The Outer Worlds | Review
The Outer Worlds is a tale of choice and opportunity with you in a starring role. Set in the space colonies of Halcyon, your character awakens from a deep sleep to become either a hero, or a villain. Armed with your wit and a space ship you are set on a journey to save these colonies from their fates. And while Outer Worlds doesn't strive to innovate it's genre it delivers what we have come to expect from it.
Outer Worlds shares aspects from Obsidian's 2010 title Fallout New Vegas, but only in the genre's design. A first person action RPG with companions, guns, loot, and a whole bunch of quests, the game offers a solid adventuring experience. It excels in fully voiced storytelling, good level design, accessibility, and exploration. The game gives off those first chapter vibes that hooked people in games such as Fallout 3 or Bioshock. Our character awakens in this unfamiliar new world with a short backstory, armed with a single quest line we are nudged from our nest into flight.
Halcyon, the corporate entity that has been developing each of the planets you will visit, is the main focus of the story and many of the side quests. Each location you explore builds a tale of Halcyon's corporate expanse and its failures. Computer terminals are a common sight, scattered across each area and provide insight into the world around you using memo's, emails, and logs. The game does well in painting the picture as you explore each region.
Most NPCs can be asked detailed questions and quest givers often have reactive story lines. There is a fair amount of depth to each quest where quality is favored over quantity, but there are still a number of "fetch quests". A player that is reading computer logs, asking additional questions, and seeking out the multiple ways to finish quests will find Outer Worlds attractive as the storytelling is top shelf. Quests and actions will increase or decrease your likeability with a faction, which can open up gear at the merchant or affect a factions hostility toward you.
While it appears that choices matter, most choices only change things at face value.
Companions have their own story's that you can choose to develop. This can greatly change the attitude and dialogue of your companions. While it appears that choices matter throughout the game, most choices only change things at face value. Your choices may change the dialogue options given or heard. or change a factions attitude toward your character. But you will still be faced with choosing one ending to another, your character being the lynch-pin actor that decides the fate of Halcyon.
Overall, the story is well written and well presented. The sense of exploration is present. The world being explored is crafted around several communities. Every new community allows for new quests as you decide whether you want to help or destroy what this faction has built. Locations are scattered throughout the planets, Obsidian chose to create contained zones on each of the planets you will explore. By not having a ton of extra space the flow of the story is more linear, unlocking planets and destinations as you move forward.
This approach allowed the game to have great level design with minimal fluff. Environments change with each planet and there is more freedom in adding some beautiful details. Where diversity didn't reach are in the communities of Halcyon. Each one felt more or less the same in terms of buildings.
In contrast to Bethesda's Fallout, you aren't able to run to the last mission in the game without jumping through all the hoops and The Outer Worlds is more accessible for it. Throughout the game I never felt overwhelmed or like I was in an area too high for my current level or equipment. For veterans of the genre I would recommend jumping right into Hard mode.
Once you nail down the tempo of battle and learn how to use your skills effectively the combat is a breeze.
The battles can be very satisfying. Your characters will open plenty of perks and you have a choice in a sneaky or guns blazing approach. There are melee, light, heavy and laser weapons at your disposal, a time slow mechanism, and companion skills. Your character builds will ultimately become hero level where you will be excel at a number of skills to become a master of your enemies and environment. Battles are fast paced but you're able to hit pause or change your equipment at anytime.
The Outer Worlds is a great game. It presents all the rpg systems we come to expect and delivers on a intricate story telling experience. The game feels complete and delivered a consistent experience right till the end, delivering a 40+ hour single player experience. Everything is polished and felt relatively bug-free. The only caution I would advise is for players that aren't looking for a story-telling experience. For everyone else, this game is a blast and is much more accessible in nature compared to other entries in the genre.