By now, video game fans have probably heard more than a few outlets compare Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds to the Fallout franchise. This isn’t totally uncalled for, as the two properties share a lot in common. Both are in first-person, place a heavy emphasis on decision-making, encourage players to go on quests, and include features that allow players to slow down time. This isn’t to indicate that The Outer Worlds rips off Bethesda’s series entirely, as it merely reviews Fallout‘s formula as a foundation. The finished product is an incredibly well-polished, imaginative RPG that stands toe-to-toe with some of the best titles in the genre.
The Outer Worlds truly does center itself around player choice, as fans are introduced to the game’s intricate skill tree system shortly after being revived from cyrosleep and embarking on a journey to save the colonists stranded aboard the Hope. Players get skill points every time they level up, and can place these points in trees that confer unique benefits. While skill trees aren’t exactly new in the realm of RPGs, what makes them special in The Outer Worlds is just how vast they are. Skills function a lot like stats, and are thus vital to progress through the game. That’s not to say that players are forced to devote points to one tree over another, as an independent perk system ensures that they have a baseline amount of health, strength, and more to continue to the next planet.
The Outer Worlds will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25 for $59.99 USD. A Switch release is planned for later this year. A code for this The Outer Worlds review was provided by the game’s publisher.
Obsidian made the level cap 30, meaning players have to carefully consider which perks they’d like to apply to their character. There is a way to work around this, however, as The Outer Worlds allows fans to apply permanent stat reductions in exchange for perk points. For example, users may be able to increase their health by a certain percentage in exchange for lower resistance against elemental damage. This Faults system is clever in that it allows fans to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. That’s not to mention that it gives people access to higher stats even after they’ve reached the maximum threshold.
The concept of player choice trickles into the game’s narrative and dialogue, as players can choose to tell the truth about themselves, lie, or kill everybody almost from the get-go. After accidentally killing a spacecraft captain, for example, players can choose to assume the dead man’s identity, tell the truth about the captain’s untimely demise, or murder anything that speaks. One’s story really does evolve based on the moral decisions he or she makes.
Even more impressive is that fans are rarely given clearly defined good or evil choices to select from. Instead, they will oftentimes find themselves making decisions that will greatly benefit one party and irrevocably harm another. It’s nearly impossible to earn a good reputation with every faction one encounters, meaning there are more than a few instances where players must sacrifice their relationships with certain NPCs for the sake of the greater good (or for their own selfish desires). Weighing the consequences of one’s choices is a constant in The Outer Worlds, and it’s fascinating to witness one moral decision ripple across conversations with different characters.
While players can tackle The Outer Worlds completely on their own, they do have the option of recruiting six different companions with them. Each of these characters comes to life with evocative voice acting, personal issues, and a unique sense of morality. It’s possible that one of these friends could turn against players if their decisions don’t line up according to what they believe is right or wrong. The Outer Worlds‘ companions feel incredibly human in this regard. When facing tough choices, fans may find themselves considering how their friends would react. We don’t mean to get too dramatic with this The Outer Worlds review, but it’s not entirely removed from real-life.
Of course, as with most modern RPGs, companions can be deployed in combat. They’re useful in that each has his or her own special attacks and set of perks that can make up for one’s own stat weaknesses. Sometimes, however, companions dive too quickly into the action. This leads to them dying more often than one may like. Players can alter a comrade’s aggressiveness, but they should be prepared to keep an eye on their comrades immediately after triggering a firefight.
Speaking of combat, players can rotate between four different weapons via a wheel. Many armaments have elemental attributes and can be modified throughout the course of one’s adventure. The game’s shooting mechanics aren’t as remarkable as those found in some of today’s most popular first-person shooter franchises, but they’re easy to acclimate to.
The star of The Outer World‘s skirmishes is the Tactical Time Dilation feature which, as its name suggests, allows fans to slow down time. Though players can’t pick and choose body parts to mangle like V.A.T.S., it’s fun to exploit the weaknesses of different enemy types just to see what may happen. Admittedly, the Tactical Time Dilation feature makes the game a bit easy during late segments, especially when one has access to more powerful array of weaponry, but it never ceases to be fun.
GRAPHICS & AUDIO
Despite the fact that the game’s main antagonist, the Board, remains a faceless entity throughout most of the experience, The Outer Worlds oozes personality. This is perhaps its greatest accomplishment, as each colorful area is well-populated with fauna and flora to admire or run away from. That’s not to mention that nearly every environment includes hidden notes, terminals, items, armor, consumables, and more for players to find. The Outer Worlds isn’t an open world game, but that doesn’t take away from how immersive it is most of the time. Players will likely notice long loading times in between areas, but Obsidian’s clever choice to highlight the player’s decisions during these segments helps the wait be somewhat tolerable.
The Outer Worlds‘ personality is evidenced in its writing, too, as nearly every character one interacts with speaks and acts differently from another. Some are wonderfully eloquent while others occasionally struggle with the words they say. When the game’s credits roll, players will immediately want to pick it up again to witness how a companion or NPC would react to different decisions one makes throughout their journey.
Though Obsidian’s newest IP may not be the lengthiest RPG fans could enjoy in 2019, as one playthrough lasts roughly 30 hours, those who experience the game may find it to be a much-needed breath of fresh air. The Outer Worlds isn’t afraid to be itself, which is welcome in an age where many of its peers try to ride on the coattails of another franchise’s success. The future of Microsoft’s first-party portfolio looks bright should Obsidian continue to explore Halcyon and its corporate overlords in the future. Rest assured knowing this The Outer Worlds review is not sponsored by the Board or any of its affiliates.