Created by Obsidian Entertainment and released on the 25th of October came a game so fascinating and well-crafted that it puts perspective onto how great a single-player game can still be in an industry that concerns itself with micro-transactions and milking money from people. I won’t pretend like I’ve familiarised myself upon the history of games that Obsidian has worked on.
I’ve never played a Fallout game, or any game they’ve worked on for that matter. For me, The Outer Worlds was a new experience not just regarding the game itself, but to the developers. While Bethesda falls in their own demise of Fallout 76 being infested with micro-transactions and game-breaking bugs, Obsidian relishes in victory as they released an RPG game that is made by the hearts and brains of passionate employees.
A game that is often being referred to as the Fallout: New Vegas sequel, however, to those who haven’t played New Vegas, this is a different experience to anything else you’ve played. Having been working on since early 2016, The Outer Worlds offers players a package that goes all out.
Within moments of entering the game, the first aspect that will strike you is how aesthetically pleasing this game is. From its clear art style to the beautifully created worlds, the Outer Worlds is absolutely stunning. The game will age like fine wine in that you can visit it years after playing it for the first time, and it will still be tremendous to look at. It just has an art-style that’s a mix between No Man’s Sky and Fallout 4 but it works perfectly as Obsidian adds its own neon vibrancy and life to the design that the other two games lack.
Furthermore, due to the determination to not make each area a massive chunk of nothingness to discover, the different area designs in this game are extremely fun and outstanding to explore. Whether it’s because each area has a distinct personality of its own, or because of how condensed each area is, it all makes a difference when exploring new areas that you have yet to discover. Each environment in the game is sort of enclosed to really bring out the effect of feeling like you’re actually inside a community and not just some massive area in a map that is huge.
Everything you see in the game almost has a purpose to being there, whether it’s to add personality to characters or simply to add more life to a town. However, the design of this game goes further from just looking good environmentally. It’s also evident that a lot of effort was put into character interactions. When speaking to characters you’ll notice a light shining upon them as though they’re on a public stand giving out a speech about freedom and hope. This is also supported as the background would blur out whenever speaking to a character, focusing on the person speaking.
To add to this though, the lights around the character when speaking almost become a little dim as the shining light really focuses on the facial animations and reactions of the character you’d be interacting with. The design is unusual and unique but in the best way possible. It’s one that’s not seen often, if at all, in games nowadays but it’s definitely a welcome change.
Free of Bugs/Glitches:
It’s almost impossible nowadays to imagine a Triple-A game being released in a perfect state, or at least almost perfect condition. Despite all odds and the fact that Obsidian Entertainment is a smaller company than most Triple-A developers, the Outer Worlds suffers from no bugs whatsoever. In my play-through of the game, I didn’t experience a single bug. There were no glitches or any game-breaking problems.
It’s almost hysterical to see a small developer like Obsidian being able to present a game that’s in a state this good when massive Triple-A developers like Bethesda, Rockstar Games, Ubisoft and EA release games frequently with bugs and game-breaking glitches.
I played this game on the PlayStation 4 where I experienced some minor frame-rate drops when I was exploring the more open areas of the map, but it was never too noticeable or immersion-shattering. Whenever I was inside a town (Edgewater e.g.) I would never see any frame-rate drops and the game ran beautifully with no disruptions. There were never texture pop-ins or pop-outs, never any weird AI animations or anything that would otherwise be considered a glitch or a bug.
This isn’t to say that everyone else will have a similar play-through as mine, I’m sure there are people out there who have experienced bugs/crashes, but I can only speak for what I encountered. It’s simply impressive that a game at this scale brought no issues for me when the release and current state of games like Anthem or Fallout 76 see those two games being nothing but complete jokes to the gaming industry.
It just enforces the fact that when a Triple-A game is released, there are no excuses as to why it would be buggy or a glitchy mess, especially when consumers are spending $60-90 for a game.
The Game Length:
This is one of those games that can be finished in around 15 hours minimum if not played to the full extent. The way this game is designed is that it allows players to play however they want, and that means being able to ignore all side quests and getting through the meaty stuff.
However, for anyone that has played a minimum of one RPG open-world game before, you would know that playing it that way would mean missing out on content that is hugely satisfying and rewarding in that you’re getting chunks of fantastic story and meeting characters that you otherwise wouldn’t have met if you were only to pay attention to the main story.
Exploring each world and treating each world as an individual with its own history is so much more meaningful when you realize that every world introduces situations, characters, and stories that are perhaps not crucial to the main story, but vital to your overall experience.
Not to mention that everything in this game can be approached in any way that you want. The game gives you so many things that allow you to play this game differently to the way you usually would play a game. If you prefer playing stealthily and thinking strategically, the game encourages you to do that by giving you a device that allows you to change disguises so that you don’t just combat each situation with violence, instead you’re having to think carefully about approaching a restricted area.
If you prefer a more straightforward approach, the game has a variety of weapons that are remarkable to use, but also companions that will help you fight anything or anyone that tries to harm you. There are several ways to play this game, and this is also enforced by the abilities and skills that are involved with the game.
The game justifies its length also by the fact that your choices will profoundly impact what happens to specific people or an entire world. There is much more game than just the main story if you’re the sort of player that likes to excavate into a game and explore everything that’s on offer.
Engraved within the Outer Worlds is a story that looks into the idea of corporate capitalism and how this form of society affects everyone. The whole game is based around the concept of massive corporations controlling people and society on a variety of levels. While the game tackles on a serious topic, there’s always some satirical joke that’s being made as though to make fun of the craziness of the situation.
People are no longer seen as people, instead entirely seen as disposable if not fit to do the job required of them. In fact, one of the stories you’ll engage with early on is the idea that not everyone who is sick or unhealthy in Edgewater will be afforded medicine or help as it would be cheaper to let them die than to spend resources helping them.
Along the journey of this twisted story, you’ll interact with characters that you’ll begin to care for genuinely, characters who are only just surviving in the harsh conditions set by the mega-corporation Spacer’s Choice in the Outer Worlds. This sort of story is always exciting because of the similarities and comparisons that can easily be made to our own society nowadays. You might be asking at this point, “why would anyone stay and work for Spacer’s Choice?”
Well, the simple truth is that anyone who ends up leaving their job will most likely starve and die in the wilderness where the dangers of the Outer Worlds await them. Interestingly enough, you do meet a small community early at the start of the game in which you have a chance to help them or help the nearby town (Edgewater) which is controlled by Spacer’s Choice.
Everyone in this game, whether they’re just an ordinary citizen or an extremist, is there to look out for themselves or the colony they serve. The story is very much tailored around your choices and who you side with, whether it be the mega-corporations, factions or if you’re just someone who is looking out for themselves.
After finding out the Outer Worlds features a companion element in the game, I was quickly skeptical as this kind of element in an RPG game never really shines well. The mistake I made in thinking that was almost shameful after I played the game for myself and realized that the companions are one of the best parts of this game.
Throughout the game, you’ll meet characters that can join you, should you accept, onto your ship and they will be a permanent member of your crew unless you choose to kick them out. The companions in most games like Skyrim are designed to do one thing, follow you around as you traverse through the world and assist you with combat when you engage against enemies or vice versa.
What’s amazing in the Outer Worlds is that companions don’t feel like companions, instead of feeling more like a real person with their own stories, backgrounds, likes and dislikes and anything else that makes a person human.
For example, Parvati – a companion you acquire early on is an exciting, yet shy person who is also a mechanical engineer. Learning this information doesn’t come in the form of a character description though, instead, you learn that by interacting with your companion and speaking to them where you’ll learn tidbits about them, often about their families, their career, life choices and anything else.
If you’re about to make a decision that a companion is uncomfortable with, they will let you know by asking if they could speak to you for a moment before you make that decision. Should you also make a decision that is terribly controversial, your companion can choose to opt-out and leave you. You can disagree with your companions, or perhaps their opinions sway you to choosing something that you would’ve probably neglected.
It all comes down to the idea that these aren’t just companions, but actual characters with meaningful stories.
On top of that, there are also abilities and skills to give to your companion. You could improve their health, carry weight, movement speed, attacks and several other skills that can be improved or acquired for your companion.
It doesn’t end with that though, and if your companion is a mechanical engineer, healer or a combatant, then their abilities will be based around that. Your companions will all have completely different personalities. Parvati has a shy but optimistic outlook on life, Ellie being an outlaw-inspired character who’s more closed off to the world and there are multiple other companions you come across.
In addition to all this, there also companion-based quests in which you are more likely to learn something new about them or even allow your companion to develop relationships and change as a character. In this way, the game understands truly how to connect the player to the companion and feel as though they aren’t just someone who follows you around the world, but more as a person or even a friend.
Furthermore, the companions in the Outer Worlds don’t just focus on having some relationship with you only. No, they will speak among themselves or even with other characters that are involved within the main story, whether it’s a romantic interaction or just a random conversation.
These characters immediately feel like fleshed-out characters, rather than being characters that are there to serve you only.
While the other elements of the game celebrate in victory, the gameplay is possibly where the game fails to satisfy completely. Unfortunately, with no other form of transportation than walking around in the world, it can make the game feel a little stale, primarily as the game relies on you having to travel from point A to point B constantly. However, this isn’t to say the gameplay is flawed with no redeeming qualities because that would be a lie.
The gameplay begins to improve itself, especially when you unlock unique abilities like being able to leap forward or unlocking the ability to move/run faster. Nevertheless, the game is around 25 hours long, and it can get bland at times, but the exciting nature of exploration in the game lifts the spirit almost immediately.
Moving on, we also have to take combat as a factor. The game applies combat that complements the first-person nature of the game. For the most part, the fighting here works as you focus on dodging, parrying and occasionally mashing a button for a melee hit. The game implements some strong foundation regarding its weapons and firearms as there are a variety of weapons to choose from that will help you in the wilderness.
The combat often feels very good as it’s normally fast-paced and feels quite punchy. In saying that, there’s one flaw that I experienced with my play-through of the game, which is the fact that the combat begins feeling easy on normal difficulty. For my first play-through, I decided to play on normal and midway into the game; the combat began feeling too easy rather than anything else. At first, this was quite satisfying as I saw myself as a superhero who couldn’t be stopped, however, this feeling naturally came to an end as I saw myself doing the same thing over without any real challenge.
Now, this didn’t just affect my thoughts on gameplay but also on the game’s addition of modifying weapons as I never felt any necessity to add modifications that would otherwise change my play-style when it came to combat. Uniquely, the Outer Worlds introduces a system in which you’re given a choice to develop a “flaw” in exchange for receiving an ability point or something else.
Hardly is this even worth the trade-off though, and the system quickly became obsolete in my play-through as I never gave it the time of day due to never being offered a worthy compromise. It could be that it was because I played on a standard difficulty that I wasn’t able to experience this system to its full potential but to have to change the difficulty to enjoy something in a game isn’t a compromise I should have to make.
Furthermore, as this is an RPG, you’re given a choice to combat situations in a variety of ways whether that be hacking, stealth or even through the power of dialogue. Hacking and dialogue are where the game truly shines as these are the two options you have to be most careful with, and by the end of it, you can either feel extremely satisfied with the outcome or disappointed that you just helped fuel a war between two communities.
On the other hand, stealth is perhaps the weaker option, and that’s because hardly does the game ever lean you towards this approach. There are silencers as attachments, but these are extremely rare, and even when applied enemies will still be able to hear your shots when you kill their partner or a creature (raptidon, e.g.).
I did mention earlier the disguise system the game implements in which you are given a device “holographic shroud” that allows you to change appearances to someone else to gain access to restricted areas. This is a unique addition to stealth gameplay; however, the fault is that the game rarely gives you a situation in which the device is useful. Gameplay-wise, it’s not great, but it’s not bad either.