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PLATFORMS: PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE, PC
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 9, 2020
DEVELOPER: Obsidian Entertainment
PUBLISHER: Private Division
ESRB: M FOR MATURE
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What is The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon
In 2019 The Outer Worlds showed players the promise of Obisdian’s rock solid RPG formula in the first-person perspective. Leaders of the original Fallout game, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, reunited to make a game set in the far reaches of space that told a tale of Corporate mismanagement leading to the likes of ultra nationalism in the Halcyon colony and all the horror and humor that brings. In 2020 the first of two expansions, Peril on Gorgon, adds a new mystery to unravel on the asteroid, fleshes out already existing locations with new sites, a few guns, variations on enemies, and many new characters with whom to converse.
Peril on Gorgon begins as the crew of the Unreliable receive a message about a job from a freelancer named Lucky Montoya, who was friends with captain Hawthorne, the previous captain of the Unreliable. The audio recorder still has Lucky’s severed arm holding onto it, which excites some of the crew and worries the rest. The message leads to Minnie Ambrose, a wealthy young woman who lost her mother in a Spacer’s Choice cover-up. Minnie’s mother, Olivia, was working on cutting edge research for the corporation at the laboratory on Gorgon when disaster struck and the asteroid evacuated. Believing Olivia's notebook will clear her family’s name from wrong doing, Minnie sends players to retrieve it from the facility, and with that begin the many noir tropes that belong in the crime serials the characters often mention.
A rundown pharmaceutical laboratory fits perfectly into the lore of The Outer Worlds, as the only people who remain are scavengers from Sublight or workers from the facility who were left behind during the incident. It also works well functionally, as there are copious amounts of drugs to loot and any civilized parts of Gorgon have been in constant conflict with marauders ever since the incident, ensuring the classic RPG formula of shooting and looting hasn’t been touched. The mass ruin of the entire asteroid reaffirms Spacer’s Choice quality control as a complete joke and the emails found on terminals show the company leadership was just as incompetent as its products. There are some standout messages to be discovered, but they are buried underneath so many terminals with incredibly similar stories that it may become difficult to find any value in reading them, especially since the mediocre emails are front loaded. This is a tragedy, because some of these terminal messages are hilarious or explain the creation of comics seen in the main game. With such interesting material to read, it’s baffling to read some messages repeating the same stories. After just a few hours, the asteroid's aesthetics start to wear thin and it becomes difficult to tell where things are even with landmarks, so it’s refreshing to have leads that take the investigation to previously visited locations and expand them with new places.
One of these new locations introduces a fantastic new version of the main theme, feeling like a direct response to all the praise and love it received from fans and making the espionage in that quest feel that much more thrilling. Gorgon also receives a new theme that elevates the mystery of the asteroid, fitting perfectly with the tone and is some of the most memorable music from the whole game. Every step of this expansion introduces memorable characters, all of which are exceptionally voice acted. Obsidian nails their trademark of having voice actors immerse players into the world and culture of their characters and this expansion is no exception. Every character from the wealthy heiress, stranded journalist, and grieving widow, to the budding actuary cement their roles, needs, and goals in Halcyon through their voice work and make the colony feel like a true society.
The one aspect that deserved more attention is the combat encounters. Everything here is basically an extension of the main game. Aside from a few new weapons and enemy variations, the combat is unchanged. Even with endgame gear, jumping into a scenario without the proper preparations can be lethal, and discoverable weapons and armor scale nicely to deal with the increased threat. It’s still disappointing, however that the expansion doesn’t take the chance to introduce new enemies, weapon types or anything else to shake up the gameplay.
In a game all about being engaged by the quests, Peril on Gorgon has some of the most intriguing quest lines. Every quest draws players further into the mystery and some even surprise them with situations never seen in the original game. The expansion bears the mark of a studio who learned how the best parts of their product worked and crafted an experience for fans. Spectacular characters and their voice actors sell the mystery and the threat of its conspirators. After the initial arrival on the asteroid, the narrative finds an engaging pace that matches the best parts of the main game and keeps gamers driving to find answers. It wouldn’t be an Obsidian game if the final decision doesn’t have fans questioning the various directions the consequences could go, and this mystery does not disappoint. It’s great to feel like any of the decisions available are justified and that the utmost care has to go into weighing them.
The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon is a lovely addition to Obsidian’s RPG that feels tailored for its fans. While the formula hasn’t changed a lick, Obsidian confidently found their stride with telling stories in this world. If The Outer Worlds left players wanting more, then here it is.
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