You are the unplanned variable in The Outer Worlds; a single-player story driven space RPG.
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Private Division
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, XB1, Nintendo Switch
Game Release Date: October 2019
The Outer Worlds is a story-driven RPG game from video game greats Obsidian Entertainment. The game released with a decent reception scoring an 8.5/10 on IGN, an 85% on Metacritic and a positive review rate of 86% on Steam at the time of this articles publication. Many of the reviews praised the games soundtrack and design in general. Most mentioning the fantastic performance of the voice actors of the game. Obsidian has released a great deal of story based RPGs, the likes of which including Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic 2. They are no stranger to fantastic adventure games with deep character design and this bleeds through to The Outer Worlds.
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From Humble Space Beginnings
The Outer Worlds put you in the role of a colonist awakened from cryosleep by a mad scientist by the name of Phineas Welles. Phineas awakens you to help take on the mega-corporations that are ruling over the colonies. You are aboard a colony ship in which hundreds of other colonists lay dormant in cryosleep. For some reason not very well explained in the story, the character develops some kind of mental and physical upgrades from the prolonged cryosleep time. Giving the player the ability to slow down time among other abilities to be discovered later. You, the player, will create your own customizable character including appearance and some skill options.
After a longer than necessary introduction you are sent down to Terra 2 via an escape pod to meet with a smuggler named Alex Hawthorne. Upon arriving at the planet you find that unfortunately your pod has landed on the smuggler and crushed him to death. The planet is used a basic tutorial planet to get the player acquainted with the controls and systems of the game. I loved the design of Terra 2. You will walk around the planet, looking at the beautiful colorful surroundings. It took me a few minutes of exploration to get back on track, but after following around all the little creature and taking everything in I was on my way onward.
From here you will travel to Hawthorne’s ship, which will need to be fixed before you can start your journey into the galaxy. I will not ruin the rest of the story. We will let you figure that out for yourself.
The Unreliable is the ship you will acquire at the start of the game and do your planet coasting in. The ship is quite nicely laid out and once you start to find companions to fill it out it really becomes a cozy little hub to spend your time in. The Unreliable gives me major Ebon Hawk vibes. In the first planet you will meet your first companion/companions to tag along. The ship comes with an on-board AI personality named ADA who will guide you through the ship controls and give you some insight into the planets you are about to embark onto. The ships AI is another testament to Obsidians wonderful character design. She is a sassy, sarcastic AI who don’t take no sh*t. She will sometimes argue when you want to do something, joke about self destruct sequences and contemplate life and machine life. Some of the interactions I had with this ship were better than some of the fully fleshed NPC companions. Speaking of companions…
Never journey alone, unless you like… wanna
The game has a wide cast of characters to bring along on the journey. Love them or hate them, some of the characters you won’t really get a choice to bring along. Some you won’t even get the chance to! Being a story game about making choices that affect gameplay I found out something phenomenal that i haven’t seen in many other games. During my first playthrough i went through a series of missions involving collecting books in a very exciting fetch quest. From there a certain pastor decided that, if I was okay with that, that he would tag along with me on my journeys. He was recruited and we travelled together. However, on a second playthrough of the game I decided i was going to roleplay as a murdering psychopath who gunned down the entire town. Somehow this approach actually works. (kudos Obsidian). When doing this i remembered that in this run i hadn’t even talked to the pastor. I hadn’t even met the guy, but upon attacking an NPC in his presence he shot up to defend them and attack me. I had no choice but to attack back and to my surprise I killed him. I actually killed him. Gone. Days and days of developers time spent on voice acting, quest lines and dialogue shot and killed never to be heard.
In a genre filled with hollow choices and a fake view of non-linear design it was quite refreshing to see that i could just do that. My actions actually can change the course of the galaxy deciding what I do. When I took the fight to the town i cut off an entire companion character from ever being able to be recruited. I love this aspect of the game. There are other aspects in the story where I can make a choice to anger certain people and turn it into a fight. On one large metropolis colony to earn something that is hidden away in someone’s safe you must go through a quest line that could take hours. On my second playthrough I simply killed the woman and her guards and looted the safe key from her body. The Outer Worlds may have a pretty linear story compared to other titles, but the way in which you tackle problems is completely up to you.
Stunning, Even on a day 1 PS4
I reviewed the game on a Day 1 edition PlayStation 4 console. I lined up for this bad boy at my local EB Games store at midnight to get it. This console may have had it’s problems, like turning itself on overnights for no reason. It may sound like a helicopter when trying to play some PSVR titles, but i must say The Outer Worlds is very well optimized for the title. The graphics are beautiful, the character designs fantastic and the sounds. Woah. They have done a fantastic job with the world design and each planet, or colony, feels so unique. You will find yourself in the bowels of a large spaceship colony, trying to restore the air conditioning in one area. In another you will be roaming the hillsides looking for abandoned warehouses. The difference in scenery and enemy types are really refreshing. It isn’t just. Get to new planet, kill generic guard man. Some enemies will be quite fast and doge out of the way of your melee attacks. Some won’t have to. Other will burrow in the ground and come up to spit acid at you. I really appreciated the effort gone in to making the different enemies.
Choices choices choices
The player has a million different choices throughout the game. Down to personal skills and combat, you have the choice between a few different weapon types both melee and firearms. You may choose to go the no smarts, hit hard route, (my personal favorite for this game), or perhaps you are the silent killer, sneaking around the rooftops with a sniper rifle. It is up to you. In fact, using stealth or a very good intimidation or charismatic ability you can avoid a great deal of the games conflict situations altogether. There are memorable points in the story where at some point i would have had to fight a bad dude, with a unit of heavily armed soldiers. By talking to the bodyguards and convincing them there was no point hanging around this made the fight considerably easier. Choices matter in The Outer Worlds! Be them dialogue or actions.
The skill aspect of The Outer Worlds takes the usual RPG formula and adds a bit of a twist with the companions. You will level up after earning enough experience through quests and killing, and pick from a bunch of different skills to level up. Raising your health, or proficiency with certain weapons. That is up to you. Your companions will also level up throughout the game while they are with you. The cool thing about having the companions is that you can choose to specialize them in a certain way that helps your play style. For instance if you re building a sneaky, pistol-toting assassin, when it comes to the points in the game you are suddenly surprised by enemies you are going to need someone to take the heat. You can spec your companions into a tanking build by picking the traits that will give them more health and certain traits that will make enemies want to attack them more over you. On the flip side, perhaps you want to be the big burly guy with maxed out health running in with a baseball bat. If that’s the case, you can specialize your companions into damage dealing DPS monsters. Plus you can kit them out with all of the cool weapons you find.
Plenty o’ Guns
The game has a few different weapon types including, bullet weapons, energy weapons, melee weapons and lastly science weapons. Bullet weapons are, as they sound, your traditional guns. Think revolvers, pistols and machine guns. There are 2 different types of bullet weapons, light and heavy guns. Next we have the energy weapons. They will be powered energy blasts which rather than be reload need to be recharged. Melee weapons come in different variations with different effects. They include slow, heavy weapons likes sledgehammers and bats and smaller faster weapons like batons and swords. Lastly we have the science weapons. These are unique, interesting weapons with their own damages and effects. For example one such weapon is the shrink ray which, (surprise surprise), will shrink your enemies and make them easier to kill. Science weapons will be found by exploration and by completing certain quests tied to the weapon.
Most of the weapons in the game can also have modifications installed on them. These can be found either by looting them from bodies, finding them in the world or purchasing them from a shop. They will include different damage types and sometimes apply an elemental damage bonus to a weapon. For instance you can put a fire mod on melee weapons which will deal extra fire damage to opponent. Straightforward.
I personally really enjoyed The Outer Worlds. The gameplay loop of getting to a planet, figuring out the history, finding companions and killing a bunch of people feels quite rewarding to me. The game is long, but that is to be expected from an obsidian game. The characters are superbly written, with mostly fantastic backstories and questlines. While The Outer Worlds probably won’t be written in the history books as one of the RPG greats of our time, it is a great story and a great way to spend your time if you’re a fan of the genre. Since they made a game like Knights of the Old Republic 2, one of my all time favorite RPGs I may be a little biased, but I personally do enjoy a good Obsidian game.
The Outer Worlds is a great game filled with adventure, fantastic character development and a beautiful world to boot. The voice acting is phenomenal and the game features messaging about mega-corporations that are starting to hit a little to close to home. It is beautifully optimized on the PS4 and had less bugs than basically any other story-driven RPG I’ve played on the system. Go and check the game out if you haven’t played it yet and let this game that went fairly under the radar surprise you!
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