6 min read

Dead Videogame Industry Dinosaurs: The Violently Mediocre Hypercorporate Videogame Zeitgeist Symbolism Of Exoprimal

Let's all go play Warframe or Paleo Pines instead.

RND// Example postmodern zeitgeist philosophy notes on Exoprimal, a somehow already long since obsolete, Internet aether-vanished 2023 multiplayer third-person shooter videogame developed and published by Capcom.

It's a uniquely quirky game wearing the mask of a generic live service bandwagon humper.
- James Stephanie Sterling

The acrid stench of Battlepass is strong in this one, Padawan


An exploitative digital economy masquerading as a videogame - except it's not exactly masquerading or hiding behind a mask. It's not really pretending to be anything other that what it is. Exoprimal is simply, directly naked Capitalism as a videogame; a good, undead example of Global Hyperreal Ludocapitalist Spectacle.

Bizarrely deadpan hilarious Capcom fanboy smoke-blowing

The game nobody asked for, Exoprimal is basically just 'Anthem with dinosaurs', or 'We've got Earth Defense Force meets Overwatch at home.' So welcome back to the tragically predictable Games As A Service Hell we never really left: a whole $60 for online play only, generic mediocre and paint-by-numbers, spammy gameplay loops, battlepasses, deluxe editions, preorder bonuses, 'cosmetics' - skins, charms, even loot boxes. The whole sorry roster of standard 'AAAA' substandard. It even has a bullshit 'Roadmap' - a key sign of korporate videogame Dead On Arrivalness. The right royal unfinished road to nowhere (an evolutionary dead end.)

Bullshit Standard Corporate Videogame Roadmap

Thing is, Exoprimal could have been so much more than the nothing-much-at-all it turned out to be; if only inherently evil post Cyberpunk videogaming hypercorporations like Capcom had the minimum creative vision to consider it an entire storytelling universe - rather than just another disposable Product, all too soon abandoned by its creators - and its player base. (Of course, at this point is it too much to ask of the videogame industry if one asks anything of it at all?)

And yet. If hundreds of thousands of mutant dinosaurs tumbling out of an interdimensional time vortex like scaly, biting rain onto megastructural skyscrapers at the behest of an evil AI aren't what videogames should really be about, then what? (Being a good little 'Star Citizen' and joining Squadron 404: Feature Not Available Yet? NFL.)

The only problem is that, while such a dinorific sight is certainly a Spectacle - something potentially awe inspiring and borderline psychedelic in its bizareness and sheer, world-defying magnitude - it's only ever really an empty, totally corporatized spectacle. Something inherently unsustainable. Something as sadly dead as a dinosaur.

Simple counter argument: Is anything about such a premise as 'Exoprimal' really trippy, Bob - or merely asinine, in that utterly wretched, 'throw anything at a video sales projection wall and see what sticks marketing-team bullshit' way? No not really, but the purposes of this conceptual article we'll be considering it's potential conceptual / zeitgeist-signifier merits as such, one at a time (by that we mean what the existence of such elements in a game like this says if anything about the current state of our human condition):

Time Travel

Nothing wrong with a little sci fi time travel - except it's already been done to death and back, and to leave such an at-least potentially interesting idea to just another super-generic videogame company hardly bodes well. The last half decent time travel themed FPS to come out was bargain bucket Eurojank classic TimeShift in 2007. If you're gonna have to travel through time however, you'd better have a damn good reason. In hyper-generic modern videogaming terms, 'saving the world' just doesn't cut it, however. Saving a loved one would have made it remotely impactful.

Dinosaurs

Again, nothing inherently wrong with Dinosaurs - if the emphasis was on them as potent symbols of the idea of planetary Evolution. If only whatever writer or 'ideas person' Capcom had hired had developed the idea - even one degree past the mere fact the dinosaurs of Exoprimal are nothing but dinosaurs. If only they'd skillfully been woken into the narrative. But no - they're just plain digestive Dinosaurs, and really the only person that thinks zero context Dinosaurs are inherently awesome is the comic book character Calvin. Yet at least his dinos do cool shit like fly jets.

Exosuits

The problem with exosuits is that by comparison, even Dinosaurs seem more of an up-to-date idea. Talk about the lazy flogging of long dead cliches. The one thing that this game needed but which never crossed it's tiny hypercorporate mind was that Exosuits are default videogame symbols for 'generalized techno-badassery', which unfortunately means destroying all notion of human character. (As they say in Cyberpunk, "You can tell it's The Future by the amount of shit covering one's eyes.") Without eyes, or just with instantly replaceable and hot-swappable armored faces, the notion of character can't survive. (Irony: check out the actual human face of your own in game character - probably the derpiest looking videogame potato ever. Heck, even Your Awesome Robot Buddy in Titanfall expressed more personality.)

Evil AI

Let's face it there's only one true, evil videogame AI and that's Shodan. All others pail into computational insignificance. Exoprimal's evil A.I. is so lame it isn't even that evil - merely annoyingly inconvenient, like a toaster oven that occasionally burns your breakfast. Idea for improvement: make the A.I. an evil rogue dinosaur AI from an alternative future where dinos rule the earth. No we're talking.

Teleportals

Interdimensional Teleportals rule. There's little more terrifying or more awesome as a rift or tear in spacetime. Remember that by-now impossibly oldskool trailer for Doom 3. "The Union Aerospace Corporation, an arm of the most powerful conglomorate on Earth, has been performing secret experiments in their base on Mars. Tapping into the very fabric of the universe itself, and Beyond.." By comparison, the teleportals / rift-vortexes of Exoprimal are mere finger holes poked in spacetime.


Exoprimal Summary

Barely alive; Exoprimal Steam Charts Open Beta

Potentially potent postmodern symbolism aside, you still all can't play as dinosaurs in Exoprimal. Especially not as DinoMechs. And the thing thing about PvPvE is that it requires early adoption en-masse to guarantee a minimum viable playerbase. It should have just been F2P - and a simple Dino Crisis Remade. Let's all go play Warframe or Paleo Pines instead.

Here's Jim again on the overbearingly formulaic and utter homogenized synthetic nature of modern videogames. (Indeed one might effortlessly argue that the entire fucking AAAA industry is the very thing holding videogames back from post-dinosaurian evolution as an art form):

[..] a major issue with modern mainstream games [..] they've become so similarly structured that, no matter how their actual gameplay might vary, the way these productions feel overall is becoming a near identical experience [..] unimaginative [..] souless.
- James Stephanie Sterling