The Outer Worlds is proving to be one of the best games of the year and a truly great role playing game. The Game Rant review called it "a staggering combination of moving parts tailor-made for the hardcore RPG fan."
But The Outer Worlds is not just for fans of Fallout, a franchise Obsidian games took heavy influence from for their latest, but for fans of an other major western RPG franchise. There is a lot for Mass Effect fans to love about this sci-fi adventure. And since it has been many years since a seriously good Mass Effect game, The Outer Worlds may be the game to scratch that itch for multiple reasons.
Explore A System of Diverse Planets
One of the most appealing aspects of the original Mass Effect trilogy was the way those games fleshed out a universe. Venturing from planet to planet across a galaxy learning its secrets and forging relationships with its various residents, that IS the Mass Effect experience. The game's focus on the politics and relationships of its universe is something The Outer Worlds attempts to achieve with its storytelling and world building.
In other games of this genre, like Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas, the map is one, gigantic open world. In both Mass Effect and The Outer Worlds the in-game world consists of multiple planets that players travel to and complete quests on over the course of the game. The planet selection screen specifically feels directly inspired by Mass Effect's planet map. And each of these planets is distinct, diverse, and has depth.
Visually, the planets are vibrant and distinct. Each uncovers a little more about the capitalist apocalypse that is Halcyon. The residents of the cities and communes of these planets tell players about not just the physical places they live, but the communities they live in. The games tells micro stories across a 30 hour game, each painting a fuller pitch of the social structures of the game world. Each planet, like the corporate-owned Monarch, ends up feeling well realized and unique.
The ship embodies the spirit of adventure that accompanies the overarching narrative. The Unreliable, the player character's vessel in The Outer Worlds, is nowhere near as classy (or as iconic) as The Normandy, but it serves a similar function. It is a hub and an immersive way to get players from world to world, but more importantly the ships act as places for the characters to inhabit and come alive. This is where The Outer Worlds takes the most inspiration from Mass Effect and what will make fans truly latch on to it.
With A Lovable Crew of Space Dorks
And of course, players aren't going on these adventures alone, which is what makes The Outer Worlds seem so distinctly like Mass Effect. The diverse cast of Outer Worlds companions recruited over the course of the first half of the game is what makes The Outer Worlds worth sticking through with until the end. Each has unique combat abilities and player stat boosts. This cast of crew members will accompany players across the galaxy two at a time, more than occasionally chiming in on conversations with NPCs. Sound familiar? The party select screen is another little UI nod to the Mass Effect games.
These characters are as badass as they are endearing. Each is a layered person (or robot) with flaws and weaknesses, and each has a past that is not always what it seems. Every companion character has one or multiple quests associated with recruiting them and learning more about their story, much like the loyalty missions in Mass Effect 2. However, unlike Mass Effect players cannot romance their party members, but some of them have quest lines focused on romance for players who are down to play matchmaker.
Getting to know these characters is a highlight of The Outer Worlds. Players meet their first crew member Pavarti on Edgewater, where her anxious energy is immediately engaging and endearing. At the end of that section, Pavarti brings clarity to the moral situation the player is trying to solve, which makes the final choice all the more gut wrenching. Vicar Max is the religious leader of Edgewater, but what exactly this means players soon learn. Max takes the players on a hilarious wild ride across the game's many planets that has moments of melancholy and tenderness throughout.
The companion characters are a major reason to love The Outer Worlds. Fans of character focused space adventures like Mass Effect will be sure to love exploring Halcyon with a rag tag crew of outsiders in Obsidian's emotionally engaging RPG.
The Outer Worlds is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.