The Outer Worlds
Late last year, as people were tuning into the annual Game Awards to find out how many awards God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 would win, Obsidian Entertainment used the show to unveil a new game. A game which could very well be a contender at the following year’s awards show. It was called The Outer Worlds and it instantly shot to the top of everyone’s must-play list of 2019. Fast forward 10 months, The Outer Worlds is finally here and it’s everything we hoped for and then some.
Fascinating Interstellar Story With Conscience-Rattling Decision-Making
The Outer Worlds tells the stories of the citizens who live within the Halcyon system, a corporation-controlled system several light years from Earth. You play as a passenger of the Hope, a colony ship that’s been lost for over 60 years. Upon being unfrozen from cryosleep by the renegade scientist Phineas Welles, you quickly discover the villainous Halcyon Holdings Board actually moved the Hope to an ice planet on the outskirts of the system to keep its arrival covered up. Unfortunately, before Welles could revive every member of the crew, the Board was alerted, causing Welles and your groggy character to flee. It’s up to you to find all of the materials needed to help Welles restore the passengers of the Hope and, subsequently help those living within the Halcyon colony.
That is, if that’s something you want to do. The Outer Worlds was directed by Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, the creators of the Fallout series, and thus employs the same deep decision-making that has made the Fallout series so beloved. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide how you want to affect this system. Will you provide salvation for the downtrodden working force or will you maintain the status quo for the corporations that lord over them?
This type of decision-making is one of the things that makes The Outer Worlds such a fascinating gameplay experience. In almost every situation, your morality is put in question and you must decide whether or not what you think is the right thing is in actuality what’s best for the people in the long run. While you may think the decisions you make will be black and white, that’s never the case in The Outer Worlds. I found every decision I made created a ripple effect that changed the landscape of the rest of the game.
For instance, very early on you’re tasked with deciding the fate of the citizens of Edgewater, a town located on the planet, Terra 2. What sets Edgewater apart from other run-of-the-mill towns is it’s actually home to a large cannery of Saltuna, a tuna-like substance. Upon your arrival, you learn the cannery has seen better days, as most of its workers had deserted due to the harsh, low-paying work environment.
Because you’re in need of a power source for your inherited spaceship, you’re given the unenviable title of mediator between the corporation and the deserters. If you choose to take the power source from the deserters, you’ll be forcing free people back to a life of unending servitude to a disgusting company. Conversely, if you take the power source from the cannery, you’re killing the only source of income available to these men and women and possibly even dooming the deserters and any citizens reaching out to them for help to “The Board’s” inevitable wrath.
The point is, there is no easy answer to any given question. You’re likely to burn a bridge early on or kill the wrong person. The game will go on, but you’ll miss out on a quest they could provide later on. The Outer Worlds relies on multiple saves and playthroughs to figure out which ending you’re most comfortable with. Without them, you may undergo the crippling guilt yours truly went through on countless occasions. It’s this level of emotion that makes a game go from great to downright special.
Personable, Relatable, Hilarious, Useful NPCs
While the twists, turns, and unexpected outcomes of the storyline are epic in their own right, my favorite part of The Outer Worlds is without a doubt the NPCs. The Outer Worlds hosts a bevy of unique characters from one-off NPCs, to companions, villains, and the hilarious, yet enigmatic Phineas Welles that help create a memorable video game experience.
What makes them so wonderful is how no two characters ever felt the same. They all had unique reactions to certain situations, their own goals, and drama. At times, I found myself more invested in their dilemmas than in the actual main storyline. That isn’t a knock on the main storyline in any way shape or form, but more of a compliment for how the characters I interacted with made me invested in their lives.
The biggest example of this was how many hours I spent speaking and working with my companion Parvati, as she went through the unique crisis of becoming comfortable in her own skin and finding the person she wanted to build a relationship with. If you follow her story, you find that she brings a level of representation to the LGBTQ+ community that’s not often seen in video games, and it makes for a heartwarming experience.
This is the case for literally every companion, really. Each one had a story to tell and regardless of whether they were an asshole to others or myself, I couldn’t help but be reeled in to their tale and be compelled to help. Moreover, it’s because of my connection to them and their stories that I wanted to protect them at all costs, which resulted in outfitting them with the most powerful gear I could. Luckily, companions are the one characters that can’t die in The Outer Worlds, unless you’re playing on Supernova difficulty.
Furthermore, your NPC companions bring a unique usefulness to the battlefield. As you play, you’re able to toggle their approach to every battle. If they’re aggressive with a knack for close-quarters combat, they’ll be right on the front lines. If they’re passive with ranged on, they’ll hang back and pick off enemies. What you choose for them and the weapons/armor you outfit them with will inevitably dictate how battles will go.
However, armor, weaponry, and battle styles aren’t what makes them special on the battlefield. The Outer Worlds also gives each character their own unique special attack that you enact, and it’s so cool. One character uses a revolver to fire several critical hits, another legit does a running dropkick (wrestling style), one companion even jumps in and does a Hulk smash. It’s just so damn cool and yet another reason why The Outer Worlds is fantastic.
The Outer Worlds Drastically Improves Upon the Fallout Model
When it was announced that Obsidian Entertainment had developed a game with the original creators of Fallout, it was pretty much a given as to what the format of the game would be like. Open world, decision-making, weapon crafting, and perk upgrades all wrapped up in the packaging of a fascinating world. While it is all that, The Outer Worlds surpasses what its predecessors had trailblazed in every discernable way.
The Outer Worlds employs a lot of the same things that previous Fallout games introduced in past years, and elevates them to new heights. To start, the VATS system that allows players to stop time and select specific enemy appendages to deal massive deathblows is also available in The Outer Worlds. Except, it’s elevated in that it’s used as more of “Bullet Time”, which slows down time, rather than stop it altogether to focus on a specific body part. Die-hard Fallout fans may see this as a downgrade, but that’s simply not the case.
By slowing down time, it makes for quicker, more seamless gunplay, the likes of which are sorely missed in Fallout. Furthermore, any debilitating effects can be created while this mode is active, like blinding, stagger, and much more.
What makes it all that much better are the unique and interesting weapons that can be acquired, modded, and tinkered throughout the game. As you play, you’ll find a metric ton of weapons with a variety of perks, like Science Weapons and Special Gold-tier Weapons. Each weapon has their own feel and flow, allowing gamers to pick and choose how they like to play. In today’s standards of gaming, that’s nothing new, but the seamless way you can upgrade your favorite weapons/armor and even repair them is what makes it stand apart from its post-apocalyptic predecessor.
After Fallout: New Vegas, I found the Fallout games that followed to be really boring. I bought into the hype for Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 when they were announced, but I found myself disappointed when it was all said and done. It could be because of the environment or because of the outdated systems or how little motivation I had to build my own self-sustaining society, but I just had a hard time buying in. That’s not the case at all with The Outer Worlds. It holds your attention from start to finish with excellent quest lines, fascinating world building, and characters you’d absolutely die for.
One of the Best, Most Addictive Games I’ve Played in Years
When describing a video game, there are very few times I’ve ever claimed that a particular game was special. God of War (2018), The Last of Us, Uncharted, and a select few Zelda and Final Fantasy games are the only ones that I’d rank on that S (for Special) class tier list. So, when I say that The Outer Worlds is a special game, you know that I don’t take giving that designation lightly.
From the moment I hit start on The Outer Worlds, I couldn’t put it down. I immediately fell head over heels in love with this galaxy filled with unique characters, within a society brimming with an over-saturation of advertisements to veil the insidious corruption plaguing this colony.
Between the humor from off-kilter characters to events allowing me to believe I could make a difference, I had this undeniable hope that I could change the fates of the overworked and undervalued members of the Halcyon System. That’s where I believe The Outer Worlds truly sets itself apart from the Fallout series. There never was any hope that I could fix that world. Whereas, in The Outer Worlds, my decisions no doubt destroyed countless lives, BUT I could see actual change and benefits to my decisions.
Obsidian Entertainment put together one of the best, most balanced games I’ve played throughout 2019. It’s a truly special game and one that everyone should dive into and experience for themselves. I have no doubt that when it’s all said and done, that The Outer Worlds will return to where it was revealed, but this time to receive many much-deserved accolades and awards.