Going into The Outer Worlds, I knew that I was probably going to like it.
This game is developed by Obsidian Entertainment, who were the developers of Fallout New Vegas.
New Vegas was the first Obsidian game I ever played and quickly became my favorite Fallout game and is in my opinion easily one of the best RPGs ever made.
The Outer Worlds presented itself as a choice driven RPG much in the vain of New Vegas, so to say I was sold early on is an understatement.
I figured at the very least that I would really like the game and that it would scratch the itch that I’ve been missing from Fallout considering the last few Fallout games have been mediocre at best.
Not only did The Outer Worlds scratch my itch, it exceeded my wildest expectations and validated my belief that Obsidian is one of the finest RPG developers in the world.
The Outer Worlds is set in a, uh, far future, Halcyon, where corporations control everything. They control entire planets, colonies, and towns, and it is clear very early on that the corporate way of life has infected everything.
The very first NPC you meet is badly injured but is forced to recite his corporate slogan, as if it was ingrained in his head from birth.
The very first town you encounter, Edgewater, is a decrepit and failing community all thanks to corporate greed.
The entire game is a satire on the greed of corporations, and everywhere you look is a reminder of the damage that corps can do.
Your role in the game is to make change. It is very clear that Obsidian wants you to shape the world, not just inhabit it. You have the most choice out of any character in this world, and Obsidian holds nothing back. Do you want to be the smooth talker who can talk your way in or out of any situation? You can be that character. Do you want to shoot first, ask questions later? You can be that.
Obsidian gives you choice in nearly every scenario, and it always felt great to read the situation and use my instincts to figure out how I want to play.
There are a lot of “RPGs” today that are just action games with skill points. You don’t really make meaningful choices in the game or shape the character how you want to. In The Outer Worlds, Obsidian Bucks this trend and puts the “role playing” back in Role playing game. You make meaningful choices almost constantly, and are deciding the fate of not only yourself, but with nearly everyone you interact with.
If you are a character who has put a lot of skill points into dialogue, you can talk to any character and convince or persuade them towards a variety of outcomes. If you are skilled in other areas such as engineering, you will get skill check options that can completely change how a scenario plays out. Every single skill in the game is meaningful, and no matter how you decide to play, you will get meaningful choices.
You can also kill almost every NPC in the game, there are no “sacred” characters. So there’s even a play through available where you just get rid of every NPC in your way. I honestly can’t even imagine how the game would play out if you took that path, but it’s available for you.
The main structure of the game is talking to NPCs and doing missions for them. It’s a very straight forward structure and in worse hands the game could have felt boring or tedious. But under Obsidian, every quest I did felt interesting.
The quests in this game, while not the most unique I’ve ever played, always felt interesting because of the writing and world building. A typical quest would involve me talking to an NPC, being sent to a location by that NPC, exploring that area for the quest objective, and after I finish the objective move on to the next step.
There’s nothing necessarily revolutionary in what I’m doing but I was so enthralled due to the level of craft displayed by Obsidian. Every NPC I talked to was interesting, every area featured a world building moment such as a log to read or an interesting environment to explore. While a lot of the areas eventually started to feel copy and pasted, the stories within them were always unique.
You won’t be tackling these quests alone as you can bring along 2 of 6 possible companions you meet along your journey. Each companion has their own background and companion quest you can go on, and I found each of them to be well realized.
Two companions in particular, Vicar Max and Parvati, had the best stories and dialogue, and I always felt the need to bring them along with me. Parvati specifically is one of the best realized characters I’ve seen in quite some time and I could write an entire article just on Parvati, but I’ll save that for another day.
The combat in The Outer Worlds is relatively fun if not a bit easy. The weapons feel good if not a bit generic. During combat you can use a system called tactical time dilation which slows time down and lets you tactically target enemies to see what kind of damage you can do. If you aim for the head you may blind an enemy, for example.
While I found the combat fun, very early on in the game the combat became incredibly easy. I found enemies to go down incredibly quickly and combat became more of a means to an end than anything challenging. I switched from normal to hard a few times during my play through to see if there was a meaningful difference and I honestly didn’t find any.
I also found talking my way in and out of any situation to be an enjoyable process but one that became so easy that it made some of the late game missions a breeze.
I would go into a situation where I could simply pass a speech check and pass through an incredibly important mission and it basically removed any challenge from the game. It wasn’t enough to ruin the game or anything, but I do wish the game was a little bit more complex near the end.
When I finished my play through of The Outer Worlds, I immediately imagined what a second play through would look like. I don’t do that often with games. While I feel like I discovered a lot of the world, I still feel like there’s so much left to uncover in subsequent play throughs.
The Outer Worlds is a 20-30 hour RPG in a vast ocean of 100 hour RPGs that are so incredibly popular on the market. It feels incredibly hand crafted while many RPGs feel like filler to make sure there’s enough content.
I knew very early on that I would like The Outer Worlds. By the end, I knew that I loved it, and I am already imagining my trip back through The Outer Worlds, and that is something that only truly special games can do.