Exoprimal hands-on: Fight swarms of dinosaurs with your friends

March 22, 2023
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In the futurescape of Exoprimal, climate change turned out slightly differently than everyone expected. Instead of rising oceans and heat waves, humanity deals with torrential downpours of hungry, flesh-rending dinosaurs. Fortunately, the AIBIUS corporation is here with cutting-edge exosuit technology to take out the history-displaced hordes–they just need some warm bodies to go inside the suits.

This past weekend, gamers joined the Exoprimal open beta test to suit up for some cooperative (and competitive) cold-blooded creature culling. But don’t worry if you missed out: we’re here to give you the details of Exoprimal’s uniquely chaotic team PvE experience.

Dino Survival

Exoprimal’s beta focused on Dino Survival–a five-versus-five online multiplayer wargame and the main mode of the game’s full release in July. After character creation and a brief control tutorial, you’re matched with other fresh recruits, split into two teams, and brought into a simulation created by Leviathan, an advanced AI who masterminds the combat games to come. The winning condition is simple: be the first team to complete Leviathan’s directives. But that’s easier said than done, especially when those goals always involve an onslaught of crazed giant reptiles from another dimension.

Finding the right exosuit

Since you’re playing on a team, cooperation and coordination are key–and you’ve got an array of exosuits with distinct combat abilities to fill the roles you’ll need to succeed. The beta allowed access to the full array of exosuits, which come in the following categories:

●  Assault (Deadeye, Zephyr, Barrage, Vigilant): Attack-focused suits designed for rending reptiles through a variety of long-range and melee attacks.
●  Tank (Roadblock, Krieger, Murasame): Heavily armored units that can soak up a lot of damage–but can also bring heavy hits when needed.
●  Support (Witchdoctor, Skywave, Nimbus): Fast, speedy suits that heal and deliver tactical buffs to allies or status ailments to enemies.

Even within the same category, the suits function in very different ways. In the support category, there’s the Witchdoctor–a unit focused on repair and buffs that can zip around pretty well but not quite as well as the healer/attacker hybrid-on-wheels Nimbus. And neither of those two can soar like the graceful Skywave, which can take to the air to grant healing waves to allies–as well as curse a horde of foes with status ailments–all at a safe distance. (Until the winged dinos show up.)

Roadblock is the archetypical tank unit–a little slow, lots of health, ginormous shields–but another very popular Tank-type choice among beta players was the Murasame, a faster suit with a melee-focused skillset. Not only can you leap into a pack of dinosaurs and slice dozens up before your health drops, but you can also carefully charge and counterattack to slay oh-so-skillfully.

Every one of these exosuits is packed with personality–quite literally, as the suits themselves speak with unique voices and provide their own commentary throughout battle. Each suit has unique controls and abilities that fill its archetypal roles in interesting and creative ways. And what’s great is that if you feel your team’s a little lacking in a particular department, you can swap suits mid-battle, ensuring that you always have access to crucial roles. While promised suit customization with skins and modules was limited in the beta, you could still add some unique touches to the exosuits by equipping them with “Rigs,” special-use gear with varying effects.

Progression of a match

The beta battles followed a standard format: five PvE-focused tasks culminating in a final, more direct PvP confrontation. The PvE tasks were easy to understand: cull a bunch of dinosaurs, protect a target or NPC for a set period of time, and take out a really big and nasty dinosaur. At the end of each task, Leviathan lets you know if you’re ahead or lagging behind the other team.

All of these tasks have one thing in common: eliminating a whole lot of dinosaurs. Strategies vary wildly based on the goal and type of dinosaurs you’re facing: Are you trying to hold back a massive wave of pteranodons or getting up close and personal with a stegosaur? The wrong approach can leave you annihilated by a dino-swarm or ingloriously bodychecked out of bounds by a triceratops.

Leviathan isn’t content with this degree of madness, though. He’s a mischievous type, and he’ll sometimes toss things on field at a whim, such as mutated Neosaur creatures warped into new and more vicious forms from interdimensional travel. Maybe he’ll also throw in some helpful bits, like auto-firing turrets, floating platforms, or barriers you can place at will. Or, if he’s really feeling generous and you’re lagging behind, you might get a Dominator item spawn that lets you temporarily command your own massive, angry dinosaur and cause severe problems for the opposing team with direct dino damage.

The final challenge

The final PvP challenges varied with each session, but they’re where the tide of combat can be turned in a most dramatic fashion.

●  Data Key Security: Your squad must escort a big, heavy data key to its destination as dinosaurs and the other team tries to destroy it.
●  Energy Taker: Both teams collect energy tokens that spawn on the field to fill up a gauge–and steal energy from the opposing team by blowing up its members.
●  Omega Charge: One player is responsible for picking up and safeguarding a massive hammer–while also charging with energy from slain dinosaurs to destroy a target. Your teammates must protect the wielder from both dinosaur and opposing player attacks.

As a sample platter for what’s to come on July 14, the Exoprimal beta delivers a taste of the mass extinction events that await. Stay tuned for future Exoprimal dino-storm forecasts leading up to its release.

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