At some points, the game will offer “flaws.” These can be rejected at no penalty, but accepting increased damage from an animal or energy weapon does allow one free perk each time. Some flaws are minimal, like 10% less proficiency with melee weapons, so it may be worth taking a couple of these and balancing it out with a perk.
The most important aspect of an RPG is the story. A player’s interaction with other characters usually tells the tale. The dialog system has remained almost unchanged since ‘KotOR’ first hit shelves. Don’t fix something that isn’t broken. Depending on a character’s traits, a dialog can range from basic and short to complex and rewarding. Pumping a lot of skill points into lie, intimidate, and persuade can make a world of difference. It will impact what you can get out of an NPC. This means more loot when turning in a quest or even a more straightforward way to complete a quest. It would be fair to say that talking takes up more time than action/exploration in this game, so a higher dialog skill is a must.
The art style, like with many sci-fi games over the past decade and a half, borrows heavily from our past. ‘Bioshock’ had art deco, and ‘Fallout’ had a 1950s flair. ‘The Outer Worlds’ goes for the late 1800s, early 1900s pulp leitmotif. Loading screens great the player with artwork reminiscent of advertisements created by Francisco Tamagno. The player’s actions also influence the artwork. If the decisions made are in the Board’s favor, the player will see gladhanding, but if not … then the propaganda starts to bubble up. A nice touch.
The overall design of the architecture is a bit bland. Then again, many of these buildings are prefabricated boxes that are meant to be the same. Where are the settlers, though? This question kept popping up as each city, town, port, or station appeared bereft of life. Given that this isn’t precisely an open-world game, the smaller areas the player travels to should be more populated or lively. Each planet is sufficiently different as far as the terrain goes. There are open wastelands to traverse with lots of plant life and animals, but the cities feel devoid of energy.
There’s a clever advertisement for faux windows that pops up, acknowledging the bland aesthetic of this new frontier life. Venturing into larger cities doesn’t reward the eyes as much as initially expected, though. Offices would sometimes have vast open spaces with NPCs wandering about. Even executive suites lacked a lived-in look found in the settlers abodes. Maybe everyone in the upper duper class is super tidy in the future. Don’t go in expecting bustling city streets or signs of life akin to ‘Red Dead Redemption 2.’
On a technical level, ‘The Outer Worlds’ was pretty smooth sailing. Enemies didn’t run in circles. Monsters didn’t mysteriously float through the geometry. The game never once crashed on the XBOX One we ran it on. ‘The Outer Worlds’ is refreshingly polished. Refreshing mainly because so many big-name releases it the market it an unfinished state.
Those looking for an action RPG that isn’t set in a nuclear wasteland filled with programming bugs or invasive monetization structures finally have new hope. ‘The Outer Worlds’ is a science fiction roleplaying game that takes us beyond Earth and into the unexplored reaches of deep space. Not only does this game aim to take the player into new worlds, but also far away from the stale glitch-infested money sink that is the current ‘Fallout’ franchise.
Those who’ve experienced RPGs from this developer before won’t find any real surprises here, but a stable core mechanic and engaging characters. It is up to the player to fully flesh out the experience. The game has a high degree of replayability. As always with these types of games, just a few dialog changes away from a totally new experience.
Will you be good, bad, or play both sides against each other for maximum moolah?