You’d be forgiven for thinking capcom’s new sci-fi multiplayer title exoprime there is some reference to his dinosaur crisis survival horror series. After all, “shooter-based action games involving dinosaurs as the main threat” is a surprisingly underpopulated genre. After a few days of early access to exoprime Open beta though, I found myself thinking of it as its own, unique experience based on cutting tons of extinct reptiles.
exoprime It starts with a science fiction premise. You are an Exosuit Fighter, recruited to become a soldier for the mega-corporation Aibius. The exosuits are on the front lines of a battle against an explosion of dinosaurs drifting through mysterious rifts in space-time. Aibius uses a “nextgen AI” called Leviathan to design and improve his stable of Exosuit skins. Your idea to collect the necessary data? It forces people to participate in an endless series of war games in some sort of simulated environment.
There is not much history in it. exoprime open beta, and all you get is a short intro scene and some background details during the character creation process. That said, the full game will include characters and cutscenes that provide context. Not that turning huge guns and weapons into writhing swarms of ferocious reptiles needs that much justification.
He exoprime The open beta has one mode: Dinosaur Survival. In it, two teams of five players face the dinosaurs and each other. You start at opposite ends of a long map. Guided by Leviathan’s drones, you move from checkpoint to checkpoint, completing “Dinosaur Cull” missions along the way. As you progress, Leviathan measures your progress, letting you know which team is in the lead and sometimes tied. For example, if your team moves slower than the other, Leviathan will spawn a special monster that, when killed by your team, will increase the power and aggression of the dinosaurs that the enemy team faces on their side of the map.
At the end of a given race, your team and your opponents’ team will share the same area, because Leviathan has given them a competitive goal. Meanwhile, you continue to fight against swarms of dinosaurs. The most common mission is “Energy Taker”, where you collect batteries scattered around the map. The twist is that you can also attack and kill your opponents to take some of their batteries. The final missions become a balance of coordinating your team to survive both the dinosaurs and the interference of the enemy team. Leviathan also occasionally spawns “Dominators”, which allow a party member to take control of an extremely powerful T-Rex and act as a spoiler for a short time.
During all this, you will experience some great animations. All the exosuits move in unique ways that combine a heavy appearance with mobility. You don’t always expect a sense of “personality” to bleed into exosuits, but they feel more distinctive than the avatar you create yourself.
The biggest joy I found in my short time with the beta was learning the capabilities of the Exosuits. There are ten playable exosuits in the game (with more planned after launch), and they are spread across three roles: Assault, Tank, and Support. These correspond to the “holy trinity” of multiplayer design. Tanks can do a lot of damage and excel at keeping zones safe for their teammates to do their thing. Attacks do a lot of damage and knock out enemies. Supports can do things like group objectives and heal allies.
There is variation within these roles as well, so each suit plays completely differently even within the same general specialization. For example, while a roadblock and plug hole in the lane deploys its massive energy shield, the Krieger’s gatling gun and dome shield can secure a larger area for a shorter time. Meanwhile, Deadeye Assault is a versatile unit that can use pistols and grenades, but the Vigilant has a powerful sniper rifle and can take down individual targets (such as enemy players) much more easily.
It was very interesting to play with each outfit and get an idea of his playstyle, and exoprime makes this domain process quite convenient to enter. This is because you can freely change outfits in the middle of a match (only governed by a short cooldown period). Default mode also does not “lock the role” or prevent it from being duplicated. So if your team wants to go with four Roadblocks, you can, and you might even do quite well. You can also change your outfit to suit the changing situation. When it came to the final stage of a run, I would often trade my favorite Krieger suit for the more PVP friendly gear of Murasame or Vigilant. There is a sense of versatility in exoprimea design that gives it a sense of accessibility. As for skills, I also found that the gameplay of containing reptilian swarms seems to lend itself better to some outfits than others. For example, the Vigilante’s sniper abilities don’t seem all that useful outside of the context of engaging enemy players.
The map layout is also perhaps a bit linear. The environments give the impression of space, but until the final match of each round, most of the time you are funneled down a corridor from one task to another. This feeling of being somewhat “on rails” also contributes to my ambivalence about the playstyles of certain exosuits. Suits like the Vigilante and Nimbus, which value mobility but lack the armor to dive right into the fray, only come into their own as the arenas expand further. In those areas, your mobility options make the most sense. But before that, they feel like dead weight compared to the stronger fighters.
There are also minor stability concerns. Playing it on PS5, I found that the exoprime the open beta often locked players out of my games. They would be immediately replaced by bots, but it wasn’t unusual for me to end up playing an all-bots match with only one or two teammates or opponents. I also noticed some issues with lag where friendly suits or playing dinosaurs would slide or teleport across the room. It never became unplayable, but it can be a problem for players in a high latency environment. That said, it is a beta version so there is time for these things to be worked out.
I also didn’t get a great impression of how Capcom intends to keep players engaged over time. My account gained levels and built levels in their “Survival Pass”, but since they weren’t accessible in the beta client, I couldn’t see if they were particularly cool or revolutionary. However, it’s a bit early to make a judgment on that aspect of the game.
Leaving these considerations aside, however, exoprime it’s a good time that appeals to the now familiar genre of co-op horde shooters.
exoprime is in development and will be released on July 14, 2023 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC via Steam. The open beta will run from March 17th to March 19th, 2023.