Primal Carnage beta impressions

T.J. Hafer

We wrote Monday that the beta for humans-vs.-dinosaurs deathmatch Primal Carnage is now open to anyone who pre-orders the game. As an avid fan of raptors (which rank slightly lower than werewolves on the "Awesome Things That Rip Your Organs Out" scale) and also shooting things, I was anxious to get in and sink my teeth into some prehistoric mayhem.

Primal Carnage offers five human and five dinosaur classes to choose from, though playing on the dino side is similar to trying to play as York in War of the Roses: you'll need to get into Mario Party mode and spam click the team change button before it fills up. The dinosaurs are all fun to play, especially the raptor and the T-rex. Raptors are quick, can leap over two-story obstacles, and have a pounce attack that's an instant kill if it hits, and your prey doesn't have a friend nearby to shoot you off of them. They're reminiscent of the drones from the old Aliens vs. Predator 2 multiplayer, minus the wall crawling.

T-rexes, which have a limited number of spawns based on the total number of players on the server, have a million billion health and a basic attack that eats your opponent in one bite while healing you. Their only balancing factor seems to be their size: they can't hide, they're not hard to hit, and they can't even fit into a lot of areas on each map. Additionally, dino players can pick the blinding-acid-spitting dilophosaurus, the living battering ram carnotaurus, and the skill-intensive, flying pterasaur.

The human classes are much more conventional: the scientist is a sniper, the commando is your heavy machine gun dude, the pyro is a short-ranged melee deterrent, and the pathfinder is a utility class with a shotgun. Possibly the most interesting human class is the trapper, armed with a netgun that can completely lock down smaller dinos and seal the jaws of larger ones, like the T-rex, shut, preventing them from using their best attacks. As an added bonus, netting a ptera in mid-air will cause it to plummet to its death.

The core of the game has some really promising ideas so far, with synergy between class roles and support for many different skill levels. The problem is that it doesn't feel very fleshed out. There are only five maps at the moment, and the only game mode is team deathmatch. In addition, each class has a set configuration with no unlocks or kit swapping, which is seemingly becoming a rarity in modern games of this type.

I've also had network issues on some servers, and the matchmaking only seems to display the correct number of players on a server about half the time. More than once I've logged into a game that the client told me had 24 players to find it completely empty. Is it worth the $15 to get into beta, though? If you're a fan of asymmetrical deathmatch and/or mesozoic megafauna, I'd say you'll find the experience worthwhile. Otherwise, you might want to be a clever girl and take a wait and see approach.

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