In The Outer Worlds, masterful RPG space wizards Obsidian Entertainment prove that you can have a lot of fun being lost in space.
As a new IP title, The Outer Worlds is kind of like Pacific Rim: it doesn’t tell you much about what’s going on. But splice that vague title with a dose of developer Obsidian Entertainment’s pedigree and the potential becomes a whole lot clearer.
This is the same studio that gifted us the hilarious RPG South Park: The Stick of Truth, deep action-RPG Fallout: New Vegas and, for the oldies in the back, damn near definitive Star Wars RPG Knights of the Old Republic II. That portfolio is a strong testament to the treatment of characters, storytelling and, most importantly, player agency in The Outer Worlds.
At first glance, it seems a lot like Fallout: New Vegas in space. There’s more at play here and, mercifully, without the Klendathu-level bugs that plagued New Vegas. It’s a damn sight easier on the eyes, too.
You take on the malleable role of a colonist who’s seemingly competing for Ellen Ripley’s title of longest space nap. Awakened after decades of cryosleep, you’ll tackle a deep conspiracy involving power-hungry space factions. From what we’ve played, The Outer Worlds is one of those well-crafted RPGs that has your intentions losing out to temptations.
You may fully intend on doing one specific task that’s a hike away, only to discover a plethora of distractions along the way. Unless you’ve invested IRL skill points into your willpower, you’re bound to give in to temptation. We certainly did. But that’s all part of the fun.
Another part is the gunplay. There are basic mechanics that will feel at home for any shooter fan, and the combat itself feels more rewarding than your average first-person RPG. A lot of this is due to some killer presentation.
“You take on the malleable role of a colonist who’s seemingly competing for Ellen Ripley’s title of longest space nap.”
If you opt for the loud-and-proud approach, roll with companions who complement this aggressive-negotiations path. You might opt to start a fight with an overhead melee-swing opener from one companion, and a war-cry minigun bullet storm from the other.
You can pick off stragglers from afar with a sniper rifle. Or get up close and personal with some truly brutal melee weapons. Because of your 40,000 winks space nap, your character is conveniently able to slow time for a few crucial seconds mid-fight. This makes lining up headshots easier, but also has the added benefit of making melee hits all the more bone-crunching.
The Outer Worlds doesn’t shy away from dismemberment, either. While number-spewing RPGs often make even the mightiest-looking weapon feel feeble with the number of shots required, The Outer Worlds adds weight to its critical-damage deaths. Heads disappear. Limbs are sent flying. And with the right sci-fi weapon, screaming foes are defeated as they disintegrate into piles of ash.
It’s equal parts hilarious and horrific – and that’s just the action stuff. We only got to scratch the surface of this interstellar RPG during our hands-on session. Unfortunately, there’s no real-world space-nap option to make October 25 arrive faster.
We’ve heard it’ll take dozens of hours to finish The Outer Worlds. But given the many, many different ways you can spec your character and interact with the world, there’s reason aplenty to replay. For instance, investing in a silver tongue pays off dividends with conversation options. There’s also a brawns-over-brain build that’ll have NPCs shaking their heads at your character’s low-IQ utterances. That said, you can also kill any head-shaking character (or any other NPC).
The Outer Worlds launches for PS4 and Xbox One on October 25.