Exoprimal Review: A Love-Hate Relationship

The presentation is sleek, but the heart is fossilizing.

Let me be clear: I want to like Exoprimal. I was excited for this game since the reveal trailer. I went in expecting a fun time and got caught on a dozen hurdles instead. In the end, I’m left with a game that fights me; both as a player and a character.

Exoprimal is a team-based horde-fighting game, brought to us by Capcom. Your character joins the ranks of Aibius as an Exofighter. They’re tasked with protecting the planet from mysterious anomalies resulting in dinosaur invasions and you’ll battle against waves of dinosaurs and compete against other Exofighter teams.

I Don’t Like Your Tone

I want to give Exoprimal credit for having a story beyond “Here is the situation, go do.” I do appreciate this, right up until things take a sharp left turn. 

On a routine patrol, you and your support crew are marooned on a deserted island. Trying to investigate, you’re forced into a combat exercise. You find out that the AI Leviathan has gone rogue and is pulling in fighters from the multiverse in a bid to get the best combat data. You are forever pitted against both dinosaurs and other pilots; the winners live, and the losers die.

Little scraps of lore are found during missions, which you can look into to advance the plot. The ultimate goal is bringing down Leviathan, but there are unanswered questions between now and then. I love the digital “evidence board” that lets you track events and useful information. It gives you a feel for how far you’ve come and makes sure you don’t forget what you’re doing.

Dinosaurs attacking in Exoprimal
Screenshot: Gamer Digest/Exoprimal

Even as someone who’s played plenty of grim-dark titles, I hate how unpleasant the story is. Leviathan isn’t just brutally efficient, he’s actively mean-spirited. Every match starts with an unskippable cutscene reminding you that you’re fighting for your life. 

During each match, he constantly reports your progress compared to the other team. It adds a needless undercurrent of tension to both the story and the minute-to-minute gameplay. If you lose, you have to watch your suit get torn to shreds and explode. No one is happy here but the AI with a god complex.

I wouldn’t mind if Leviathan was at least entertaining, like Farcry 3‘s Vaas or Neegan from The Walking Dead. Instead, he’s made of bland corpo-speak, the kind we’re already sick of. Capcom, I didn’t grab this game to get talked down to by some bargain-bin SHODAN. I came here to punch dinosaurs in the face, and you’re getting in the way of that.

Scale vs. Steel

The gameplay is fun when it’s given room to be so. Thanks to the reveal trailer, I approached Exoprimal as “Earth Defense Force with higher production values.” When viewed from that angle, it looks good! It adds a bunch of cool improvements to the horde-shooter/fighter formula.

Players can swap suits mid-mission to adapt to changing circumstances. Respawning costs valuable time but is better than losing after a wipe. Each suit has an Ultimate Ability that is jaw-dropping and effective. And sometimes, Leviathan will be nice and just hand you a mind-controlled dinosaur to go break things with.

Screenshot: Gamer Digest/Exoprimal

Combat is punchy, and dinosaurs are routinely launched in every direction. The game has suits built for damage dealing, tanking, and support. They’re different enough that I don’t think any one suit is too strong or weak. With the extra utility of the Rig item, you’re bound to find a set-up you enjoy. I’m partial to using the Cannon on Skywave; nobody looks up until you’ve already picked someone off.

The emphasis on competition means the game doesn’t suffer newbies well.

To quote Chief Lorenzo, “You’re either good, or you’re dead.” Having a single tank or support that’s failing in their role is painful. I’m also seeing some players just not playing the game, and I don’t know why. They shouldn’t be AFK, matches are found quickly, and AIs can be put in for missing people.

Most matches end in a climactic final mission. You are either racing the enemy team or actively fighting them to complete your objectives. The ultimate abilities are extra handy here, letting you turn a losing battle around or secure your victory.

The game doesn’t have much variety at the beginning. My first dozen missions were “get X kills” against Raptors, Pteranodons, and 1 bigger dinosaur for extra spice. Until the neosaurs show up, the gameplay is mostly “point at dinosaurs, fire whatever is off cooldown.”

Fun Hidden Beneath

The neosaurs are more in line with the silly fun that I originally came for. “What if dinosaurs had superpowers?” Their neon color schemes and naming system make it clear they are priority targets. Once they’re involved, you need to dodge sniper fire, avoid explosions, and implement other tricks.

The special events are amazing set-pieces. Pteranodon packs, swamping you like raging rivers and raptors come down a skyscraper like a waterfall.

The neosaur boss fights are my favorite. You end the match by teaming up with the other squad to fight battles on par with raid bosses. They’re fun, they’re just plain fun, and I want more of them. I am hoping the PvE-focused mode coming soon will help scratch that itch.

Shooting Neo T-Rex in Exoprimal
Screenshot: Gamer Digest/Exoprimal

I will say the game looks good. The suits all have their flair and are visually distinctive, though some cosmetics start to muddy the waters. The sound effects are competent, but they tend to drown out the music. I honestly wasn’t certain the game had music until I went into the settings to check. Once I could properly hear it, the music was serviceable, though I couldn’t figure out the exact genre.

Most of your story interactions are with the support crew, who are well-acted, if a little one-note at times. The voice work is also brought down by that cynical tone I mentioned before. That’s a shame, as the island of Bikitoa is beautiful and has a variety of stages. The missions take varying paths through each stage, a clever way to get more mileage out of them.

Middling Menus

I am confused by Exoprimal’s menu decisions. Selecting things is a weird combination of left and right click that made styling my character a chore until I caught on. Unlike other titles, the game refuses to give you hard numbers on most things. “500 more shield durability” doesn’t mean jack when I don’t know the starting amount. 

Exoprimal skills screen
Screenshot: Gamer Digest/Exoprimal

You can’t even tell what each Exosuit does at a glance; you have to take each one into a match or training area to see their tooltips, using a button you’re never told about. Because someone decided that your progression chart and equipped emotes are bigger priorities than the actual gameplay mechanics.

Maximum Returns

It’s darkly humorous that a “glass half empty” game is loaded down with scummy business practices. Exoprimal has a premium battle pass, loot boxes, and paid cosmetics all on day one, and it’s not F2P. All we need is a real-money auction house to get “microtransaction bingo.”

The progression system is gear-focused and generally interesting. Leveling up allows access to more suits and new modules. Each suit can equip 3 upgradeable modules, mixing suit-specific improvements and general buffs. Most of the boosts aren’t that big a deal, but I’d prefer that over “you lost because they’ve grinded more than you.”

Speaking of, the amount of grind isn’t bad. Even when you’re losing, there’s a steady supply of unlocks and coins to buy and upgrade with. I wish there were more suits in total, but I appreciate letting players start with some of each class.


Exoprimal is a game of squandered potential. Rabid monetization and a cruel universe make it difficult to get invested in spite of the things it does right. Exoprimal needs to focus on being a game people want to play first; the money will come once that’s settled.

Exoprimal Review

Zeph Rider

Sound Design


Exoprimal is a game of squandered potential. One game mode at launch and a needless competitive focus nearly spoil the game’s fun premise. The story feels tired and struggles to hold my interest. If Capcom would just let the chaotic combat take center stage, this game would be an obvious pick. 


Exoprimal is available on Steam.

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Reviewed on PC.