Video Game Preview: Primal Carnage Beta
You know that feeling you get when you just know you’re being watched? Well, yesterday, as I crept out of the jungle, trying to reach the part of the run-down military base I knew the rest of my team was hunkered down in, I got that feeling. I couldn’t see anything moving in the brush, but I knew something was there, waiting for me to make my move. As I bolted for the entrance to the base, I heard the screech of what could only be a raptor about to take down its prey coming from the bush behind me. I stored my pistols and pulled out my net gun in one swift movement. I fired just in time and the novaraptor dropped to the ground, caught in my trap and squirming to break free.
As I pulled out my knife to kill the predator quietly and conserve ammunition, I felt the claws of a pteranodon grip tightly on my shoulders and pull me from the ground. As we soared higher and higher, I look ed around for any source of help, anyone who might be able to shoot its wings, freeing me before the resulting fall would be too great. But no one came. Eventually, the beast lets go and I plummet to my death.
This is the kind of thing that only happens in a game like Primal Carnage. I was lucky enough to get a beta code and I am really enjoying the dinosaurs-versus-humans deathmatch action so far.
Now you may be saying, “I’ve seen Jurassic Park, Levi. Dinosaurs are pretty powerful. There is no way the opposition has a chance.” Well. You might be right, if it weren’t for the array of weapons and abilities the humans have at their disposal in this game. There are five human classes, each with its own arsenal: the commando has a powerful machine gun with a grenade launcher on bottom, the pathfinder carries a shotgun and flares to partially blind enemies, the pyromaniac has a flamethrower/chainsaw hybrid and grenades, the scientist uses a scoped rifle and tranquilizer pistol, and the trapper carries two distinct pistols and his net gun.
I had the most fun with the last of these options, catching smaller enemies in my net and tying up the larger ones, so they were less effective for a few seconds. Even after killing tons of dinos with his dual pistols, I cannot tell you which one is more powerful, because I always fire them like a mad man. I just know one of them has an extra shot. While each class has a couple tricks up its sleeve, ammo and health are scarce and they all move much slower than the enemy, so none of them could survive long fighting alone.
So far, even without voice chat, I have seen a lot more natural teamwork than I have experienced in any other online shooter. Surprisingly, most of my teammates have been willing to stay in a pack and fight together. While it isn’t the most technical shooter, and there’s not stat-tracking past the end of a match so far, it’s refreshing to see people online working together to win.
Unfortunately, this trend doesn’t often carry over when you’re playing as the dinosaurs. Everybody wants to play the T-rex, but only one to two people can, depending on the number of players, so there’s usually a little squabble over that. Then, everyone else tends to stick with the big guy due to his buffing abilities and his tendency to soak up bullets and distract enemies. It’s tough to get a fellow raptor to break away and flank the enemy with you or wait until the moment is right to strike, even though the maps are built well for these kinds of tactics. Because each of the three maps available has some very open areas and some small rooms, each team can benefit from some of the terrain, but the dinosaurs all have a bit of an advantage in both speed (because each arena is quite large) and visibility (since their players’ perspective is third-person).
While they don’t have shiny guns or tools, the dinosaurs also have varying abilities: the carnotaurus is big and heavy and can headbutt enemies for tons of damage and knockback after building up momentum from a sprint or thrash side to side for the same effect, the dilophosaurus is small and weak but can blind enemies with a ranged spit attack, the novaraptor is agile and can lunge at enemies and pin the to the ground, the pteranodon flies around the battle field and can both call out enemy positions to teammates and swoop in to pick up a human and carry him away, and the tyrannosaurus is… well he’s a freaking tyrannosaurus. There’s a reason they limit the number of T-rexes in a match. The power of the dinosaurs is limited not by ammo, but by a stamina bar that refills at different speeds for different classes. Each attack or ability costs a certain amount of stamina and sprinting, which dinos and humans alike can do, drains it as well. My favorite character on this team is probably the pteranodon. While he isn’t a heavy hitter, flying around is a lot of fun, and pretty easy once you pick it up.
If this game sounds fun, but you’re really into hardcore or realistic shooters, I’ve got some bad news for you. Primal Carnage lacks a lot of the features and polish of any other modern FPS. Most of the guns aren’t a ton of fun to shoot and don’t feel very powerful. You can’t lead shots and have to aim your gun right at where an enemy is, no matter how far away they are. You can’t even pick up ammo from fallen comrades. All these things, though, make playing as a human difficult, suspenseful, and even downright terrifying if you aren’t grouped up with teammates. This is a “shooter”, for lack of a better term, that is a lot of fun purely on its premise alone. No matter what they manage to add or clean up by release, I’m excited to play even more of what I’ve already seen come its full release.
All images via Lukewarm Media.
Read more of Levi’s thoughts on dinosaurs, shooters, and everything else @biggunsfowler