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The Outer Worlds is an award-winning single-player RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division. As you explore a space colony, the character you decide to become will determine how this player-driven story unfolds. In the colony’s corporate equation, you are the unplanned variable.

The Outer Worlds is an award-winning single-player first-person sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division.

Lost in transit while on a colonist ship bound for the furthest edge of the galaxy, you awake decades later only to find yourself in the midst of a deep conspiracy threatening to destroy the Halcyon colony. As you explore the furthest reaches of space and encounter various factions, all vying for power, the character you decide to become will determine how this player-driven story unfolds. In the corporate equation for the colony, you are the unplanned variable.

KEY FEATURES

The player-driven story RPG

In keeping with the Obsidian tradition, how you approach The Outer Worlds is up to you. Your choices affect how the story develops; your character builds, companion stories, and end-game scenarios.

You can be flawed, in a good way

New to The Outer Worlds is the idea of flaws. A compelling hero is made by the flaws they carry with them. While playing The Outer Worlds, the game tracks your experience to find what you aren’t particularly good at. Keep getting attacked by Raptidons? Taking the Raptiphobia flaw gives you a debuff when confronting the vicious creatures but rewards you with an additional character perk immediately. This optional approach to the game helps you build the character you want while exploring Halcyon.

Lead your companions

During your journey through the furthest colony, you will meet a host of characters who will want to join your crew. Armed with unique abilities, these companions all have their own missions, motivations, and ideals. It’s up to you to help them achieve their goals or turn them to your own ends.

Explore the corporate colony

Halcyon is a colony at the edge of the galaxy owned and operated by a corporate board. They control everything… except for the alien monsters left behind when the terraforming of the colony’s two planets didn’t exactly go according to plan. Find your ship, build your crew, and explore the settlements, space stations, and other intriguing locations throughout Halcyon.

MATURE CONTENT DESCRIPTION

The developers describe the content like this:

This Game may contain content not appropriate for all ages, or may not be appropriate for viewing at work.

This may include:
Blood and Gore
Intense Violence
Strong Language

Review

Introduction

The Outer Worlds is one of those video games that enters your life and leaves you with a deep sense of thought. It presents a grimdark scientific future. In which the colony called Halcyon obeys the Board, an evil corporation. Choices and Consequences are relaid, thus measuring the effects of the dialogue choices. They add depth, flavor, with NPC companions reacting to those decisions.  The main story of the Outer Worlds is both its greatest strength and, at the same time, its greatest weakness. 

The Outer Worlds has a beautiful visual design!

The voice actors of the game deliver compassionate acting, immersing you in the world. A story, when shown through the voice acting, shows more immersion. The in-game texts are well written, with believable scenes of corporate abuse by the Board. When the voice actors aren’t explaining this, something traps the major story in the middle. Because the in-game texts often explain what the corporate exploitation of workers is all about. It shows scenes of scientists and doctors employed by the Board conducting experiments on Halcyon workers. You’re a nobody in space, and one day you arrive in this frozen ship, not remembering who you are. A mad scientist named Dr. Welles frees you from that ship, warning you of the evil machinations of the Board. 

That is the Outer Worlds in a nutshell. After this, you’re free to explore planets, do quests, help people, and become good or evil. Along this path, you gain companions that will help you, criticize you, and give you good motivation. You also help them in their mini side quests. One mission that I remember was helping Felix find out that the figure who had raised him disappeared during his moment of youth. It was later discovered that he was an agent of the Board. Now that quest had depth, it had emotion, and it had strength. Yet, there were some weaknesses that I found within that side quest as well. There are many examples of well-written quests with great voice acting. I should also mention that each character I interacted with never felt out of line. Each character I met with, interacted with, had their personal stories. Not one character felt boring. This is something rarely achieved with a video game such as the Outer Worlds. Some triple AAA games rarely tend to have well-written stories with good and enjoyable characters to interact with. This is what the Outer Worlds should be commended upon in this manner; it has that.

However, this game isn’t for everyone, in my opinion, purely because the Outer World takes its time to get you immersed into the world, to take you as the player on understanding the politics of this world. 

The World Building and Story:

On the one hand, we’ll be exploring the story and how world-building indefinitely connects to it, and how it impacts the choices of the game you make. This game’s genre must categorize into the hard sci-fi genre, borrowing elements from American Culture and other Sci-Fi shows, the Hunger Games and The Expanse. Processing the complex nature of this world takes time. 

Evil corporations in this world abuse people/settlers in genetically scientific experiments. That, too, is nothing original, but it has been a rallying trope in Sci-Fi for quite some time now. I argue that this is a reality of real life as well. Companies such as Spacer’s Choice are a branch of the Board essentially. But it’s not explained well enough. Yes, you can hack into computers and read the messages of scientists and doctors, politicians, and entrepreneurs communicating with each other, revealing that the board sanctions the use of genetic experiments on humans, allowing crimes to go unpaid, and the abuse of workers is common. Sometimes I don’t want to read these messages, and sometimes I wish cutscenes illustrated these particular scenes’ context. The term, show not tell, demonstrated in writing, and it applies to every part of writing should have been used here more often. The Board employs most of these people, and they will do anything to remain in the Board’s favor. No one wants to upset the balance of this fragile world.

So it’s a very bureaucratic situation of the political world that you as the player will encounter. Your journey encounters feisty politicians, wealthy bureaucrats, and horrible people. The ordinary workers of this world, in the spaceships and dockyards, express frustration at the Board.  The dreams they had when they entered Halycon disappear. The Board doesn’t care what happens to the residents of Halycon. Or the horrendous fact that citizens that win a jackpot in Byzantium end up never enjoying their life of retirement. Thereby, resentment brews within the workers of Halycon, causing bandits to rebel. That’s the vibe you will get throughout the story. The Board, called Spacers Choice which is a sub-branch that sells Adrena-time. (Which is a horrible drug disguised as a potion to make you work more efficiently.)  The effects of the Adrena-Time drug show, as you see the impact, it has had on people. People die, people go mad, and some rely on it. It is a horrible world to live in.

The Planets of the Outer Worlds such as Monarch, Byzantium, and Groundbreaker create a personal experience crafted by the narrative. For example, if you go onto Monarch, you discover a world run by Sanjar, who’s trying to get Monarch back onto the Board.  Then we have the Iconoclasts run by Graham, who once used to work for the Board but is basically a disgruntled employee that became disillusioned with the Board and runs his own religious cult. Or what about Byzantium, where you discover how out of touch Byzantium’s elites are with the rest of the population? They are not the type of people that would understand what Halycon would want. They believe they run the system when in reality, the Board has its tentacles inside Byzantium long before any of them could realize it. Visiting the Groundbreaker, it is the first human settler ship that arrived in Halycon. Rocky relations exist between the current Captain, Junlei, who, with her crew, works the ship through their blood, sweat, and tears, while Udom Bedford is a representative of the Board, who doesn’t care about the working conditions of the crew. The crew of the Groundbreaker hates the Board with every bit of their fiber. The player will experience rich narratives such as this.

This is where the Outer Worlds shine. Each world feels unique; each story feels unique. The conversations between characters add more depth to the world as you explore them. Quests are puzzling, with enough variation to keep you invested. Sometimes, they are easier to do than explore the intricate nature of this world. You hack into buildings, abandoned laboratories and do quests for misguided scientists. And it feels rewarding searching through these huge labs, these enormous places. It gives a sense of mystery, and when you uncover the actual truth of what’s going on here, it can become shocking. 

Flaws within the Outer Worlds

My problems with the Outer Worlds begin here: Firstly, the maps feel small, and they don’t represent the scale of the problems we’re talking about here. The story is pervasive, and this is the world of evil corporations ruling Halycon. There’s a lot of extensive lore that isn’t explored or written in the game, which is quite interesting when I encountered it.

The problem is that the NPCs populating each world feel too small, in my estimation. I would have wanted a larger map with more NPCs doing different things. There weren’t enough side quests within many of these worlds to keep me invested. I wanted to occasionally veer off the major story and do a few side quests to get acquainted. The beasts in this game are repetitive, with not enough variety.

You keep fighting the same beasts, and it can become tiresome. At first, they’ll be major fun to fight against. After that, well, it becomes the same. It gets into that tired formula that triple AAA games go for. I felt that sometimes the story and dialogue choices made me do things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be bad; I didn’t want to sound arrogant because the NPC companions didn’t show any signs of behaving with me like that. There wasn’t enough motivation for me to be an evil dude. And this is where the skill tree comes in.

Our next section will focus on the Combat and Skill Trees and how they impact the game while also discovering that it is essentially fundamental. If I were to describe it, it is like playing an RPG game in story mode with the minimum changes adjusted for easy combat.

Combat and Skill Tree:

I am not impressed by the combat in this game. A new combat system such as the Outer Worlds could explore new tropes within the sci-fi genre. It could have given us a new style of weapons and introduced new styles of combat techniques. Instead, it devolved itself into a first-person grab-this-gun and fight. The melee weapons are not unique enough to scream that you will need to use this in combat. For example, the guns and the melee weapons look stunning. 

As you can see, maps and quest pointers are easily well presented, but you have to use your brain a little to get there!

Since I played the story mode, most of the time, I finished quests gaining skill points. A maximum of ten points. You can, of course, complete ten quests, which would give you 100 skill points. In that way, you can spend it on melee weapons and combat skills. The fundamental problem is that it doesn’t matter whether I use a flamethrower, a gun, or a machine gun. The effects of the gun felt weak for me, and they didn’t sound powerful enough. The workbench, for me, was basic. You could tinker and change weapons with a modification. But I didn’t need to use that much, as my companions and the points I earned I used in the skill tree a lot more.

There is a good visual design with costumes, but there aren’t many options for painting them, and they feel limited in scope and scale. This also includes the loot you can buy and sell.

A machine gun doesn’t do as much damage as I’d like, but then again, I spent most of my skill points at the start of the game on the story and not the weapons. At that time, I was unaware that this game worked. Now I can give you an accurate picture of what is needed. I’m often having 6/1500, for example, as ammunition, and I particularly dislike this. If I wanted full ammunition, I’d much prefer this than firing my gun only to go off in six seconds and then having to reload while a monster comes to attack me. This, I feel, is the bane of fighting off monsters.

Thus, I say that the combat in this game feels very easy. You can use your companions to fight for you, and now I see where Elder Scrolls Online got its inspiration from when they introduced companions. The companions are superb in combat: Parvati, Sam, Ellie, and many more. Here’s a tip. If you get Sam, use him in combat. He can get rid of the pesky robots and colossal beasts. Nyoka has some fantastic animations. Your companions also give you their opinions on quests, but it is not for every single quest. Their scripted voice dialogue helps to increase immersion, but I didn’t get unique results. For example, I had Vicar Max and another character, and they had little unique dialogue between them. After completing major quests, your characters do sometimes congratulate you, but not all the time. They don’t talk behind you, discussing all the exceptional things they did in that quest. This is where they could have put a lot more dialogue in.

The limitations of customizing your ship are disappointing. Limited conversations with your NPC companions aboard your ship feels somewhat stiff. Hearing a conversation between Vicar Max and Felix, for example, takes me time to listen as I must navigate through stairs and ladders to hear it once I arrive. I don’t hear many conversations between characters. An ability to customize the ship and hearing more dialogue between NPC companions would improve.  Moving around the ship is frustrating for me, but over time I gradually got used to it. Yet, I didn’t appreciate the fact that you had to use two computers. One, for talking with Ada, and two, for using the world map. Switching between two computers is annoying, to say the least. Conversing with the ship’s computer, Ada has limited dialogue and thus does not expand her character in detail.

My point illustrating the world computer and Ada. It can get frustrating sometimes having to switch between the two.

In the end, most of my criticism comes from the fact that the world could have had more enlargement and more NPCs to interact with, including more diversity in dialogue and personality choices. But, my criticism is small compared to the fact that the Outer Worlds can become quite engaging in the end. Its story is well written. I would point out this: When you are close to the ending, you are presented with a choice, either complete all the remaining quests and then do the ending. If not, then you might end up doing the ultimate quest, and you can’t transition back to the world to complete the remaining quests, so please bear that in mind.

Keep this in mind! You can complete the two DLCs and missions before hand. But after that, you can then finish the main story.

The Outer Worlds is a fun, RPG sci-fi game filled with unique quests and mind-boggling truths waiting to be explored. I give this game an 8.5/10.

Byzantium is a beautiful city, a shame we can’t explore much of it in the main story!

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Peril on Gorgon (DLC Review)

Peril on Gorgon is one of those DLCs that show exciting promise but fail to deliver in the end. Starting with a promising first act, you’re placed in the new asteroid called Gorgon. You meet Wilhelmina, a capable young scientist who wants to find her mother’s journal and seek the truth of what really happened on Gorgon. In this story, she reveals how her distant mother never kept an eye on her, watching her from far away as she concentrated on her work. Spacer’s Choice shows its signs of influencing the narrative here, as the story essentially boils down to Adrena-Time, which was meant to boost workers’ productivity. The rest of the story is for you as the player to figure out. 

Arriving at the Wilhelmina Ambrose Mansion!
As you can see, Gorgon was not a nice place to work in.

This DLC begins to show signs of various problems that occur in the main game. Repetitive Primal Beasts to destroy. Only one or two side-quests to play with. A small world in which you are exploring a laboratory trying to find the clues of what happened on Gorgon. Limited NPC interaction and often having to go through bridges and valleys. Often I used fast travel points. Even if that asteroid was a small world, it could have been bigger. We could have had cinemas, some shops, something to show that life was still brimming on Gorgon because it is. At this point, bandits and raiders have made Gorgon their territory, and it became insanely annoying to fight them without many story choices. It was a rinse and repeated destroy these guys with not much connection to do with them.

On the other hand, however, the pacing falls off, and the story does become predictable. I cannot fault that even if the pacing falls off the tracks and the story falls into a usually predictable storyline, you have impressive voice acting. You do travel through buildings uncovering the actual truth of what happened on Gorgon, and likewise, it is more of the same story in the main game. Spacer’s Choice uses people to conduct experiments on a massive and industrial scale. The main problem of this story is that most of the exciting stuff is buried in computers instead of actual missions. We don’t see old characters returning here, and it feels distant in that sense. The main climax was disappointing because I did not have 100 skill points on my persuasion skill list to achieve a certain outcome. So often, save your game files, and make sure you spend skill points on them. Because you will use them often within quests, and they are detracted. So make a note of that. The writing was good, but it could have been better. In the end, I felt this DLC could have had a lot more content added. I give this DLC a 6/10.

Overall Rating: 6/10

References:

News Sources: Fallout: New Vegas Devs Share Lore Detail About The Outer Worlds by Steve Watts, Gamespot, (https://www.gamespot.com/articles/fallout-new-vegas-devs-share-lore-detail-about-the/1100-6465339/).
Wiki Source: Spacer’s Choice from https://theouterworlds.fandom.com/wiki/Spacer%27s_Choice
Wiki Source: The Groundbreaker from https://theouterworlds.fandom.com/wiki/Groundbreaker

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Madaaworld12

Ancient History fan and fantasy book reviewer/Gaming Youtuber! DM on twitter for review requests/blog tours. Youtube | alalhambrabookreviews.home.blog/

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