The Outer Worlds - Fallout But Better
Publisher: Private Division
Developer: Obisidian Entertainment
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: RPG Shooter
For the past 10 days, am having quite a blast with RPGs. Even if Obsidian hasn't made a proper triple-AAA release in like almost 5 years, they still managed to prove they have what it takes to make a great game overall. And, what a surprise this was, The Outer Worlds is actually a pretty solid one. Helmed by the guys that made Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Knights 2 and Fallout New Vegas.
After three years of development and some marketing spoof about one-upping Bethesda, the game delivers. Not only that, but it finally put Fallout into obscurity thanks to brilliant writing, wonderful characters, impressive world-building, and enjoyable combat. It should also feel pretty similar because the original creators of Fallout, both Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarski directed this.
With that being said, there are some caveats, small but nothing that detracts from the overall experience. While the game doesn't deliver an experience completely unique in comparison to plenty of others out there, you're still enjoying something that was very well made with one of the old and truly capable game developers out there in contemporary fashion.
In the Outer Worlds, your character is part of a colony called Hope, who, are in deep slumber. After a somewhat mad scientist named Phileas awakens you, he has given you a task to help out and awaken the rest of the colonists in order to restore faith within them and bring back prosperity to the galaxy. While you face obstacles in this intergalactic federation controlled by the Halcyon government with major corporations under their tips among other things like Marauders, planetary wildlife, cannibals and so on. Unless of course, you're also into shooting even decent people, there's that as well.
This game has no definitive story because it allows you to make a lot of choices of how you progress, there's no moral compass to adhere to or any system that puts you in either black or white. You can make whatever choices you want, however, some of them like killing faction members will topple your reputation. If you go far enough, you've done irreprehensible damage and now you're considered an enemy of said faction.
In fact, if you wanted, you can even betray the scientist who saved you by ousting him to the Halcyon board and receive that bounty while still being able to free the colonists, but rather with the help of the government agencies instead.
OW has a lot of great characters to interact with, couple that with spectacular writing, multi-layered storytelling, great sense of humor and different personalities, you have something to hold on to. It's like a ray of sunshine finally shone on Obsidian's dreary days as developers. Not only does it have a familiarity with Fallout but it feels like an homage to some of earlier Sci-Fi space operas back in the 60s and 70s. Thematics and all. Doing side tasks for morally depraved colonists to extravagant rich aristocrats.
A lot of the dialogue that will be available will depend entirely based on your skill points, you could make characters who are clever and sleazy, smart mouths, well astute in the world of science and medicine or the dumbest character you could think. The writing does a great job of making them come to life.
Even if the main story isn't something to hold a candle to like some of the biggest GOTY games out there, the world itself in its myriads of ways of presenting itself is what makes it worth being invested into. That and the no. of brilliant personalities you get to meet.
When it came to playing the game, some people have expressed doubts around the gunplay. Like the shooting feels off or seems boring. Well, that couldn't be any further from the truth, because the way I see it, It's as fun as it should be.
At first, you get to create your own character based mostly on a selection of facial presets. This aspect of the game isn't very robust and leaves a little more to be wanted, but I had fun nonetheless especially from the randomizer. Which brings out some of the weirdest, god awful RNG faces out there.
Once you're done, you find a new ship and a crew member or two, then you're set to go. You can make do without a crew member of course if you're into soloing.
This game plays not only like Fallout but like Bioshock and Mass Effect in some ways. The Gunplay feels straightforward, you can pick 4 weapons on the go. Each of them can have special effects that add bonus passive damage, though how much it affects the enemies depends on what type they are. Like automechanicals are weak to electricity or some wildlife to pyro damage. If the combat gets too intense for you, you can use Tactical Time Dilation to slow down time and pick off foes before the meter runs out. If things get a lot more difficult, you can use your teammate's special abilities to dish out serious damage or lay some area-of-effect crowd control. You can even command your to go at designated spots or follow you and even pick whom to attack. You can even dodge attacks by dashing in the side or opposite directions.
Now comes the real fun part. The skill sets. Increasing them unlocks skill bonuses. Some of them are important like having the ability to sell items at vendors or dodging forward or blocking projectiles with your melee weapons. Usually, some games make a few of them seem more useful and essential for the experience. Not here, you can do play it out whatever ways you see fit in every situation. Of course, having dialog skills do get you to progress the conversation in interesting ways as well as giving you experience for succeeding. Provided, you didn't lower the character's base intelligence at the start of the game.
There are perks and phobias. Perks give you special quirks that either give you discounts on vendors or merchants items and adds more tolerance for carrying a lot of inventory, among others. Phobias, well, fighting something long enough can give you one and you'll get a pop-in asking if you want to accept this certain phobia, if you do then you get a free perk point. Of course, my advice, don't pick Robophobia, you'll thank me later.
You can even tinker for additional damage and add mods to weapons or break them down for parts. There are so many of them to pick from, some of them are rare to find, requiring you to explore through the crevices in each world to find them. All of the weapons take damage after use and will need to be repaired often. Costing weapon parts or cash if you get them fixed at store vendors. And then, there are science weapons, these bad boys don't kid. There's even one that is a literal Shrink Ray to make enemies impotent and puny in both stature and nature. Weapons having special effects like Knockout can knock enemies senseless or put them cowering. Set them on fire and they'll go screaming with a bunch of these effects including screaming in pain and running around. Though the same can apply to you as well.
The most important aspect is the conversations you have with several NPCs. Like the good Fallout game that you used to know, each dialogue can open up some to some interesting places. Not only that, but it also feels dynamic when more than two parties are involved, especially with companions. There's a number of good back and forth banters to encounter, some always funnier than the usual.
Then there's the reputation sheet. Appeasing certain factions by doing quests or giving them stuff they want will increase your alliance with them. Giving you large discounts from their vendors. Of course, at the same time, you can piss them off and that will permanently damage any goodwill you've brought to them. There's no way of reducing it, so you're stuck with whatever you've done.
Of course, this wouldn't be an intergalactic adventure without a ship with an intelligent A.I that's self-aware and a system map to explore the galaxy. There's so many to explore and unlock.
Outer Worlds isn't always sunshine and rainbows though. The game is lacking in some areas, like the max amount of companions you find in the world, how small each of the worlds is in retrospect. Also, the game is criminally short. Like, you can ball for the campaign only and you'd be done in less than half an 20 hours. Not only that, but the normal difficulty makes it too easy to play. I barely died in this game and the one time I did was because I was goofing around. But if you're into RPGs by heart, this game offers immense replay value. Because if you don't feel like you're done playing one way, you can try it different in another playthrough. That's the value this game offers and it truly feels gratifying. Plus there's an
Besides being a wonderful game, for visual fidelity, Outer Worlds is an amazing looking game. Brim with details over terrain, foliage, wild-life, suits, guns, ships, cityscapes, buildings, etc. In fact, this was the perfect fit with Unreal Engine 4. The effects like explosions or laser blasts looks clear and prominent. The one factor that stood among all of this is the facial expressions, almost every minute detail can be seen put into when you engage in conversation with NPC. It looks polish and well-articulated. Character animation also looks good.
And what a big surprise, this game just to one-up Bethesda, has rarely any bugs to complain about. Of course, if you're only playing the game from Epic Games Store client, the Game Pass version has a smidgen of issues.
Sound Quality in this game is pretty good. You can even hear good sound variety based on distance when enemies howl or scream from being attacked. Weapons provide a lot of distinct noises based on what type they are from shock cannons, heavy machine guns to plasma rifles. Each sound as they should. The voice acting in this game is spectacular, from almost every NPCs you meet.
The music as well is something to behold. One of the greatest music score I've heard from an RPG since Interplay days and that's saying something. Just listen to this track yourself.
There's nothing more to say, other than good luck Todd Howard. You're gonna need it. The Outer Worlds came released after Disco Elysium which I had the pleasure of reviewing just earlier. What a time to enjoy playing RPGs. Also there's Cold Steel III if you're into JRPGs as well.
Moving on, I'd say if a sequel came like a couple of years later, I would get it in a heartbeat. Obsidian has proved once again, they're up for making great games once more. I can't wait to see what Microsoft has in mind for them since they were acquired.