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Review: The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds Review
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One of the best things about games that boast choice and consequence, is seeing how far you can push that particular aspect. To truly see whether your decisions matter or whether it’s all just an illusion. Sometimes that’s by making unconventional choices and other times it’s just all about setting the world on fire and watching the whole thing burn down around you. Both of which are more than catered for in Obsidian’s new action-RPG, The Outer Worlds.

It's a game in which I went to see a companion’s family to have a wee ol’ chat, only for them to piss me off; so I did what every intergalactic badass does, and that’s kill them. Other games would not foresee this as a logical or even possible (read, sane) outcome to this situation, but that’s how I wanted it to play out. And Obsidian accounted for it as a possibility. Heck, they even wrote fully-voiced dialogue for it. Let’s be clear here, this isn’t really a viable or sensible choice in the game. It’s not part of a quest. It’s just a choice and consequence that exists in the game. That’s the thing with The Outer Worlds - everything is a choice, everything matters. And most things have a consequence. We don’t want to say all, as that’s actually impossible to test.


Pest control, Monarch-style.

Set in an alternate reality where megacorporations rule the roost, The Outer Worlds sees you jump into the space boots of an unknown, fully-customisable protagonist who's been lost, floating through space for decades in cryosleep on a ship ironically known as Hope. Your job when you're awoken? Well, that’s up to you, to be completely honest. Do you want to grass up the mad scientist that helped you wake up and take the cash for doing so? You can. Do you want to unite the human outposts and become the hero of the people? You can do that too. Want to be a gun-for-hire? Yup, that’s a possibility. Want to be a corporate lackey? Great, go ahead. Want to kill everyone that you come across? Sure, you can do that too.

However, the ultimate goal is to save your former shipmates stuck in suspended animation, by trekking around Halcyon, from the wild west-esque planet of Monarch, to the dazzling, neon-soaked, Groundbreaker space station, just doing your thing. Whatever you decide that thing may be.

It should come as no surprise when I say that the Fallout similarities are uncanny, especially as this is the same studio that brought you Fallout: New Vegas and the project’s two leads, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, worked on the original Fallout back in the day. Even the faction stuff from New Vegas is at The Outer Worlds’ core, as is the game’s take on Fallout’s VATS system known as TTD (the Tactical Time Dilation system, which slows down time but relies more on skill).

To say that The Outer Worlds is a Fallout clone would be unfair, but it’s certainly inspired by it. Obsidian's game also seems to have taken inspiration from BioWare’s action-RPG/space opera, Mass Effect, in that you get a ship, assemble a crew and attempt to save Halcyon from a whole host of interesting situations. It’s a Firefly fantasy, if ever there was one.

While companions in Fallout and the like have always tended to be a bit pointless and essentially act as empty vessels there to just carry your wares (and your burdens), companions in The Outer Worlds actually feel fully fleshed out. They have backstories, opinions, they’re acknowledged in talking sequences, offer their thoughts and interact with one another while you’re trudging around Halcyon. They are part of your adventure; they're your allies; and they’re an absolute pleasure to have around. Their involvement isn’t perhaps as in-depth as in Mass Effect, but they’re as close as I think we’ve ever got since then.

Honestly, the best thing about The Outer Worlds is the writing. The dialogue is beautifully crafted, the delivery is spot on and it’s genuinely funny at times. Funny in a way that is natural, with slick, witty one-liners here and there, rather than humour shoehorned in for the sheer sake of it. That, however, brings in my biggest – and maybe only – complaint, and that’s that the protagonist’s lines are unvoiced. When you try and deliver a threat, it feels a little disingenuous and unnatural as you don’t really get the context. The NPC you’re speaking to can go from chill to god-fearing with one line from you, but because you read the text rather than the tone, there’s a bit of a disconnect. That’s a mild complaint, though, one that you only really notice on the odd occasion.

As I alluded to earlier, dotted throughout The Outer Worlds are a ton of huge, impactful decisions. Proper ‘shades of grey’ decisions that you will genuinely struggle with. Decisions where there is no good or bad choice - there is just a choice that will have both positive and negative connotations associated with it, and that’s what sets The Outer Worlds apart from other action-RPGs. They’re up there with the Ashley vs. Kaidan decision from Mass Effect.


Meet Silas, everyone's happy, smiley gravedigger buddy.

My only grievance is that the effects of said choices don’t really manifest themselves until the end. Yes, there are big decisions towards the end of the game that have instant results, but the effects of some of the more world-affecting decisions you don’t really experience with your own eyes. The same could be said of a lot of games featuring ‘choice and consequence’, and considering the Obsidian team is far smaller than say a Bethesda or a BioWare team, it’s probably a little unfair to hold them to such lofty standards.

The choice and consequence doesn’t really stop with the game’s story either: the choices you make in your build impact the options available to you. For instance, you can make yourself super charming and open up more dialogue choices that wouldn’t otherwise exist. On the flip side you can make yourself super dumb and have the same effect. You can build a silver-tongued character and talk your way out of trouble more often than not or you can build a dumb brute who opts for violence over anything else; you can even opt to build an intelligent engineer and opt for a more analytical approach, hacking and lock-picking your way to success. The RPG depth in The Outer Worlds is nearly as enticing as the world and the characters that Obsidian has built.

It’s genuinely hard to fault The Outer Worlds, if I’m being honest. Yes, the load times are pretty long and the map can sometimes take an age to load, but these are minor complaints in what is an otherwise epic jaunt across a unique galaxy. There’s no doubt about it in my mind: The Outer Worlds is not just one of the year’s best action-RPGs, but one of the generation’s best. It’s deep, it’s dark, it’s dirty and dastardly, and best of all, The Outer Worlds is whatever you want it to be, whether that’s a warlord simulator or hero fantasy, or something in-between.

 

Not only is the voice acting top-notch across the board, the original score is superb. From the wild-west tones of Fallbrook to the sultry, soothing tones of the Groundbreaker, it’s hard not to love what Obsidian has done here.

The Outer Worlds is not just incredibly stylised from an artistic vision standpoint, but it’s absolutely bloody beautiful as well. There’s the odd occasion when frame-rate can get a little choppy, but those moments are very few and far between. Obviously, it looks great on the Xbox One X, but it's not as good on the vanilla Xbox One and Xbox One S.

You don’t usually associate first-person action RPGs with tight responsive shooting mechanics, but The Outer Worlds has just that. You can easily play this as an FPS if you’re not that interested in the RPG aspects.

The Outer Worlds is a fantastic action-RPG with a wonderful cast of characters, some truly massive and interesting decisions, set in a large expansive universe chock-full of style, swagger and masses of player agency. What’s not to love?

There's a good variety of trophies on offer in The Outer Worlds' list that, sure, will require multiple runthroughs, but some of them do show off the best aspects of Obsidian's excellent RPG, especially its choice and consequence mechanics.

The Outer Worlds is not only a breath of fresh air and easily one of Obsidian’s best ever games, but it's an experience that can truly wear the player choice badge with pride. From the RPG elements to how you play, The Outer Worlds truly is your adventure. Just don’t kill anyone’s parents in it, okay?

 
 
 
Game Info
Publisher:
Private Division
Genre:

Release:

US October 25, 2019
Europe October 25, 2019
Japan October 25, 2019

Players: 1
Online Players : 0
ESRB: Mature
Collection:161
Wishlist:46
 
 
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