Content of the article: "The Outer Worlds is a good start to something truly great"
Happy New Year, everyone! Like a lot of y’all, I spent a good chunk of my NYE playing games, and just a few hours before the new year, I finally finished up the campaign of Obsidian’s answer to Bethesda’s recent less than stellar performance with Fallout. So here’s my thoughts! I’ll be trying to avoid spoilers as best as I can, but still, no promises as always with these types of dive ins. Also on mobile, all that jazz.
First and foremost, I LOVE Bethesda’s (good) Fallouts. 3 and New Vegas are some of my favorites for the generation, and despite some flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Fallout 4. But like many others, I was left completely disappointed by the release of Fallout 76. I really just can’t get into live service, online multiplayer games, so to see a traditionally story-based single player IP was especially upsetting. Since then, Outer Worlds has been on my short list, and after finally getting Game Pass, I got to dive into the colony of Halcyon. There’s a lot going on with this game; some great, and some things I’d like to see improved in a theoretical sequel. I’ll start with the positive then move on to my critiques.
Setting/Art Direction: After years of the brown and grey tones that the Fallout series, the planets with their different creatures, ecosystem, and atmospheres were positively breathtaking. Every monster you fight is well designed and fights entirely different, and Obsidian went crazy with each planet’s design, which pays off handsomely.
Theme/Story: I don’t know about y’all, but I have seen the “Government BAD” idea played to death. But “Capitalism BAD”? Way fresher. The idea of corporations taking over and becoming the new form of government, ushering in an age of citizen dehumanization is a story that works VERY well and maintains that Fallout nihilism towards leadership we’ve come to expect.
Characters: My god the characters. The companion system is not a new idea to RPGs, but every character is so unique, and they’re all well worth exploring. Even Vicar Max, who I initially despised, grew on me and by the end of the game was one of my favorites in the crew. Outside of the companions, the NPCs were always entertaining with plenty to say about Halcyon and it’s many factions. My personal favorite outside of the main cast was the Spacer’s Choice mascot on the Groundbreaker, whose conversations did a great job of setting the tone for the rest of the games interactions.
Weapon System: This was something I didn’t expect to spend so much time on. There are A LOT of weapons to choose from, each with varying levels of strength depending on the grade or quality of the weapon. Add to that the weapon mods, which allow you to do everything from increase magazine size and accuracy to create a nuclear powered mace. My go to weapon ended up being an assault rifle with electrified bullets, which I was able to keep through the end of the game thanks to the weapon tinkering system. This is where the weapon system goes from great to amazing. Instead of retiring weapons as they become too weak to hurt enemies, you can use in game currency to strengthen up your favorites and keep them with you. Was this a waste of my money at some point? Probably, but I liked that gun. And I can go on about the weapons, but my last thing on this subject is the ammo. Usually in Fallout, you have a million different ammo types you have to keep track of. In Outer Worlds, however, there are only 3; light, heavy, and energy. This was INCREDIBLY convenient, and I genuinely want this system in every shooter game I play.
Now on to the negative. Some of this may be nit picky, but these are the things I’d like to see improved going forward (and mind you, I haven’t played the DLC, just the base game so some of this may have already been improved. I have no idea)
Campaign Length: This was a pretty significant let down. While I’m usually one for shorter games, I didn’t feel like I got enough time on each of the planets. Even with a great deal of time spent getting distracted by side quests and tasks, the main story ended before I was ready to say my goodbyes. I’ll definitely be doing another run very soon, so this should help, but still disappointing. One of my favorite parts was exploring Monarch and helping to negotiate between the two factions, which let me explore the planet a great deal in my back and forth. Maybe more missions like that.
Loading Screens: There are so. Many. Loading screens. Need to go to another planet? Loading screen. Leaving town? Loading screen. Left the ship with the wrong companions? TWO loading screens; one for going in the ship, and another for leaving it again (I’m embarrassed to admit that this happened way too many times). Part of the charm of games open world games is the open world itself. But the loading screens and travel made everything feel very jaded and far apart, as well as breaking immersion every time one came up. I know this is a byproduct of space exploration and console limitations, but I kept thinking about a game that nailed space exploration; Outer Wilds. While it was a ultimately a game with a smaller scope than Outer Worlds, the world was seamless, and flying between the games planets was half of the fun for me. I’m not saying Obsidian should copy the Outer Wilds flight mechanic, but I’d like some way for the world to be more connected and actually get to fly through space.
Music: It’s probably not fair to make this comparison to Fallout, but since this game was meant to be a Fallout experience, I’ll let it happen. I don’t need to tell you guys that the soundtrack of Fallout is an integral part to its character and design. I’m not sure if I missed something during my run through, but all I had was the ambient music when I was exploring. Once again, not saying they should copy/paste the phonograph jazz soundtrack Fallout is known for, but I found myself needing something else.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Outer Worlds. There was an obvious amount of heart and soul poured into this project by the talented team over at Obsidian, and I think that this could be an amazing IP, even possibly surpassing the franchise it was created to honor. Outer Worlds is a great starting point for something amazing, and I’m excited to see what this team has for us in the future!
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