Capcom just confirmed that Exoprimal's worst feature is optional
Exoprimal will have PvE-only modes, yay.
Exoprimal is an upcoming PvPvE shooter pitting teams of players in a truly absurd (but awesome) futuristic arena in a fight to the death against swarms of dinosaurs. Some crazed A.I. forces you and your comrades to battle in various theoretical wargames, as it studies how and why a plague of random dinosaurs has suddenly started appearing in the present day.
No, the plot doesn't make much sense, but it doesn't matter: Exoprimal is surprisingly fun to play. The game's tank, healer, and damage dealer MMO-style trinity inexplicably works incredibly well, powered by the RE Engine's inexplicable capability to handle literal legions of reptilian critters on-screen without touching the game's frame rate. Sadly, one fatal flaw with the game's design stopped it from being one of my personal most anticipated upcoming Xbox games, and that was in its PvP.
In its recent beta test, Exoprimal pit two teams of four players against each other in a race against various PvE-based objectives. The competition between two human teams helps add some dynamism to the game, undeniably, which would otherwise potentially run the risk of being a tad formulaic. Indeed, every mission scenario in the beta played out in largely the same way, and once the opposing team started pulling ahead, it became increasingly difficult to catch up — even with the power-ups granted to the losing side. What made it all the more irritating was the final act of each battle, which ended in a direct PvP confrontation between the two human-led teams. The problem is, the PvP simply didn't feel good. Balancing for both PvP and PvE simultaneously is an incredibly difficult tightrope to walk, and few games get it right (if any). Exoprimal was certainly not one of them in beta, but the fundamental fact that the winning PvE side also gained an advantage during the PvP confrontation contributed to a sense of adding insult to injury. Like other games falling into this trap, it becomes more efficient to just lose on purpose for the team who fell behind, creating an anti-gaming incentive.
Exoprimal may figure out better ways to balance its PvP aspects. However, in a blog post today, Capcom at least confirmed that PvP will be optional in the full game if, like me, you couldn't stand that aspect of the game.
Thanking players for participation in the beta test, Capcom gave a broader run down of the game's full content slate, which includes post-launch content updates and a PvE-only mission mode.
"Thank you to everyone who participated in the Exoprimal open beta test. Our team gained a great deal of data from exofighter survey responses and social media. We'll put this feedback to good use and make Exoprimal the best game it can be! While the open beta allowed players to experience some of the missions available in the Dino Survival mode, Exoprimal's full release will feature the following content for players to enjoy:"
- Missions without direct combat between players where victory is determined by clearing the PvE objectives as fast as possible.
- Cutscenes and an Analysis Map where players can explore Exoprimal's story and the mysteries surrounding Leviathan and parallel worlds.
- Story-related missions in Dino Survival.
- 10-player co-op missions with a variety of objectives and even fiercer dinosaurs.
- A variety of maps like Dam and Volcanic Base.
- 5-player missions that rotate weekly with global leaderboards for fastest completion time.
- Equipment called Modules that allow for deeper customization of exosuit capabilities.
- Exosuit skins, weapon skins, decals, emotes, and other cosmetic options.
- In-game medals and awards for completing certain challenges, like blocking a certain amount of damage as a Tank suit.
I played a fairly large amount of the Exoprimal beta on Xbox, and had a ton of fun. However, the game's PvP aspects just didn't vibe with me personally. Going between a frenetic PvE experience to an imbalanced PvP experience left a sour taste at the end of every match, which somehow felt chaotic and formulaic simultaneously. Ultimate abilities would always queue up at the same time during each match, with objectives remaining largely the same through each mode. This rigidity in the flow of each match contributed to a sense of repetition. The dynamism that can come with PvP combat should help fix that, right? Only in Exoprimal, it never truly felt fair to be on the winning or losing side, since performance during the PvE portion of the battle conferred an advantage to the side winning the initial race.
The repeated "you are losing" messages also created a downward spiral of demoralization. Unlike similar team-based action games I play like Overwatch, I don't think I ever saw a situation in Exoprimal across several matches where a team would eventually come back and pull off a win after initially losing the first couple of objectives.
Still, all of this is what beta tests are for, ultimately. The core gameplay mechanics are incredibly fun. Blasting large crowds of dinosaurs with massive explosives and cyborg samurai katanas is a winning formula. I just hope to see Capcom get the game's other aspects right, if Exoprimal has a hope of meeting its "service game" ambitions.
Exoprimal launches July 14, 2023, directly into Xbox Game Pass for Xbox and PC.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!