Obsidian, the studio behind The Outer Worlds, has a history of putting player choice at the center of their games. It rose from the ashes of Interplay, the company that developed the original Fallout titles. Obsidian has made a lot of narratively rich games since then, including the well-lauded Fallout: New Vegas.
Gaming website Polygon recently spoke with senior designer Bryan Heins, who confirmed that you can, in fact, kill every NPC in The Outer Worlds. Not only that, but you can do so without breaking a single quest.
Heins spoke to the difficulty of building the game this way. When a player has the freedom to kill any NPC, they can choose to take out characters who might otherwise reveal important quest information. In a game as story-focused as The Outer Worlds, this can cause a lot of trouble. If the developers don’t leave enough breadcrumbs for the player to pick up, then killing an important character in a quest line would cut it short. If this character relates to the game’s main quest, then suddenly the player can no longer continue.
Heins detailed the thoroughness Obsidian has put in to building the game this way. If the player decides to get fancy with the Fallout style combat system and kill an important NPC, they can do so. If that NPC would have otherwise conveyed important information, the team has made sure the player can gather it in some other way. Perhaps they will find a note on the corpse or a locked chest in the character’s quarters that puts them back on track. Then, if the player speaks with another character, the dialogue should reference how they obtained the information.
If the whole thing sounds like a lot of work, it is. Heins describes how quickly a simple conversation can branch into a complicated mess once you consider all of the possibilities. However, this kind of thing adds a level of depth to the world that players have come to expect from Obsidian’s games and, according to Heins, the team enjoys taking on this kind of challenge with each new project.
The Outer Worlds releases on October 25 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and at a later date for the Nintendo Switch.