On October 25th, The Outer Worlds video game was released to the masses. As a heavily credentialed first-person single player RPG, to say it’s been released with some lofty expectations would be an understatement. For most fans of this genre, there need only be one word uttered out of the mouth of advertisers to send us all into a frenzy. Obsidian. The well regarded, if not ultra famous software company Obsidian Entertainment could perhaps be best known for the 2010 classic Fallout New Vegas. With the Fallout franchise falling on self-inflicted hard times, the stars are aligning perfectly for a new sci-fi interpretation on the genre. We’re here on the hype train, but will it let us off at the right station?
While the sad-sack derivative video game community yearns for a “Fallout, but in space durrr” narrative, The Outer Worlds doesn’t fit that mold in totality. Alright, some of these comparisons are going to be hard to avoid. The player wakes up from a deep sleep in a “vault” like spaceship with a unique ability to slow down time during combat. Set loose on a fairly open world with an easy to swallow story that slowly expands until you’re two steps away from master and commander of the universe…ok that all sounds very Fallout-y, but some credit to this unique game world must be considered. Moving around a colony of unique planets and moons with your spaceship “The Unreliable,” your player character digs into a universe of deep capitalistic commentary and the pitch black humor we have come to expect for a game of this caliber.
The top of the heap for The Outer Worlds is the writing. With key people involved behind the scenes from the original Fallout games, (the series known for the greatest writing in video game history), the branching dialogue is first rate. Point assigned character skills with traits and specialization means that no two conversations will be exactly the same. Not to mention the replayability is high for those classic low intelligence builds or moral paragon runs. While the variety is good, but in my opinion Obsidian caters too much to the “sassy asshole” Roleplay for the sake of comedy. This still beats the hell out of all the homogenized dialogue options we’ve seen lately from this genre, so we can forgive that notion.
With the deep space setting combined with familiar building structures tucked inside wacky corporate hellscape scenarios, another true hallmark of this game is the sheer beauty of its artwork. The pretty planets, the gritty decay in some of the more poorly run communities, it all sings with immersion making up for some thin moments in the background story. Happening upon old factories canning Saltuna in dusty slums with beautiful pink trees and colorful animals are a mere stone’s throw away, and the mind can wander. This dynamic aids the exploration minded gamer in their pursuit of personal game experience. While there’s much to love, we need to be real and point out what doesn’t work so well also.
The biggest thorn in my side is the lack of customization. While your character has tons of options for their internal stats, clothing and armor are mere afterthoughts by comparison. What’s more frustrating is that you can’t “strip” a killed enemy’s complete inventory, which is surprising for an RPG with this level of detail. The weapon variety is good, but the ammo types are over simplified and without proper crafting the only thing worth chasing is the ammo, weapons, and money. I feel a twinge of The Last of Us/Far Cry sneaking in here, taking away some of the nuts and bolts of creation while becoming more story focused.
While combat is not always needed thanks to the clever branching dialogue options, the combat that does exist can be a bit one dimensional. Moreover, the game can be too easy on normal difficulties in regards to combat, making the consumables you find as loot practically useless, which is a shame for the first playthrough. Increased difficulties including a “Supernova” mode that incorporate survival elements is beyond welcome, but I feel us filthy casuals were left holding the bag here. I suppose if they don’t do some rebuffing with patches the only solution will be to git gud.
Verdict: The Outer Worlds is a great game that’s releasing at the perfect time for near blind praise from consumers and media members alike. While the multi fold successes must be sung for this brilliant title, we have to realize this game won’t solve all our problems forever in the medium of video gaming. This is not Fallout, nor should it be so directly compared to the struggling franchise in either praise or criticism. As it stands, there is a veritable hate-bukkake of YouTube videos and Reddit shit posts that ejaculate misguided wads of spooging vitriol from gamers on this very subject. This vocal throng is so pathetically desperate for an irl win towards a game company they think has done them a personal disservice that a daily constitutional of “Bethesda Sucks” video posts have become legitimate income streams for opportunistic, slovenly content creators. We need to relax and enjoy this great game for what it is, and more importantly for what it will be even further down the road. You don’t have to hate Bethesda to enjoy The Outer Worlds, and it’s not fair to ourselves to keep proper critiques away from a company that might actually listen like Obsidian. Maybe this new competition will have a deeper benefit, and make everyone from early access to AAA producers tighten up and reward the players going forward with some new innovation. Not unlike the game’s commentary on capitalism, we only win if the power of influence is back on the consumer’s side, and only if those consumers can focus on what’s really important. Game on.
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