Last updated on October 24th, 2019
Players have been eagerly awaiting Obsidian’s next title, and in this Outer Worlds Review will give you a clear picture of how the game stacks up to the hype, and Fallout. Should you buy The Outer Worlds? Is the Outer Worlds worth it? How many hours of gameplay are there? How much freedom is there? How is the combat, the graphics, the performance? We have all the answers, and more.
The Outer Worlds Review: Immense Interstellar Fun
Developed by: Obsidian Entertainment
Published by: Private Division
Release date: October 25th, 2019
Platforms: PC (Epic), Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed)
Price at time of review: $59.99
The Outer Worlds Story and Setting Review
The Outer Worlds is set in a dystopian future where corporations have taken over the role of governments, and run unchecked through out the Halcyon system. The premise of the game is simple: you’re awoken after 70 years of drifting in space to learn your entire ship was kept in stasis to protect corporate profits, and its existence has been wiped from public memory. At the Halcyon space colony, most of humanity is indentured to corporations that operate unrestricted from any restraints in their pursuit of wealth. If you’re not getting the picture, the villain in The Outer Worlds is Capitalism.
There’s some irony in that the “Capitalism” depicted in The Outer Worlds often behaves like Communism regimes have through out history, as the corporations of Halcyon are effectively governments and they often speak of “treason” and “reeducation” while purporting “being a family” and “assigning jobs based on ability”. The overall message of the game is up to you to decide, and the setting and story take you on a site seeing tour of different points of view, and I did not feel as though it were one long political sermon, so plus points for that in my view.
There are of course, rebel groups, free-thinkers or reformers, because you’ll meet many and will have to make the choice between allying with them or going corporate and getting rich yourself. Things are not always black and white either, further muddying the waters of these decisions. In this way, Obsidian has managed to create a believable political spectrum in a frontier where morals are loose, and belief is limited by your superiors, but people are people and still find ways to “get by”, just like they do now.
The Outer Worlds does not tackle mature themes in the same way that Fallout New Vegas or past Fallout games have. There are no children in the game, no romance, no deep dives into what addiction is like, and no brothel options. Some players may find the game disappointing because of it. Personally, it didn’t bother me one bit and did not affect my experience negatively in the slightest. However, I felt it should be noted for fans of the Fallout franchises who may be looking to purchase this game based on those themes.
The Outer Worlds Gameplay Review
The Story itself develops as you make your way across the Halcyon system, and is well-written, well-acted and well-delivered. It has some quirks that come with the overall “slightly humorous” setting, and it will be up to you to see how much you enjoy this facet. I found it an interesting journey that can be replayed several ways to find new meanings and depths. Make sure you read all the terminals though – it might be tedious but it does add a lot of context to things that are happening and even unlocks dialogue options.
The game is very story-focused, and combat can be largely avoided by using Sneak for random enemies and Dialogue skills for confrontations. That said, there are plenty of enemies to face and loot, and several plots can only be resolved with violence, particularly when it comes to the brutal alien lifeforms that you encounter as you visit different planets. All in all, I am not a big First Person Shooter player, and the RPG gamer in me focused on getting by with the least conflict possible and trying to mend what I saw as fractured allegiances, by being the best possible influence in all possible Factions. The Outer Worlds does a good job of presenting nuanced and fleshed-out characters of many Factions, and you’ll empathize and understand their actions even if you don’t agree with them and end up killing them. Or you can be heartless and self-centered and go about betraying everyone and anyone to make your fortune.
This freedom that the game provides is hard to oversell, as there are many ways to go about not just Side Quests and Faction Quests, but the Main Quest as well. Two of us were playing, comparing notes for the review and we found that our actions took us in completely different paths, with one of us following the likely “intended” route for a first playthrough, while the other somehow ended up taking a detour that completely changed the outlook of his actions when he came around to the places I had already visited. This is the best thing about the The Outer Worlds, and Obsidian nailed this aspect, as they have time and time again.
Combat-wise the game feels very light and weightless, and though it’s slightly better than New Vegas, it’s not much to write home about. It’s obviously not the focal point of the game, so can be mostly overlooked, but if you are making your decision to play this game based on the combat then you may want to look for something a bit more polished. Destiny 2 or Fallout 4 come to mind.
The Outer Worlds does, however, has several difficulty modes, allowing you to experience a range of challenges from “Story mode” to “Supernova”. The hardest difficulty places limitations on your rest, fast travel and combat, while also introducing perma-death for your Companions and survival needs such as sleep, eat and drink. This may make the game more compelling to those “hardcore” players out there, and it should.
The Outer Worlds Audio & Visual Review
This review comes before the “Enhanced” edition of the game comes out, which is said to add 4k, so I can only comment on how it is before this patch. I’ll update the written review when the patch is live – so if you’re watching this on youtube please take a moment to look at the updated graphics review on our website come October 25th.
Graphically, on Playstation 4 Pro, the game performed relatively well and looked good. It does not look amazing, many areas are rather lackluster and the worlds feel, unfortunately, poorly fleshed out. I found myself wishing there were more alien species, more life to discover and stare in awe of, and instead I found the same corporate manufactured pre-made house copy pasted over and over. This might just be part of the intended disappointment in realizing that you are not here to explore a frontier but rather to find a mechanized corporate world, but it left me rather sad as the overall art style is fun and compelling, and the wildlife that was designed is very interesting. That said, it is a huge step up from the ever so boring browns of the Fallout wasteland, and the different worlds have unique designs and themes that give each zone its own freshness.
The soundtrack of the game is also good, but none of the themes stuck with me in particular. I did find the voice acting exceptional, and I would actually place it well above other titles in the genre: the actors were convincing and their delivery was flawless.
One thing that I would like to make special note of here is the load times. These were exceptional with an SSD drive on the PS4 Pro, and made fast traveling a no brainer. I don’t know how they are on the standard HDD, however, I did note that they did not increase as the game went on, which was a huge problem with Fallout New Vegas. So kudos to Obsidian for getting that issue addressed.
The Outer Worlds Replayability Review
When it comes to replayability, Obsidian has an excellent track record of creating complex narratives that can be experienced in different ways, and The Outer Worlds does not disappoint. You can have two completely different playthroughs and find things you missed before in the process, or discover new quests that are only available if you take a specific path. There are many, many options that take you in diverging branches, and I thoroughly enjoyed combing them all. Players who are looking for a deep story will find the game well-worth the price, as you’re looking at a 60 hour playthrough (honestly more if you’re a completionist like me) that you can then reset and have a go at and experience the other side of things.
Build-wise, the game has a re-spec option at your ship, so players can change builds on the fly, however it does not change your starting Attributes so some people will want to restart and optimize that as well. There is a modest amount of build variety, with Unique Weapons, Unique Armor and Companion Perks to consider. You can go from being a stealth sniper to a melee two-hand god in a few smart clicks, and the game offers a wealth of opportunity to try them out, which is nice.
The Outer Worlds Review Final Thoughts
Obsidian is well-known for making deep, engaging and serious RPG games. The Outer Worlds is not “serious”, but it is definitely engaging. Fallout fans will likely enjoy their time with the game, as it’s a step up from the franchise’s recent blunders, but even those who are not “into” the wasteland will find this a refreshing and compelling experience. Explore new worlds, meet and help new allies, recruit a crew and even observe some AI-on-AI foreplay, the game has something for everyone.
So, should you buy The Outer Worlds? If you are a Fallout or Sci-fi fan, that’s a resounding yes. Are you playing for engaging FPS combat? No. Are you a hardcore player who obsesses about and with their character constantly? Supernova difficulty has you covered. Do you want a good story that is engaging, but not overly serious? Then that’s also a yes.
If you enjoyed this review be sure to check out some of others including Disco Elysium Review: Dark Humor Goes Detective and The Surge 2 Review: A Nano Advancement. If you’re adventuring through Halcyon be sure to drop by our The Outer Worlds wiki.