Since first being revealed in late 2018, Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds has been highly anticipated. With a pedigree that includes Fallout: New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic II, it is easy to see why. The video game publisher has made some of the most beloved role playing games of all time. Will its latest offering live up to the hype or will it be another game that suffers from expectations being set too high?
The Outer Worlds takes place in an alternate future in the farthest reaches of space. The player creates a character who was on a trip to a space colony. Through the use of faster than light travel, the journey was expected to take ten years. It ends up taking much longer. After being woken up, the player begins an adventure to find their place in this new world.
Familiar is one of the best ways to describe the sci-fi RPG. As soon as the player is awakened from their hibernation, they need to create a character. Name, gender, and appearance all make their requisite appearances. The Outer Worlds then begins to show off what makes it stand apart from modern RPGs. Like a comfortable pair of house shoes, the player is able to slip right in and begin building their character with points to dole out to categories like Dialogue and Melee Combat and perks that increase passive attributes like health and carry weight. An RPG veteran will feel right at home customizing their character.
The Outer Worlds is more than just an old game with a new coat of paint, however. While it is definitely a loving homage to games like Pillars of Eternity, it is not a copy. Obsidian is tweaking a proven formula and not just rehashing it. For starters, character creation is not just seven special characteristics. It is a list of abilities with sub categories. At first, it looks daunting. The developers have come up with an ingenious method that makes progression more meaningful.
Progression is also very tangible. Areas that were impossible to take on become more palatable after gaining a few levels. This never feels grindy and there is not a huge power jump. Dungeons that could not be attempted before become doable, but never a cakewalk. Players will feel definite advancement without ever becoming overpowered.
Inventory management will not faze long time RPG fans, but those new to the genre may be taken aback initially. The Outer Worlds makes things as easy as possible without ever giving the feeling things have been dumbed down. There is the always helpful option to list useless items as junk and each screen can be sorted in many different ways. Even the addition of companion screens does not make things difficult. Players who are not used to working with inventory stocks this large will quickly get the hang of the screens.
Some gamers may take issue with the combat. Gunplay is decent, but never really stands out. Shotguns seem really weak while assault rifles have almost ridiculous recoil. There is never the satisfaction that normally comes with using a gun in a video game. Melee combat is even worse. Quite simply, it is hard to tell if the enemy is actually being hit. While it never takes away from the game, it is noticeable. That being said, there is a great variety in weapon (and armor) types.
Most who are playing The Outer Worlds are not as concerned with the combat, however. They will be here for the story. Those looking for New Vegas 2 will be disappointed. There are some similarities, but this is a game that can stand on its own. The characters will immediately draw players in to the engaging story. Where Obisidan’s Fallout game was willing to let the world and lore overshadow its cast, The Outer Worlds lets its characters drive the story. One way is not necessarily better than the other; the 2019 game will just give players more to latch on to.
A big part of any RPG are choices and what consequences there may be. The Outer Worlds offers players a living world that is constantly changing with just about every decision made. This does a great job of immersing players into the game. Choice is never just about dong the obviously good or evil thing. Each decision will have gamers wringing their hands as they think and rethink what they are going to do. Obsidian does not give players the illusion of choice; there is a megaton of decisions with appropriate consequences throughout the entire game.
The Outer Worlds had a lot to live up to. Along with a history that includes some of the most loved RPGs of all time, it had to contend with the sometimes unrealistic expectations of the gaming community. Once the game begins, there is little doubt it will surpass them. The game has a welcoming feeling for genre veterans and inviting gameplay and characters for new players wanting to try something new. It may not be Spacer’s Choice, but it is the best one.
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