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Exoprimal review - Overwatch with boring dinosaurs

Our Exoprimal review dives deep into the primeval heart of Capcom’s new robots vs dinosaurs shooter, only to discover that there's not much meat on these bones.

Exoprimal review - Overwatch with boring dinosaurs: a huge T-Rex with glowing red eyes roars at soldiers running away from it, splattering then with saliva

Our Verdict

Where life finds a way, Exoprimal has lost its purpose. Defined by boring combat and a lack of innovation, I’m left feeling like that Brachiosaurus in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - hopeless and yearning for more.

Picture the scene: you’re whisked away in your sparkly, mechanical battle suit and thrust into a crumbling city populated by hordes of ravenous dinosaurs. Armed with a vast array of different abilities and four equally mechanized squadmates, your job is to tear through these primeval hordes using tried-and-tested FPS game mechanics. This is Capcom’s Exoprimal, and while it seems promising on the outside, there’s unfortunately not much to enthuse about in this Exoprimal review.

I really, really wanted to like this game. It’s definitely a strong premise: it has dinosaurs, there are cool mechs, and, well, did I mention it has dinosaurs? On paper, it sounds like a recipe for instant multiplayer fun, but it quickly gets boring in practice, and its similarities with Blizzard’s Overwatch are more likely to irritate than enthrall.

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Let’s start at the very beginning: the character creator. There’s just not much there. Each different preset has a set face that you can’t change, and the hair and makeup options are poor. What makes things worse is the lack of character voice lines. They grunt, shrug, and generally feel like the stiff, zero-personality avatar of a bygone era.

It’s not a great start, and things just get worse as the game’s weirdly animated crew starts to appear and the starter missions kick-off. It’s here we find out that Leviathan, a Terminator-esque robot, is snatching up Exo pilots and dropping them into a separate wargame for experimental purposes. Beyond that, though, there are only thin scraps of plot to cling onto.

Leviathan’s parallel world gives us a glimpse into the past, where we meet Magnum, an irritating caricature of Oceanic culture. He’s immediately unlikable and offers very little to the bare bones of Exoprimal’s story. While I appreciate that Bikitoa Island channels the tropical paradise vibes of Jurassic Park, the story here is deeply unexciting – the exact opposite of Michael Crichton’s long-lost world.

A woman with pink hair tied back wearing a skin-tight pink and blue jumpsuit leaning onto a table in front of a screen profiling her

Our mech suits aren’t very notable either, especially when you take a closer look and realize that, in many ways, they’re maybe a bit too close to certain Overwatch characters. My first choice was the sharpshooter, Valiant, who I immediately compared to Ana. Sniper? Check. Hooded outfit? Check. Valiant is effectively Shrike Ana without the healing abilities that make her so unique, replaced with an ice grenade and average sharpshooter gameplay.

The list, unfortunately, goes on. Roadblock is Reinhardt, sporting a huge collapsible shield and a devastating charge, Murasame conjures images of Genji, and Deadeye, our first-ever Exosuit, is effectively a robotic Soldier 76. It doesn’t help that certain escort missions feel straight out of Blizzard’s hero shooter, except with added dinosaurs.

A robot wearing a white hood looks down the barrel of a sniper rifle and prepares to fire with 'VALIANT' written across the screen

While the addition of dinos should make the formula sufficiently different, our scaly foes seldom put up much of a fight. They’re easily gunned down, some simply stand in place and won’t attack you, and I had a few just scoot around the battlefield like they were on a production line. Bigger enemies like the Triceratops don’t offer much of a challenge, and Pterodactyls are just an annoyance.

What is fun, though, is playing as a dinosaur and running people over. As you progress through your mission, you’ll eventually earn a Dominator, which lets you control a huge dinosaur and make a dent in your opponents’ progression. It’s fun, it’s innovative, and it’s one of the flickers of greatness that lurks beneath Exoprimal’s lackluster surface.

A mechanical character leashing a T-Rex with a electrical whip in a storage room

In some ways, I can forgive the story being thin on the ground, as Exoprimal is going for straightforward multiplayer game fun – a no-thrills time-waster with friends. If that’s what you’re looking for, it just about fits the bill, but this one’s gameplay, story, and cast won’t stick in my mind for long.

And that lack of character is a bigger drawback than you might expect. Games like Overwatch became so beloved thanks not just to their great-feeling action but also their personality. Who doesn’t enjoy spunky heroes like Tracer and Sombra, or hate the dreaded Reaper and Doomfist? Overwatch succeeded because of its strong narrative ties and innovative, competitive gameplay – Exoprimal, at the moment, has neither.

While something keeps luring me back to Bikitoa Island for now, Exoprimal works as little more than a quick break from my relentless Diablo 4 and League of Legends grinding. There’s an exciting idea at its core, but it’s marred by uneven graphics, a flat story, and combat that we’ve seen done better elsewhere multiple times before. The execution is the killer here, not the concept. Exoprimal is one to be preserved in amber, unlikely to emerge again.