The Outer Worlds is a masterpiece that blends all the right ingredients together into a beautifully crafted dark yet immensely fun smoothie. You stumble out of your cryo-pod after a rough landing on the vibrant terraformed planet, Terra 2, still struggling to make sense of the world. Your gaze reaches out into the vast expanse of wilderness as you admire the utter beauty it possesses and then embark on your quest to become the hero that this dysfunctional world needs.
Wait, no, turn around. You just accidentally landed on the guy who was waiting there to receive you. He was supposed to guide you through this unfamiliar world and show you the ropes but now you’ve turned him into goo. What is wrong with you?
This is a recurring theme in The Outer Worlds as it does an extremely good job of offsetting expectations and coming up with absurd yet hilarious outcomes, leading to some of funniest instances I’ve ever seen in gaming.
Your character makes a difference in The Outer Worlds
Before we get into the actual gameplay, let’s talk about character creation. In The Outer Worlds, your character is the main attraction as the choices you make while constructing your dream character have a meaningful impact on the way you play the game. I usually start out with combat focused characters in RPGs but something in The Outer Worlds just swayed me towards the opposite side of the spectrum.
The level of control that the game hands over to the player in terms of choosing the personality of the character cannot be undermined. Everything from the dialogue options to the hard choices you have to make seem extremely well-written. My character isn’t the best at shooting but he is an extremely good liar and that has gotten me out of so many sticky situations without having to fire a single bullet, it is not even funny.
Delivering that satisfying pay-off for investing your points in a specific character trait is where The Outer Worlds shines the brightest. For example, at one point I managed to recover the formula for a diet toothpaste that a guy was working on. Instead of giving it back to him, I told him that the formula got stolen. After that, I went to a fence to sell it off but told her that the it was actually a formula for some newly invented advanced rocket fuel that would change the world and thus, I got a ton of money off her by just straight up lying.
In addition to the dialogue options, you can also just be really good at shooting people, shrinking them or hitting them with a massive hammer. Honestly, the possibilities are endless. Furthermore, you also have a lot of control over the companions in your party and how you want their abilities, behaviour and weapons to evolve over time.
Packed full of things to do
The Outer Worlds carries over a lot of DNA from previous games by Obsidian like Fallout: New Vegas and KOTOR 2. However, Obsidian did a very good job of choosing the best elements of both games and packing them into a single package. The Outer Worlds isn’t fully open world like Fallout. Instead, it is more like Mass Effect because you fly between planets and explore them separately. However, every single one of these planets and locations is packed full of stuff to do and quests to complete.
Lately, video game developers have been throwing open world RPGs at us like there’s no tomorrow. Even fairly linear games like Gears of War have started to slowly branch out into the open world realm. While the expansion to wider horizons is great, these games can overwhelm you at times because of the sheer size of them and the fact that there are just so many of them around now. The Outer Worlds, on the other hand, comes in very digestible bite-sized packages that are fairly linear while presenting a living world that is open for exploration.
While playing The Outer Worlds, I realised that they just don’t make games like these anymore. None of the quests felt tedious or boring. Most of them followed interesting storylines that eventually led to a meaningful and satisfying outcome. In addition to that, if you do have to go back to the same place for another quest, the fast travel system between individual landmarks is very convenient.
The hostile creatures in The Outer Worlds are also very versatile with each presenting their own set of challenges. While you can just kill enemies with vanilla guns, upgrades suited to combat different types of enemies really enhance your ability to tackle them.
Hyper Capitalism plagues the universe of The Outer Worlds
The world has been taken over by corporations with only one single interest, money. The consistent onslaught of comedic blows in The Outer Worlds keeps reminding you about the wicked nature of this dark and dystopian hyper-capitalistic world while making you laugh at the same time. This is the perfect blend of absurd humour that manages to highlight the things that are wrong within the world.
However, between all that humor are some genuinely memorable moments and characters that The Outer Worlds players will surely remember for ages. Despite all the borrowed DNA from other games, The Outer Worlds feels raw and pure in what it is trying to do. Characters like Parvati do such a good job at making you care about them that a lot of the times you just end up doing what their pure and innocent soul suggests.
Despite all the pressure from these mega-corporations, the people in The Outer Worlds have so much heart and ingenuity that sometimes you forget about all of your other problems while listening to theirs. For example, this bartender kept asking me about my problems but then I persuaded her to tell me about her story. I had such a good time just sitting there and listening about her passions and what she wanted to do in her life before she became a bartender. Everything from the writing to the voice acting just leaves you in utter awe.
The Outer Worlds does such a good job of keeping you engaged in its characters and its worlds that you don’t even notice the hours that go by while you’re playing it. I honestly don’t remember the last time I felt that way about a game.
The Outer Worlds combat is like Fallout on drugs
Gunplay is probably the weakest part of The Outer Worlds. Don’t get me wrong, it is still fantastic and feels very satisfying. However, it is more like a Fallout game when it comes to fighting mechanics and those aren’t exactly known for their brilliant shooting mechanics.
The Outer Worlds feels like a slightly better version of Fallout New Vegas. Instead of VATS, we have a time dilation ability that slows down time. Other than that, the gunplay feels fairly solid and never really got in the way of ruining anything in the game for me. The guns themselves are great though with plenty of room for upgrades and elemental effects. In addition to that, the science weapons with their own wacky abilities like the shrink ray can really shake things around.
Other than the guns, The Outer Worlds also tries to put melee combat in the forefront. If you level up your melee combat skill appropriately, you can be a real powerhouse in the game. While the combat itself isn’t anything extraordinary and is very much like Fallout, there is something very therapeutic about smashing a robot using an electrically charged hammer.
They just don’t make games like this anymore
The Outer Worlds feels special. It just manages to deliver a compelling story within a very well fleshed out world while being digestible. Usually, the start of an open world game can be a bit daunting as you slowly explore the map. However, The Outer Worlds keeps a fairly open world while retaining the life within it.
Additionally, the freedom that is offered to the players to choose their own path is also very meaningful. The comedic genius that the game can produce at times sandwiched between some very dark themes and heart-warming moments is also very refreshing. It is like a jack of all trades and really manages to scratch that Mass Effect itch. In The Outer Worlds, you can be the best shooter in the entire system or just charm your way through predicaments, the choice is yours.
The Outer Worlds is out now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The game is also available on Xbox Game Pass and will make its way to the Nintendo Switch later down the road.