The Outer Worlds

Obsidian Entertainment is well-known for crafting top notch action RPG experiences, and their latest release certainly fits the mould. As a team with its roots in the Fallout franchise, this latest offering won’t disappoint those looking for a fix of that series and its familiar style. Take a look at The Outer Worlds, available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The Outer WorldsThe Outer Worlds Details

Platform: PlayStation 4Xbox One
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Developer: 
Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Private Division
Genre: Action role-playing
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

Adventures in space

The Outer Worlds is an action RPG that sees players tackle enemies and decision-making scenarios across a swath of unique planets and locations. The story plays out much like a black comedy, almost in the same vein as the early, sci-fi heavy works of Kurt Vonnegut. The jokes are heavy, but underneath the absurdity are real social issues.

Of course how much or how little players wish to contemplate these themes are up to them. Most of the gravity of The Outer Worlds’ social commentary is strewn about in various logs or optional conversation paths. The lore is there for the taking, but can just as easily be dismissed by those preferring a focus solely on action and combat.

The Outer Worlds

Alternate paths

That said, much of the replayability of The Outer Worlds stems from its branching dialogue options and the decisions players will make. These choices don’t ultimately converge on the same path as in some games in the genre. You can emerge from The Outer Worlds on significantly different terms depending on your actions, and missions can be failed outright.

As a spoiler-free example, one of the first encounters in the game features a scenario where marauders surround an abandoned ship. My first time in this situation, I goad locals into attacking through intimidation. They are subsequently slaughtered. After disposing of the enemies myself, I am treated to an amusing conversation with their HR manager.

The 2nd time I opt for more gentle persuasion. This time the team survives the attack. The result? New dialogue, new options, and our HR friend is nowhere to be found. Of course this is a small difference that doesn’t really have a huge impact on the overarching narrative. Nonetheless, it gives an idea of the sort of choices and unique story paths players can expect from The Outer Worlds.

The Outer Worlds

Enjoyable combat

The key to a great action RPG’s is nailing the combat in addition to all the necessary RPG elements. I’m happy to say that The Outer Worlds hits it on the head. It offers excellent gunplay along with exciting strategic elements.

Players have the ability to slow down time, which creates an additional sense of power that is immensely satisfying. Additionally, there is also the option to recruit companions along the way, who can assist in your attack efforts. This mechanic gives off strong Mass Effect vibes, right down to the companion selection screen, and operates nearly as well.

The Outer Worlds

A reasonable journey

In comparison to the average action RPG, one might consider The Outer Worlds a relatively short game. Without purposely rushing through the core campaign, the average playthrough will probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 hours. This is allowing generous time for side quests and exploration as well.

Some might see this as a downside—but personally, I am a big fan of the scope of the game overall. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sprawling open world with an 80 hour storyline and potentially that much or more in extras as well. Yet I think there’s a strong argument to be made for more games like The Outer Worlds.

It really fills a niche for gamers who either don’t have a lot of time to play, or who want to play a greater variety of games overall. Players under these limitations are often compelled to move on well before completing games in the RPG genre. A game like The Outer Worlds gives them the opportunity to see one through.

Again, it really comes down to the return you are looking for in time investment. Players expecting the the ability to sink 100’s of hours into a single game may want to look elsewhere. However I highly recommend The Outer Worlds to anyone who wants an amazing RPG experience that offers a sense of completion and resolution without an enormous commitment.

The Outer Worlds

Prepare for loading

If I have one clear criticism of The Outer Worlds, it’s with the frequency and duration of its regular loading screens. Perhaps as gamers we’ve been spoiled a bit recently, with many games pushing the boundaries of eliminating loading screens altogether. Open-world titles with seamless transitions between areas such as God of War come to mind.

The Outer Worlds however has more than its share. It seems that nearly every important door comes with a wait—from building areas to towns and more, and the break in gameplay is often exacerbated by the frequency with which you’ll be bouncing between them.

The real issue is that they aren’t particularly short either. Even playing on the powerful Xbox One X each load takes upward of 30 – 60 seconds. It doesn’t seem so egregious on the surface, but the wait adds up when you are bouncing between mission checkpoints across two areas.

Loading areas are nevertheless often a necessity in games, and part of the trade off in creating beautiful, full worlds to interact with. I’m not saying every game needs to eliminate them entirely or be ultimately flawed. However, The Outer Worlds does feel a bit behind in their overall intrusiveness in comparison to other games of the same calibre.

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds is a fantastic action RPG that doesn’t take an enormous time commitment

The Outer Worlds scratches the western RPG itch with fun gameplay, deep branching narratives, and unique strategy. Nevertheless, you can enjoy its story and explore its world without having to put the rest of your gaming life on hold. And for those who can’t get enough, there is significant replayability in exploring different choices in subsequent playthroughs.

The pacing does suffer from pervasive load screens, but ultimately the payoff is worth the wait. As an action RPG fan who also plays a wide variety of games and genres, The Outer Worlds is the kind of franchise I would love to see more of.

+ Branching narratives
+ Satisfying combat
+ Fills the niche of a sprawling open-world RPG with a reasonable time commitment

– Some lengthy load screens

OVERALL ASSESSMENT THE OUTER WORLDS

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Sound: 4.5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5

Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)

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Dave Neufeld
Dave is an avid gamer, a musician/songwriter/recording artist, and an ardent reader with a degree in the Classics but a love for comics too. When he's not gigging with the band or pulling books at his local comic shop, he can usually be found gaming on any platform, from consoles to PC to his self-built personal arcade cabinet.

1 COMMENT

  1. The Outer Worlds looks like a great game. I’m excited to try out the Switch version when it launches next year! Hopefully they don’t have to sacrifice too much to get it working properly.

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