Take the Fallout formula that Bethesda has used for the last decade or so, and transplant it into Outer Space. Trade in the huge post apocalyptic open world wasteland for something a bit smaller and the ability to have different planets to explore all the while, mixing in a bit of Mass Effect’s companions and quest lines with a dash of branching dialog and you really get exactly what The Outer Worlds is.
The Outer Worlds, not to be confused with Outer Wilds (another space traveling First Person Game) , Is one of those games that comes along every once in a while, and feels extremely familiar. And there is a big reason for that, the reason is, because it takes a lot of existing and familiar mechanics from other games. Obsidian was already familiar with the Fallout franchise before, when they made Fallout New Vegas back in 9 years ago in 2010. So they had a good base to work with. Then they took several parts from other games and made something new but familiar and enjoyable.
Outer Worlds follows the story of your character, as they were unthawed from HyperSleep by a wild eyed scientist. As you join him on his quest of helping others that are still thawed, you find out he is actually a wanted criminal throughout the galaxy. You come upon a ship with a need of a new captain (as you crushed it’s last captain while landing on the planet). As you travel along you meet new people and can have a few of them join your crew. The companions of this game are the real gold of the game. Talking to them and having them interrupt or interject their own opinions in conversations is enjoyable. You really feel like you are creating a bond with them. There are only six companions in the game, but they are written extremely well, all with different personalities.
Out of the six companions, I had two favorites that I tried to bring with me as much as I could. Although I tried to keep an ever rotating cast, and chose the best companions for the job mostly. If I was on the homeplanet of Pavarti, the junkrat mechanic, where she grew up, I usually took her. If I was doing a more political assignment, I tried to bring along the convict turned priest Max. The reason for this is because your companions will interject their own thoughts and feelings toward the conversations you have with other characters out in the world. If a character is blowing hot smoke at everything, and you have the proof that contradicts them, someone will speak up. If you are asked to do something morally wrong, a companion might jump in and ask you to reconsider. It makes you feel more connected to everyone so much more, and makes your companions feel so much more fleshed out and like real breathing individuals, instead of lifeless avatars that auto follow you everywhere you go.
The combat is fairly straight forward. You have access to many guns and melee weapons, that you can tinker with when you find workshop benches in the world. Whilst mowing down enemies and various monsters on your travels, you’ll come across mods for these weapons. Some mods can allow you to alter the effect of a weapon, like changing your bullets into shock blasts, or incediary rounds. Some mods can make the guns shoot out caustic acidic rounds , or even change the rate of fire. I usually stuck with high rate of fire, or making my gun do more damage per second. I rarely messed around too much with the elemental weapons, but tried to keep one of each on me, as some enemies were more susceptible to different forms of elements than others. For example, I found robots usually took a much more significant amount of damage when using shock weapons, so I always kept one of each elemental weapons on hand and switched it it when I needed to. Being able to quickly swap to one of four weapons were nice, as I usually had a fast revolver that had burning damage, then a hand rifle that didn’t shoot as fast but did deal higher damage. Then the other two slots were for some elemental guns for that particular planet that I knew enemies that were weak towards that type of element.
One other cool thing about the combat was the Time Dilation, instead of the V.A.T.S. system that I was not very fond of, this is plain ol slow motion, with the added benefit of free targeting a particular area of the body and being able to deal extra damage. Targeting the head with allow you to temporarily blind the enemy, making their shots be less accurate. Targeting the legs will cripple, making them hobble around and not be able to flank you or blitzkrieg you, making you head for the hills. I found the Time Dilation much more fun and enjoyable than the VATS targeting, as it didn’t bring combat to a stand still. When using the TD system, the meter will drain very slowly when you don’t move. So there is not really a good way to pop slow mow and start flanking everyone like Neo. It’s used more as a strategic element of surprise, allowing you to control who has what type of damage done to them to make the fight less frantic. Crippling a Sniper won’t do anything, but Blinding them would allow them to not be accurate at all. Crippling a runner with a melee weapon sprinting at you would make them extremely ineffective as you could just walk right by them and shove them over as they hobbled around on their knees.
The worlds themselves appeared different and not something like borderlands 3, that seemed like just different biomes on the same planet. Everything felt right and planets had a good amount of differences that made them stand apart from each other. Traveling to each planet was fun and enjoyable and I liked being able to hop around to any one I wanted to at any point.
Sadly, because this game is so similar to the Fallout series, and most other things are taken from other series, there is not a lot more to actually talk about that is new. If you enjoy the fallout series, you know what to expect. NPCs who will be waiting for you at certain points to either give them a piece they sent you off to fetch or give you a new quest for turning the previous one in. If Fallout isn’t your bag, you’ll be rushing through the main quest as fast as possible.
I loved playing the game with Elizabeth, as it allowed me to branch out and create a character that I probably wouldn't have created. Captain Dilbert of the Unreliable was a mixture of both of our personalities, and he made the game different than if I just played it alone. The combat was solid and fun, if not a bit linear and the companions were all enjoyable and interesting, bringing the whole experience to something that never felt too stale or boring.
If anything, this game stand out as a shining example of how boring 2019 was for gaming. The Outer Worlds is this year's Shadow Of Mordor from 2014. A game that was more of an amalgamation of other games mechanics and ideas and tossed them together to make a very fun game. Yet, any other year, this game would be drowned out by stellar tentpole releases. But because of the largely subpar release schedule this year, a good game gets vaulted up into a great game status because mostly nothing else even came close to being this good.