Outriders First Impressions

Outriders is here and the newest looter-shooter to enter the market from People Can Fly has landed. I’m about 10 hours into the main campaign, having spent roughly the same amount of time with the demo. These are my first impressions, albeit with the caveat I haven’t experienced the endgame content just yet.

I was sceptical of Outriders at first and mildly hyped for the full release. I’m a fan of looter-shooters, having put hundreds of hours into Destiny, Destiny 2 and tens of hours into the Division and Avengers. The thing that really drew me to Outriders was the build potential, as this is something I really enjoy with Destiny‚Ķ Looking at combinations of class, weapons, armour and mods go well to create a fun and engaging gameplay style. On first impressions, Outriders appears like it has all the right ingredients.

I’ll start with the story. I have seen some feedback online that the story isn’t that great, but to be honest I have been enjoying it. There’s elements of Starship Troopers and other sci-fi in there. It’s your classic story of humanity using up all the resources of the earth in a distant future, only to find another planet, land and find that the planet aggressively does not welcome us on arrival.

As an Outrider, it was our job to secure the new planet, Enoch, and bring home the landing craft full of the last of humanity. Unfortunately, there are aliens storms raining down on Enoch and 99% of the time killing everything in their path. Luckily we’re in the slim one per cent, where this Anomaly changes us into a super-powered being. Injured from the storm while we’re out to find some beacons on Enoch for the crew of Outriders, we’re placed into stasis for 30 years, only to wake up to a war between the remaining humans and the newly formed Altered – other super-powered humans affected by the Anomaly.

In terms of the gameplay, I’m having a blast with Outriders. There are four classes to choose from including the Trickster, Devastator, Pyromancer and Technomancer. The Tricksters are good for close-range combat, manipulating time and space plus you get to wield a deadly light-sword. Devastators are the tank class, allowing you to get in up close and personal, covering yourself with rock for extra protection and able to shake the ground beneath you. Pyromancers wield fire and work well at a medium-range, whereas Technomancers are the long-range class and wield a series of deadly gadgets like turrets and rocket launchers. The classes themselves are all fairly different and have their pros and cons, but are all very fun.

One of the things that promote all-action gameplay is the healing mechanic. Each Outrider class have a different way to heal. Rather than hiding behind a rock or cover to heal, you have to perform different actions. Trickster’s heal by killing close-range enemies, Pyromancer’s heal by marking their enemies and then killing them. Technomancer’s heal by dealing with the damage and so on. On the face of things, this looks like a cover shooter at first, similar to Gears of War, which nods back to People Can Fly’s past with the Gears series. However, you should know that getting stuck in there with a shotgun and the close-quarters battle is where the fun lies in this game.

The classes offer up some differences in gameplay, plus you can specialise further with the rather extensive and detailed class trees. Each class has three specialisations and you collect class points as you progress through the game. These allow you to increase damage, increase anomaly power or spec into health and survivability.

Each class also has eight skills, which draws upon your new-found anomaly power. As well as the wide array of guns, and there are plenty here, you can draw on a series of special moves, which you can mix and match. There’s eight available for each class and you can equip three at one time. For example, I’m running as a Trickster and I can conjure a sword from thin air and slice up my enemies when they are in close proximity, or I can cast a time-slowing bubble, which makes everything inside the bubble go in slow-mo allowing me to dance around my enemies picking them off one by one with a shotgun. Most classes have the ability to infuse bullets with their powers like Burn, Slow, Ash etc. These skills have shorter cooldowns to what I am used to with other looters, allowing me to run into massive groups of enemies – take them out with one skill and either control the battlefield with the others or pick off multiple bad guys with another. In terms of the power fantasy, Outriders does a pretty good job of making you feel powerful and having fun with it.

Then we have the loot. This is one of the most important, if not THE most important aspects of a looter-shooter. There’s a variety of rarities in Outriders including Common, Unusual, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. I haven’t got myself any legendaries yet, but I have seen others in action and they look insane. I have plenty of rare weapons and even the mods and attributes there are wild. The weapon design is fantastic and the mod system is very useful too. For example, you can break down weapons and save the mods for later and slot them onto another weapon, making it even more powerful. There’s also crafting via vendors which allow you to upgrade your weapons. I’ll definitely report back once I have some legendaries to drop. There are a variety of weapon types too including Shotguns, Snipers, SMGs, LMGs, Automatic Shotguns, Sidearms and an array of Automatic Rifles.

As well as a good array of weapons, Outriders has a strong armour game too. The gear matters in this game from a mod point of view and also from a visual point of view too. One mistake I think Avengers made was to not have a visible difference on your character when they placed different armour pieces on, here there’s none of that. Each armour piece has its own character and allows you to customise the look and feel of your Outrider, as well as utilise different mods that will give you % improvement in your stats. The loot system with weapons, armour and mods all works together well, providing you with that incentive to go back out there and get improved gear.

It’s been a pretty successful launch for Outriders so far but it’s not all smooth sailing. The game has had big server issues on launch day and they continue until now nearly 48 hours later. One of the reasons I am not further in the game already is because of server errors and disconnects. This relates to the decision of making this an always-online game when really you don’t need it to be unless you are matchmaking with friends. The game is fun when playing with other Outriders, and the system is fairly easy to get to grips with, but if you want to run through this game as a single-player game then you don’t really need to be online. The launch could have been a lot smoother if there was an option to disconnect. Saying that this is nothing new for looter-shooter launches. People Can Fly and Square are doing their best to get everyone back online as soon as possible.

I have noticed the gameplay getting a little repetitive. The encounter zones aren’t really that big, it’s not like a patrol space in Destiny 2 for example. The encounter design also appears to be drop-in, kill a bunch of bad guys (sometimes human, sometimes alien), make your way through a series of encounters and then fight a boss. There’s not a lot of variety in the encounters at the moment, but I am early game and this may change a bit later on.

Having said that I don’t really mind that it’s repetitive at this stage because the combat is fun, and the loot is rewarding. You get that rush from defeating a boss and the loot spewing out, laying there on the ground all shiny waiting for me to pick it up. I remember the early days of Destiny where I’d be running around the Moon, collecting Helium Filaments and doing similar kind of repetitive encounters and again, I’d do that because the action was fun and it kept me in there.

Outriders so far have had a good start. It’s probably not going to win any game of the year awards, but it’s a good looter-shooter which has had one of the best launches the genre has seen for some time. Anthem dies, The Division 2 fizzled away and The avengers is struggling. There’s plenty of promise in here, and I’m looking forward to getting into the endgame, hopefully with multiple legendaries in my hands.