Obsidian’s latest RPG is out and from what I’ve played so far of The Outer Worlds it feels like the perfect game for anyone who’s been missing a single player Fallout. And I will mention that series a lot here as the lineage between this and Obsidian’s own Fallout: New Vegas is hard to deny. Not just because the members of the development team helped create many of the games in the series but The Outer Worlds itself feels a lot like the Bethesda generation of the franchise too. And it’s all the better for it because what we appear to have here is exactly what long time fans have been waiting for.
The basic story is that you’re a colonist on a “sleeper ship”, kept frozen until you reach your destination and establish a new home. Unfortunately for you an accident delays your ship’s arrival and you find yourself woken up 70 years later with the Halcyon system now settled and run by a group of monolithic corporations. What happens from here is up to you but if you’re like me it might involve a lot of shooting.
The game takes little time in getting you up and running with an introduction than transitions quickly to a character creator to being dumped onto your first planet. That kind of brevity seems to be one of the driving design philosophies behind the game. It still feels like an open world RPG but at a more manageable scale with a lot of the unnecessary trudging around massive maps trimmed away because everything is now broken down into smaller areas. These areas that I’ve traveled through so far rarely have any locations that are more than a couple of minutes of walking away from and with fast travel too there’s little stopping you from getting to your destination fast. The density of content in these areas is good too and I’ve not had a moment (so far) when there hasn’t been something for me to do. As a result your objectives always feel like they are within reach and there’s also a good chance of your path crossing into other quest objectives… even those you may not know of yet. And the game handles that nicely with conversations with NPCs factoring that in. A couple of times I’ve run into NPCs where it’s turned out I’d already done the work they needed and the game responded appropriately. And you still earn the experience too. 🙂
The quests (mostly of the fetch type so far) have been good in getting an understanding of the world you inhabit and you’ll also learn quickly that there are consequences at times for the choices you make. Factions you deal with rank you depending on how you’re dealing with them so be prepared and try not to get caught stealing from the ones you like! Early on you’re given a choice that’ll require you to decide who loses between two communities. During your time on it you also find that there’s more to each side’s situation but regardless of that you have to deal with the fallout (lol) of your actions and it’s encouraging to see that in effect so early into my game. To compare I’d say it’s like a more subtle take on the Megaton decision from Fallout 3. It’s a really good example of the faction system in play and how your reputation can influence the game.
Graphically the game is excellent with environments that are colourful and ooze character. This aspect is the most “not Fallout” aspect of the game and it is all the better for it because it makes for an interesting contrast with the sometimes grim situations you may find yourself in. And it’s not all shades of brown either. 😉 Looking up into the sky and seeing planets and ships overhead is a real treat. The characters you run into are well detailed and have enough individuality to be identifiable (the first you meet, Phineas Welles is a good example) though a couple of times you can run into reused faces which can break the illusion. Audio is backed up with a variety of actors used for your companions and NPCs and I’ve not run into anyone yet that are hard on the ears. The manner in which many of them speak gives me flashbacks to Firefly so if you’re a fan of that series you’ll find it comfortably familiar.
The game is running on Unreal Engine, so though the it comes across as being a member of the Fallout/Skyrim/etc family it’s a whole new technology running the game and it’s been rock solid too with no real issues to think. Some of the decisions on keeping the maps more compact may be tied to running on Unreal but it still plays the same with basic movement, interactions and combat being what you’d expect. There’s even a mode similar to V.A.T.S. which is a major help if you choose the path of shooting everything you see. Where it differs for me though is in the companions which feel like they’ve borrowed a few great ideas from Mass Effect. You can take up to two crew members with you at any time and when they are with with you these characters are VERY active in their chatter. There’s plenty of times when I’ve had them break the silence with something new to say. You can still choose to go it alone at any time but it just seems a waste to not have company when you can when the dialogue is this enjoyable.
It’s hard to describe how I feel about The Outer Worlds at the moment but I’ll try my best! It feels like being wrapped in a big old Fallout blanket that you love because it reminds you of all the good things from the old days. It’s ancestry is fairly clear but it still really feels like a timely evolution of the format. With it being likely we’re not going to have to wait longer for Bethesda titles I hope it catches on and encourages Obsidian to make more because it’s brought me back and I can’t wait to play more. And for anyone still considering Game Pass you’ve got yourself another great reason to try it out. 🙂
The Outer Worlds is out now on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Played on Xbox One X via Game Pass.