The Outer Worlds is the new offering from Obsidian Entertainment who, you might remember, made Fallout: New Vegas and the influence of Fallout can be felt throughout the whole of The Outer Worlds. That said, there is so much in The Outer Worlds that sets it apart from Fallout that it’s unfair to compare the two. Obsidian have taken all of the good stuff from their Fallout game, made it better and added more to the pot.
The Outer Worlds is set in the Halcyon Star System held in the corporate grip of The Board, whilst the men and women on the ground struggle to eke out a living. You play the role of a colonist whose ship was supposedly lost. You are taken out of suspended animation seventy years later than planned and wake up to this bleak world. How you go about the rest of the game is up to you. You could choose to be a friend to the people and overthrow the corporation, a gun for hire or be a company man or woman and stamp your boots on the working classes. It’s this level of freedom that makes The Outer Worlds an interesting prospect.
View the official launch trailer below:
You start off by creating your own character with lots of customisable options. I’ve never been overly concerned about what my character looks like so I just hit randomise a few times until it came up with something I liked. Unbeknownst to me, I ended up choosing a character that was female yet had a handlebar moustache.
Once you’ve decided what you want to look like you go about setting your base characteristics. Options include being good at various types of guns or melee weapons, hacking skills or dialogue skills. How you want to approach the game will dictate where you put your points. Having played all the Fallout games I had a pretty good idea of how I would approach my first playthrough and spent points in stealth, lockpicking and long guns. As you progress through the game you’ll be earning XP and when you level up you will be able to add even more points into the various skills.
You’ll also be unlocking perks every few levels and these are permanent buffs or skills that further enhance your playstyle. There are perks that will suit everyone, but as it stands the level cap will prevent you from collecting all of them so choose carefully.
How you play can be further customised by your choice of companions. There are six companions to recruit throughout the game and you can have up to two of them with you at any one time. They will also level up with you and you can give them perks and equip them how you want to.
For example, in my first playthrough, I chose to put my companions in heavy armour and chose perks for them that would increase their threat levels and damage output when up close to the enemy. I effectively had two tanks taking the damage whilst I chose my targets from afar. You could choose to do the complete opposite or go somewhere in between and it’s this level of freedom that means that I now want to start a second playthrough but taking a completely different approach.
All of the companions, bar one, also have their own story arc and quest line which allows you to learn much more about their past and personality. I recommend completing these questlines not only for the XP and perks you can earn but also because they really help to flesh out the narrative of the game.
Visually the game looks very nice with each of the planets you visit looking distinct from each other. Every environment had its own unique feel meaning that the game never felt stale. It’s a nice touch that the environments are all very colourful especially when you’re outside. Lots of RPGs can get a bit stale in terms of visuals but this simple use of colour made walking around the different planets a very pleasant experience.
Despite the options available in combat the focus is clearly on shooting as melee combat options are fairly limited and became more of a button-mashing affair. You can unlock various melee skills but they never felt as satisfying as the gunplay. There are lots of different options when it comes to arming yourself and most guns and armour can be modded to tailor them to how you want to play. A big part of combat is a feature that allows you to slow down time and lets you pick out different body parts in order to give your target a debuff. If you’re thinking this sounds like VATS from Fallout you’re not far off.
The story of The Outer Worlds is engaging and the interactions with the various characters and factions within the game are always enjoyable. I feel it does try a little bit too hard to be funny and doesn’t always quite hit the mark but it’s generally well written. I did find that some of the conversations would go on a bit too long and I’d end up skipping a lot of them in order to move on. Despite skipping I never really felt like I’d missed out on anything crucial.
The choices you make as you play through the game will have an effect on how the game ends. I chose to oppose The Board at every opportunity and was surprised by the final parts of the game and really felt that my choices had an impact on how things turned out. I hadn’t really given this much thought on my first playthrough so I’ll be giving this more attention when I start my second.
To sum up, The Outer Worlds is a great game, the Fallout influences are undeniable and, for me at least this is no bad thing. The writing is sharp and the storyline is tight enough to keep you focussed. The environments are varied and the game gives you lots of options to play as you want to with most quests giving different ways of completing them. If you’re already a fan of first-person action RPGs, especially Fallout, then it’s highly likely that you’ll enjoy The Outer Worlds.
The Outer Worlds was reviewed using a digital code purchased by the reviewer
Publisher: Private Division Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Release Date: 25th October 2019 Reviewed On: PC Also available on: PS4, Xbox One