Obsidian’s new RPG is a tale of tough choices and dangerous quests. While travelling to exotic alien worlds and meeting interesting characters, some difficult choices will have to be made.
If you were to ask a gamer what their favourite installment of the Fallout franchise is, there’s a high chance they’ll say it’s Fallout: New Vegas. Even though it was not the work of official Fallout studio Bethesda, New Vegas is fondly remembered as a pristine exercise in video game storytelling and roleplaying. It set a standard for how players could create and maintain an avatar, and how said avatar interacts with the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Mojave desert and its people. It was comprehensive, compelling, and it left a really good impression.
Nine years later, Obsidian Studios is revising those RPG elements in their new title, The Outer Worlds. Set against the romantic yet unforgiving backdrop of a distant galaxy, The Outer Worlds propels players to engage with an elegantly-constructed society of scientists, settlers, and a large group of capitalists.
Seriously, the name of the game out there is capitalism. Entire towns and stations are run by conglomerates who view their denizens as mere cogs in a greater machine. That’s where you come in: Waking up from cryostasis, you discover that you and your fellow settlers were left to drift in the cold void. It’s up to you to save them, and how you go about achieving that is entirely up to you.
The Outer Worlds features a complex character creation system which players use to create their ideal man or woman, constructed to best-fit one’s play style and preferred traits and skills. Each of these opens up new ways for you to complete assignments and interact with the populace. Imagining constructing a junior medic whose silver tongue can get him through any door, or an electrician who’s good with a handgun and even better with his hands. Never underestimate someone when it comes to a melee. These traits and skills are then built on as you progress through the story. Beware your fatal flaws though.
This level of choice continues in the way you choose to play the game. You can be the good guy, a hero that helps out the helpless and takes on the mega-corporations that care not for their wellbeing. You can turncoat and work for said mega-corporations, fulfilling their oppressive agendas. Or you can just be a stone-cold madman who shoots everyone they meet in the face. Character choices define the experience to the point that this single-player narrative can have a variety of different outcomes. All the while, you are exposed to a collection of planets that each have their locales and interesting individuals. Obsidian has dedicated a great deal of effort to flesh out the NPCs (non-playable characters), and the result is a galaxy that feels lived in, hardships and all.
Stepping away from the conversations and confrontations, The Outer Worlds is not all dialogue and decisions. There is some excellent gunplay, and combat mechanics that let you take down enemies with precision and flair. Choose from a variety of weapons which can be repaired and modified as you go along. You’re also equipped with a mysterious ability to slow down time for a short while, allowing you to accurately fire your shots and manoeuvre around the battlefield. As is the case with a logical world, ammo and resources are finite. It’s up to you to acquire the essentials by either scavenging, purchasing, trading or stealing (that last one carries significant risks, but for many, that’s the fun of it).
The Outer Worlds is not a game for those looking to shoot and ask no questions whatsoever. This is a narrative-based experience that requires you to engage with the elements. Ask questions, lead discussions, make moral choices. Choose a path that ultimately ends with the galaxy being either a better or worse place. All the while, revel in the beautiful visuals and the attention to detail of each planet and settlement. It’s that both looks good, and can leave feeling good too.
The Outer Worlds is now available on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. Available on Nintendo Switch in 2020.