Sports & Gaming

Review: The Outer Worlds

I’m going to start this review off by saying I’m changing my format.

I’m ditching the number rating system because I believe games good or bad are more than just a number and should just be recognized by their strengths and shortcomings. With the housekeeping out of the way, let’s get into it. The Outer Worlds is the newest outing from developer Obsidian Entertainment, the developer behind Alpha Protocol, Pillars of Eternity, and most notably Fallout: New Vegas.

Courtesy of Sony and Obsidian Entertainment

The Outer Worlds is in a way a spiritual successor to New Vegas, taking the formula of the sprawling first person Bethesda RPGs and condensing it into something that is far more streamlined and focused. Outer Worlds ditches the huge map that you would see in a game like Skyrim and separates its world into several planets that you can explore. These condensed maps do a lot to enhance the experience of playing the game, as each world is dense with foliage, populated with an assortment of creatures and marauders, and the stark differences between places like the asteroid Scylla and the swamps of Monarch make each location distinct and it gives them the ability to stand out in people’s minds, whereas the vast wasteland of New Vegas’ locations all generally look the same with the same brown tones washing everything over.

Outer Worlds also succeeds in the characterization of the companions that follow the player character. Each companion is fully fleshed out, and their individual companion quests that can be completed do even more to round out these already well-done characters such as the engineer Parvati, whose character path revolves around her trying to go on a date. It’s innocent, very lighthearted, and is a perfect way to show a different side to a character that spends the rest of the game trying to break out of her awkward shell.

The weakest part of Outer Worlds is probably its combat.

It follows the typical Bethesda-style of combat, with some first person shooting that doesn’t exactly feel great, but it does at least allow for some depth with a time slow mechanic that’s similar to Fallout’s VATS system, that rewards players for targeting specific body parts like the legs or the head. Even though the combat is lackluster, the game gives its players an extreme amount of agency with how they customize their character. Skills are separated into different blocks, like the ranged skill being separated into handguns, long guns, and heavy weapons. On level up, players get ten points to distribute between all their skills. For the first fifty points in a skill tree, you can upgrade all three skills at once. After those first fifty points, you can no longer upgrade the whole tree and can begin to put points into each branch of the tree individually, letting players hyper focus their character into a dangerous gunslinger or a silver-tongued negotiator.

There’s a lot to love about The Outer Worlds.

From the moment the game begins, the amount of love and care that the developers put into the world and characters that they crafted is apparent. It’s a game that has a level of personality that is unmatched even by Obsidian’s other titles. In a world where Bethesda seems determined on running their Fallout franchise into the ground, The Outer Worlds has come as a shining savior for these types of games, and I find myself hard pressed to think of a game that I’ve enjoyed more this year.

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