The Outer Worlds Review

in Steem Gaming2 years ago

We knew this was coming. Eventually, Obsidian would tire of waiting to be contracted to do 3D RPGs and create their own IP instead. They found a way to reunite Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain, a dream come true for fans of Interplay and Troika. So what can the creators of Fallout and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines conjure? Pretty much what you'd expect.

I couldn't discuss this game without mentioning Fallout, so let's get that out of the way. The Outer Worlds is definitely a smaller budget, smaller scope game compared to a Fallout 4 or even Fallout: New Vegas. Instead of a vast, dynamically simulated open world, The Outer Worlds is branched into multiple hub worlds, and a slew of mechanics. At the same time, it's heavily and unmistakably influenced by 3D Fallout in every which way. From moment-to-moment, it feels very much like Fallout, and even some of the general mood and themes rhyme with Fallout. Of course, it's a vastly different setting, but the overarching dark, yet silly humour with devastating pathos, yet with uplifting, is distinctly Fallout-esque. Which should surprise no one, as they reflect Tim and Leonard. The setting is more focussed than Fallout, though, and is the most unsubtle, heavy-handed demolishment of capitalism-gone-too-far that I've seen in gaming. It's a dystopia not of physical death and destruction, but the death and destruction of culture and dignity. A more internal than a literal dystopia. Yet, every time things get too dark, there's always moments of hope. That's why Tim and Leonard make such a great team - Leonard's dreary, dark humour is offset by Tim's silliness.

Writing is at the core of The Outer Worlds, and there's stellar work through and through. Whether it be characters, dialogues, moments or the overarching narrative, everything is top notch. There's definitely a freshness and diversity to some of the writing here, brought forward by the new writers in Obsidian's team. Overall, the writing does lean a bit too heavily on archetypes, but I suppose that makes sense for a game such as this. There's definitely enough flair and personality that the characters don't become stereotypes.

There's definitely a space-western aesthetic to the game. It starts with the music - wonderfully minimalist, yet modern, with shades of Ry Cooder's work in Paris, Texas. The soundscapes reflect this as well. Of course, there's a lot of Firefly and Cowboy Bebop in there too. It all combines to offer it's own distinctive moods. Using Unreal Engine 4, the game looks and feels unlike any game in the genre. It's quite likely due to the limited scope, but the game is really well polished, with very few bugs or glitches. The Outer Worlds has a distinct visual style, which I can't quite place. It definitely does not emulate the photorealism of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but neither the painterly aesthetic of The Witcher 3. It features all of the modern graphical techniques, but looks somewhat timeless. There's definitely a shade of BioShock in there, and obviously, pre-apocalypse Fallout. Particular mention for the skyboxes, which are littered with detail - almost too much. It's quite a unique experience, as in most games you look up to the sky and just see clouds and stars.

The combat is as you'd expect - pretty much everything you have in Fallout reinterpreted and streamlined. There's far fewer gear and combat possibilities than Fallout 4/76, certainly, but it does get the core shooting experience right. Of course, this being a "true RPG", there's tons of options outside of combat. All of the basics are present and correct - extensive skill checks, hacking, lockpicking, pickpocketing etc. I dislike the cheesy slow-motion companion kills though. It's fun the third time you see it, but gets really old by the hundredth time.

I do very much miss the environmental storytelling and exploration freedom from Fallout, though. The Outer Worlds is very well designed, but it never quite feels like a world I'd want to get immersed in and of itself - rather a set of locations to see the narrative through. This is not a criticism, because clearly it's not that game, but rather an observation. Open worlds with copelling environmental storytelling adds heaps to open world RPGs, for me.

For fans of the genre, there's a certain familiarity to The Outer Worlds in every aspect. After disastrous launches of Fallout 76 and Anthem; even The Witcher 3 going a more action-y route, I'm sure many fans will be relieved. Yet, at the same time, it's hard not to realize that there's not much innovation here. It's essentially an old-school 2000s 3D western RPG repackaged for modern times. Highly successful nostalgia trip, but not quite the next-generation RPG.

I'm excited for the future of this series. Now with Microsoft money backing Obsidian, we'll finally see Tim, Leonard and the time express their full vision for The Outer Worlds. It's all there, it's all teased, they just need to put it all on the line and push this genre forward. High expectations are unfair? Sure. But I expect no less from the pioneers of this genre.

Coin Marketplace

STEEM 0.21
TRX 0.07
JST 0.029
BTC 20337.15
ETH 1159.12
USDT 1.00
SBD 2.95