The Outer Worlds — Short but Sweet
In all my years as a gamer, I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that embodies the spirit of western RPGs as much as The Outer Worlds does. I’ve never seen a game balance all of the different moving parts of an RPG as well as The Outer Worlds. The Witcher, Skyrim, Fallout, all share a lot of mechanics with The Outer Worlds. All four games have different dialogue options and speech checks, but The Outer Worlds has them more frequently and well distributed across the game, so talking to NPC’s is much more palatable and spending points on speech stats becomes a more viable option. The Outer Worlds might not be the most high budget RPG out there, but it is certainly one of the most competent and well made.
The very first thing you notice about The Outer Worlds is that every NPC you encounter can be killed. While other RPGs mostly allow you to murder whoever you like, there are usually certain more important characters that are off limits. The ability to kill indiscriminately illuminates the freedom that is available to the player. There are so many different ways to tackle the individual situations that pop up across the game as well as the entire narrative of the game as a whole. You will come across several different settlements and factions throughout the game and it’s up to you how you want to build those relationships. The game gives you plenty of opportunities to deceive or persuade a character to do something they otherwise wouldn’t have, depending on if you can pass the speech checks. Rather than choosing your allegiances through obvious and often ham fisted singular moments, in The Outer Worlds your relationships with the different factions seem to strengthen or deteriorate a little with each decision you make, giving the game a much more immersive and realistic feeling that is hard to find in RPG’s nowadays.
The combat in The Outer Worlds is very safe and familiar, reminding me a lot of Fallout. The game even has a time slowing mechanic, much like VATS in Fallout. While I’m happy to report that the gunplay is an improvement from Fallout 4’s, combat still feels a bit clunky. Like in Fallout, there are several companions you can unlock along your journey. I only found three out of I believe six on my playthrough. The buffs they offer are pretty distinct and strong, but their actual usefulness in a firefight leave something to be desired. Much like in Fallout 4, your companions will go down pretty fast. During boss encounters you can expect to get off one special attack with each of your two allies before they both go down. The point I’m trying to make is that this game plays very much like Fallout, which is to be expected, having been developed by Obsidian.
Many people will look at this game, compare it to the last Fallout game (4, not 76) and conclude that The Outer Worlds is simply a better title in every respect. Well I believe it fails to stack up in one regard, and that would be length. The Outer Worlds is a much shorter game than Fallout 4, with my playthrough clocking in at around twenty hours. And it isn’t just the main story that’s brief, the world feels much smaller, with fewer points of interests to explore and loot. Fallout 4’s weapon variety with all the different mods and adjustments you can make through crafting offers much more than The Outer World in this respect and gives it an edge in longevity. I understand that there’s probably still plenty of new content for me to experience on a second and third playthrough, but I’m the type of gamer that will only rarely beat a game twice, and I know I’m not the only one. The Outer Worlds was definitely still an enjoyable game, just a bit of a let down when you’re expecting a 40–100 hour experience and you see the credits roll after just 20.
Although I think The Outer Worlds gets outclassed by the likes of The Witcher, Skyrim, and Fallout in terms of scale and production value, when it comes to the nitty gritty details, such as dialogue choices and the push and pull of the different factions, no game that I’ve played so far has done it better. The team over at Obsidian wasn’t able to create a massive open world filled with side quests and dungeons, but they were able to craft a classic western RPG that doesn’t dumb down many of its systems like many of its modern counterparts.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10