What’s it like in an ultra-capitalist world where you have to pay your company sick pay and your bosses work you to the bone to ‘heal you’ through dedication to the cause? We get a chance to find out in The Outer Worlds, a new role-playing game from Obsidian Entertainment.
In The Outer Worlds, we get to find out in this extreme vision of a capitalist future that seeps into every walk of life in the Halycon system. The game starts out as you get woken up from being in stasis, it’s been 70 years aboard The Hope, a ship that had been thought lost in deep space. Much like being plucked from a vending machine yourself, Phineas Welles wakes you up and asks for help. Welles asks you to go out on a small mission on a local planet to cause a little trouble for the corporations and you have the choice to go ahead and work with Welles or simply turn him in.
There’s been a void in the RPG space, some wanted it filled with Fallout 76, but when that turned out to be less than desirable the void remained. Obsidian Entertainment has produced some of the best RPGs in the gaming world with titles such as Fallout New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic 2 under their belt. Since being acquired by Microsoft under the banner of Xbox Studios fans had been eagerly awaiting this release… and Obsidian have stepped up to the expectation.
Worldbuilding and character development is front and centre in Obsidian’s games and The Outer Worlds is no exception. These are characters you want to spend time with. There’s humour, sadness and grief. All the ingredients that make an engaging and life-like world that’s worth your time. The world is also vibrant, full of colour and life. Around every corner, there are characters to meet, talk to and help reinforce the capitalist hell that’d been created in the 70 years you’ve been asleep aboard The Hope. But you’re back now and it’s time to take matters into your own hands… if you choose to do so. As you’ve been asleep for all that time you’re not as much of a slave to the ‘corporation way of life’ as the other characters in Halcyon. They don’t see the oppression they are under, but you can see right through it.
The game is surprisingly open allowing you to choose your own path. Do you want to support the corporate way of life and help oppress the workers around you, or do you want to take on the role of a freedom fighter and help bring down big business? It’s up to you. The game doesn’t shy away from big choices and the game opens with an important one when you choose whether to work with Phineas Welles or betray him immediately.
At the start of the game, you create a character in your vision. There are the standard face, body and gender creation tools but you also allocate a certain amount of points to different traits like fighting, social skills, technology and leadership. This allows you to truly role-play your character and lean into traits that can get you out (and also in) of some sticky situations.
These initial choices are important and can affect the dialogue choices that are presented to you in the game. You can fight and blast your way through situations if you want, but if you want to work on the more subtle side then you can lie, sneak and hack your way through. The Outer Worlds truly allows you to carve your own path through the game and creates a varied world that reacts to your own personal build.
There is a combat system in the game supported by various blasters and pistols. Onboard The Hope, you have developed Tactical Time Dilation which allows you to slow down time to aim shots at the right time. Although The Outer Worlds isn’t an FPS game, the action is pretty good and doesn’t feel out of place and is better than some that have this as a core part of their games.
The writing in The Outer Worlds really sets the world apart and allows you to get lost in the world. Each character has a rich character with a sense of humour, decent back story and engaging personality. The quality of the writing shines through and elevates the game from good to great.
As well as NPCs in the game you are able to call upon a number of companions like the classic BioWare model. There are six companions in total each with their own distinct personalities, flaws and skills. At any point in the game, you can bring two companions with you on missions and help out in all sorts of ways from medical help, fighting your enemies or providing engineering support. Companions share details about their lives to you but also to other companions further reinforcing the rich world Obsidian have built and realised around you.
The world that has been built is not as big as other games similar to The Outer Worlds, however, it’s areas are nicely self-contained and dense with the story. It’s not an easy task to create a world with just the right amount of content, but Obsidian has done a great job of creating a rich environment for stories and leaving the player wanting more. The team have already said they’ve loved to make a second game and with the financial might and this first commercial hit for Obsidian under Microsoft no doubt there will be a 2nd Outer Worlds game and I can imagine it will be bigger and better. That’s some time from now and we still have so many more side quests to enjoy here.
Overall, The Outer Worlds is a fun, rich and rewarding gaming experience. Hopes had been high for this game and they’ve pretty much lived up to all expectations. Also, it’s very cost-effective at the time of writing this article as the game is available on Xbox Game Pass. Right now you can get the game for £3.99 per month for the service which is available on Xbox and PC (Beta). For this price there simply isn’t a choice, go out there and try The Outer Worlds today.
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4
Release date: 25th October 2019