After recently finishing Cyberpunk, the game left me craving more story-heavy games. Cyberpunk, although having many faults, did keep me entertained when it came to world-building, story, and its characters. I decided to do some research and, after looking in my backlog, I came across The Outer Worlds. An interesting proposition: I do love the Fallout series, and this looks quite similar. The Outer Worlds was developed by Obsidian, the makers of Fallout: New Vegas; you’ll discover just how much of a spiritual successor of the Fallout series this game is, as it plays very much the same.
Upon starting the catalogue of quests available, it was quickly apparent that there was a clear emphasis on “you need to make a decision, and therefore this will affect which faction will hate you and which will tolerate you”. There is very much a cause and effect to your actions, which can take you down some alternative paths to achieve a different ending. You’ll choose whether to help each faction or go against them, and, in the same sense, you can also choose to assist your companions—each which have their own ambitions in the forms of quests. The story-writing and dialogue is intriguing for the most part, and there are some subtle quips and humorous bits of dialogue which come through your conversations with NPCs. There are a wide variety of characters, everything from the stubborn, evil, and menacing archetypes; to the shy, mild-tempered, and oblivious ones. The variety makes progression through the quests interesting, and what type of character you are trying to play will affect how you converse with each character. The writers have done a good job with making quests interesting: for example, you stumble across a family while searching for a missing person, they invite you in for dinner, and you accept—seeing as the missing person was last seen with them. As you question the family, and explore their house (yes, even the locked rooms ’cause I’m cheeky and sneaky like that), you discover some pretty disturbing information about where the missing person is. Without too many spoilers, the quest takes an unforeseen, disturbing turn and is one of the most memorable in the game.
One of the appeals of the game were the companions. I found myself wanting to find all of the possible companions in the game (six total) and assist them all on their own quests. I found the prospect of building up a team to commandeer the ship to be cool and an objective outside of one the game actually gives you. Each companion is different in their morals and goals, and have distinct personalities. Your companions will change their opinions and question some of the things you do, which they will voice directly to you. I quickly found my favourites to be Parvati (the shy-but-intelligent ship engineer) and Nyoka (a reckless renegade hunter with a snappy attitude). I knew I was invested in the companions when I attempted to complete the game in Supernova difficulty (the hardest setting)—this made it so that companions could die in combat, and they would then disappear from the game altogether. When I discovered this, I bumped down the difficulty setting, simply because I did not want to miss out on the companion quests due to blundering up in combat. Obsidian has done a good job with making these companions interactive: when I took Nyoka out on some quests with me, she would often interject my conversations with NPCs to provide her opinion or stance on what we were doing. This makes the companions feel more involved in the story, and less an afterthought to the whole thing.
The visual design is also beautiful, despite having smaller, enclosed instanced maps. While the game does not seem to take of the breadth of a Fallout world in size, there is depth to the design and visual appeal. The design team definitely pulled off some awesome scenes. Upon landing on planet Scylla and walking up to the crest of a hill, what came into view was a huge spaceship settled in the near distance, surrounded by floating debris and enemies. From memory, there were a bunch of enemies sitting at the base of this thing—and some good loot to be found—but I believe it was simply placed on the map for visual impact and to create interest. There are many beautiful scenes to behold during the duration of the game like this, and it’s a pleasure to look at—especially because the game’s colour palette is so bright and vivid.
Do these skill points look familiar? I’m sure they do, as they are very much modelled after the S.P.E.C.I.A.L attributes within the Fallout universe, or any RPG you’ve played which allowed you to enhance any number of particular skills. If you choose, you can opt to build characters with different specialties, such as making one proficient with Science-based weapons, or perhaps the typical “sneak-and-snipe” type where you take out things from a distance before they are ever aware of your existence. There is quite a bit of flexibility here, but I felt that there were definitely some outstanding options. For example, I preferred ranged to melee skill-ups, and the subskills under the Stealth tree were not quite as strong/effective as the perks you can elect to take in Fallout 4.
The gameplay is satisfying, to an extent. It feels solid and there is some impact when the bullet leaves the chamber. While I typically play a stealthy character, the stealth mechanics did not achieve the feeling I was anticipating. I found the stealth to be a bit clunky, if anything (maybe I expected the more Fallout-esque mechanics where the caution meter allows you some time to correct your actions if you are close to being spotted), so I opted to specialise in handguns and elected to skill up in dialogue as well. Fans of the Fallout games will be pleased to see that there is somewhat of a VATS mode in this game—going by the name of Tactical Time Dilation. When used, the game slows down the whole surrounding environment and enemies and allows the user to take manual aim to perform criticals, which are much easier due to the enemies’ extremely slow movement.
After clocking in about 20–22 hours, I was able to complete the game—including all side quests, companion quests, and the main storyline. I feel this was a good length for the campaign; if it was longer (maybe, 30+ hours), it would have perhaps felt a bit extraneous. The game is now available on Steam to purchase, after being held exclusively for one year on the Epic Games store. I do recommend the game, highly, especially if you can pick it up on sale. It has those Fallout-but-not-quite vibes, and if you’re itching for that, this will satiate.