Resident Evil Re:Verse for instance – and its live service underpinnings were guaranteed to irk enthusiast fans. While we don’t expect this to be leading a Game of the Year charge like Capcom’s other tentpole titles, however, there’s the glimmer of something great.

The setup is ridiculous: you’re an Exofighter who’s been pulled into a never-ending time loop by an AI named Leviathan where you need to battle prehistoric creatures for the remainder of your existence in order to glean valuable combat data. The cutscenes that preface the plot are goofy in an extremely likeable way, and you unlock more as you complete missions and analyse data points between bouts. These bitesized bits of story give you something to engage with during downtime, and while the narrative is clearly all nonsense, we’re finding it interesting enough to interact with so far.

Of course, it’s the core action that’ll be occupying the most of your attention – and it’s good. Working in squads of five, you’ll be tasked with sprinting to different objective markers, where you’ll need to cull a set amount of dinosaurs alongside your team. This is where the title really flexes its technical chops: there can be hundreds of dinosaurs on screen at once, and while they’re effectively little more than cannon fodder individually, you need to coordinate with your teammates in order to deal with the waves. In a way, it kinda reminds us of the hordes in Days Gone – and it’s an example of how fun that mechanic could have been in a co-op environment.

Hands On: Exoprimal PS5, PS4 Shows Early Promise, But May Not Have Staying Power 1
Image: Push Square

There are multiple different Exosuits for you to commandeer, each with a different role in battle, be it Assault, Tank, or Support. Interestingly, you can swap between these mid round, so if you find your team’s coming up short in one area – maybe you don’t have enough healers, for example – you can make that switch at any point, which adds tactical flexibility. Each Exosuit also comes with its own set of abilities and weapons, so you need to adapt your playstyle accordingly. This is where the release’s learning curve comes from: learning all the different suits’ strengths and weaknesses, and applying them in combat.

While the gameplay is mostly PvE, you’re effectively in a race against a rival team. In one permutation of the main mode, the final round will see you transporting a data cube, and here you’ll come into direct contact with your rival team, so you can take them out in a deathmatch-style environment. One neat wrinkle on this is that you’ll be given one opportunity to spawn a giant dinosaur, which you can then control and utilise to obstruct your rivals – it’s a great equaliser if used correctly, and can ultimately lead to unexpected comebacks.

The problem, so far, is we’re not sure the game is going to have the staying power it needs to sustain a large playerbase for hundreds of hours. While the gameplay is crisp and rewarding, we can’t imagine playing this same mode over and over without any twists or turns. There is an alternate version of the final round where you don’t come into contact with your rivals, making it a straight race to the finish line, but this feels less fulfilling in our opinion. Apparently there are more stages and skirmishes to unlock as you progress further, so we’re eager to see where the meaningful variety is going to come from.

Hands On: Exoprimal PS5, PS4 Shows Early Promise, But May Not Have Staying Power 2
Image: Push Square

This is undoubtedly a good game, though: Capcom’s gameplay chops shine through, and each character feels distinctive and unique in the best possible way. We’re looking forward to unlocking more of the story, and we can’t wait to properly test out more of the Exosuits. We’re just worried, once the initial novelty has worn off, where the game’s staying power is going to come from. That’s a question we still need to answer, but our early impressions are undoubtedly positive, and we’re eager to play more.

Are you planning to pick up Exoprimal and give it a go? Have you already tried the game, and what are your early impressions? Feed lead to the waves of raptors in the comments section below.