Intergalactic roads, take me home.
With the absolute disaster that was Fallout 76 many people have been looking for a ‘proper’ Fallout game that would satisfy their need for a hardcore first person RPG with a heavy emphasis on stat building, story and world building. Luckily it would seem that Obsidian, the original creators of Fallout and the makers of the more recent New Vegas, have obliged and provided a brand new game in the form of ‘The Outer Worlds’ that is more than deserving of the love from RPG fans. How good is it exactly? Well let’s get right into this review and see.
The story for The Outer Worlds is a great example of rampant greed and consumerism gone wrong. Humanity have taken to the stars and have colonised a new solar system known as Halcyon. Corporations have taken to monetise and control almost all of the resources in this new frontier and the general populace are suffering because of it. You play as a survivor from a colony ship that was bound for this solar system with some of the best minds that Earth could offer. However due to ‘The Board’ (as the corporations main representatives like to be called) messing up royally on their colonisation efforts you and your fellow colonists have been kept in suspended animation in order to prevent stability returning and thus The Board losing their grip on the people. So it’s up to you and your saviour to help your fellow colonists, or perhaps just help yourself, in this new and exciting Sci-fi adventure. The story is certainly deep and while it does at times suffer from the dilemma of simplifying things into just good versus evil the narrative is best experienced through the characters you meet and the quests you undertake which paints a bleak but interesting system for you to explore. You even get your own ship, The Unreliable, and a crew that you collect over the course of the game similar to games such as Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic for which you can use in combat, dialogue and even complete their own specific quests. It all mixes together to create this interesting Fallout/Mass Effect combination which I absolutely adore. The characters you meet and recruit especially are really fleshed out and interesting just to listen to. I adore games with vast amounts of lore and The Outer Worlds certainly obliges on that front.
The presentation for this game is very nice. Each of the planets you visit are open worlds similar to Mass Effect closed environments rather than the vast openness of something like Fallout where you can go anywhere from the word go. Despite this however the environments are nicely varied and are absolutely popping with colour and charm. From vast wilderness environments to cramped and ad-ridden space stations you certainly won’t feel as though you are experiencing the same places twice as you explore all the world has to offer. The characters too also show off distinction in their appearances though at time some of them seem to look a bit like melted plastic, especially in the older characters. The soundtrack is a nice mix of guitar/frontier tracks and space age techno music which while it didn’t have any standouts to me was nice to hear in the background and always fit the mood for the scene I was experiencing. I do have a problem with the enemy and gear variety however as most of the enemies you face will be the same types of human bandits or corporate guards with no real variety in their outfits and the alien monsters of the worlds just seemed to be a variety of gorilla type creatures, acid dog monsters and giant insects which once you have seen them all never really change depending on the planet. The visual variety in the equipment, especially in the armours is a bit weak as most of the higher level armour just ends up looking like recolours of the initial gear which in lore might make sense but it just ends up making your character look like a generic soldier type. I will admit however the clothing options are nice and while they aren’t really suitable for combat any game in which you can wear a top hat and a monocle certainly has a thumbs up in my book.
The gameplay in most scenarios is similar to Bethesda’s first person Fallout games as combat is done with guns or melee and you can take companions with you to fight. However the combat is a lot more fleshed out than in those games as your other skills have effects in fighting even if they may not initially seem like it. For example if you raise your intimidation in dialogue skills you can make enemies in combat flee from you more often. You also have the ability to slow down time to take shots or close the distance which replaces the V.A.T.S system from the Fallout games and I find I actually prefer this new gameplay feature due to feeling as though while I can slow down and make tactical decisions my control isn’t really being taken away from me so all my actions in combat feel like my own. Your companions are also a lot more important in this game and feel a lot like they were in KOTOR and Mass Effect. Not only can you invest in skills that directly benefit them, give them new equipment and weapons and edit their behaviour in combat but each companion also has a unique ability that activates a cutscene in the middle of combat allowing battles to feel a lot more cinematic and exciting. Outside of combat however there are the slew of tradition Obsidian quests and people to talk to which you utilise all of your other skills in order to complete them or make things easier. If I am to suggest anything it’s that I would highly suggest investing in Science and Engineering as the options for them tended to come up a lot in quests and they give you access to very important combat related mechanics too such as repairing or upgrading your weapons. The main quest I found to be a tad on the short side but with the vast amount of side quests, companion quests and general things to explore on each of the planets you certainly will get a lot out of this game.
While I did enjoy my time with the game there were a few things that did irritate me over my playthrough. The first problem was perhaps my own fault but I felt as though the game became an absolute cakewalk once I got access to some heavy armour and a plasma weapon as I was hardly taking any damage, could one shot most enemies that I came across and anything I wasn’t able to handle initially my companion abilities tended to solve very quickly. I was playing on normal difficulty however so I would suggest trying Hard on your first playthrough and then you can try out the ‘Supernova’ difficulty which adds realistic survival mechanics, perma-death for your companions and no sleeping aside from on your ship alongside a lot of other things to make your life a living hell. I’ve already mentioned that the equipment you get didn’t really wow me due to the lack of variety but alongside this there are a bunch of what are called ‘Science’ weapons that are unique and very sci-fi esque guns you can come across through several quests. The problem I had with these however is the fact that while they were certainly unique and had fun mechanics they weren’t very useful in actual combat. Maybe their wacky effects would be more useful in the higher difficulties but from what I had on hand my trusty Plasma rifle trumped anything else the game could throw at me. Alongside this I never really felt as though I was rewarded appropriately for quests as most of the gear I found was given was nearly useless and due to the lack of variety I didn’t really feel an incentive to explore or complete certain quests as all I would really end up with was more money. Finally despite you having a codex in your journal which allows you to read up on lore and information about characters I often found myself blindly doing quests in which I didn’t really know the context due to nothing being explained to me by characters. I had a great amount of difficulty telling the difference between each of the big corporations aside from their colour scheme which when you are trying to build a world surrounding these giants of capitalism could become a big problem to those who don’t want to sit and read through a glossary of all the characters and groups you meet.
However despite all I have said I still really enjoyed my time in The Outer Worlds. It truly does feel like Obsidian are the true holders of this type of game and it filled the hole I had in my heart for an action RPG of this variety. If you are a fan of any of the game series I mentioned in this review then I am sure you will love The Outer Worlds and if you like RPG’s of any kind then I highly encourage you to check it out. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to replay the game as a barbaric melee alcoholic, see you there space farers!