Friday, 15 November 2019

Review: The Outer Worlds (PS4)

I finished my first playthrough of this game a few days ago, playing as a high intellect sniper type of character.

I’ve got to say my expectations were pretty high, and they were met. This is a great sci-fi game, with a range of options in main and side-quests, as well as varying combat playstyles and a lot of freedom (you can kill a lot of characters, maybe everyone, whereas other games in this genre might make them ‘essential’).

Downsides: it is shorter than some comparable games. However, it still clocks in at something like 30-40 hours, and Obsidian were totally up front about this. They never claimed it was a 200 hour game. Textures on an old, fat PS4 can take a second or two to show up. And if you do the vast majority of quests, as I did, you’ll end up feeling overpowered relatively quickly (which suited me as I have the combat skills of tortoise stuck in a bucket).

Dialogue is an area where the excellent character creator (in terms of setting up strengths and weaknesses) really shines. You get special dialogue options for lots of skills, such as Engineer prowess, and the Dumb option if you make your character a little bit dim.

In combat you can go for a melee approach, sniping, guns blazing, and I’d guess full stealth would work too (I have zero experience of the latter, the others all work fine). Be sure to get the tinkering skill (Engineer 20, I think) to improve your weapons/armour, as this’ll help out quite a bit. Enemies come in the form of automechanicals, mischievous people, and rabid creatures (alien apes, dogs, and insects). The variety could be a little better but it works fine.

The world-building is another especial strength, creating a plausible corporate dystopia in which perfectly reasonable people are constrained by the bounds of a hyper-capitalist society. It does a great job of making the inhabitants of the Halcyon system credible, rather than 2D cardboard cut-outs, and nowhere does this work better than with the character of Parvati, who was my ever-present companion in the first campaign.

Genuine moral (and personal) dilemmas are presented, with legitimate choices either way, and often scope to be pretty evil if you want to be (not that I was).

During my first run I didn’t encounter a single serious bug, no hangs, freezes, crashes, or offers to pay $100 a year for a game I’d already bought.

Although not the longest RPG in the world the decisions with consequences plus varying play styles in combat and dialogue means it’s easy to envisage multiple playthroughs (I’ve just started a ‘dumb’ run).

The Outer Worlds a very good game.