Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (later)
Release Date: October 4, 2019
Developer: Obsidian Games
Publisher: Private Division/Take-Two Interactive
NOTE – A copy of this game was provided to Gaming Instincts by Private Division for review, and was reviewed on the Xbox One X. Gaming Instincts is also an Amazon affiliate and does get financial benefits from this.
The Outer Worlds is a brand new sci-fi single-player RPG created by Obsidian Entertainment, a well known entity in the RPG world of video games. One of their beloved projects was Fallout: New Vegas, released many years ago, during the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 era. They also created the first South Park RPG – South Park: The Stick of Truth, which was well received by fans and critics.
The closest thing fans have received to this type of game was Fallout 4 in 2015, and most recently, Fallout 76 in late 2018. Both titles were met with many complaints and criticisms that the games had changed too much, becoming something other than what people wanted and expected them to be. Fallout 4 failed to deliver RPG mechanics such as having your own meaningful choices that change the outcomes of your quests, while Fallout 76 turned out to be nothing but a Fallout MMO-lite type of game plagued with a ton of bugs, launch issues and greedy monetization.
So what does The Outer Worlds bring to the table in 2019, during an age in which single player RPGs are quite sparse and not what they used to be? Let’s find out.
The game’s premise and plotline is simple. Your character (male or female) awakens from cryosleep, and then finds that the rest of the ship’s passengers are still in hibernation. You land on an unknown planet. and must begin to discover what is happening there and on other worlds, as well as what the game’s mega-corporations are up to.
Your entire mission is to disrupt these mega-corporations while discovering factions and meeting people, helping set them free from the mega-corporations—or not, if you desire—as the choices are completely up to you. This is where the game starts to shine with its story telling and mechanics—being able to control the narrative, save, backstab, or kill whoever you want, and see how far you can get with your choices in the world and the main storyline. That being said, let’s jump into the core mechanics of the game and how it all works, and of course—whether it’s fun or not.
Gameplay, Mechanics and RPG Elements
At its core, The Outer Worlds is a classic role-playing game, with many elements that you know and love from old-school RPGs such as the original Fallout games. Just like most RPGs, at the beginning of the game you choose your character and gender, then are taken to a character creation screen where you can modify your avatar’s appearance. You may change skin tone, hair and facial hair, eye color, facial shapes, and so forth. For the most part, the character creator is nothing to brag about. It does all the things you expect it to do. You can change nose size and length, cheeks, and pretty much everything else you can think of. It can lead to some hilarious looking faces, and really bad looking ones as well. So if you’re looking to make a stupid looking character, then I am happy to say that won’t be an issue.
My biggest gripe is the simple fact that both the female and male models look bad, and sometimes almost the same, which makes little sense. Thankfully, you don’t get to see the face of your character, as there is no third-person view whatsoever. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what they look like, but it would be nice if the character models were good-looking to begin with. Many of the characters in the game world appear similar to each other, which breaks immersion and makes for a boring experience, as you see the same faces all the time.
After you’re done with the character creator, you will be dropped on your first planet, which acts like a training area where you start learning the game’s mechanics, dialogue systems, quests, combat, and all other basic things, such as sprinting, jumping and crouching. Right from the get go, you meet your first NPC and are introduced to the overall structure of Outer Worlds‘s questing and dialogue systems.
Depending on how you created your character, they will have different base stats. There are many different skills, such as Hacking, Intimidation, Science, Persuade, Lie, Tinker, and more. As you can imagine, each of these skills can benefit you in different ways when it comes to dialogue, or the use of computer terminals. You can create a character that is absolutely amazing at lying, persuasion, or intimidation to aid in getting yourself out of sticky situations or convince NPCs to do certain things, bypassing certain quest steps and getting ahead of the game. Or, you can go toward a more intelligent approach, with high skills in science and hacking, allowing you to hack enemy bots and force them to fight each other. Or better yet, you can hack terminals to get the necessary questing information required. If you enjoy these types of things in RPGs, then you will absolutely love this part of the gameplay.
The Outer Worlds is full of many side-quests where you can choose how you approach every NPC and situation. This is what makes the game fun and unique, and also lets you live the fantasy that you always wanted. If neither talking or hacking is your cup of tea, then you can also just go all-in with guns blazing, acting like a crazy murderer while killing every single civilian, guard, and side quest giver, taking everything for yourself.
However, that might be not the brightest thing to do, because the game does have a faction reputation system. You can become super friendly with and gain certain perks from a faction, or end up hated and shot on sight. You could also miss out on a lot of stuff, and get the quests completely botched, making them impossible to complete. These choices are completely up to you. The game also has four different difficulty options: easy, normal, hard, and supernova. Supernova is the hardest difficulty, so it would be inadvisable to go in with guns blazing in this mode, as everything will annihilate you. However, choosing a more stealthy, charismatic route will probably get you much further in this sort of difficulty setting.
The Outer Worlds has an interesting leveling system that at first may seem to be a bit overwhelming. However, as you level up further and further, the system beings to make more sense, and is easy to learn. When you create your character you are allowed to choose what you want to put your points into early on. There are many different stats, and each stat is well explained at what it does and what it is used for. You can do a combination/hybrid or you may tailor to a more specialized build if you wish.
As you level up, you are also able to choose perks. There are 3 different tiers of perks, but to get tier 2 and tier 3 you first need to unlock a specific amount of perks in tier 1. Perks are basically passive bonuses that help you on your journey and complement your build all throughout.
The player may also install many different mods on their armor pieces and weapons. If you are into min/maxing, then you will most likely spend a good amount of time figuring out what would be best for you, tinkering around until you are 100% satisfied. In my eyes, this is always a positive thing for an RPG game. Overall, The Outer Worlds provides a compelling leveling experience that feels significant enough that you can feel that your character growing stronger and more effective in certain tasks, becoming more powerful as the game progresses.
Combat in The Outer Worlds is what you’d expect from a single player sci-fi/steampunk RPG. Different types of guns are available, some of which include: shotguns, automatic weapons, miniguns, plasma, as well as melee weapons wielded with one hand or two. Weapons can also have certain elements such as shock, which can knock enemies down and stun them. There are also weapons which cause bleed damage over time. Weapons may also have different statistics, and you can add mods to them, giving additional benefits to complement your build.
The same goes for the armor pieces. Armor mods exist as well as weapon mods, and may be equipped however you see fit. The gunplay is nothing groundbreaking, but gets the job done and feels good for what it is. I am mostly impressed with the variety of weapons that The Outer Worlds offers. There are a ton of different looking melee weapons and range weapons as well, each of them with a unique look and feel, and that is always a good thing.
The Outer Worlds also has a system called TTD—Tactical Time Dilation. As the name implies, you press a button and go into bullet-time, letting you take easier shots, landing headshots or attacks to other enemy weak spots. TTD has its own gauge in the HUD that lets you know how much time you have left before it runs out. You can also make the TTD gauge last longer if you wish, by building the character appropriately, gaining combat advantage throughout the game. However this is not necessary, as there are many others way to have such an advantage. Still, it’s always nice to have options.
Overall, The Outer Worlds gives you plenty of choices for how you want to tackle every combat scenario. Are you high up in stealth skills and feel like assassinating a target? You may do so. Did you spec into a crazy strength build with two or one-handed weapons? Feel free to bash your way through enemies. The enemy AI is also not very bright, so it’s easy to glitch the mobs out, or have them run in circles until shot dead. To some that may be undesirable, while others might find it makes their Supernova run through a lot easier. In games like this, there is really no point in expecting outstanding AI, as they rely more on core RPG elements and other systems to make the game fun.
Visuals and Audio
The Outer Worlds utilizes the power and tools of Unreal Engine 4. Visually, the game looks appealing, with a colorful art-style that gives its universe its own personality and feel. If you are afraid of seeing another gray, boring looking post-apocalypse FPS RPG, then I have good news for you—that is not the case here. I was quite satisfied with how the game looked and felt. As I’ve previously mentioned, my biggest gripe was the appearance of the character facial models, which didn’t appeal to me and may be immersion breaking to some. The guns, melee weapons, creatures and armor all look unique and interesting in their own way, so it’s always exciting to find new gear.
As far as the audio goes, the game may not have a stellar or memorable soundtrack, but it works. The voice acting, however, is absolutely fantastic—a joy to listen to, considering that the majority of your time you’ll be speaking to NPCs and questing. The weapons and combat audio sounds good for the most part, but again is nothing crazy good or bad. Plasma weapons sound like plasma, shotgun shots sound like a shotgun, as you’d expect.
Overall, I have not encountered any weird visual or audio bugs or issues during my playtime. In an open world game like this, that is a very good thing. This is a much cleaner game, less bug-ridden than something like Fallout 4 or Fallout 76 from Bethesda. However, while everything may seem fine and dandy, I am disappointed in the performance of the Xbox One X version of the game due to its prioritization of resolution and image quality over framerate. There is no option to play the game at 60 FPS, which is a shame and missed opportunity, considering that this is featured as a Game Pass title on day one.
If you’ve been craving a true single-player RPG with a good leveling system, fantastic voice acting, good storytelling, and excellent pacing, then The Outer Worlds is a game that you must play. The game lasts around 30 hours, and that’s including completing both the main storyline and majority of sidequests. Thankfully, with how many choices you have in this game, the replay value is quite high. It’s always fun to see the other outcomes in your next playthrough—or ten.
The Outer Worlds is not a perfect game. It does not perform as well as it should have when played on the Xbox One X. With no option to play at 60 FPS or go to a higher than 1080p resolution, an opportunity has been missed. The hardware is more than capable of that kind of performance, so it’s very confusing that the game doesn’t take advantage of that. Also, 30+ hours is a tad too low for gameplay length for this kind of a title. I was honestly expecting at least 50 or more hours in a world like this. At the end of the day, The Outer Worlds is a game that deserves your attention, whether you’re a fan of earlier Fallout titles such as Fallout 3 and New Vegas, or if you’re on the lookout for a new single player RPG, period.
The Outer Worlds is available on Game Pass, so if you are an owner of Game Pass then we’d highly recommend you give it a shot. However, if you are 100% positive you want the game then you may purchase it right here.