Hype! It’s a curious thing, isn’t it? Some games end up laid low by their hype – look at Watch_Dogs and Mass Effect: Andromeda, for instance, both entirely playable games that got meme’d upon by the outrage-loving Internet because of their massive hype engines. Others, like The Outer Worlds, enjoy a rising tide of hype thanks to their pedigrees. That’s right, we’ve got a new first-person RPG from Obsidian. Did you know they made Fallout: New Vegas? Surely it’s going to be good.
I mean, let’s not forget that they made Dungeon Siege III as well. Nobody seems to talk about that one, for some reason.
In a far future dominated by powerful megacorprations, your character is awakened from years of cryosleep by a mysterious scientist. He wants you to help him, but first you’re going to have to get a grip on who you are, where you are and what you’re doing. The Halcyon system is a big place, after all, and there are plenty of power players looking for an easy mark or a hired gun. Someone with skills is bound to attract their attention – or that of the Board, the corporate entity that owns Halcyon and pretty much everyone in it.
When Outer Worlds was announced, everyone was excited for a new Obsidian RPG and that’s exactly what they got. You’ve got a selection of stats and skills to invest in as well as perks to choose as you level up and optional flaws earned through gameplay; your choices will affect how you approach standard video game situations. In a nice touch, taking particularly low stats has detrimental effects such as eliminating your natural regeneration or other such maluses. This encourages a more balanced build rather than rampant min-maxing.
This is a contemporary CRPG. That means Video Game Moral Decisions, though mercifully Outer Worlds lacks an explicit morality meter and instead judges you with reputation bars. Your mileage here may vary. Does the thought of a companion repeatedly reminding you that you’re about to make a Video Game Moral Decision damage your immersion at all? if it does, well…
Dialogue trends toward the wordy and lore-packed as is usually the case with Obsidian. Fortunately, Halcyon is a pretty interesting place, so all those words tend to be worth reading and the lore is worth investigating. As for combat, it owes a lot to the modern Fallout games, so you’ve got your VATs analogue (Tactical Time Dilation or TTD, essentially bullet time), your locational damage and your weapon degradation. Your skill and perk choices will affect how you approach combat, with stealthier characters and those who invest heavily into TTD having the easiest time in my experience. If you focus on a more conversation-oriented character you can still succeed, though, particularly since social skills will improve the stats of your adventuring companions so they can do the work for you.
Outside of combat and dialogue there’s plenty to explore and do. You’ll have your own ship, the Unreliable, that you can use to explore the galaxy and get into all sorts of adventures. For my money, the most fun activity in Outer Worlds is theft. Bump up your stealth skills and get to grabbin’. There’s plenty of loot to be found. All that’s stopping you is your inventory space and your patience. Go nuts! Get rich! Find high-quality weapons hours before you’re supposed to have them! I might rib these games a little, but it’s hard to beat that feeling when you lift some especially good gear. Being able to mod your weapons and armor to your liking is great as well, giving you even more reason to steal everything that’s not nailed down.
Graphically, Outer Worlds manages to look better than the modern Fallout games, so that’s a win. Environments and characters alike tend to look pretty good, though as is the norm for these games characters are universally ugly as sin in what appears to be a design decision – it’s not a technical issue, though, they’re just a little grody. Speaking of technical issues, Outer Worlds could probably run a little better than it does given the quality of the graphics on display here, though chances are some developer TLC in the form of patches will fix that. Sound-wise, voice acting, music and sound effects alike are on point.
At around 20 hours, Outer Worlds is a little short for a game with so much hype surrounding it. It’s an enjoyable 20 hours, though, even if it doesn’t break a lot of new ground and ends up feeling a lot like New Vegas IN SPACE. Playing again with a drastically different character can result in some new experiences as well, particularly depending on which factions you choose to side with. Either way, RPG aficionados who don’t expect a game-changing innovative experience will find a perfectly good adventure in The Outer Worlds. Also, it’s on Game Pass. You can’t go wrong.