Yes, yes, pre-ordering games is generally a bad thing. But this game, by Obsidian (makers of Fallout New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity) looked very good indeed. And, so far, I’m not regretting the decision at all.
At the time of writing I’ve played about six or seven hours or so, and have left the starting area.
The Outer Worlds is set in a new alternate reality future, in a distant star system which is run by corporations in a rather dystopian way. You play a chap or lady thawed out from a ship where hundreds of people ended up as popsicles rather than colonists.
There’s a lot I like about the game, and a few minor gripes, so I’ll outline the downsides first. The subtitles are too small. Doesn’t affect me personally but if you rely on them I can see that being frustrating. Textures take a little while to load in. It does make the fat PS4 scream a bit, although this is a console rather than game problem, and the inventory menu helps it to calm down.
The plus side is that all the big stuff, so far, is good. Sometimes very good. The setting, the story, the dialogue, all are great. The combat is fine (this isn’t my area, really, but it’s fine on the standard difficulty setting). The cold, bureaucratic nature of a corporate dystopia contrasts brilliantly with the exotic and vibrant alien worlds. When you leave the office of the first bigwig you meet, having been invited to do him a dubious favour, you can look up and see the dazzling sky of another world.
The whole colony is run by a few major companies (with only one space station excepted), where people are seen as biological components in a corporate machine. But despite this, the members of corporations often come across sympathetically, as decent people stuck in a difficult place (not unlike the real world, where perfectly good people can get lumbered with less than lovely work). This adds depth and plausibility to the world, and is enhanced by the humour. This brings another dose of realism, without being over-egged.
I’ve kept stuff story-light because I don’t want to spoil anything, so all I’ll say is that the early stages are promising. Side quests and main story missions often have varying potential outcomes, and you can screw up tasks entirely (I believe you can kill anyone, but I’m playing as a nice ex-elevator technician so I haven’t tested it myself). The companions seem to be quite diverse in their personality (when it comes to combat you can mould them as you wish, so only personality matters when picking who to take).
In short, it’s really rather good.