An interview with director Takuro Hiraoka
While Resident Evil and Street Fighter are firmly in the spotlight right now, I’ve also been curious about Exoprimal, Capcom’s five-on-five team action game in which players go to town on hordes of no-good dinosaurs. The idea is to be better (read: faster) at completing objectives than the opposing squad, in order to appease a conniving AI named Leviathan.
It’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes — and I sympathize with any ride-or-die fan who is exclusively holding out for a Dino Crisis revival (maybe one day…) — but as someone who got into Lost Planet back in the day, I’m intrigued. Exoprimal seems like the kind of project we haven’t really gotten out of Capcom in recent years, for better or worse.
Ahead of the network test, Destructoid was able to send a few questions to the Exoprimal team, and director Takuro Hiraoka shared his insight about team compositions, solo-player considerations, how the story will unfold, and why they went with dinosaurs.
Team dynamics in Dino Survival
The main mode in Exoprimal, Dino Survival, is a race to complete Leviathan’s dinosaur-pummeling missions with your teammates while another squad does the same. Beyond pure skill, specialized Exosuit roles — vibing with your crew — will also be a factor.
“Exosuits are designed to work together,” said Hiraoka. “Assault, Tank, and Support-type suits all have specialized roles and can’t achieve maximum performance on their own. Players will need to rely on each other to overcome long odds and hopeless situations while having a blast completing missions as a cohesive unit.”
“For example, Roadblock can taunt dinosaurs to draw their attention, lure them in, and corral their assaults with its massive shield. In response, Assault-type Exosuits like Deadeye can counterattack from the flanks and wipe the dinosaurs out. Meanwhile, Support-type suits are able to heal teammates and ensure that their comrades on the front lines don’t collapse from the waves of relentless dinosaur swarms.”
With that said, the director feels “there’s no ‘right answer’ for what Exosuit configuration is best,” and added that they “want players to enjoy the game by discovering their preferred roles and combat styles based on the missions Leviathan presents.”
Online multiplayer is the focus
This might go without saying based on what we’ve seen so far, but Exoprimal is “an online multiplayer game at its core,” according to Hiraoka.
“When introducing Exoprimal, we expressed the importance of resourceful decision making, playing a role, and coordinating with your teammates. While all of this may seem challenging, it’s actually quite approachable. Each Exosuit can unleash powerful attacks and wield unique skills with straightforward controls, which help foster an exhilarating gameplay experience. In Dino Survival, Leviathan’s guided navigations keep players from losing their way even if it’s their first time jumping into a match.”
“Beyond the 5v5 matches players will see in the upcoming Closed Network Test, we’re also planning to implement features in the final version of the game that allow matches to take place with fewer players,” said Hiraoka. Additionally, “Exofighters will also have options to practice solo by diving into the single-player tutorial and training area.”
I’m hoping for AI bots, especially as a way to future-proof this game.
Story and player progression
Results really vary when it comes to story elements in primarily online, multiplayer-centric games. I wondered about how the story will be doled out in Exoprimal, and what kind of long-term hooks there would be to fuel player progression. Capcom shared a few hints.
“In Exoprimal, players are drawn into Leviathan’s recurring war games,” said Hiraoka. “The story challenges Exofighters to search for a way to escape this unending loop of combat tests. The main mode, Dino Survival, sees players compete in these deadly games and you progress the story by playing in Dino Survival matches. The main character players see wearing Exosuits in-game is none other than the player themself. We hope that you enjoy playing Exoprimal as though you’re taking part in these battles yourself.”
“There will be additional features implemented into the game so players can learn more about the story. Please stay tuned for future updates with additional information.”
While slicing and dicing dinosaurs in the Dino Survival mode, players will “gain experience used to increase both player and Exosuit levels,” according to Hiraoka.
“By leveling up, Exofighters earn a range of rewards. These include items that allow players to customize the appearance of their Exosuits, as well as those that change how Exosuits perform in combat. We’ll have more information to share about these features at a later date.”
The origins of a new IP
“In our initial planning phases, the development team aimed to create an experience with satisfying action elements that haven’t been explored in previous Capcom games,” explained Hiraoka. “Instead of a title like Monster Hunter, where hunters take on a single powerful adversary, we pursued the sensation of overcoming a massive number of enemies. From this exploration process, we thought there could be appeal and potential in a new IP. When we imagined players teaming up online and sharing a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after taking down an overwhelming horde of enemies with their squadmates, we were convinced this concept would become a brand new IP.”
“Dinosaurs were our first idea for enemies,” Hiraoka said in response to a question about other potential enemy types in the planning phase.
“We wanted players to experience the threat of history’s most powerful creatures in combat. We also thought that by placing players in desperate situations where they’re pitted against an onslaught of thousands or tens of thousands of these beasts, we could create a never-before-seen level of intensity.”
“Next, the team concluded that modern humans and technology wouldn’t be capable of defeating these overwhelmingly powerful creatures in such dire circumstances. We determined that some unknown force (science from the near future) would be necessary.
“At this point, the team felt we could deliver a new and compelling experience to players by connecting the conflicting elements of ‘history’s strongest and most ferocious creatures’ with ‘the most powerful beings from the near future’ into a single game. From this, the concept of Exoprimal was born.”
Tips for the closed network test
Hiraoka explained that the upcoming test build of Exoprimal will feature a “a limited number of missions, levels, dinosaurs, Exosuits, and rigs” compared to the full version.
“While we’re showing just a small portion of what will be included in the full retail release of the game, the Closed Network Test will give players a taste of the experience and Exoprimal’s central concept of pitting history’s strongest and most ferocious creatures against the most powerful beings from the near future, as well as the satisfaction of playing alongside others to escape from hopeless situations as a team.”
“The Closed Network Test will include both a tutorial and training area,” and the developers “recommend testing out how various Exosuits control and perform in these modes first.”
“Once you find the Exosuit(s) you like best, we recommend you keep playing with them rather than switching into different suits. Then, hop right into a match of Dino Survival. You may find dinosaurs intimidating at first, but don’t let that stop you from facing threats head-on. Rest assured that your teammates will fight alongside you. With each match you play, you’ll naturally develop knowledge of what’s required to take down these vicious creatures.”
Exoprimal will launch on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in 2023.