The Outer Worlds: Video Game Review
"In many respects, this game feels like the Fallout 4 that should have been... "
Review By Phantom Knight
Publisher: Private Division
Reviewed on PS4 / Xbox 1
Special thanks to GM4E.com for providing the means to review this game. Please check out Gm4e.com, they mainly provide Cd Keys for PC titles but also service the PSN and Xbox Markets. As always when purchasing online use the safest method available to avoid disappointment.
This review is spoiler-free from questlines.
News of The Outer Worlds broke a mere months before its release. I will speak for many a Fallout New Vegas fan here when I say that we have been waiting for a game like this for many years. Obsidian entertainment created what many argue is the best fallout experience. Choice, consequence, wit and razor-sharp dialogue were all facets of New Vegas. This time, Obsidian, on their own terms, have decided to move away from the desolate wastelands of earth and have moved to "The Outer Worlds".
"Think No Mans Sky with some Borderlands thrown in for good measure..."
Having tested the game out on both the PS4 and Xbox 1 standard consoles I would say there is essentially nothing between the consoles in terms of graphical prowess. Both machines manage to cope with the stresses that The Outer Worlds put on them with relative ease.
This brings me to my first main point. The Outer Worlds is a colourful and vibrant game but has that grainy previous-gen look to it. It is by no means a looker in terms of slick graphical animations or photorealism. Obsidian seem to have gone for a much more simplistic but effective approach. Think No Mans Sky with some Borderlands thrown in for good measure.
That said, it is not really a drawback for me as the colour palette more than makes up for the lack of polish evident. The worlds are insanely colourful and really do provide a superb backdrop to the Sci-Fi nature of the game. I really dug many of the worlds I visited even although at times they did seem very similar.
Animations are not top of the line within The Outer Worlds. There is a stuttery almost Fallout 3/NV vibe to a lot of what you see here. In many instances, you could be forgiven for thinking that this game was built on the creation engine from Bethesda game studios. Obsidian, of course, have gone their own way with an engine (Unreal 4) that produces a similar look and feel to those Bethesda games but also, for the most part, gets rid of the pesky and sometimes game-breaking bugs. Throughout my entire playthrough of The Outer Worlds, I experienced run of the mill glitches that you would expect from any video game but I did not, at any point, have a complete crash. This is a testament to the people at Obsidian and really was a huge deal for me. Considering some of the titles that have released during this 8th generation have had numerous technical issues id say they have performed more than admirably here.
In addition to the lack of game-breaking bugs, at least from my own experience, you can tell that this game has been, as mentioned before, been made with a great deal of care, love and attention. The dialogue, for example, is razor-sharp and made me actually laugh out loud on more than one occasion. The fact you can be the wily old space dog who doesn't give a shit about anyone and says so on a regular basis in a fairly abrupt or even downright rude way is just so refreshing in comparison to some of the more vanilla action RPGs.
In many respects, this game feels like the Fallout 4 that should have been with respect to the dialogue and writing. I found myself thinking back to my many hundreds of hours with Fallout 4 thinking that if this was the type of verbal jousting available there I may still be playing that game right now.
"The upgrade sound is bursting with positivity, almost screaming at you that you have performed well..."
Music is another aspect of The Outer Worlds that is a huge positive along with simply the best levelling up sound excerpt going at the moment. The upgrade sound is bursting with positivity, almost screaming at you that you have performed well, and do you know what? It ACTUALLY makes you feel like you have performed well. Every time I levelled I got that hit or pat on the back. Truly excellent in my opinion and a stroke of genius from Justin E Bell.
When talking about the score I have little if no criticism towards it. The soundtrack performs its function perfectly. Much like the fallout games, ambient music is a must especially due to the scavenging and exploring nature and The Outer Worlds is no different. Some of the score, in my view, really helps with the emotional tones the game is going for and on occasion really punched me hard in the chest when coupled with some great set pieces or dialogues.
Sound / Voice acting
"...conversational choices are hilarious and must have made for some great comedy when it came to recording the dialogue."
To be totally truthful the sound for some of the weapons is one of the weaker aspects of the outer worlds. Shotguns definitely did not hit the sweet spot and were fairly disappointing for me. Many of the energy weapons and subsequent vaporisation sounds were good but due to some of the other weapons not really hitting the mark I would say this, along with one or two other elements are the weaker parts of The Outer Worlds.
Voice acting, on the other hand, is superb for the most part. Of course voice acting goes hand in hand with good scriptwriting here and Leonard Boyarsky, Megan Starks, Kate Dollarhyde & Chris L’Etoile have outdone themselves in this regard. They laid the groundwork that makes The Outer Worlds such a vibrant, friendly, and enjoyable game to play. The voice actors, in the main, then run with this and you can tell through their performances that they enjoyed their work.
As I mentioned before some of the conversational choices are hilarious and must have made for some great comedy when it came to recording the dialogue. Really top-notch stuff from everyone involved. I would like to place a special mention for Parvati voiced by Ashly Burch of Horizon Zero Dawn fame. I felt that she, being my first and favourite companion, kept me invested in the narrative and game in general.
"Not once did I use a performance enhancer to make my battles easier, which begs the question, why are they there?"
Gameplay for The Outer Worlds is essentially very similar if not identical to a Fallout style game. The VATs system of old has been replaced with a more rudimentary model where time slows down and you can manually target areas on your foe, with text representations appearing telling you where you are going to hit and what effect it may have.
Without this mechanic, I found the shooting a little cumbersome and not as fluid as a Doom or even COD but it was certainly more than passable and after a few hours I was fully adjusted to it.
Traversal is not as slick as you would hope it to be initially but the game takes steps to improve this as time goes by. As you upgrade your character certain movement aspects can be added to. For example, standard strafing is fairly slow but add to that a function where you essentially jump left or right and you are off to the races. Nice little elements like this really add to the RPG element meaning you genuinely feel like you have real-world improvements as opposed to a slightly higher damage count or a few extra points to your armour etc.
The inventory system was an aspect of The Outer Worlds where I, to be honest, didn't spend a great deal of time, not because I didn't want to but because I didn't have to. Sure from time to time, I would need to tweak certain things like placing new weapons in my choice wheel but apart from that and the occasional armour swap out it didn't feel as if there was much of a need to use it. This is a good thing in my view as I want to spend most of my time in the game world. My problem lies with the item collection, which can be finicky but also in addition to that, a lot of the items you collect along the way are simply worthless, or were to me.
There are many health stims and enhancements lying around on most if not all planets, however, these items were rarely utilised on my playthrough and my only REAL use for them was to sell them to upgrade my weapons and armour. It feels as if this was a missed opportunity to make the items you collect truly important and vital to the game. Most instances where I had to face off against a number of foes I could easily use the targeting system and strafing along with my companions to help to dispatch all enemies. Not once did I use a "performance enhancer" to make my battles easier, which begs the question, why are they there?
That said, it wasn't much of an annoyance at all and once I realised that most items could be sold and had little use, I essentially just started to collect items for that purpose. This aspect actually made me engage more with the story as I didn't spend as much time scavenging as it was not as important as I initially thought.
Immersion / Final thoughts
"In essence, The Outer Worlds is a true space adventure game"
Immersion is a huge aspect when I play and then subsequently try to deconstruct my experience of the game. The Outer Worlds is a superbly immersive experience, it asks you to go on a space adventure and holds your hand perfectly along the way. The characters, music, writing and overall aesthetic all soar here and really made the hours fall off the clock.
Death Stranding was my GOTY as I felt it had certain unique elements that I had never really experienced before and in that case, made it a slightly better or unique experience than The Outer Worlds. The margins are extremely narrow and it was a very fine line I took with that decision.
In essence, The Outer Worlds is a true space adventure game. The main story is very good but like many games of this type it is the side quests that truly sparked my interest and if missed Id say your journey through the outer worlds would be damaged significantly. I loved my time with it and cannot wait to see what Obsidian do next. I am glad they had the opportunity to make this game as it has a large amount of genuine love and attention put into it. The results of which are hugely evident in my view.
If you like action RPG games like Fallout and fancy some razor-sharp and, at times, hilarious dialogue elements to your gaming then this is 100% your bag.
Advice: Get it bought.
The Outer Worlds is, currently, available on Xbox Game Pass but can be sourced for other systems at fairly reasonable prices at the moment, all below the RRP.