Given how much I adore the Fallout franchise, it often comes as a surprise to people when they find out I never played Fallout: New Vegas. The main reason for this, is that I never really felt like anyone but Bethesda could pull off a game like that. Having said that, New Vegas has a huge fan following, and I was very close to giving in to peer pressure. When Obsidian Entertainment announced The Outer Worlds at E3 2019, I knew to give it a go. Fallout in space – what’s not to love?
Given Obsidian’s history with games like Knights of the Old Republic II, The Outer Worlds plays in a very similar way. Being primarily a first person role playing game, you’ll spend a lot of time wandering around the various worlds, blasting away at enemies with an array of strange weapons, or cutting them apart with exotic blades. As you level up, you unlock skill points that influence your characters abilities and perks that can further enhance your game play. Just like the Fallout games, as you explore the Halcyon System, you can stumble across characters that can become your companions.
As you level, so do they, allowing you to choose what perks they offer when you have them tag along. Unlike Fallout though, every time you disembark your ship, you can choose up to two companions, each with their own unique ability. Each character will have their own little side mission, giving you a nice little distraction from the main quest line and a reasonably generous reward at the end.
Where Fallout’s art style is a romanticized version of the 1940s, The Outer Worlds feels more like it’s drawing inspiration from the 60s, its retro-futuristic designs sporting an abundance of curves, flowing lines and a whole lot of brightly colored lighting. Each world has its own unique feel, with Monarch being an overgrown mushroom forest abundant in dangerous wildlife, whereas Terra 2 feels a lot closer to home; its beautiful plains polluted by industry. I spent many hours simply strolling around the countryside, taking in the sights and admiring this beautiful game. From weapons to armour, characters to the ships, everything in The Outer Worlds oozes personality.
Unlike Fallout, which is host to quite a few radio channels as you stalk about the wasteland, The Outer Worlds doesn’t really have much in the way of music. Sure, there is some ambient music playing softly in the background, but nothing like the Fallout universe. This is largely due to the story of the game. With Halcyon being highly commercialized, its inhabitants are only allowed to enjoy a selection of music, and this music takes the form of advertising jingles. The Board, being the governing body of the system, has only approved advertisements as any form of entertainment.
Whether it be music or Television, any news stories are an interruption to your regularly scheduled advertisements. Most NPCs will also plug their chosen brand as they strive to further themselves with their employer, constantly reminding you that their brand exists. While this leads to some very repetitive conversations outside of quest givers, the voice acting is very convincing and often had me seeking out certain brands.
While playing in a very similar way to Fallout, the controls are a little less forgiving. Like most shooter games, your action button and reload button are one in the same. Under most circumstances, this isn’t a big issue as pick up radius for most objects if quite forgiving, but with The Outer Worlds, I had a number of issues where my character would reload instead of picking up the item, and once the reload animation had begun, I had to wait for it to finish before I could then perform the action I was actually trying to do.
Numerous times I found myself waiting for the reload to finish just so I could open a door, the only upside to my frustration is having a full magazine before I could proceed. Picking up smaller items was also means for great annoyance, as you really need to be precise where you’re looking – repeatedly tapping the “X” button on my Xbox controller offering no help. I feel that if a system was implemented where you could hold “X” to pick up all items in a small radius, similar to Fallout would be very handy. They already have it with the loot containers – why not world loot as well?
Ignoring that one little control issue, and the vast amounts of in game advertising you are subjected to, The Outer Worlds has really caught my attention. When I heard about Fallout in space, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy, and I am so glad that I did. With so many ways to play, an entire Solar System to explore and a story-line that changes and develops steadily as you play, The Outer Worlds is redefining and reinvigorating the RPG genre. Bethesda has some solid competition with this one.
- Awesome Art style
- Expansive game play
- Plenty of replayability
- A compelling story
- Large worlds to explore
- Controls can be a little unforgiving
- Loading times can be a bit excessive