The Outer Worlds (PlayStation 4) Review

By Luke Hemming 24.10.2019

Review for The Outer Worlds on PlayStation 4

Fallout: New Vegas is probably the best entry in the series. The stall has been firmly set out with that statement, but hear this critic out. Right next to the teensy weensy issue of being essentially unplayable with the amount of game breaking glitches occurring every third step, there was a vault full of content to like. Persevering past the gameplay horrors and controller-smashing freezes led to a world with fascinating and morally dubious characters helping feel every decision they made was a: the wrong one, and b: one that would most likely destroy the lives of anyone the nameless wanderer had the pleasure or interacting with. It was these grey areas that elevated the title and made The Outer Worlds one of this years most anticipated open world RPGs since its unveiling. A lot of expectation rides on Obsidian Entertainments latest foray into the genre, heightened by a two-month delay in release - in truth, a mistake on the Steam website. The wait was worth it.

Heavily leaning (perhaps a little lazily) into past developing experiences, the unnamed protagonist awakens a member of a cryogenically suspended colony heading into the cosmos to populate a new planet. Instantly familiar will be the character creation screen, with enough customisation options to ensure an adequate character model. Customisation does feel a little more restricted than for example, Mass Effect: Andromeda, which does lead to a more fantastical approach when designing the next 100+ hours hero of the Commonwe… galaxy. Once satisfied with result of the Frankenstein process, the result is fired out of an escape pod by the standard father figure Phineas Wells, and tasked with rendezvousing a local smuggler - the first curveball is thrown, in this case 'flattering' expectations. When it happens, you'll know.

This is a funny experience from start to finish. From that initial pod/head interaction, to any further conversations, a lot of charm is injected into the dialogue. Every NPC bemoans their individual life choices with snide comments, and the kind of self-deprecating humour that only comes after years of unfulfilled potential. All lines are still delivered with an offset optimism that makes any bitter reference to how 'The Board' has impacted their lives all the more amusing. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into giving every character populating the world a unique personality. Voice acting is solid, with a surprising amount of dialogue options and a lot of care put into character models and design.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on PlayStation 4

Another major highlight worth noting is ADA (Autonomous Digital Astrogator), who controls the communications and navigations of the colony ship. Think Glados minus the bloodlust. A 'Yes Woman' in every sense, ADA refuses to provide any access to the ships systems unless the captain is present. Every dialogue choice leads to her essentially wink-wink nudge-nudging the protagonist into taking the captains ID, so she can start to serve a purpose again. In fact any decision made no matter how morally dubious will be justified by ADAs subsystems to feel like a good call, regardless of how may settlers and colonies were destroyed before coming to the decision. ADA always has your back - she's hilarious.

It is a real pleasure exploring each established colony, and admiring the intricacies that differentiate both the architecture and the culture that has stemmed from the individuals living there. Shady speakeasies find themselves operating in the shadow of towering church spires and junkyard shops. With this each trek across the wilderness, it feels like it you will be rewarded once reaching the next cobbled together settlement. Architecturally this is true, but although all locations look visually stunning, they can feel a little empty and devoid of atmosphere at times. Groups of settlers huddle together in silence and large spaces are left unfilled. For a game focusing on the grandeur of space and exploration, it would have been nice to see that extend to some of the bigger settlements.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on PlayStation 4

The level of excitement reached once engineering a fully functioning ship and blasting off the first planet is unmatched marrying satisfaction with a grand sense of adventure. This feeling is only heightened once the blast doors open to the main deck of the Groundbreaker space station. As incredible as it looks, the exploration feels soured. After hearing so much from fellow Terrans about their experiences with the Board governing their lives, it can be a little disappointing to find their presence contained to one small room in a multiple storey building. Lazy design attempts to cover this by either barring other doors or placing a non-speaking grunt in front of any potential exploration opportunity.

Worth noting are the companions gained while questing. All distinctly unique in their views and circumstances leading them to becoming fully-fledged crew members. All companions also come with their own inventory and perk slots for enhancement. Perks are also unique to the individual and reflect their skillset. The first friendly face has a craving in her life to become a mechanical engineer, and by levelling her up through conversations and combat, she will receive a set of perks reflecting those aspirations. Any time she is used will then compliment the players own engineering skills. The same applies for levelling medics, combat specialists etc.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on PlayStation 4

By far the most interesting addition to the levelling up pathway is the flaw system. Specific actions in-game will result in the opportunity to gain a perk point at the cost of something as small as a drop in technical prowess to a damage increase from marauders, sentry bots or the various wildlife roaming the landscapes. Every decision made requires time and thought to weigh up what is more important, that extra 10 percent to tech skill, or knowing that a surprise ambush by a pack of the locals can be lived through. Progression is supported through a combat system that gives a much greater degree of control than expected. Out is the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, and in is Tactical Time Dilation. A quick press of the R1 button will slow time allowing for limb targeting or the obligatory headshot. Also displayed will be any weak-spots that can be exploited (for a fun distraction, try counting how many times somebody says 'The weak spot isn't always the head' when discussing enemy tactics).

If a stoic Fallout fan, eyes have been focused since the first announcement, and this review is just something to help the time pass before the purchase. What has been the biggest surprise for this reviewer, however, is how much The Outer Worlds has reignited a love for the single-player RPG. Sure all the standard tropes are there. Junk littered throughout every area needing to be pocketed, (just in case, repeat until over cumbered); large expanses to negotiate; and, finally, abandoned complexes to search every inch of, but with the payoff of those character interactions at the end of a job request, it's always worth the trip.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The Outer Worlds soars on the strength of its characterisation not only of the main crew but its supporting cast. Every character met is a fleshed out personality with their own hopes and dreams that will keep the quest log full, just to hear the peaks and troughs of life on the fringes of space from another point of view. With such a lot going for it narrative wise, it's a relief to see the combat, skill tree, and controls not let the side down; the only downside being the emptiness of some of the major settlements, especially after speaking to so many about a hub of life on every corner. With the time and care given to making everything so unique, not only the buildings but also the inhabitants, it's a small gripe that doesn't detract from an otherwise great title.

Developer

Obsidian Entertainment

Publisher

Private Division

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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