The Outer Worlds is out now and is receiving great reviews from reviewers and players alike. Obsidian Entertainment's latest venture into the RPG genre both looks and feels like classic Fallout titles, like their own Fallout: New Vegas. With it being made by former Fallout developers, many fans are wondering if this game can grow to be a new hit franchise and overtake Fallout as the go-to sci-fi RPG. Here is what the game has done right so far, and what it could do better moving forward to really cement its place as a new, great sci-fi franchise.
The Open (or Not-So Open) Worlds
Perhaps the biggest difference between The Outer Worlds and most of the recent Fallout titles is the scale of the open world. The Outer Worlds features several "worlds" to explore, but each world has a limited scope. The zones are more comparable to Borderlands due to their rather linear arrangement that features smaller side-areas scattered in each zone. Players are sometimes rewarded by venturing off the critical path, but often times its not much more than some extra loot or enemies to fight.
In Fallout, players can reliably find new areas to explore and quests to take on as they venture off the beaten path. Players can stumble upon new vaults, bandit settlements, and other interesting points of interest just by making a wrong turn somewhere. The Outer Worlds lacks that depth when it comes to world exploration, but it is still satisfying to explore and see all the different biomes and wildlife out there. If The Outer Worlds were to add new, larger areas it could cement itself as a great space exploration game, but at the very least the areas need to have a little more reward for those players who go out of there way to explore every inch to scratch that Fallout itch.
Tone, Humor, and Style
The Outer Worlds is, first and foremost, a satire. It parodies many different ideas, from brutal capitalism to old sci-fi tropes, and turns them on their heads. The game carries with it a certain charm that players can't help but fall in love with. NPCs are weird and funny at times, and companion banter brings more humor to the quiet moments in-game. Obsidian has created a great balance between their dark undertones and humorous overtones. The two mesh so well that players can easily find themselves drawn in to the complex and interconnected Halcyon System.
In terms of visual style, it looks almost ripped out of the Bethesda engine, despite being completely developed in Unreal Engine. It carries a very similar style in the character models, but builds a more vibrant and stunning world that looks like something out of No Man's Sky. Each world feels unique and completely new, despite the smaller exploration areas. What's even better is that despite being visually stunning, the PC spec requirements aren't too bad so even those with an okay PC can enjoy the beautifully crafted worlds Obsidian has put out.
Combat and Game Mechanics
If someone has ever played a Fallout title, they will likely feel right at home in The Outer Worlds. The combat feels extremely familiar to what fans of Fallout are used to, even down to the Tactical Time Dilation system that is VATS replacement in The Outer Worlds. Even the rich character creator in The Outer Worlds has some similarities to Fallout's S.P.E.C.I.A.L system. Overall, if players are looking for a game that plays similarly to Fallout without the Bethesda label on it, then The Outer Worlds definitely fills that requirement.
The one drawback to The Outer Worlds when it comes to combat is the lack of weapon variety. While there are a good amount of mods and attachments to find for weapons, many weapons are only slight variants to a base model. There are some neat Science Weapons that are unique in the game, but other than that the weapon pool feels a little thin. While it's fun to shrink enemies with a shrink ray gun, the game as a whole would feel a lot better with some extra weapons in the loot pool.
A Character-Driven Experience
If The Outer Worlds nailed one thing, it is the writing. Both from a narrative standpoint as well as a character perspective, the writing in The Outer Worlds is some of the best in recent years. Despite there being no romance options in the game, players can't help but find themselves gravitating toward the companions who join the player on their journey.
Each has a unique storyline just for them, and the player learns so much about them as they tag along for the ride. The first companion players likely meet is Parvati, an engineer from Edgewater. Without spoiling much, her questline explores her troubles with relationships and people in her past in a way that few video games really get right. The player agency in this quest allows players to get to know Parvati on a much more personal and emotional level that truly makes her feel real. This holds true for each of the six recruitable companions in The Outer Worlds.
This extends beyond player companions as well. NPCs from all over the Halcyon system have their own motivations and feelings towards the various pieces moving in this large scale corporate chess game. How the player interacts with various factions and characters causes ripples that may only become apparent way down the line. What The Outer Worlds lacks in length, it makes up for in replayability. If this is what Obsidian is bringing to the table for future Outer Worlds games, then it's going to be a staple for the RPG genre for a long time.
The Outer Worlds steps out from Fallout's shadow to create an experience that is inherently unique and special, while still maintaining many of the elements that Fallout fans love about that series. From funny but complex characters to weird and crazy sci-fi weapons, The Outer Worlds has a lot to love for fans of the Fallout series and it could easily set itself up to be a must-play series for the foreseeable future. Thankfully players that are skeptical about it can try The Outer Worlds for $1. While there are some definite areas to improve, The Outer Worlds is a game (and hopefully series) that is here to stay.
The Outer Worlds is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Switch version currently in development.