Recently big games have been getting a bad press. Ghost Recon Breakpoint is apparently an unfinished mess, Modern Warfare takes nearly a day to install and WWE 2K20 is an unmitigated disaster according to Youtube videos. Enter The Outer Worlds from Obsidian, a brand new IP that closely resembles a number of RPG games. The best thing about it? It’s complete at launch.
The Outer Worlds easily draws comparisons with Fallout New Vegas, Skyrim, Mass Effect and KOTOR. It draws from each of these games yet manages to feel like its own game. You begin as a colonist woken from Cryosleep in the Halcyon region of space. Rather than an open world you soon acquire a ship and crew and can hop between planets to complete multi-layered quests. It brings you straight back to the glory days of KOTOR and Mass Effect, get the gang together then go on adventures. In the modern style of game where everything must be big, dark and forboding the Outer Worlds has a degree of levity that you just don’t get anymore.
From character creation through to quest dialogue, the choices are endless. You can be an asshole, moral, disinterested or anything in between as the options unfurl themselves. Find some more info and you will get more dialogue options, put more dialogue points into your conversational skills and you get even more. It leads to you playing with more freedom than the traditional binary choices of good and evil.
Most quests have interesting conclusions that you should refer to your companions for their advice. Just because you follow the perceived moral route doesn’t mean you get the best outcome so the best outcome is always to go with your gut instinct. The same can be said for the mechanics of the quest themselves. You can kill, persuade, lie, intimidate and charm all the NPC’s in the game and see where that gets you.
The combat in the game is punchy but not the strongest aspect. On normal difficulty, the enemies are too weak and on hard they are too challenging for the first few hours. Persevere however and hard seems to be the sweet spot after this you decide which specialization to go down. You can be melee-based, pistols, heavy or long-range each needing multiple levels and perks to get the best out of the skills. Enemies are challenging and clever enough to flank and rush you if you get in too deep. Unfortunately, the time dilation mechanic which is the equivalent of Fallout’s VATS isn’t as snappy and is more freeform. Targeting limbs doesn’t remove them in the same way and while competent and enjoyable it just isn’t as useful as VATS. Your companions also have their own special abilities which can be triggered pending on cooldown.
Your companions are a constant source of interest and amusement. While initially, they are stereotypical, soon they reveal layers to their characters via individual quests and interlinking stories. Turns out the colony is a small place as other quest givers know your companions, it leads to a well-connected overlapping world that makes you feel at home. Compare it to the flawed Mass Effect Andromeda and even Fallout and you lose the feeling that you are in a fetch quest RPG and in a thriving space colony with agendas and conflicts to resolve. Where you would normally just make the big decisions yourself, a quick check with your companions for their opinions usually leads to the best outcomes. Try this if you have Parvatti with you at the first big decision.
This character and personality in the game are what sets it apart from the others. The game looks so vibrant it has no need for a colourblind friendly setting. As you travel to different planets they each have their own look and feel with unique enemies and challenges. While it seems like things are becoming predictable around the third location you visit, the choice of language and dialogue throw the story off on another tangent. Because the choices are down to you if you don’t like the way things are going you just change the path or do it differently.
There are a plethora of guns, swords, modifications and more to supplement your arsenal to take on creatures, robots and human enemies. The guns level up quickly so there is no point holding onto your favourite one from the early game. Once you get a unique weapon then it is a different story. The same can be said for levelling up in the game. You have skill points, perk points and flaws to contend with. Skill points hit thresholds which give you more abilities while perks are instant improvements. The most interesting are the flaws. Fall from a height too often and you develop a flaw. You can accept the permanent downgrades for a perk point but a word of caution, the downgrade in skill is magnified as you go up so it isn’t always worth it. Take a flaw for a weakness to a type of damage but try to avoid ones with permanent debuffs. The upgrade system is just another that has been well thought out and completed prior to release.
The whole game gives off a feeling of incredible polish that is missing from many games. Despite other games doing elements of the genre better, The Outer Worlds is the complete package for anyone looking a game of this type. It will keep you going through the busy season and if you have XBOX Gamepass it’s on it.