The Outer Worlds is a release that kind of snuck up on me (though Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is partly to blame for that). I’ve been hankering for a really good open-world RPG, the likes of which Bethesda has not been able to deliver for quite some time (just remake Morrowind already) and Obsidian Entertainment has a history of creating really good RPGs (like Pillars of Eternity and Fallout: New Vegas). Before I previewed the game last month, I knew virtually nothing about it and upon leaving it quickly became one of my most anticipated titles for the remainder of the year. I’ve had some more time with the game since its release last Friday and even after just the first world I can’t help but feel like this is the RPG to really push the genre forward.
Given that these are early impressions, I’ll more or less be talking about the introductory area of the game, Terra 2. The Outer Worlds starts off with the player being thrust down onto the planet of Terra 2; a harsh but vibrant planet rife with quirky characters and hostile inhabitants (as well as some questionable gardening methods). The game wastes no time introducing you to its irreverent writing and great dialogue, with one of the earlier interactions you can engage in having persuasion dialogue options (including flat out lying and bamboozling the person you are talking to). It’s really great to see a game so effortlessly weave humour into its dialogue options in a time where the last game like this to try humour was Borderlands 3, where it felt cheap and fell flat (though it does have its moments of brilliance). Even smaller details like the AI of your ship, The Unreliable, calling you a marauder if you pick up something before speaking to her for the first time are just so well done. The world and every notable character within it is just so rich in detail and charm that you can’t help but be enamoured by its wonder.
Despite how quirky and charming The Outer Worlds is, that doesn’t stop it from having some seriously creepy vibes. There hits a point in the story where you have to go to a place called Roseway and respond to a distress signal that was broadcast there. You immediately see the aftermath of a settlement that was ravaged by marauders and beasts alike, with corpses littering the streets outside the settlement walls and even automated robots being stuck in dialogue loops due to obstructions. The game does an excellent job at separating its tone into appropriate circumstances and situations, preventing it from becoming a convoluted mess with inconsistent tonal ideas.
In my preview I didn’t really talk about the game’s Flaw mechanic because I didn’t actually get any in my time playing it. That changed very quickly with the full release and it didn’t take me long to get the flaw for being a cripple. A really bad habit of mine is constantly jumping, trying to make use of angled planes to try and propel me forward faster than walking or sprinting normally would. The Flaw system is really cool, but it honestly feels overly harsh. Flaws are traits that your character can adopt after certain criteria has been met. Accepting Flaws rewards the player with a perk point at the cost of whatever the Flaw is based around. For cripples, all movement is slowed by 30% and other Flaws can make you weak to specific enemies or damage types, for the same amount of perk points. Even with that though, the Flaw system is a really cool way of making the players aware of their habits.
The only other major thing that I missed in my preview (due to not being able to experience it) are the companion quests. This is where The Outer Worlds really separates itself from the crowd. You can have up to six crew members aboard The Unreliable, each with their own distinct personality and traits. You can also elect to have up to two companions travelling with you outside of your ship, and doing so has a variety of benefits including bonuses to your stats. These benefits are a good counter to the lone survivor perk (a staple in games like this where travelling by yourself has some benefits). Actively completing these companion quests is an engaging and sometimes wholesome/cute experience. With a dynamic cast, the crew of The Unreliable really bounce off one another and these questlines just hammer home the best parts of these characters. A personal favourite is Vicar Max, leader of a church in Edgewater who is not afraid to beat the shit out of people – truth be told, he has an attraction to this. Their traits and characteristics are so steeped in hyperbole and absurdity that it’s just incredibly entertaining, and you would be doing the game a disservice by ignoring them.
I know that there is more to The Outer Worlds than I have currently experienced and you can expect my review soon, once I have delved even deeper into the rich worlds that Obsidian Entertainment have crafted. For the time being, however, I am going to return to the Halcyon Colony in the hopes of pissing off the Bourgeoi- err…The Board.