Review: The Outer Worlds — Obsidian’s Voyager 1
Obsidian Entertainment’s newest game, The Outer Worlds, a first-person roleplaying game, takes on the far reaches of space but doesn’t quite make it out of the solar system.
Obsidian is known for creating rich and vivid worlds, allowing players to be immersed in the game. The company has been involved with the creation of multiple titles, including Fallout: New Vegas. This new release comes after Bethesda Softworks’ disappointing massive multiplayer installment of Fallout with Fallout 76, and The Outer Worlds fills the void the former left behind. It feels familiar while also being a unique experience. It is a mix of elements from the aforementioned Fallout, Gearbox’s Borderlands and Bioware’s Mass Effect. The world is fleshed out and filled with interesting characters that supply a narrative to the world that leaves you wanting more.
The futuristic setting brings in a Borderlands-esque world, while the companion system and travel between star systems from Mass Effect encourages the player to take on a larger-than-life mission with a close crew of friends. The mechanics of looting, leveling, perks and guns give a Fallout vibe, bordering comically between reasonable and absurd.
The game takes place in an alternate dystopian future in a planetary system on the edge of the galaxy. Earth fully embraces capitalism, giving mega-corporations all the power. These super-corporations have begun to privately colonize space. The main character is frozen and sent on a ship, the Hope, as one of these colonists.
There is a malfunction on the Hope, leaving the ship stranded in space. After years of independent travel, the character is woken up by a rogue doctor that is fighting the corporation’s influence on the star system.
Being left for dead and waking up rescued by a doctor is reminiscent of the beginning of Fallout: New Vegas, and the similarities do not end there. The Outer Worlds uses similar mechanics Obsidian introduced in New Vegas, but takes their years of experience to improve upon these mechanics to create a fun gaming experience.
Not everything was improved upon, though; some of the game mechanics feel like they have been dumbed down, which some fans railed against in Bethesda’s newest Fallout games compared to older editions.
Weapon mechanics are simplified compared to similar titles, including other Obsidian games. The modding of weapons seemed lackluster to the point that I didn’t even feel the need to modify my weapons, something I found great joy in when playing other games. Instead of modding, I used the game’s tinkering mechanic to upgrade the weapon’s base stats.
As the player first explores, they can find different weapons and armor at every turn. When looting at higher levels, I discovered that nearly identical weapons and armor were being dropped, only now with an added suffix of “Gold” or “Plus.” This meant it was the same item, just a higher level; they felt too similar. Even unique weapons with special names all looked identical.
The lack of variety was disappointing, but the weapon styles felt different to use depending on their weight. Heavy weapons felt meatier than their cousins in the light weapon category. This made trying out the different weapons at least enjoyable.
Obsidian didn’t quite hit a perfect note on the loot side of the game, and the world, while gorgeous, felt subpar.
This company is a master at crafting a world filled with interesting characters and sights to see; however, I feel like they didn’t quite hit the mark with this one. The worlds in The Outer Worlds are a sight to see and beautifully designed. Unfortunately, underneath all the graphics, the world feels empty. There’s an overall lack of things to do.
When playing through games, I typically enjoy exploring every nook and cranny. However, while traversing The Outer Worlds, I felt like I had nothing to explore. The loot was stagnant and similar, which didn’t compel me to hunt for items throughout the world.
The game generally felt empty of quests and missions. The main quest leads you to meet all possible companions, meaning that you will always meet the six companions in any given playthrough. The main quest was expertly written and captivating. The side quests a player unlocks through interacting with the companions were interesting, fully fleshing out their characters and engaging me as a player. But, beyond that, it felt as though it was lacking.
The side quests weren’t as impressive as the overall plot, and most of these missions came from interacting with people you run into while on the main quest. This means that independent adventuring was not needed to find these missions. The game just drops them in your lap. On top of that, most of these side quests were straightforward run-and-gun style gameplay. They lacked an intriguing story.
I would give this game a seven-and-a-half out of ten. Overall, this game was quite fun to play, but it missed the substance that Obsidian is known for. It lacked the depth of worlds from games like Fallout: New Vegas or the complexity of games like Pillars of Eternity or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. However, it found an excellent middle ground, providing a great gaming experience with multiple endings I will spend countless hours exploring.
The Outer Worlds is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows.