Games: The Outer Worlds – A Review

Recently, I finished streaming The Outer Worlds on Twitch. It quickly became one of my favourite games I have played this year.

Just a quick warning, though, I will be talking about several plot points in the game. If you do not want anything spoiled, I suggest you do not read any further.

The Outer Worlds is an action RPG (role-playing game) developed by Obsidian Entertainment. They are also the developers behind Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.

Megacorporations, better known as the Board, have colonized numerous space systems. In 2285, two ships, the Groundbreaker and the Hope were sent from Earth to help colonize the Halcyon system. However, only the Groundbreaker arrived, with The Hope mysteriously disappearing.

70 years later, scientist Phineas Welles finds the Hope and successfully revives one of the passengers on board: you. Known as the Stranger, you must now help Welles revive the rest of the colony and save Halcyon from total collapse.

Several things are apparent right away. First, you can tell there is a very corporate-heavy message throughout. You have obnoxious slogans, wild-looking mascots, and outrageous treatment of workers.

However, it is all satire and done extremely well without going overboard. Who would have thought a one-day break from work is considered a “weekend”? More than once I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

There is also a clear lack of handholding. Some games start off with an extensive tutorial that makes sure you know the ins and outs of the gameplay. The Outer Worlds is not one of those games. It drops you into the game—quite literally—and only shows you a few things before letting you loose.

Another thing that is noticeable are the clear similarities to Fallout: New Vegas. Much like its Obsidian counterpart, there are several different ways you can get yourself out of a situation. You can always talk your way out, utilizing the persuade, lie, and intimidate options if your stats are high enough. Sneaking around to avoid any combat is also an option. If all else fails, you can always shoot your way out of any problem you face.

Regardless of what you choose, those who have played New Vegas will feel right at home.

While there is a main objective, the game lets you freely explore the galaxy and the stories inside it. You can take part in several conflicts between Board-controlled settlements and groups of revolutionaries and deserters. This means you can shape Halcyon into how you see fit, either side with the Board or help liberate it from their control.

But you cannot do this alone, you need a crew to help you as you travel the galaxy. The first potential crew member you meet is Parvati Holcomb, a shy and quiet engineer from the town of Edgewater. She accompanies you on a mission to help Edgewater’s mayor, Reed Tobson, convince deserters to return to town. Eventually, you can ask her to be a part of your crew.

Over time, you will come across five other characters you can recruit: SAM, Nyoka, Felix, Ellie, and Max. Each has a specific set of skills and perks that can help you in different situations. For example, Parvati and Felix have high dialogue skills, while Ellie is high in medical stats. Two of them can be in your party at a time, so you can mix it up depending on the mission.

Your crew also has separate side missions you can complete for extra bonuses. They were all a blast to play through, with each one being completely unique to each companion. My favourites were easily Nyoka’s, Max’s, and Parvati’s.

Speaking of Parvati, she quickly became one of my favourite characters in the game. Her bashful demeanour and quirky personality were endearing right from the start. Add to that the fact that she is also asexual, and I instantly felt connected to her. She is one of the better-written characters in the game, and now one of my favourite video game characters ever.

Now onto the combat, which is pretty good but nothing spectacular. You have the option of using melee weapons, as well as several different types of guns. However, one unique feature is the tactical time dilation, which slows down time and provides more info on the target. Depending on your aim, you can also target a specific part of their body to inflict various types of damage.

There is also a reputation system amongst Halcyon’s factions. These range from primary groups like the Board and Groundbreaker, to secondary groups like Spacer’s Choice and Auntie Cleo’s. Your actions can either increase or decrease your reputation with them, with varying degrees of consequences.

I liked this feature because losing reputation with a group had more weight to it than in other games. It could be as minor as having extra fees at faction vendors, or as major as having them attack you on sight. These choices affected the game, especially towards the end, so I had to think them through almost every time.

After getting the hang of things, then you can dive into the main story, which I found very enjoyable. Gathering the resources needed to save the Hope’s colonists was intriguing from start to finish. Things really picked up about ¾ of the way into the game, once we discover Chairman Rockwell’s true intentions.

In typical Board fashion, he develops the “Lifetime Employment Program”, which he tries to pitch as a way to save the colonists. However, it is revealed that he knows Halcyon is doomed and resources are running low. So, he wants to indefinitely suspend most of the colony in cryosleep and hoard the resources for only the wealthiest citizens.

When I found that out, there was no way I wanted to side with the Board. Instead, I chose to liberate it and give the colony a chance to shape itself how they saw fit. This is essentially the “good” ending, but you can also choose to side with the Board and go through with their plan.

It turns out, there are numerous different endings depending on your actions throughout the game. All these options and choices mean there is certainly replay value with the game.

Something that really surprised me was the lack of bugs in the game. Obsidian unfortunately has a reputation for releasing buggy games at launch. This was released in October 2019, so either it was fixed by the time I played it, or it was not bad to begin with.

The only real problem I had was the loading screens. Some of them took a lot longer than they should have, especially when trying to fast travel between areas.

Overall, though, I thought The Outer Worlds was fantastic. Once I figured out the gameplay and mechanics, I loved travelling around Halcyon in search of new adventures. The planets looked gorgeous, the characters were great for the most part, and the story kept me hooked.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who wants to try something new. With The Outer Worlds 2 currently in development, now is a great time to give the first one a try.

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