The Outer Worlds – Fallout in Space?
Slightly late to the party with this one, despite playing the game on release (thanks Xbox GamePass for PC!) and completing the story in a few weeks. So I’m just posting a few thoughts about The Outer Worlds and some of my favourite screenshots I captured during my playthrough.
From the moment the announcement trailer was released back in 2018, I was pretty hyped for the game. Very quickly, comparisons were made describing The Outer Worlds as being like ‘Fallout in Space’. Given developer Obsidian’s previous work on Fallout: New Vegas (also featuring several employees who worked on the original Fallout and Fallout 2 under Black Isle Studios), and the general game style as an action role-playing game, these comparisons didn’t come as much of a surprise.
You’ve tried the best, now try the rest!
The release of The Outer Worlds in October 2019 was preceeded by fortunate timing. Bethesda had just announced ‘Fallout 1st’, a premium membership service for their latest installment in the franchise – Fallout 76. This was met by further anger by the already annoyed gaming community, adding to the list of buggy gameplay, empty landscapes and microtransactions. Also – see the unfortunate result of not being quick with domain name registration, with hilarious results – www.falloutfirst.com
As the Fallout 76 controversy had well and truly bubbled up, The Outer Worlds was released. Could it be the Fallout successor everyone was waiting for?
So first off – is the gameplay like Fallout? well, yes, and no. It’s certainly got the Fallout RPG vibe, however it’s mixed with Borderlands and also some players have been making comparisons to Mass Effect games too.
Whilst Fallout has the V.A.T.S aiming system which stops time and allows the player to select targets on the enemy, The Outer Worlds has ‘Tactical Time Dilation’, a slow-mo bullet time type feature. It’s clear that TDD is based on V.A.T.S.
A particulary strong part of the game is the gunplay – fluid, easy to control and the weapon modification added a nice incentive for searching and keeping hold of scavenged items. The small collection of science weapons were a welcome addition too. The Shrink Ray gun allows you to channel your inner Rick Moranis and create your own spin off – ‘Honey, I shrunk the Raptidon”. Good, not so serious fun, even if the Ray doesn’t inflict a huge amount of damage to enemies.
I must admit to having an expectation of much more action. The start of the game takes some time to get into and it’s a proper RPG in terms of dialogue options. Spend your skill points after levelling up on this skill and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to Lie, Persuade and Intimidate the NPCs during speech interaction, which all have a bearing on how a situation could play out. Peacefully, or otherwise.
Companions which join the protagonist on their journey add both a helping hand in combat and bring a depth to the story – Parvati is pretty much an instant fan favourite. The interaction between companions – having conversations with one another for instance – whilst you’re out exploring actually feels like you’re part of a crew rather than just a couple of NPCs who follow you around.
As gamers we’ve certainly been spoiled at times with the sheer size of open world games. It’s sometimes quite refreshing to have something a bit scaled back. In this case, the game has the setting of several smaller distinct areas on a variety planets or ships to explore.
Certainly in areas like Scylla (shown in the image below), a restricted smaller map makes sense with the story – the asteroid planet was home to mining stations with terraforming machinery creating small areas of artifical atmosphere.
Story wise, The Outer Worlds was also a bit shorter than I was expecting, however, it didn’t fall into the trap of endless side quests and fetch quests purely for the sake of adding content. Sometimes less is more?
Artwork / Visuals
Bright, vibrant colours hit you right from the outset of The Outer Worlds. Though maybe slightly over-saturated at times. On the planet Monarch, the colour palette definitely enhances the feeling of being in an unusual alien planet though.
The artwork shown between loading screens is one of my favourite aspects of the visuals. They really nail the 50s B-Movie poster type design, and split between advert like posters and designs featuring story content like this:
and loading screens which displays adverts for consumables items and companies mentioned in the game. Here’s another fantastic loading screen image with an advert for the personality trait boosting Spectrum Vodka:
Sound / Audio
The main theme tune for The Outer Worlds is incredible. I genuinely sat and listened to the whole thing before starting the game for the first time. I was ever so slightly disappointed however when the in game music was a much more subtle affair in the background. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the music – it accompanied the game very well, and the game’s composer, Justin E. Bell has been receiving some well deserved praise fo the score (main title music especially);
To all of you stuck on #TheOuterWorlds main menu, just to listen to the music…— Justin E. Bell ? #TheOuterWorlds (@sonic_presence) October 28, 2019
You. ?. My. ?.
The song is called ????, and when I wrote it I imagined it was about the dreams and fears of a family struggling to make ends meet in the Halcyon colony
(Enough said, just get the tune playing!)
The Outer Worlds – Verdict
I had a few initial complaints after finishing The Outer Worlds. Firstly, the small text size of dialogue choices and menus made for very difficult reading – especially for how prominent a role the dialogue plays. Thankfully, this was fixed in a patch by the developer.
Looking back on my time playing The Outer Worlds left me feeling like something was missing. It really was a great game, but I may have gone in with slightly different expectations than the experience had to offer. It isn’t the massive sprawling open world RPG you may be used to. It’s a more compact affair, and it does work well. I am keen to see what the planned additional DLC can bring to The Outer Worlds, and hopefully this can be the start of an ambitious new franchise which can properly compete against Bethesda.
More info about The Outer Worlds can be found at developer Obsidian Entertainment’s site.
The Outer Worlds is available on Playstation 4, Xbox and PC.
Our other video game reviews can be found here.