Now that I’ve played through The Outer Worlds I’ve decided to follow up on my original impressions as I feel seeing the game as a whole has given me a much better perspective on what Obsidian have created. A warning though: there are some minor spoilers here. If you don’t want to know then stop reading now. 🙂
Aim for the… ahem…
When it comes to game play I think The Outer Worlds sticks a little too close to the Bethesda Fallout model at times. The combat isn’t too bad but it’d be nice if the weapons felt like they packed a little more punch. For example the light and heavy machine guns don’t feel a whole lot different apart from how much screen real estate they take up. The science weapons add a fun twist with their oddball abilities (a shrink ray!) but I wish they were more integral to your play. Perks can improve the science weapon’s effectiveness but I mostly stowed them away in my ship’s cabin rather than use them. Achievements do give you incentive to mix up your combat and it’s worth trying a few things out. I found out late in my play just how effective a groin shot could be… very useful in giving your team a few cheap shots! Combine it with your TTD (Tactical Time Dilation) abilities and you can get a big advantage early into a fight.
A pack rat
How the game deals with your inventory though is something I’d wish was reconsidered. Early on you’re barely scraping by with limited ammo and sub standard armour but soon enough you’re packing an arsenal and have more items than you can carry. Though you can breaking the down for repair parts you end up with more parts than you ever need. At this point durability of your gear becomes a non-issue. It makes me think that Destiny 2 was onto something with how you can combine gear. Being able to keep the things you like and improve them by combining them with new stuff you find on your journey seems like a more natural progression. But even that process could be streamlined fu etherbut having the player less concerned about what they are carrying would bring focus back to the game.
A person of (many) flaws
Character customisation shows some promise in how you choose an archetype to begin with that gives you bonuses to your starting skills based on their vocation. It doesn’t make a discernible difference in the end but if you plan to play a certain way (eg. words over violence) it can help you get started. Leveling up isn’t impacted by the choice though and in my case where I chose a science path I found value in also boosting up my leadership and hacking skills. Every 20th level for a skill gives you a bonus which does give incentive to focus on disciplines relevant to your play as there’s not going to be enough skill points to max out everything. If necessary you can respect your character on your ship but it will cost you.
You also get to add a perk on every second level up which adds a bonus to an aspect of your character and companions. They’re mostly along the lines of boosting health, critical damage, dialogue, etc which is a shame but on the other hand there’s the flaws system which is a fun little spanner that you can choose to throw into your characters workings. These come up during your gameplay and with the lure of an additional perk you can take on a flaw that penalizes you in specific ways too. One of my characters flaws was Robophobia that impacted my abilities around auto-mechanicals. For me that meant one of my new companions ended up staying on the ship for the duration of my game and quite a few combat encounters were also made more difficult too. Another had be addicted to my medical inhaler so if I wasn’t using it regularly my character suffered withdrawals that impact my skill scores. Turns out the flaws were more interesting to me than the perks and despite there being high level skill bonuses to mitigate them you’re likely to feel a flaw’s impact harder in your game than any bonuses you might receive and I liked that.
Friends with quirks
The companions are an odd lot to deal with and their individual quests may leave you a little disappointed as they’re either too long, too short or not interesting enough. Parvati is probably the best of the lot – if you’re a fan of Firefly she’s very much like Kaylee and I found her endearing. Nyoka is my second choice thanks to her darker past and probably had the best of the quests with it feeling more fitting to the adventure you’re a part of. Felix’s I couldn’t finish though due to a bug that dropped it from my quest log… the one big bug I found but not a game breaker thankfully. I enjoyed chatting with them initially but the novelty did wear off after time. Perhaps the worst case was with Ellie as there were a lot of dialogue choices that (to me) initially came across as my character trying to pursue a romance option with Ellie however she would constantly rebuff them. I knew the game didn’t allow romantic entanglements with characters but this just made me think either it had been in there initially but removed late in the process or it was intended for your character to always be shut down even when it wasn’t your intent. Maybe I read it all wrong too… but it just seemed unnecessary.
The ending appears to tie the story line up neatly so if there are future games it’s likely that they’ll centre around new characters. Choices you made during the course of play will reflect in an epilogue which fills you in on what happens to everyone so you’ll figure out quickly enough what to focus on if you want to play again. You can also see plenty of opportunity for further stories to spawn from this setting and maybe for some of the characters making return appearances too. And that Space Western vibe does lend itself well to having a new mysterious stranger walk into a frontier town…
It’s by no means perfect but The Outer Worlds has given me an RPG fix that didn’t require a massive time commitment or understanding of overly deep mechanics. It’s a fun escape that gives you something both new and familiar and I’m happy with that. 🙂
The Outer Worlds is out now on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.