Outriders, a looter-shooter from developer People Can Fly, is set to release this September for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The Painkiller and Bulletstorm devs are known for fast-paced gunplay and stylized action, which blend well with Outriders’ third-person combat and flashy abilities.
The game features three-player online co-op and, similar to Borderlands, will not have a Games as a Service model (GaaS). People Can Fly stated it plans to make DLC after launch, but want to release a finished product fans will enjoy.
In the year 2159, an Earth ravaged by war and climate change brings humanity to the brink of extinction. The few remaining people band together, boarding two ships en route to their new hope—the planet Enoch. It takes 80 years for one of the ships to arrive, the other seemingly lost in transit. As an Outrider, players pioneer Enoch. The colony is soon hit by a storm called “the Anomaly”, affecting the player and turning him, and others, into Altered.
After a 30-year cryosleep, the Outrider emerges to find a world full of dangerous fauna and other Altered humans. It’s up to players to explore Enoch, and use their newfound abilities to save the expedition. The gameplay footage shows a rocky arid landscape in the first level. It’s nothing new by today’s standards, but Enoch is a new planet, and hopefully People Can Fly has interesting environments in later sections.
Classes and Paths
There are four classes players can choose from once they become Altered: Devastator, Pyromancer, Trickster, and an unrevealed fourth. Each has access to various powers unlocked by leveling, though only three are usable at a time. As players progress, they’ll be able to invest skill points into three subclasses (or paths), further distinguishing their character. All classes can use the available weapons and armor, though, certain class/weapon combinations may prove stronger during end-game content.
The Devastator is a gun-blazing barbarian capable of encasing himself in stone armor, dishing out ground-pounds and shockwaves, and healing from close range kills. Though People Can Fly says all classes are viable with no “tank” required, if there was a tank role, the beefy Devastator would fill it.
Pyromancers use fire-based abilities to control crowds and do massive area-of-effect damage from range. They knock back enemies, causing them to explode and unleash walls of fire. Pyromancers heal by killing enemies they’ve marked.
The Trickster resembles a rogue/assassin with additional time slowing abilities such as Temporal Slice, which damages and slows a single target, or the area-of-effect Slow Trap. They’re agile and efficient at close quarters combat, teleporting behind enemies and killing at close range to heal themselves.
People Can Fly is waiting to reveal the fourth class closer to release. However, there are currently two melee and one medium ranged class, so it’s safe to assume the fourth will be long or medium range.
The classes and their respective paths sound promising. Even without knowing the fourth, there’s enough variety between the specs to promote fun, cooperative play and replayability. People Can Fly confirmed the game is soloable regardless of class choice, but working together with a group will bring out the most in the Outrider’s arsenal. With the subclasses, it’s possible to have three Tricksters playing together, each using different abilities from the other to form robust group compositions.
Gameplay and Gunplay
Outriders is a cooperative looter-shooter, like Borderlands, with third-person gameplay similar to The Division. Up to three players can squad up and explore Enoch, looting gear and weapons as they go along. There’s a cover system in place, but its purpose is mainly as a last resort, as players will be moving around the battlefield making liberal use of their powers. Abilities can also be synchronized with squadmates to produce unique and lethal results (like a Trickster slowing an enemy for his squad to light up).
The devs said they want powers to be a central part of the game, so much so that players will use them as often as they reload. In titles like Destiny and Borderlands, strong abilities are on long cooldowns and act as “ultimates”, whereas Outriders’ lower cooldowns lead to a greater emphasis on powers as a method for dealing with enemies.
There are two “power levels” akin to Destiny’s Light Levels, one for run-and-gun, and one dealing with class abilities. Loot increases either power level as well as providing armor, health, and other stats.
As players progress, World Tier levels open up. Choosing higher World Tiers increases drop rates for rare items, in addition to making enemies higher level. There are a total of 15 World Tiers, each with better loot chances. A well-coordinated group will likely be necessary to reach end-game tiers. There’s also a convoy of vehicles that serves as a hub base, moving forward with the Outrider on his journey. The player will own a truck from the convoy and be able to customize it.
What We Think About Outriders
Being one of the first games on the Xbox Series X and PS5, it’ll be interesting to see how this cross-gen title performs on the newer consoles. The setting doesn’t look to be anything worth writing home about, but in all fairness, little has been shown in terms of environments and effects like weather (if there is any). There is potential when it comes to the visuals and physics, and hopefully the finished product manages to surprise players with some jaw-dropping moments.
The gameplay, while similar to titles like The Division and Destiny, is unique enough to stand its ground against its competitors. The ability-driven combat and class cohesion work well, according to reporters who’ve played the game early, while the weapons themselves sound impactful and do enough damage to feel powerful.
Some people will play through the game, beat it, and put it down, while others will keep min-maxing and pushing their way to World Tier 15. Both are fine ways to play. The criticisms of being too similar to Destiny are far-fetched, as not only is it 3rd person and ability focused, but the World Tier system is quite different to Destiny’s endgame. Outriders has a lot going for it.
Long fans of the genre will probably find some fun to be had in the new IP. Many gamers are stuck to one GaaS title simply because it’s too demanding to stay current on multiple. Balancing Destiny, The Division, and Apex Legends for example, takes a lot of time and grinding, which older gamers have in short supply. This isn’t the case for People Can Fly’s new entry. It’s a standalone experience without any commitment required other than what the player wants to invest.
Outriders is poised to perform well, though, going with three-player co-op instead of four may disappoint larger groups of friends. Regardless, people enjoy looter shooters and they enjoy co-op. Many are also sick of the GaaS structure, wanting a return to the close-ended model. It’s more of what people like in an easy-to-contain package; one that is opened, enjoyed, and finished. People Can Fly promise to be back with seconds for those who become fans, but the main course will be dished out this September.