The Outer Worlds is a new game from Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian. Many consider their entry to be the best of the revived Fallout games. Last year it was announced that the company was acquired by Microsoft so many of us in the industry were surprised to find that their latest game was announced a month later, The Outer Worlds, would be coming to all consoles. As a fan of the developer I was excited to be able to play their newest game on my preferred console, the PS4. Read on to see what I thought.
The Outer Worlds is set in a universe controlled by corporations. In this alternate reality, President McKinley was never assassinated and as such Teddy Roosevelt was never elected. This allowed large corporations to completely take over society in the early 1900s. Fast forward a few hundred years and they are now colonizing planets. Each having a theme related to the company who owns it.
The character creator was way more robust than I expected, The Outer Worlds lets you not only distribute your base starter points in skills but completely customize the look of your character. I appreciate the fact that all hair styles and make up are available for any gender you choose. This is how an RPG should start, letting the player look however they choose and build a personality as they play. Your character is then awakened, thawing out from years of cryosleep by an old scientists who may have a few screws loose. I won’t go into much else about the story, wanting to keep this spoiler free. Let us just say that it is the usual “evil empire vs. the hero (or anti-hero if you choose to be on their side)” but every choice you make will change the narrative in some way.
The Outer Worlds setting is dark but still comical, very reminiscent of the Fallout series in that sense. The cult TV show Firefly is another obvious inspiration. Like Fallout’s 1950s “pop” and post nuclear apocalypse theme combo, The Outer Worlds is a space adventure with a Victorian era ascetic. Proof you can take any concept and just throw it in space. Many of the various in game systems also draw upon what Obsidian did with Fallout: New Vegas, such as loot and inventory management, and even combat, with V.A.T.S. being replaced with a time slowing ability granted from so spending so long in cryostasis. It is very hard to not make these comparisons. While the game doesn’t bring anything new in the gamplay respect, I personally found these uses of previous mechanics to be familiar and easy to use.
The Outer Worlds really shines when it comes to combat. There are so many different weapon possibilities and you can build your team of companions to whatever suits you. If your character is focusing on upgrading dialog and non-combat skills then you may want to focus on more combat oriented flunkies. The reverse is true if you enjoy being the main damage dealer; you can recruit help that is more focused on other aspects you lack in. Of course you then have to also take into consideration your in game moral choices and not scare away your newfound friends.
The Outer Worlds has tons of factions and companions that will react to you based on your choices in game and via dialog selections. This to me, is the definition of “Role Playing” and I love being able to create a persona as I go and choose to be a smart ass, a jerk, or the unbreakable hero archetype. Obsidian has even gone on record stating that the player can kill everyone in the game and still complete it if they choose. Not that I would ever do this, but the fact it is an option is awesome. Many times the best solution is not obvious and requires the player really spend time contemplating the repercussions of their actions. Even choices early on in the game can change the ending you encounter.
The Outer Worlds is much shorter than I expected, taking about 30 hours or so to complete. This is comparable to Fallout: New Vegas, but I just would have liked more to do if only because the game is just so much fun. I found myself very attached to my character after hours of dialog and in game choices, something I sadly haven’t felt for a player created persona in a long time. These kinds of experiences are rarer and rarer these days, and if you are a fan of that type of gameplay, you will fall in love with The Outer Worlds. That said, there is a ton of room for replay if you want to do it all over and choose a completely different path.
Graphically The Outer Worlds won’t blow your mind. It looks great at times, don’t get me wrong. The bright and colorful settings are a welcome far cry from the dreary post-apocalyptic aesthetics of the Fallout games. It definitely looks better than Bethesda’s pitiful Fallout 76 but that is like comparing a rotten apple to a fresh one in general. In some ways The Outer Worlds graphically reminded me of No Man’s Sky.
Audio work in The Outer Worlds is fantastic. Voices are professional and perfectly fit every character I encountered. This just adds to humorous element and some of the characters are genuinely comical. There was a ton of work put into The Outer Worlds just due to the amount of dialog that was recorded for NPCs and it shows. Music is atmospheric and fitting for the alien worlds you are exploring.
If you enjoyed Fallout: New Vegas, or really any FPS RPG, you should love The Outer Worlds. Obsidian managed to create a game that is familiar in it’s gameplay but still a unique experience. Hopefully this is the start to an ongoing series and we continue to have developers making games like this for fans like myself. Some younger players may not appreciate the dated gameplay mechanics like weight/inventory management but to me these add to immersion. Thank you Obsidian for keeping this kind of experience alive and well.