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Primal Carnage: Extinction
Developer(s)
Circle 5, Pub Games, Panic Button
Publisher
Circle 5 Publishing LLC
Date Released
December 3, 2014 (Early Access)

April 3, 2015 (PC)

October 15, 2015 (PS4)
Genre:
First-person Shooter
Game modes:
Online Multiplayer, LAN, Singleplayer
ESRB rating:
Teen
Platform(s):
Windows PC, PlayStation 4
Media:
Digital Download

Primal Carnage: Extinction follows in the footsteps of the first game as a class-based multiplayer game featuring humans versus dinosaurs.

The game was created by indie development team Circle 5 Studios, in collaboration with Pub Games. It is a loose sequel / remake of the original 2012 Primal Carnage, featuring similar FPS gameplay for the human team and third person playable dinosaurs.

It was released April 3, 2015 on PC via Steam after a short period in Early Access, several months later a PlayStation 4 port was released by Panic Button software.

The PC version has seen numerous major updates in the following 5+ years, however the console version has lagged behind in many areas due to being outsourced. Circle 5 is now currently in the process of overhauling the PS4 edition themselves.

Story

Set on an abandoned island where dinosaurs have been brought back to life, Extinction is a reboot of the original Primal Carnage with a similar premise.

The_Breakout_(Primal_Carnage_Extinction_Launch_Trailer)

The Breakout (Primal Carnage Extinction Launch Trailer)

Steam launch trailer for Primal Carnage Extinction

After some unspecified disaster, the dinosaurs have broken out of containment and now run loose on the island, slaughtering anyone unlucky enough to get in their way.

Hints as to what occurred can be seen in the "Breakout" launch trailer, and there is evidence of seismic instability that can be found around the levels.

During gameplay, the player can assume the role of the mercenary team sent to eliminate these prehistoric creatures, or play as one of the dinosaurs, where the number one goal is to wipe out all humans.

Time has passed since the island was evacuated, with the facilities in disarray, slowly being overtaken by the jungle.

Gameplay

Primal Carnage: Extinction has an asymmetrical design with two playable factions: the human and dinosaur teams. Both have different playstyles and the perspective shifts from first-person as human, to third-person as dinosaur.

Each side comprises several distinct classes, each with its own unique specializations and attacks. Every class possesses a stamina bar that drains when sprinting, jumping, or using certain class-specific abilities.

The game uses a more classical life bar system instead of regenerating health, meaning players routinely need to use health items to restore lost hit points.

Dinosaur gameplay

Dinosaurs generally move faster than the human classes, and possess powerful disabling attacks with a number of one-hit-kill abilities. However, their playstyle requires using a higher degree of stealth and agility, meaning stamina management is especially important for dinosaur players.

All of the primary dinosaur attacks are melee-based, promoting more close quarters action, with hit and run tactics being favourable. Each dinosaur class has a special Roar Ability that when activated gives a buff to the player or their nearby teammates. Once used, it has a lengthy cooldown before being available again.

All dinosaurs must eat to restore their health fully, this is done at various herbivore carcasses placed around the maps, usually a dead Iguanodon or Parasaurolophus. The large Tyrant classes are the only members of the dinosaur team that can restore health purely through eating enemy players. When a dinosaur is low on health, the game's visuals desaturate and nearby carcasses become highlighted in red.

Dinosaur Classes

There are 11 different dinosaurs to play as in Primal Carnage: Extinction, from towering Tyrants to nimble Spitters and Flyers who assault from the air.

Unlike the first game, Spinosaurus can now be played in any game mode. Pachycephalosaurus was originally planned to be added to the game over time. However, with the inclusion of the Ceratosaurus five years after the game's release, the former has yet to be formally announced and the development team have stated adding more classes is beyond their ability for the foreseeable future.

All of the main dinosaur classes from the first game return, along with the "premium skin" dinosaurs, now transformed into sub-classes available to all players, each having their own differing statistics and special attacks...


Flyers

  • Pteranodon: This pterosaur is able to grab humans and drop them to their death. Its standard attack is pecking enemies with its sharp beak. Upon roaring, enemies are highlighted to teammates. Although fast in flight, this class moves much slower when walking.
  • Tupandactylus: A speedier, more melee-focused flyer that cannot grab enemy players. Its secondary move is a passive diving charge that can knock enemies back hard, dealing heavy damage. Its ground mobility and roar are the same as Pteranodon.

Predators

  • Novaraptor (a fictional species established in the first game) This dinosaur pounces onto humans, pinning them to the ground. Their standard attack is a combined bite and slash. Roaring activates frenzy mode, allowing faster attacks at the cost of stamina for a short time. Its hide can come in either scales, a thick feathery coat, or quills in one palette.
  • Oviraptor: A smaller, faster predator. Instead of frenzy mode, the Oviraptor's roar allows it to reveal hidden enemies in the same way as the flyer classes. Although it has no teeth, its standard attacks are the same as the Novaraptor.

Spitters

  • Dilophosaurus: A nimble, small dinosaur that can blind enemies with projectile venom, either from far away or from up close. Roaring restores its stamina fully.
  • Cryolophosaurus: A less venomous spitter specializing in area of effect attacks, laying down damaging acid pools. Its roar restores stamina similar to the Dilophosaurus.

Tyrants

  • Tyrannosaurus: A dinosaur that can quickly swallow enemies whole. It uses a tail swipe to knock away humans approaching from the rear. Its roar increases damage dealt by nearby dinosaurs.
  • Spinosaurus: A dinosaur that swallows enemies more slowly. It has a set of powerful claws it uses to send enemies hurtling in one swipe. It is the largest and the slowest of the tyrants. Its roar buffs the armour of nearby dinosaurs.
  • Acrocanthosaurus (added in content update 1): The fastest tyrant, it swallows enemies whole, and uses a slow but forceful stomp attack with a large radius that can send enemies flying. Its roar gives team health regeneration.

Chargers

  • Carnotaurus: A dinosaur that rams enemies at high speed, sending them flying away. They can also headbutt foes while standing idle or walking. After roaring, a Carnotaurus can regain health while biting humans.
  • Ceratosaurus: Added in a recent update. This vicious beast is armored on the head and shoulders against bullets, and is capable of charging like the slightly larger Carnotaurus, though it has three horns instead of two. However, it is slower, but also very strong. Its main attack is a slash and bite combination that can drain the health of a single target and transfer that amount to it as healing. After it roars, it can drain the stamina of the enemies it attacks, making them unable to escape its fury. It can also use its powerful tail to smack foes coming from the side or from behind.

NPCs

Several other dinosaurs such as Brachiosaurus and Parasaurolophus are NPCs in the game that roam outside the playable areas. Compsognathus appears as an AI enemy type in the Survival game mode, which includes a "boss wave" with hordes of the creatures. On the PC version, NPCs can be controlled by the player through cheats.


Human gameplay

Gameplay on the human side takes the form of a first-person shooter, with additional elements such as throwable weapons, placeable land mines and quick melee attacks. The commando, pathfinder, pyromaniac and scientist classes all have equipable backup weapons (desert eagles, flaregun and dartgun respectively). Most human classes can select from a variety of throwables, but the selection from which to choose from differs for each class. These items can be either tertiary weapons such as a tomahawk, or helpful utilities such as ammo and medical kits. Players on the human team can stock up on supplies at health & ammunition crates scattered around the maps. When critically injured or low on ammo, nearby crates become highlighted to the player.

Human Classes

All five human classes from the original Primal Carnage are present and expanded in Primal Carnage: Extinction:

  • Commando - A former military pilot gone AWOL named Marcus Tyler. His primary weapon is a rapid fire Assault Rifle with a grenade launcher attachment. The assault rifle becomes quickly inaccurate unless fired in short bursts. The underslung grenade launcher is the most powerful weapon in the game, but can be difficult to aim at fast-moving targets. He can also deploy health packs to heal himself and teammates.
  • Scientist - Also referred to as "The Sniper" by players, Moira Hart is a British park ranger from a game reserve in Botswana. Her primary weapon is a scoped hunting rifle, which is powerful enough to kill a Dilophosaurus with a single bullet. Her secondary weapon is a small, sighted Tranquiliser pistol, which is used to disorient and decrease the stamina of dinosaurs. She can throw down both landmines to damage dinosaurs that step on them or tracker mines to show enemy positions.
  • Pathfinder - Joseph Crane is a wilderness guide of Native American descent. His primary weapon is a pump-action shotgun which can hold 8 shells per reload. This weapon is very powerful up close, capable of killing smaller animals in a single shot, but becomes less effective at range. The Pathfinder also carries 5 distress flares, which burn for several seconds after being thrown. Any nearby dinosaurs looking towards burning flares will have their vision impaired.
  • Trapper - Jackson Stone is an Australian poacher, armed with a netgun and dual wielded pistols. These two pistols share the same ammo reserve, but can be fired and reloaded independently. The netgun is used for temporarily disabling enemy dinosaurs. Large dinosaurs hit by nets will be unable to use their bite attack for a short time, while smaller dinosaurs are completely immobilized for several seconds. The Trapper can use his melee attack, a hunting knife, to kill a trapped dinosaur in a single hit. He can also deploy ammo packs to give his teammates extra ammunition.
  • Pyromaniac - Angus McLaughlin is a Scottish lumberjack who fights with a custom-made "flamesaw," which is a flamethrower and chainsaw strapped together. Neither weapon needs to be reloaded, however they both share the same fuel reserve. Dinosaurs hit by the flamethrower will continue to receive burn damage for a short while after exiting the line of fire. The chainsaw is the most powerful melee weapon in the game, dealing enough damage to killing larger dinosaurs in seconds, though it will overheat after extended use. The Pyromaniac also carries three impact grenades, which will explode into patches of fire on anything they touch.

Game modes

Primal Carnage: Extinction contained three game modes during Early Access. Circle 5 had an open Trello roadmap where they stated their plans to develop additional game modes as free future downloadable content updates.

At Launch:

  • Team Deathmatch, where both teams must compete for the most kills.
  • Get to the Chopper, in which humans capture several key locations to send for a helicopter rescue while dinosaurs try to stop them.
  • Free Roam, a more customizable mode that allows players to disable killing.

Post-launch:

  • Survival, a co-operative experience pitting 1-4 humans against endless waves of AI dinosaurs.
  • Capture The Egg, a variant of the popular Capture The Flag game type, where the human team must steal the dinosaur team's eggs.
  • Hunt, a small team of humans must try to defeat an invisible player-controlled raptor

Customization

Primal Carnage Extinction features extensive cosmetic items for players to customize themselves with. This includes all cosmetics from the original game plus a plethora of new modifications. Extinction has Steam Workshop support, with many cosmetics added to the game being submitted by community members.

The method of obtaining cosmetic items differs depending on platform. The PC version uses the Steam Economy system, rewarding players with a set number of random loot drops per week. The in-game store is the only place to obtain certain items on PC, with some skins only available for limited time purchase. Conversely, the PS4 version offers skin rewards for completing matches as each class and earning trophies, alongside purchasable skin pack DLC. Later updates to the PC side introduced item crafting and a ranking system that provides another way to earn items, with each level up awarding a random skin.

PC users can trade or sell their items via the Steam Marketplace.

Development

Recode & Genesis

Originally, a single-player prequel to the first Primal Carnage was in development by Lukewarm Media. Dubbed Primal Carnage: Genesis, it was announced as a PlayStation 4 launch title, one of the first to utilize Unreal Engine 4, as was showcased in two tech demos at the 2013 Game Developers Conference.

After publicly announcing the game, Genesis ran into production problems as Lukewarm Media did not have the funds or manpower to produce such a large project. Instead, it was decided the team would overhaul the original game, re-coding it to allow for faster development and adding new features. After announcing a delay for Primal Carnage: Genesis, the recode became the full focus of the development team, with additional assistance from Melbourne-based Pub Games. However, internal management struggles and a lack of progress after months of work led to the Lukewarm Media team disbanding.

Circle 5 studios, a group of indie developers formed from the modding scene, acquired the rights to future games in the Primal Carnage brand during 2014. A small number of former Lukewarm contractors were hired on by Circle 5 after the transition, with Pub Games providing technical support. The original game was decided to be in too broken of a state to fix, a situation exacerbated because Lukewarm Media had not kept adequate documentation. Despite obtaining the prior company's assets, large chunks of the game's code were either missing or unreadable. Because of this, there would be no future updates to Primal Carnage, which is still on sale in a buggy state.

Early Access

On October 27, 2014, Primal Carnage: Extinction was announced for PC & PlayStation 4 as a sequel to the original game. It would be a co-production between Circle 5 and Pub Games. Primal Carnage: Genesis remained on indefinite hold. Like the first game, Extinction was built using Unreal Engine 3, a decision made to accommodate users with low-end hardware. The game launched on Steam Early Access shortly after it had been announced on December 3, 2014. The developers stated their goal was to gather feedback on the game from the community while it was still in development, perfecting its systems and balance in response.

Panic Button was brought on to help finish porting the game to PS4 after the intended Q1 2015 release date was missed. Extinction exited Steam Early Access on 4 April 2015. Upon its PC launch, the game had several major bugs, most notably that players would regularly teleport outside of the map upon spawning. Patches were quickly issued to fix this and most of the larger problems, but many smaller bugs remained.

Post Launch & PS4

The first major content update for Extinction was released for the Steam version on June 6 2015. Its key features, including a new playable dinosaur (Acrocanthosaurus), a new AI-based game mode, new weapons and extra cosmetic items were detailed in a promotional micro-site. When interviewed about the PlayStation 4 version's status, producer Aaron Pollack claimed that development was "going very well", and would release later in the year. The importance of having the game run at 1080p 60 fps on the console was emphasized.

Primal Carnage: Extinction's official PS4 release date was subsequently announced by Panic Button on the US PlayStation blog, along with its ESRB Teen rating. On October 20th 2015, Extinction released for download on the North American PlayStation Store. Despite earlier promises, the game was locked to 30 frames per second on console. It would not launch in Europe for another month, with other territories following significantly later.

With more updates came additional game modes, a ranking system on PC and festive seasonal celebrations, alongside continued bugfixes and balance adjustments. There is an Open Testing beta version of the game available to stress test new features and hone balance. New content is added to the PC release first and is then ported to PS4 by Panic Button at a later date. The team size of Circle 5 shrunk significantly from 2015 to 2016, with longer periods between updates due to only 3 part-time staff.

A new virtual reality game, Primal Carnage: Onslaught, was announced with Pub Games in the lead in 2016. The remaining developers on Extinction (who were working as volunteers by 2017) were unable to continue devoting time to the project and left for other ventures, such as The Isle.

Revival (2019-)

After nearly 2 years without any updates, Extinction returned with a massive new patch for the Steam version in October 2019. This introduced three community-created maps as official levels for the game, and saw major gameplay changes such as the removal of static resupply crates in Team Deathmatch in favor of respawning pickups. This was followed by seasonal events for Halloween and Winter of that year.

A modest amount of funding had been secured to continue active development for a time, with a core team of three past developers returning to the project that year. This has since grown to six as of 2020, including one of the animators from the original Primal Carnage.

In 2020, new features such as Model Mutations were added to Extinction, alongside numerous fixes for longstanding bugs. The end of summer saw the release of the long-awaited second Bruiser class: Ceratosaurus. An overhaul of the human animation system is in the works for later this year, and is intended to release with the December update which will feature large renovations to the game's maps and visuals.

The developers are also currently evaluating an upgrade for the PS4 version of the game, and plan to take on development duties of the console release now that Panic Button has moved on to other projects.

Critic Reception

Upon its official PC launch in April 2015, Primal Carnage: Extinction was heavily criticized for technical problems that were still present after months of Early Access. On TechRaptor, Georgina Young said that, "the concept is awesome," but, "bugs and glitches are rampant," calling the game "virtually unplayable" on MacBook Pro (the game does not officially support Mac) and giving it a 2.5 rating out of 10. Writing for Blast Magazine, Grant Bickelhaupt called it, "a thoroughly good time," however, the balancing was criticized, with the human gameplay described as "punishing." The review gave Extinction 2.8 stars out of 5, with poor ratings in the story and lasting appeal categories.

In a later review for GameGrin, Ryan Davies wrote, "A simple, but fun, FPS that could have been so much better. The dinosaurs are certainly fun, but it won't take long for you to grow tired of the game at large," giving it a score of 6/10. HookedGamers awarded the game a Fun Score of 6.8, praising the dinosaur sound design, saying that it "gives the game an added boost." When describing the game as a whole, the reviewer docked points for clipping issues and having few game modes, noting that, "it does lack that little bit of polish that would make it a great game," but summing up with, "Primal Carnage: Extinction is still worth your time, especially if you love dinosaurs."

CanadianOnlineGamers praised the game's dinosaur animations, sound design and music, scoring the game a 70/100 and called Extinction, "A fun dino romp for fans of these giant (and not-so-giant) lizards. It doesn’t really bring anything else new to the table in the team deathmatch genre, but what it does bring, it does it well."

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