The folks at Obsidion are no stranger to role playing games. Previously working on the Knights of the Old Republic, Pillars of Eternity and evening developing what many would argue is the best Fallout game of the past couple of generations in Fallout: New Vegas. And their experience gained from being handed the Fallout series shines through here in their new IP The Outer Worlds, as it perfectly brings together a well written and paced story, fantastic characters, world building and role playing mechanics to deliver an incredibly solid RPG.
The Outer Worlds takes place in an alternate future where large corporations have begun colonising various planets in space for their own commercial benefits. Without spoiling too much, your player character is awoken early from a cryosleep before crash landing on an unfamiliar planet. Kicking off the main events of the game, involving a conspiracy that leaves the safety of all in your colony at risk. As with all good RPG’s, you’re able to fully customise the appearance of your player character with everything from the gender, facial features, skin tone, hair styles and scars able to be tweaked to your liking.
Right off the bat I was grabbed by the game’s art direction and it’s fantastic writing. I was brought right into it’s world, and although it’s a fictional setting, it’s planets, environments and characters felt real and grounded because of the mix of writing and world building you witness the more you explore the lands and speak to other NPC’s.
The Outer Worlds takes a page out of Fallout’s book and provides the player with a lot of freedom on how to complete it’s many quests. You can of course go in all guns blazing every time if you wish, but there’s quite often an alternate approach. Some conflicts can be avoided completely if you posses the right skills and make the right choices during dialogue sequences. Choosing which companions come with you can also change how missions play out, and the banter between them will also shape your experience with the game while also fleshing out details about that character and their attitude. Each companion also comes with their own specialities, perks and combat skills so carefully selecting who to bring along for each mission could make some sequences easier for you and these companions can also be used to fill in the skill areas that your player may be lacking in.
The Outer Worlds also shifts and adapts to the choices you make both on the field and during dialogue with other characters. You’re freely able to kill just about anything in the world and that includes other NPC’s. The narrative and the other characters will bend based on what you do allowing the ongoing story to feel natural and having the other characters praise or reprimand you for said choices. I really liked this sense of freedom the game presented and when you know that your actions will lead to generous rewards or serious consequences, it allows you to further put yourself into the player character. And at the end of the day, that’s what role playing games are all about.
One thing that can break the immersion of a good RPG is if it doesn’t feel satisfying to play. Thankfully in The Outer Worlds’ combat feels great. The swinging of melee weapons and firing of guns have a sense of weight to them, which is great to see because they are the only things keeping you safe while traversing the numerous planets filled with creatures determined to take you down.
The planets you’ll visit on your journey are each unique and come with their own appearance, feel and inhabitants. I never found myself bored with any of the environments, primarily because the places you visit in The Outer Worlds are so diverse. You’ll visit wild jungle-like planets with alien plants and beasts, futuristic moons, well established space cities, among many other visually interesting locales. Each of the planets act as their own self contained open world to explore and I loved jumping into and adventuring through a new location every few hours throughout the 30 hour journey the campaign took to complete.
I have to also commend The Outer World’s loot and customisation system too. It allows you to spend collected resources to level up your weapons, granting more damage output or various special effects as you progress. One thing I really enjoyed was the ability to change the weapons damage attribute to be effective against different types of enemies if I knew I was going into an area in the game filled with a particular enemy that was more susceptible to a certain type of weapon. This allowed me to stick to weapons I was comfortable using, and allowed them to be continuously competitive against the game’s challenges, rather than just having me move on to another more powerful weapon every time I out-levelled the ones I loved.
Many large scale open world games come with their fair share of bugs and glitches, so much so that they’re just expected in these sorts of games. That’s why it’s also incredibly refreshing to see an open RPG run as smoothly and bug free as this. Throughout my time with the game I didn’t encounter and humorous glitches, characters falling through walls or floors or any game breaking bugs.
I did have some minor gripes with the game though, and I will restate ‘minor’ as they didn’t really affect my overall enjoyment of the game. But it is worth mentioning that numerous times throughout the game I encountered some NPC’s who’s character models didn’t match the same fidelity as many of the others featured in the game. The Outer Worlds isn’t pushing for a photo-realistic depiction of its characters by any means but these characters looked noticeably off when compared to the more prominent characters. I also encountered issues with lip syncing during character dialogue. It’s something that sells immersion and I couldn’t help but notice that during some sequences, the spoken characters mouth movements barely matched the movements of what they were saying.
The Outer Worlds is an RPG delight. Obsidian have honed what they’re great at and delivered a game with a gripping story, interesting universe and well developed characters. Even after completing the game, I still want to spend more time in The Outer Worlds and am hoping for further DLC or even a sequel in the future.
A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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