Released on: October 25, 2019
Available platforms: PS4, XBOX One, PC (Epic Game Store and Microsoft Store), Nintendo Switch (in 2020)
Price: $79.99 CDN ($59.99 US)
I have always believed in the mantra of “Don’t like it? Challenge it!”. With Fallout 76 facing significant contention over its game-breaking bugs, its subscription service (which to my understanding is also broken) and its tone-deaf take on monetization, it seemed like the game industry needed a great open-world role-playing game more than ever. The Outer Worlds, a game made by some of the developers of the classic Fallout games from the 90s steps up and promises to be said game. So did it keep this promise?
___The story to Outer Worlds is astute and splendidly written. The player assumes the role of a frozen colonist being thawed out and rescued by a scientist named Phineas Wells. He then sends the player to the surface of a planet to escape the clutches of the Board; an overly capitalistic organization that works its employees to death. How the adventure progresses is up to the player at this point, as a large number of their actions dictate the game’s numerous faction’s disposition towards them. If the player helps these factions, they in return will aid the player by reducing the price of sold goods, increasing the price of goods the player sells them and even have additional characters join the player’s party. Even if the player decides to play a murderous psychopath, Outer Worlds won’t stop its progress of the main story but will disesteem them accordingly. Outer Worlds is chock-full of witty dialogue and interesting story bits that can be found all across its multiple worlds.
___Outer Worlds’ visuals are stunning. The art style is bright and colorful, truly giving off an extraterrestrial vibe. Looking up at the sky to see another giant planet, its planetary ring, and the multitude of moons surrounding the planet the player is currently on never gets old. There are so many alien trees, rocks, and puddles of god-knows-what all around that there is no telling what kind of oddity is around the corner. The amount of detail found on the characters’ clothes, skin and how they are animated is remarkable. In a game heavily dependent on exploration and how the player interacts with the world, this is an important aspect to get right, which Outer Worlds accomplishes with literal flying colors.
___One element I find important about these kinds of open-world role-playing games is how one builds their character. Outer Worlds handles this spectacularly. Available dialogue options, how well the character performs in combat, the places the player can break into, even the options the player has to handle a particular situation: these are all decided by how the player built their character at the beginning of the game. This makes multiple playthroughs feel like a completely new experience. If the player wants a more hardcore experience, they can select the Supernova difficulty, in which the player’s allies die permanently, they can only recover crippled limbs by sleeping in the ship’s bed, forcing the player to eat, drink and sleep to survive, and overall make the game a lot more difficult.
___The most noteworthy part about Outer Worlds’ gameplay is the conversations and the quests the player embarks on for the numerous people met. Their story is fascinating as they all help build the fantastic world the game sets out to craft. Some are colonists trying to survive a crushingly capitalistic regime, others are the ones pushing said mentality to continue profiting off of the former. It is up to the player to decide whether they help the poor, support the rich, ignore both or be the cause of their untimely death either indirectly or with a bullet to the head. This makes the player’s actions feel crucial which is Outer Worlds’ biggest selling point.
___One minor gripe I have with Outer Worlds is how the “activate” button is also assigned to the “reload” and “draw weapon” button. At best it reloads your weapons when it is drawn and has a few bullets missing from its clip. At worst it can create an awkward situation where the player is in town wanting to talk to a merchant, suddenly they draw their weapon. Having played Outer Worlds on Playstation 4, its controller has relatively sensitive triggers that can accidentally cause the character to attack while their weapon is drawn. Even when no unforeseen muggings happen, drawing your weapon due to the player not being close enough to talk to the vendor only to draw their weapon then talk to them as if nothing happened can affect Outer Worlds’ immersion.
___Another minuscule critique I have for Outer Worlds is its Flaws. On paper, giving the player’s character flaws depending on what happens to them in exchange for an additional special ability (called a Perk) sounds like a good idea. I on the other hand found myself refusing the grand majority of them since their negative effects are mostly be detrimental.
___My biggest criticism towards Outer Worlds involves its combat. It introduces a slowdown mechanic Outer Worlds call Tactical Time Dilation (TTD) that makes shooting enemies easier. For fighting up close, however, I find TTD seldom in its usefulness. Hitting certain parts on the enemy will cripple them so there is a strategy to taking them down. Even when considering these points, Outer Worlds’ combat is still its least memorable aspect.
___Outer Worlds is the perfect game for those who love exploring and changing the world around them through their actions. The visuals, story, writing, character building and the diverse amounts of worlds to explore more than makeup for the slightly shallow combat. Outer Worlds is a strong recommendation for those who are looking for a fantastic open-world role-playing experience.