Developed by Obsidian Entertainment (masterminds behind Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic II), The Outer Worlds is a fresh breath of air in the RPG genre. The game is is set in the year 2355 in the Halcyon System. The colony ship ‘Hope’ is sent to the system to start the initial colonisation of the star system, but due to technical malfunctions, the ship arrives 60 years too late, meaning all the passengers on board the ship are abandoned and left adrift in space, while the Halcyon Holding Board (the overarching power in Halcyon) colonise the system themselves. 35 years later, Phineas Welles, a scientist wanted by the Board, travels to the Hope, and revives one of it’s 10,000 crew members on board the ship. This crew member is you, the player character, who Phineas tasks you to travel to Terra 2 and take command of The Unreliable, whose previous captain died due to unforeseen circumstances.
After arriving on Terra 2, the player lands in uncharted territory controlled by ‘marauders’, human enemies that live outside of the Board’s jurisdiction, which are the first enemy you meet in the game. There a few types of enemies, including humans (such as the marauders or corporate guards), wildlife (Canids, a beast similar to a wolf, or the enormous Mantiqueen, a giant killer mantis) or Automechanicals (robots commanded by multiple fanctions).
From the get-go, I thought the gunplay in the game was excellent, and all of the guns felt excellent to use. There is a large array of weapons and guns to choose from, and later in the game can come in MK2 or Ultra varieties that have better stats. Further through the game ‘Science Guns’ are introduced that play differently by adding mechanics like the Gloop Gun that make enemies lift off the ground or the self-explanatory Shrink Ray that shrinks enemies and makes them less resistant to damage.
One of the places the game really shines is in the design of it’s environments, every different planet you travel to has a vastly different skybox, such as Scylla, an asteroid turned moon base with low light pollution, revealing distant stars and galaxies, or Monarch, an alien wasteland covered in strange coral-like plants growing everywhere and creating most of the landscape you walk in. Every place you visit in the game is vastly different to every other one, so as to not make the missions feel linear, and truly make you feel like a real space explorer.
As to be expected, there are a lot of similarities to Fallout: New Vegas, another open-world RPG made by Obsidian Entertainment but I feel that in a lot of places, they have built on features from Fallout, and turned them into something brilliant in this game. The weapon repair system in Fallout: New Vegas was expensive and seemed like a highly necessary part of the game, whereas in The Outer Worlds, it feels like a part of the game that was there but wasn’t necessary all of the time. On the weapon repair bench, other features were added for modifying weapons to increase certain stats, another was the ‘Tinker’ feature, which lets you up the damage of weapon so it keeps leveling with your character, so you don’t have to grind to replace old loot.
The humour of the game is also reminiscent of Fallout: New Vegas, with lots of jokes thrown in to the conversations with characters around the system, as there is an immense amount of dialogue choices. On your travels around Halcyon, you can encounter a large array of interesting characters to have interesting discussions with, most of the dialogue in other games consist of being able to make one of two choices to decide the outcome of a conversation, but here, conversations can be long and have multiple answers for a similar outcome, depending on the attitude you want to have, and some options can give extra lore or other dialogue options depending on your character’s skills. You have the option to attack some characters if you do not want to use the dialogue choices to reach an objective, but I barely found myself taking the violent outcome as a lot of the characters were written excellently and in most case, I befriended them to find a peaceful solution to a lot of dilemmas.
Around the game, there are a large array of unique weapons and armour in the game (like the one above), that add more character to the planets you visit and make you feel that there is history in the towns you visit. Throughout the game, there are terminals and datapads scattered everywhere to find out lore about a certain place or character which really gives the game a sense of depth to the story.
While I’m writing this, I still haven’t finished the game, but genuinely can’t wait to see where the story goes from this point. Most of the time the side missions have been interesting and dragged me away from the main story on lengthy quests that can last a couple of hours if you explore the terrain and abandoned buildings like I did. The main complaint from most people is that the story isn’t long enough only lasting around 15-20 hours, which I can agree is shame as the story is highly invigorating and I know will leaving me wanting more. In Obsidian’s defence however, after nearly shutting it’s doors and making The Outer Worlds with a small budget, they have managed to claw their way out of the ashes and have made a game that could potentially contend with big-budget AAA games on the market.