It’s been a while since an RPG has taken me back to the pre-Fallout 4 era, which hosts some of my favourite games of all time such as Mass Effect and Fallout: New Vegas. Obsidian do just that in Outer Worlds, where we are tasked with bringing down the corporate board that runs the Halycon Colonies. These colonies are full with a vast aray of different people who are subject to horrible working conditions, long hours with little rest and diet inducing toothpaste. You wake, part of a lost colony ship called the Hope and are now forced into the middle of a scheme to free the Halcyon colony, the only question is, how will you do it?
Crashing onto the planet Terra 2 and crushing your escort in the process, you are met by a beautiful landscape, full of bright and vibrant colours, which contrasts to the planets survival prospects. But don’t be fooled by this colourful paradise, you are thrown straight into combat with some of the planets dangerous occupants. Soon enough you come across your first meeting with a corporation in Edgewater, a crap-hole of a town which contrasts the wild with a dreary atmosphere and whose citizens spirits just seem completely destroyed as they mope around the streets and working robotically.
When I first picked up this game, I thought the political side was going to be very simple, the corporations are bad and shouldn’t be trusted and any rebellion outfit should be rightly helped. These type of games normally allow you to feel like a hero like you’re doing the right thing, if you choose so, a route that I have a tendency to follow. However, as you explore further, you realise this isn’t the case. I’m going to not try and spoil the game, but you are left with choices that matter. You soon realise there’s a large list of pro’s and con’s to go with each side. I went into a mission knowing what I wanted to do until I was stopped my companion, who told me to think about my actions. This change in pace, the game saying “Stop for a moment”, got me thinking about what my characters intentions were. This is a common occurrence throughout Outer Worlds, do you try to find another alternative? one that would be considered a better outcome for everyone, or do you simplify it to good and evil. Outer Worlds provides a fuzzy outtake on politics that seriously make you think, unlike other RPGs that tend to put good and evil in black and white, Obsidian is not afraid to blur the line.
The companions are my favourite part of this game, Obsidian has done a fantastic job in fleshing out these characters. They really add life to the game, I’ll never forget my first time meeting Parvati, the first companion you come across. Parvati is an engineer from Edgewater who is getting a bit of a telling off from Edgewater’s chairman, she’s a nervous wreck. As you wander around Edgewater, she really picks her moments to get you some information about the town and the world around you. All of the companions give their own personalised intake into certain situations. This gives you a hard choice every time you leave your ship, who will be more useful on this mission? Who will give you useful insight, or do you just take your favourites? Companions are not only good for talking your ears off, they also provide skill bonuses and a number of perks that can help you overcome many situations. On top of this they offer possibly the funniest special moves, each with they’re own effects.
Outer Worlds provides many different quests, however, you will find quests that your used to, go to point A, collect this item or talk to this person. But the game provides humour throughout within its dialogue that shows the game doesn’t take itself to seriously, want to be a sarcastic jackass? go ahead. Want to be a Terminator-like killing machine? Cool, you can talk like that! You truly have the option to personalise your gaming experience through a fantastic dialogue system that allows you to explore your own playstyle. The dialogue is enough to justify playing Outer Worlds, there has been love and care put into crafting each conversation with every NPC. This stops the NPCs feeling simply like backdrops and quest givers, they are there living in this bleak and never-ending survival state. Some of them want some fun, whilst others just want to get along with life.
The character-creation and level up system feel are really well-designed to let your character grow. Following creating your characters you are allowed to select an aptitude, each of which possess a unique bonus for your character. These aptitudes are jobs you were selected for once you reached the colonies from your hibernation. As you progress in the game and you level up, you are allowed to upgrade groups of skills, for example if you want upgrade 1-handed weapons, you have to upgrade 2-handed weapons and heavy weapons. For me, my character is a smart-ass, smooth-talking, cashier. Every 20 points in each skill provides a related bonus to your characters allowing them new ways to engage with enemies and NPCs.
Whilst I was getting attack by a group of Mantisaur I was met with an invitation to contract a flaw, although this sounds like a bad thing it’s a fun little mechanic. Sacrificing points on some skill you can gain an extra perk. But it’s not just phobias if you fall from heights too many times you may lose some movement speed for example. This is a nice little addition to not make your hero perfect. There are many games, where you can build your character to be almost perfect, they can talk and fight their way out of any situation. This was at first why I didn’t like the skill point assignment, I felt your character could spread the points and just be good at everything. I think your character not quite being perfect is something game developers often forget but Outer Worlds really allows you character to develop some flaws and not be able to do things the easy way at all.
Outer Worlds, I would go as far as saying has been my favourite game of the year, it really brings some of the concepts from some of my all-time favourite RPGs and just really makes a joyful experience. Even thought the maps are small and the game doesn’t seem that large in today’s day and age, Outer Worlds really does a fantastic job of building worlds and cities through the use of interesting character builds, with no character a carbon copy of another. So the way and who you chose to interact with these intriguing characters really allows you to build your own experience in the Haycon colonies.