[PAX] The Reason I Was Sad PAX Ended: Primal Carnage Hands-On

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It’s no surprise that we here at Twinfinite love dinosaurs. This love letter to Jurassic Park in podcast form proves that pretty well, I think. When I saw that Primal Carnage was on the show floor, my eyes lit up. I immediately looked to the group that was with me and said, “We must play this.” I’m glad we did.

Rawr, rawr, rawr, dinosaurs.

For those that aren’t “in the know,” Primal Carnage is an asynchronous multiplayer game where one team of players try to survive as human mercenaries while the other team lives out all of their primal instincts as the dinosaurs. At PAX Prime, Reverb Games had their booth set up with each team on separate sides. I, of course, gravitated directly to the side with the raptors. I’m a hipster like that.

Waiting behind a group of content PAX-goers, eyes aglow, I watched as hordes of dinosaurs charged into the human menace. As soon as it was my turn, I quickly jumped onto the open computer. It was then that the most horrifying thing happened: I had to choose a dinosaur. No one should ever have to choose a dinosaur. Painfully, I scrolled past several awesome looking dinosaurs, eventually deciding on, what else, the velociraptor.

Quick, agile, and stealthy, playing as a raptor was everything I wanted it to be. I was able to take my enemies by surprise, jump relatively high barriers in a single bound, and even pounce on them, biting furiously. I’m not joking when I say that these raptors are fast. It’s fun and easy to rush Mercenaries with them. Especially when you use teamwork to rush them in groups.

Dilophosauruses (Dilophosauri? Dillies? Dilos?) can spit their acidic spray on humans, both hurting and blinding them. Carnotauruses (at least, I think that’s what they were), are able to sprint into ramming speed and send their adversaries flying through the air, their arms flailing hilariously from the ragdoll physics. You can even be a T-Rex. The T-Rex is huge and ridiculously powerful. It’s so big that it couldn’t even fit inside the building that some of the mercs were hiding in — a clever way of balancing something ludicrous like a T-Rex when pitting it against tiny humans. The craziest of all the dinosaurs has to be the pteradons who can fly around the maps and pick up some easy prey. Lifting a player into the air and then dropping them to their death was a definite highlight. Not just of Primal Carnage, but of PAX in general.

And that’s all that anyone would ever want to play of Primal Carnage, right? That’s why the game exists is to play as dinosaurs, after all. That’s what I thought, anyway, but as soon as I started playing as a human, I knew that their side was just as viable. And, more importantly, fun. The mercenary side can have abilities that range from dinosaur-blinding flares to dinousaur-binding nets. Using a specific class, the player can actually trap smaller dinosaurs in a net and pump bullets into them with double pistols. Or you can execute them with a knife if you’re into that sort of thing. Human snipers can take down pteradons with ease while the more powerfully equipped classes can show T-Rexes who’s boss.

As fun as the weapons and acts of dino-cide can be, failing as a human can be just as fun. Sprinting through the jungle with dinosaurs hot on your tail invites a feeling of dread that few games match. The sound effects, especially through the surround sound headphones at the booth, allow for an immersive experience that, as far as I’m concerned, makes it. It managed to capture that horrifying feeling when a Witch is awoken in Left 4 Dead every time I saw a T-Rex bounding at me or a raptor jump over a fence where I thought I was safe.

It’s a simple concept, honestly, but it’s the dedication to it that really pushes it over the top. Lukewarm Media has managed to create a dinosaur game that actually plays well. It’s every bit as fun as it should be. From everything that I’ve seen of Primal Carnage, it manages to straddle the line so that it’s silly, not stupid. All of my favorite Jurassic Park memories came flooding back while playing it. That’s really all that I could ask for.

Pre-ordering Primal Carnage allows you access to the beta so that you can get your dinosaur killing on as soon as possible. I’m not joking when I say that I would highly recommend it after the time I spent with it. Even with all of the great looking games I knew I was missing on the show floor, I still managed to squeeze in time to play Primal Carnage three times throughout the show. It’s telling that when PAX day three was coming to a close, I went to the Reverb Games booth just to get a little more time with it. There’s a reason that it won Best Multiplayer from us at PAX. My first “post-PAX blues” moment came when I realized that I would never be able to spend anymore time at that booth. As someone who does not own a PC that can run it, all I want to do is find one as soon as possible.

Long-term DLC support has also been promised by Lukewarm. I’m just wondering which will come first: a mod from the community replacing the human skins with dinosaurs carrying guns or an official skin pack that allows the same. Either way, that’s my first request! *Nudge, nudge, Lukewarm*

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Tyler Humphrey is a bearded fan of all things video game, Tarantino films, comic books, and professional wrestling. Follow him on Twitter (@AlmostApollo) to keep up with his nonsense and misadventures.

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