Game Review: The Outer Worlds (Xbox One X)

The Outer Worlds is a single-player first-person sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division. Lost in transit while on a colonist ship bound for the furthest edge of the galaxy, you awake decades later only to find yourself in the midst of a deep conspiracy threatening to destroy the Halcyon colony. As you explore the furthest reaches of space and encounter various factions, all vying for power, the character you decide to become will determine how this player-driven story unfolds. In the corporate equation for the colony, you are the unplanned variable.

In the early stages of the game, the player can create their own character and unlock a ship, which acts as the game’s central hub space. Though the player cannot control their ship directly, it serves as a fast travel point to access different areas in the game and acts as the player’s persistent inventory space. The player can encounter and recruit non-player characters as companions who have their own personal missions and stories. Each companion has its own individual skills and special attacks, and it can also develop its own skill specialization. When exploring, the player can bring up to two companions alongside them to aid them.

The player can make numerous dialogue decisions, which can influence the game’s branching story. They can also respond to NPCs in various ways, such as acting heroically, maniacally, or moronically.

The combat, weapons and perk system doesn’t really break any new ground. But the main aspect that sets it apart from other games is “Tactical Time Dilation”, which slows down time. Extremely similar to VATs except you don’t completely freeze and can move around, which gives you more of a tactical advantage.

The player can also (choose to) gain a “flaw” that occurs when the player fails repeatedly in certain gameplay segments. Flaws impede the player in some way, but also give additional perks and advantages (i.e you’ve hurt yourself repeatedly from jumping from a height, you’ll now be less agile on flat surfaces but receive an upgrade point).

The game is set in an alternate future that diverged in 1901, when U.S. President William McKinley is not assassinated by Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition. As a result, Theodore Roosevelt never succeeded him, allowing large business trusts to dominate society well into the future, where megacorporations have begun colonizing and terraforming alien planets, to varying results. Originally bound for the furthest reaches of the galaxy, a colony ship’s faster-than-light travel goes astray, leaving it abandoned at the edge of colony space. The player character is awakened by a mad scientist named Phineas Welles from cryosleep only to find that most of the passengers are still in hibernation, and begins a journey to the nearby colony of Emerald Vale. The game features several factions and a branching story that reacts to the player’s choices.

The Outer Worlds is a fantastic game, don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would happily play a sequel should it be made. But I do have some flaws to illustrate, that show how it’s less than perfect. Even though regardless, the less than perfect certainly makes for a wonderful game.

Character models are great, and so is the customization of your character. But they could both always be better, and there’s easily room for improvement on the latter. Additionally, it would have been nice to have a third person option so you could really see your character. It’s fortunate that the NPC characters look so good because by God, you spend a lot of time looking at them. Every person you meet is a fleshed out person, with a full life. It’s nice, but wears you down after a time reading someone waffle on so much.

Coupled with the large amount of dialogue is the many decisions and routes for your character to take. I can definitely say the decisions I chose to make had influence in each area and it really feels like you’ve made a difference.  The main campaign is solid and gratifying, but it’s fairly short and through some loopholes could be finished within half hour. That shortness is my main issue with the game. The Outer Worlds feels like a chunk of an RPG, as if you cut Fallout into quarter. The positive to that is it’s focused, with less filler and more quality but the big negative is I naturally want more.

Combat is satisfying and its introduction of TTD keeps you in the action, requiring more strategy. I would definitely argue it’s superior to VATS. They could have brought something new to the table in terms of weapons though. Additionally, I did find the menu and inventory to be confusing and cluttered. Mainly down to a lot of mystery items (similar to Jet or Psycho in Fallout) that are never explained or really needed – the game isn’t challenging enough to need them.

I’ve mentioned Fallout as a comparison several times because it really can be compared in almost every way. Graphically and texturally they are similarly behind, which was disappointing.

As I said at the beginning I do love this game but the flaws need to be addressed. My last one to mention is a pretty big one to me. And that’s how excruciatingly long the load times were. I would say they were almost as bad as Skyrim, but their load times can be excused because it’s a massive world, not a fraction of an RPG as I earlier described.

Overall, The Outer Worlds is on the whole a polished, focused and enjoyable game. I was always engaged and eager to see where the plot was heading. Its several flaws I mentioned do not in any way take away from the quality and at some points I could say I’m nitpicking but I only want what’s best for this possible franchise and future games. I genuinely hope we get another one because that ending left me wanting to see more!

The Outer Worlds
  • The Final Score - 7/10
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