If you’re a fan of the Fallout games, then you have had a… rough time of it in the last few years. Fallout 4 was decent, but far from great, and Fallout 76 was… Fallout 76. Fans of the classic post-apocalyptic RPG have definitely been left wanting in a major way. When the best game in your franchise in the last few years has been a mobile spin-off, that spells a bad time.
Luckily for you, there is an alternative! The beautiful bastards at Obsidian Entertainment have returned to bring you a spiritual successor worthy to pick up Fallout’s slack! From the creative minds behind Fallout: New Vegas (the best Fallout, fight me), we have a brand new, space-faring RPG adventure: The Outer Worlds!
Going into this game, my expectations were high but tame. I thought I’d play it for a few hours, enjoy myself, then put it down when Halo: Reach came out on PC (I’ll be discussing that soon enough). I fully expected it to be yet another game to fall into the pit of ‘games that I totally should finish because they’re great but I never will’, right along with Bayonetta, Dragon’s Dogma, Yakuza 0, the Ultimate Ninja Storm games, and The Last of Us.
I’ll get around to those eventually, I swear.
The Outer Worlds completely surpassed my expectations! I found myself completely captivated by the game from beginning to end! When I was finished, I wanted nothing more than to leap back in and play it again! It is a fantastic game, through and through!
Plot: Your Rampage Across the Solar System
Discussing the plot of The Outer Worlds is a tad challenging. Not because the plot is complex, mind you. Rather, it’s because the outcome of the story is entirely up to you!
You play as *insert name here*, a cryogenically frozen colonist aboard the lost ship, Hope. One day, decades after your ship departed, you’re rescued by a mad scientist named Phineas Wells. After unfreezing you, he explains that the Colony has been taken over by the Board, a group of corrupt corporate CEOs who are driving the Colony into the ground. But there’s hope; if you help Wells free the other colonists aboard the Hope, you could potentially put the Colony back together! Thus you’re off on a grand adventure across the Colony, traveling from planet to planet, fighting alien monsters and mad raiders, talking/killing your way through human settlements, and forging your own destiny.
Like I said earlier, the outcome of the story is entirely up to you. If you so wanted, you could try making peace with everyone or just slaughtering them all! Each quest has a variety of different outcomes depending on your choices, which gives the game a huge amount of repeatability as well as character agency! You feel genuinely important in each event!
It helps that the Colony is an incredibly interesting setting! Every location has a ton of background lore, which can be found through terminals or through character dialogue. It makes the Colony feel genuinely lived in and interesting! It encourages exploration, as you never know what you’ll find! Maybe you’ll even stumble on a new quest!
The characters are all super interesting and fun! Each one has a completely distinct personality, backstory, and motivations! Everyone is understandable and decently likable, which makes it a true challenge when you’re forced to pick sides! Companions have short but personal quests that can go a long way in fleshing them out, making it super easy to get endeared to your crewmates!
All of your various choices in the game will also have drastic effects on the ending, furthering the feeling of genuine player agency! Did you make peace between two warring factions? Did you choose one and wipe out the other? Maybe you didn’t take sides and you left them to their own devices? The choice is yours, and it will greatly sway the course of the ending.
Will you be the Colony’s savior? Or will you be a galaxy-ending demon? The choice is entirely yours!
Presentation: A Galaxy of Light and Color
This game looks pretty good. It doesn’t always run super well and there were more than a few times throughout my playthrough where the textures arrived late to the party. But overall, it’s very nice!
Each of the environments are vast, unique and colorful! The skyboxes are vast, filled with various details to make the universe feel both massive and alive! Each planet stands out, featuring its own independent color pallets, fashion sense, architecture (both natural and man-made), and so on. You can’t possibly confuse the vast and venomous paths of Monarch with the rusty, ragged Groundbreaker!
As I said, there are a lot of frame drops throughout. Often times, the game would simply stop dead while I was running down the path and summon the dreaded buffering circle to load! Should there be too many enemies on screen, the framerate can slow down to a crawl. If not for the lack of a visual change, I would’ve thought I was accidentally holding down the time-slowing ability.
We’ll get to that later.
In terms of sounds, this game is good. The sound design is fantastic, making the gunplay satisfying. The music is good but isn’t especially memorable. The game does sound good, but it doesn’t deserve any rewards.
Which I can’t say about the excellent gameplay!
Gameplay: Complete Freedom
When I first started this game and created my character, I doubted that my decisions would matter much. I decided to create a silver-tongued gunslinger, but I feared that I’d soon be forced into abandoning that character. Luckily, I was entirely wrong!
This game is a classic FPS RPG. You run around each environment, taking up quests, picking up items, and slaughtering monsters and robots. With each level, you can allocate a few points to improve your various stats, making your character better at shooting, melee weapons, sneaking, hacking, lockpicking, talking, so on and so forth.
There are a few extra additions that make this game stand out, though. In place of the Fallout Vats system, you have a Time Dilation ability. With this, you can slow time down to get a better aim at your opponent, as well as cripple them in various ways depending on where you shoot.
And yes. There is an achievement for shooting enough enemies in the dick.
There’s also the new Weakness system. Throughout the game, you’ll be given the choice to pick up some unique character weaknesses in exchange for extra Traits. These include becoming afraid of certain enemies, becoming a drug addict, so on. Each of these has a variety of downsides, but the game rewards you more than enough for picking them up. Thankfully, they are entirely optional. But they go a long way in making your character feel deep and unique!
There are also unique Science Weapons, in case you want to vary up the gunplay! There are a lot of these, and all of them are super fun and interesting! You can get a motherfucking Shrink Ray, Mind Control Beam, and way more! They aren’t especially strong, but they are just so much damn fun!
This game encourages role-playing at every turn! While killing enemies certainly gives you plenty of EXP, you also get a lot for using your various skills! Are you good at persuading or lying? Here’s some EXP for using them! No matter what you choose, the game rewards you for doing so!
This game is addictive and fun as hell! Exploring the environments is a blast! Each quest is hugely varied, with completely changing outcomes depending on your choices! The game is incredibly replayable! Maybe you played through the entire game as a stupid bruiser, so why not play it as a brilliant smooth-talker? Or perhaps a sneaky thief with an affinity for guns? You can be whatever the hell you want to be, and it is wonderful!
As soon as I beat this game, I wanted to play it again! That should be a huge testament to the quality of the game!
This is easily one of my favorite games of the year. It may even be my game of the year (I haven’t decided yet, given how much I loved DMC5)! Every second of it was an absolute blast, from beginning to end, and I have no doubt that it will be in each playthrough to come!
I’d highly recommend The Outer Worlds! This game offers a huge amount of creative freedom, which makes it hugely replayable and addictive! It has quickly become one of my favorite games, one that I have no doubt I’ll come back to time and time again for years to come! It is that good!
But here’s the real question: is it the best game of the decade?