There was very little hype surrounding People Can Fly’s Outriders. After a delay in early January of this year, many gamers, myself included, were pretty skeptical about the quality of the game. Luckily for us, at the same time the game was delayed, a demo was announced. This early look at the game was a great way for us consumers to test out the game before release; putting some of my skepticism to rest. Showing off the first couple of hours of Outriders and the four playable classes, this demo is a great way to test out the game before you spend your hard-earned cash on it.
Story – Futuristic superheroes
The game opens up with a prologue, and immediately I was afraid of how cutscene-heavy the game would be. As the Outriders, you are among the last of humanity and are trapped on Enoch, a hostile world where humans are struggling to survive. You gain your Outrider abilities by getting killed in a storm and waking up with some unexplainable powers. I personally don’t care for the narrative; it gets you from A to B and the little morsels of the world I have seen could develop into something interesting as the game progresses, but as for now, it’s hard to tell if this will be a satisfying story. The protagonist is a bit of smart-ass, delivering some witty lines to NPCs and a few one liners as you kill bosses.
The time to shoot is a fair bit longer than other similar shooters, taking about 25-30 minutes to fully get into the action. Borderlands 3 throws you into the action almost instantly and more story-based, linear third-person shooters like Gears of War waste no time in getting into the action. For me, I play ARPGs for fun combat mechanics, engaging loot, and interesting skill trees, and from what I’ve seen so far, Outriders does a pretty good job at these.
Gameplay – Fast-paced fun!
At its core, Outriders is a cover-based third-person shooter with the choice mechanic recent years; a loot system, similar to what’s seen in Borderlands or Destiny. Personally, I love loot, simply cannot get enough of it, so I was naturally looking forward to this title. After the overly long prologue, you get to choose from four classes; the tanky Devastator, fiery Pyromancer, long-range Technomancer, and the one I chose, the hit-and-run specialist, Trickster.
Each class has eight skills in total and with seven being the max level in the demo, you can unlock four. The four abilities I unlocked synergized well with one another. One skill teleported me behind an enemy, I then used a stasis field, slowing all enemies and bullets around me, and executed a sweeping melee attack that dealt an insane amount of damage. Shooting felt as good as I feel it can in these types of games. Something always felt slightly off with emptying three clips into an enemy in The Division and it feels the same in Outriders. It didn’t stop me from sinking dozens of hours into Ubisoft’s looter-shooter and it wasn’t an issue here.
It’s hard to comment on the skill tree; while they look expansive, with plenty of options and three paths to choose from, I’m hoping that taking different paths will change the playstyle. While I finished the demo with the Trickster, I played roughly an hour with the Technomancer just to see if long-range classes feel as good to play. I could see some synergy with classes while playing in co-op; a Trickster could use their stasis field to slow enemies to make the Technomancer’s sniping job easier.
From my few hours with the demo, there is one glaring issue that I am hoping is only present with the opening to Outriders. The sheer amount of cutscenes was frustrating. I’ve no issue with story cutscenes, a game needs to tell its story. The issue I had was the little cutscenes when opening a door or loading an area. Right now these don’t seem too big an annoyance, however when grinding missions for loot or XP, seeing and skipping these cutscenes every time will get in the way of the gameplay. If these issues persist throughout the full release then I can see this becoming frustrating quickly.
Graphics and Audio – A bit of jank
The graphics overall are decent. Some environments look beautiful and the hub world is well crafted. Where the game shines is character design and combat effects. The mix of apocalyptic and futuristic design of the old world works well and the character design, especially the other Altered you encounter. Facial animations in cutscenes are quite stiff but the dialogue is well delivered. The majority of the game’s jank is shown in the cutscenes where shadows would bug out and little details like subtitles not matching up to the line being said took me out of the cutscenes. The cutscenes, in general, give off an unpolished look.
Sound is well done. While it rarely stands out for better or worse, I had no issues with it. Each character has their own unique and well delivered voice that stick out in my mind. Where the audio shines is the combat; guns have a good feel to them and they’re backed by a punchy noise, especially the shotguns that I gravitated towards with my hit-and-run style gameplay. The character skills have the same feeling. They’re fun to use and hearing the distorted noise of my stasis feel or the whoosh of my teleport ability gave me the right feedback to make the combat just that extra bit more engaging.
This Outriders demo was previewed on PS5.