The Outer Worlds takes Fallout fans where they’ve been wanting to go for some time now…back to a world (or worlds) that give players tough decisions with real consequence and impact.
Obsidian, the creators of Fallout: New Vegas, have taken what they know fans love about that franchise and created their own new IP. But how well do they replicate that decision making aspect and how well does The Outer Worlds differentiate itself?
The Outer Worlds Storytelling
The story and storytelling are perhaps the biggest elements of this game to talk about. The game starts off with you being pulled from your cryosleep, by scientist Phineas Welles, and launched onto the world below. He has one goal in mind for you- to help him bring an end to The Board’s tyrannical reign over the Halcyon colony.
But just because that’s what you’re told to do, it doesn’t mean it’s what you HAVE to do. Don’t want to go along with Phinneas’ plan to save the Halcyon colony? Don’t do it. You want to side with the villians? Go for it! They’re the kind of big choices this game presents you with, and actually accommodates you whatever decision you make! I myself went with helping save the colony which is obviously the ‘good guy’ route. Even though I committed to this path, I was still presented with opportunities to go to the dark side, making me feel I wasn’t always locked in to my choice.
Despite the flexibility of the main storyline, I found it to be good story, but just not great. It didn’t keep me captivated, and looking back over it, it feel pretty stock-standard. It was just predictable, even though the game climaxes pretty well towards the end. I can’t speak for the ‘bad guy’ route as I didn’t play through it, so that may have been better.
It wasn’t the main missions that did it for me, but it was actually the side missions that make this game as great as it is. As you venture to the different planets while following the main story, you’ll of course pick up dozens of side quests along the way. Each planet or town you visit has its own set of problems that optionally you can help with. The side quests you do for the people aren’t just stand-alone missions, but contribute to the overall story of each location. There may be factions at each other’s throats and you can choose to help both, or just one and exterminate the other.
If you decide to help both, you may be presented with a final resolution to their feuds, which may result in peace, or choosing which side wins. This was the best part of The Outer Worlds, the multiple storylines that you could play a major hand in. But being side quests, you could also completely skip over them, it’s up to you.
Also the choices you make, both in main and side quests, will have a major impact by the game’s end. I certainly won’t spoil anything, but while I played through the final mission and watched the ending, I could actually see the result of my choices playing out before me. It made it all feel worthwhile to take the time out to complete as many quests as possible. It would have taken quite a lot of planning and preparation on the developers part to pull this off, and I commend them greatly for it.
The Outer Worlds Gameplay
The Outer Worlds is played out over multiple planets, so it isn’t your typical open-world game. This game takes the approach to what I enjoyed about Metro Exodus, and that is multiple, but smaller, open world areas. I really enjoy this variation of the genre, as it allows you to stay focused on one area at a time, and becomes more immersive as result. That feeling of being overwhelmed by a massive open world isn’t always a pleasant one, but here you’re focusing solely on the stories happening within each area.
The Outer Worlds also contains RPG elements which gives more motivation for completing missions and exploring locations. It’s actually quite in-depth! As you level up, you can select a series of stats to raise, including stats for your guns, stealth, lockpicking, dialog, and much more. This allows you to develop the type of character you like with a lot of flexibility. You’ll also be able to choose perks every 2 levels…because everybody loves perks right? An interesting feature this game includes is that your character can actually become ‘flawed’. If you’re hit by a certain type of enemy too often, or affected by a certain status too many times, you have the option for that to become a flaw of yours, therefore making your character even more distinct than ever. But why would you do this in the first place? You gain a perk point, which in some cases just may be worth having a new flaw.
But what RPG would be complete without weapons and armour? In The Outer Worlds, you’ll find all sorts of ranged and melee weapons, armour, helmets, and even mods to power them up. Sounds cool right? The thing is, and I may be the only one who thinks this, but the gear overall just wasn’t that exciting. You have your standard pistols, shotguns, plasma rifles, and the occasional unique weapon, but there was something bland about your choices. Maybe it was the way they looked, or how they sounded, but I never truly got excited about getting new gear. I think the stats associated with them may have been the problem. When I found another gun of the same type, if they’re still around the same level as my current gun, the stats are pretty much exactly the same. So that meant I was stuck with the same gun types I used for long periods of time, and because I could tinker them (level them up and make them stronger), I basically had the same weapons from halfway through the game up until the end.
Speaking of the guns, the combat was fine, but don’t expect to be the best you’ll experience this generation. To be honest, it still plays better than the Fallout games, but doesn’t feel as good as something like Destiny or Doom. But regardless, I still managed to have fun with each battle I took part in, and still felt that satisfaction when the last enemy was killed.
The Outer Worlds Characters
Not only does an RPG need an epic story, but a great cast of characters to go with it. There were some characters I genuinely liked (FYI Pavarti was the best character), and other characters I just didn’t care for (Vicar Max, why are you here?). Each character will have their own companion quests that allow you not only to help them, but get know them better.
But apart from that, and the occasional comment they make during dialog, they never truly felt integral to the story. You can go it alone if you want, but that proves that they’re not really necessary. As a result, I didn’t feel a true connection to them, and they didn’t feel important.
But it was still great to see them actually interacting with each other. As you journey around with them, they’ll converse with each other and have unique conversations, which I thought further showed the effort the developers put into the game.
The Outer Worlds Visuals and Tone
The last thing I’ll talk about is the visuals and tone of the game. If you’ve played any Fallout game, then you’ll instantly recognise that 1950’s vibe that the game gives off. The music, the posters, and just the general style of the game reflect that time period. I’m just a little confused as to why they went with something like this that’s already been done before. At least in the Fallout games, there was a reason why it had the 1950’s vibe because the world essentially stopped during that decade, but in The Outer Worlds in doesn’t make any sense. It’s not really a big deal, but I wonder why they’d go down this route again. To bring even more personality out of the game, you’ll find some great humour here. I found myself laughing quite a lot during my playthrough, and it added so much to the experience.
And lastly, the visuals. I’m in two minds about it, as there are times the game looks spectacular, and other times it looks downright ugly (I played on the PS4). From a distance, the views look amazing, with the bright colours really popping out and forcing you to stop and admire. But it’s when you look at things up close is where it all goes a bit off. To me, everything looks almost like last gen graphics. Also some of the characters look like they came straight from Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, so not a pretty sight!
The Outer Worlds Review Summary
The Outer Worlds is something very familiar, but something very new. Players will find the choices and real consequences a breath of fresh air that many games dare to take. The developers clearly put in the effort with their storytelling and was the highlight of the game.
The game’s humour and tone gave it real personality and I enjoyed visiting each new location to discover new stories and characters to get to know.
The RPG elements were a bit hit and miss, with the stats and character customisation being very detailed, but the gear you find just lacked that ‘wow’ factor.
But I can happily say I still had a great time with The Outer Worlds. If you’re a fan of the Fallout games, you’ll surely enjoy your time here. I can’t help but feel like this game is Fallout’s younger brother, but it still found plenty of ways to stand on its own feet and even surpass it in some ways.