Exoprimal: Hands-on Preview
After the recent public beta, I was given the chance to go hands-on with a preview build of Exoprimal and by the time I was finished, I was left feeling both confused and impressed at the same time. The premise of Exoprimal has you fighting in war games to provide combat data to a creepy controlling A.I. that throws hordes of dinosaurs at your team in a race to complete missions faster than the other team. This PvPvE experience seemed strange to me at first. I could see the holographic avatars of the opposing team but generally, you could not interact with them until the final objective, which places both teams in the same world and pits them against each other and the ever-present dinosaur hordes. It wasn’t until a few rounds in that I realised this method allows all players to not only gain experience to build up their suit levels but prevent one-sided matches that take the fun out of the playing experience when you come up against a team filled with higher-level players.
The preview build was very close to the complete full game that players will experience when it launches in July, and as such I got to experience the early parts of the storyline and see how the game progresses its narrative. As you take part in the wargames you will unlock pieces of lost data and each of these pieces of data unlocks more information for you to check out, either providing context to characters or the events that brought you to the wargames and will eventually lead to story missions that differ from the regular matches. I don’t want to go too much into the narrative as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the inclusion of the overall narrative helped to keep me interested in the game. When I first played Overwatch I thought it weird that there was no narrative contained within the game itself. Sure, it played great, but there was no reason presented to the player as to why these battles were being fought. Exoprimal does not have that problem and gives the player a reason to keep on playing other than the need to shoot a ginormous amount of dinosaurs, not that the wanton slaughter of rampaging dinosaurs isn’t reason enough.
Dino Survival pits your team of five players against another five in the race to finish first and get a head start on the final objective. Depending on how your team fares in the PvE missions you may only be ahead or behind by a small amount, but there is help given to the losing team to give them an advantage. The Dominator allows you to take control of a big dinosaur to run rampant amongst the other team before the final confrontation in the PvP and hopefully give your team a chance to get back on track. Whether it helps or not I don’t know as in my all-bot matches my team was almost always in first and even though the game announced that the enemy team had been given a Dominator they never actually used it, which is hopefully something that will be fixed by the full release as it would have upped the tension and excitement of fending off the regular hordes of dinosaurs on top of this giant one at the same time.
Obviously, the weak flesh bags that comprise humans are no match for taking on a singular dinosaur, let alone a hoard of them charging towards you. To even the odds you will be piloting one of ten Exosuits with varying abilities that come in three different classes. To be successful your team will need that balance of Assault, Support and Tank, but you can change out mid-game without having to respawn if you find yourself in a situation that calls for a different approach. Each of the suits levels up individually, and as your suit gets more powerful you will start to see different game missions introduced into the matches. Whether this will cause problems for players if they decide to change to an Exosuit of a significantly lower level mid-match remains to be seen. I’m also not sure if the Exosuits are locked to one variant of each type in a match or if, for example, you can have two Deadeye suits in the same game. During my time with Exoprimal, I was mostly playing with and against bots, with only what I think may have been a human-controlled player during two or three matches and to be honest at the time I didn’t even consider whether this would be the case.
Whether Exoprimal has enough to keep the players engaged and coming back for more dino-shooting fun remains to be seen. As I mentioned above, the inclusion of a narrative gives me a reason to keep going back through the matches, and while the matches can start to feel a bit same-same, I know there are missions that I have not experienced yet due to a lack of progress. As the game stands right now I think Exoprimal can be a really fun experience for people that like the team-based aspect but aren’t super into the competitive shooter scene. Capcom has also announced recently that players will not be forced into the PvP mode matches and can complete the Dino Survival missions as a purely PvE experience, so this may help to keep those that are not interested in the PvP section interested in the game. If Exoprimal sounds like your cup of tea then look out for it July 14th and pay attention to Player 2 for our coverage.