Dinosaurs were pretty awesome, and everyone knows that. However, games that have featured our Jurassic friends haven’t been anything to write home about. Not since the days of Dino Crisis and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in the late 1990s have we seen a game featuring dinosaurs that has been anything close to brilliant. Hopefully, the upcoming multiplayer FPS Primal Carnage will be the one to turn the tide. Recently at Gamescom in Cologne, I sat down with Aaron Pollack, the Assistant Producer of Primal Carnage, and he walked me through the game and what to expect from it.
A class-based 10 versus 10 shooter, it’s clear from the off that Primal Carnage is something a little bit special. Sure, we’ve seen games like this come and go without a whimper, but maybe this time it’ll be different. Running on the Unreal Engine, it goes without saying that graphically the game is solid. It’s not the next Crysis killer visually, but the models are nice, the environments are well designed and the classes don’t look anything like your standard fare; which is handy, considering one team is comprised entirely of dinosaurs.
In a story that’s not too dissimilar to the likes of Jurassic Park, a whole bunch of dinosaurs have been let loose on an old island formerly inhabited by the military. With this cavalcade of prehistoric beasts wandering around, it’s obviously not great to leave them unchecked. This is where the mercenaries come in; they’re going to take them down, simple as that. Well…not quite as easily as that, but the classes they have complement each other. On the side of humanity, you have 5 distinct classes: Pathfinder, Trapper, Pyro, Scientist and Commando. Whilst the characters are hilariously stereotypical (the Pathfinder is a Native American, for example, and the Trapper is the epitome of a Southern hunter), they are slightly different than what you’d usually expect from an FPS.
The reason for this is the usage of each character’s abilities in order to combat the threat of the dinosaurs. For example, the aforementioned Native American Pathfinder has a flare that blinds all dinosaurs within range of it briefly, allowing humans to escape, attack or simply regroup under the cover of the guiding red light. On the other hand The Trapper has a net gun, and if you manage to ensnare a dinosaur within a net, then attack it with the Trapper’s melee weapon, it’ll instantly die. However, this is by no means the norm for the game. Unlike many shooters, it’s very apparent that in Primal Carnage, melee attacks do very little. As Aaron showed me through the game, it’s clear that melee attacks are very much the last resort and not the one hit kill they are in games such as Call of Duty.
Then again, this isn’t a Call of Duty clone. In fact, it’s easy to spot that, when you finally pick one of the 5 Dinosaur classes and take them for a spin, Primal Carnage has much more in common with the Versus mode from Left 4 Dead 2 than a modern military shooter. Sure, there’s no particular goal other than the annihilation of the other team, but the way the game feels across teams is reminiscent of it for sure. This comparison is further helped by the fact that several of the dinosaurs feel like some of the Special Infected from that series. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is the Tank class, restricted only by enclosed spaces and environments (as Aaron was quick to point out, the T-Rex is not an overpowered class), and the Dilophosaurus is not too far removed from the Spitter. However, the battlefield is an even one and the 5 maps that are due to ship with the game all include environments that do not provide camping spots or safe places for any class to hide.
On the Hangar level – which was the map I saw most of – the challenge was added by one class; the verticality of the Pteranodon. A flying dinosaur scout, you can mark opposing players for your teammates and if you time your swoop just right, you can pick up humans and carry them off to their death. It looked incredibly challenging, but very rewarding when you finally scoop up a target and drop them from a massive height.
Primal Carnage looks set to deliver what it says: Carnage of the highest order. Launching exclusively for PC soon, at a price which Aaron was quick to stress is “affordable” (£12 if the pre-order page on Steam is to be believed) via the highly popular Steam platform and Origin, it’s not yet clear if Primal Carnage will get the community a shooter needs to survive. However, the signs are looking great that Primal Carnage will keep players coming back for more. After all, who DOESN’T want to play as a dinosaur?
Primal Carnage will be released on Windows PC via Steam and Origin for around £10 this Fall.