FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
The Outer Worlds review (PC/Xbox One)
Mon, 11th Nov 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Outer Worlds immerses players into a slightly tongue-in-cheek sci-fi role-playing adventure on the far side of the galaxy. Players take on the role of one of thousands of unfortunate colonists aboard the colony ship, Hope.

During the journey from Earth the ship's engines malfunction. Instead of arriving on a new world in the Halcyon System, to start afresh ten years later, the ship arrives fifty years late. The ship's owners, Halcyon Holdings, covers the malfunction up and hides the ship and its occupants, still frozen in cryosleep. Thirty-five years later, the player is revived by a scientist and the adventure begins.

The game starts with a sequence very similar to the Fallout games, the questionable Fallout 76 in particular. And this is hardly surprising. The developer, Obsidian, created Fallout: New Vegas for Bethesda. 

Obsidian was founded by ex-Black Isle Studios employees that works on, of all things, Fallout 2. Add in the fact that The Outer Worlds is directed by Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky and the game almost becomes the legitimate follow-up to the Fallout games.

The Outer Worlds plays a lot like the Fallout games, but with a bit of Mass Effect thrown in for good measure. Obsidian obviously made notes when working for BioWare as the developers of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2. Aside from some very familiar game mechanics, The Outer Worlds is very much its own man and many ways more focused and enjoyable than Bethesda's Fallout games.

The Outer Worlds is quest-based with the plot moving forward via a main mission thread whilst giving players a multitude of optional side missions to enjoy, as well. Depending on players choices, there are numerous paths that can be taken, allowing for multiple playthroughs.

The dialogue is amusing, but not as funny as it thinks it is. The game's major draw for me was the world-building. I love the idea of exploring a colony left to its own devices and it all not quite going to plan. Along the way, player meet a multitude of colourful characters, some friendly, others not. There are plenty of moral choices to be made and the colony politics make for some interesting interactions.

The game is vast- set across a number of planets in the Halcyon System. Players get about on the stolen spaceship, The Unreliable. Along the way, just as with BioWare games, players will pick up additional crew members to help them in the field.

The world is full of loot that can be used to upgrade armour and equipment. Players can craft and modify items to help them on their quest.

The game's 50s-style aesthetic is similar to the Fallout games, but the colourful, detail-packed worlds more akin to those of No Man's Sky.  Visually, the game looks OK, if a little dated. Whilst not as potato-y as Fallout 4, it's not up to scratch compared to a lot of games out there.

On PC, the Unreal Engine creaks a little. Even with a top-of-the-range RTX 2080ti GPU, I couldn't get it to run smoothly without reducing the frame-rate to 60fps.

The game is an Xbox Game Pass game, meaning that subscribers to Microsoft's game subscription service get The Outer Worlds for free. Premium PC subscribers also get the game for free on PC. The game is also a Microsoft Anywhere title, which means digital PC or Xbox purchasers get a copy of the game for both platforms. Unfortunately, PC saves do not transfer to Xbox One, unlike proper first party games, like Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4. Still a fantastic deal for PC and Xbox One owners.

The Outer Worlds is a great role-playing game and one that sci-fi fans will enjoy. The story is great and the gameplay polished. The world-building is accomplished- you really feel that you are part of a vest living, breathing (if dysfunctional) colony.

If you fancy a juicy narrative sci-fi game that doesn't take itself too seriously, check out The Outer Worldswhich is available now on Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.