My first match of Exoprimal was a harrowing experience that reminded me of why I love the Left 4 Dead games so much. When a robotic overseer said “Now spawning raptors!” little did I expect a horde of quite literally a hundred raptors to come screaming at my party, like swarms of piranhas snapping for flesh. The game’s live service and battle pass structure had me reasonably hesitant going in, but after spending hours with Exoprimal, it’s an absolute blast — and proof that Capcom knows exactly what makes its games tick, embracing the absurdity.

With franchises like Resident Evil and Monster Hunter, Capcom has shown a clear penchant for leaning into increasingly absurd concepts. Being able to parry a chainsaw with a knife and then suplex a zombie in Resident Evil 4 is so absurd it just works, and Exoprimal feels like the realization of that sentiment in a live-service multiplayer game.

The open beta gave players access to the game’s main game mode called Dinosaur Survival, which brings an interesting spin to things by fusing cooperative horde-style gameplay and player-vs-player. Two teams of five players compete to finish a series of objectives the fastest. These objectives can be a variety of things, like culling a specific number of dinosaurs or defending a vital piece of equipment.

While the two teams are competing they can only indirectly affect each other. For example, at one objective the game spawned a unique dinosaur and told my team that if we eliminated it the enemy team would get increased dinosaur attacks. Occasionally an optional item called a Dominator will appear as well, letting a player on one team summon and control a massive dinosaur, like a T-Rex, to wreak havoc on the enemy team.

Once all five objectives are completed, however, both teams are dumped into one final arena to complete one last objective, and here teams can shoot both each other and dinosaurs to their heart’s content. There’s always one final objective to complete while the teams battle it out, like each team having a payload to escort.

That lengthy explanation is likely a bit confusing, and learning the ropes in your first few matches of Exoprimal is a baffling experience. What’s really important, however, is that Exoprimal wants you to have fun right from the start and takes steps to ensure that you do. As confusing as the objectives can initially seem, you’re oftentimes just fine if you only focus on eliminating the hordes of dinosaurs that are thrown your way. To really succeed, teams will want to coordinate and works together, but the blisteringly fast pace of Exoprimal’s gameplay means that you constantly have something to focus on.

The open beta has 10 different exosuits to choose from, each of which functions essentially as a class. These exosuits are ostensibly broken into three categories: DPS, Tank, and Support. Remarkably, each of the 10 exosuits feels unique, and the core mechanics of each are well-designed enough to make it satisfying. Movement, shooting, and melee attacks all feel tight and responsive, outside of some basic connectivity issues for the beta. My personal favorite was the support suit Nimbus, which could instantly switch between damage bullets and healing bullets.

What’s really neat, though, is that you can switch your exosuit at quite literally any time. It only takes a matter of seconds. You simply open a menu and pick your new suit, which will make your old suit disappear. Your pilot pops out, then roughly five seconds later, your new suit is available to instantly summon. It’s not something you want to do while in the middle of a horde of dinosaurs but it’s fast enough to do at virtually any other time.

This lets your team adapt to virtually any situation on the fly, and if you find yourself struggling to effectively use a suit, you can simply swap to another one and try it out. For example, if one wave spawns a bunch of ranged acid-spitting dinosaurs you might want to swap to a couple of shooting exosuits instead of melee-focused ones. Or if the enemy team increases your amount of dinosaurs, you might want to quickly add a second tank to mitigate damage.

The other element here is that this is a brilliant way to onboard new players.

Normally you’d need to play 10 different matches to try out each different character type, but with Exoprimal, you can virtually try everything in the span of a single match, letting you plan which exosuits you want to focus on from there. Again, this all ties into Exoprimal’s focus on making sure the player is having “fun” at all times. Of course, the key with the full release will be how the live service and battle pass elements are implemented, and if unlocking new suits feels too grindy or pay-to-win. The beta absolutely had some latency and connectivity issues as well, but those are things that can, presumably, be ironed out before launch.

Every moment of Exoprimal felt a bit like a fever dream, from dozens of raptors blocking out the screen while other dinosaurs spit at me and explode, to the absolutely bonkers story setup that has some kind of malevolent AI putting you in a simulation where you fight dinosaurs for “testing.”

I absolutely cannot tell you what is going on in Exoprimal, but I’m hopelessly compelled to see how the whole thing plays out. There’s quite literally nothing out there like Exoprimal, and Capcom’s willingness to lean into the silliness of this thing is frankly, well, dino-mite.

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