Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Review: The Outer Worlds

I bought the Outer Worlds earlier this month, mainly because I had been without both my graphics card and my PS4 for a bit and I kind of wanted to play a relatively new game. I got the PS4 version because I hadn’t yet replaced my video card at the time and besides, the game was not available on Steam. I guess minor spoilers follow.

Summary: A reasonable Fallout-esque RPG from the makers of Fallout: New Vegas. It’s not as expansive or quite as nonlinear as their previous games, but it’s pretty serviceable and there’s a reasonable amount of stuff to do. A decent purchase, though I chafe at buying games at full $60 price these days lol.

My notes:

  • setting is a far future corporate dystopia in a remote human colony. Or at least, a caricature of a corporate dystopia. Your main enemies are evil corporations, which appeals to my recent disdain for capitalism. There are no intelligent alien races to interact with, but plently of wild animals
  • the space map shows something like 6-7 inhabited planets in the cluster, but you really only interact with 3-4 of them so that’s disappointing
  • there are some gorgeous environments on those planets though
  • feels a bit like Fallout, with the general aesthetic hewing closely to Fallout’s 40s/50s vibe. Even the loading screens and movie advertisements are throwbacks to monster flicks from that era.
  • also feels a bit like Mass Effect, mainly with you getting a ship and the shuffling between worlds and the companion system
  • I would say the companions are not as fleshed out as the Mass Effect ones though. Some of them are a lot less fleshed out than others. One of them is basically just a cleaning robot that you stuck a gun to, and he has no further storyline. Also, tbere is no companion romance option, but completing companion questlines unlocks an extra perk for them (though this isn’t clearly indicated when it happens, you have to check their status screen)
  • Phineas Welles gives a strong Rick Sanchez vibe
  • It isn’t a true open world, more like a forest of smaller open world areas
  • There are a lot of quests to do, at least at the start, and they do a good job of putting the other quests in your path so that you naturally feel like you’re running into them. Towards the last third of the game, new quests seem to taper off though
  • Actually, by the last third of the game, everything felt a bit same-y. I was definitely less enthused to play towards the end.
  • Combat especially doesn’t have much variation. Either enemies run at you with melee weapons or shoot at you from afar etc. I wish I used a more sniper-rifle style with scoped hunting rifles, but I didn’t. There is a version of VATS (which only you can use so somehow its a superpower), but it’s more like a bullet time effect to help you aim
  • I like the voice acting, it’s pretty decent, although as always it’s noticeable when multiple NPCs have the same VA
  • Load time between areas can be a bit horrendous, sometimes as long as 1-2 minutes, or does it only feel that way?
  • It feels like you earn a lot of money, but there isn’t really anything to spend it on. There’s no reason to buy anything from shops, you’ll get more than you ever need just from looting and picking up stuff.
  • There’s a respec machine on your ship, which is cool, since it means you can commit skill points without too much fear of screwing up. However, I never really felt the need to respec during my run. I did respec after finishing the game to do some achievements though.
  • Level cap is 30. I did all the quests I could and I got to the cap before the point of no return, so that was annoying. I even went with nonviolent solutions a lot of the time, so if you were one of those guys who like to kill all the enemies instead, you’ll hit the level cap even earlier. You won’t be able to max a lot of skills. I like to be a “jack of all trades” kind of guy, so my skill distribution was fairly spread out and I was only able to max one skill.
  • For some reason, the game has a plethora of consumable items. I suspect these are mainly to support the hardest difficulty (supernova), as on normal difficulty there was never any reason to use a consumable other than the standard “Heal X HP” item.

I finished the game yesteday, on normal difficulty. I actually started out on hard, but then, surprise, I had a hard time at the start. I didn’t want to be too stressed so I downgraded to medium for the rest of the run. I got the “good ending”, that is to say, the one where you “defeat” the corporate master class, such as they are. Normal difficulty is relatively stress-free.

I usually want to go for 100% achievement completion, but this game had one that requires finishing on the highest difficulty, so that’s another run altogether. Presumably the second run would be much faster since I don’t have to do everything any more. I might get around to it someday.

Screenshots follow!

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