The Outer Worlds (Xbox One) Review

By Albert Lichi 06.11.2019

Review for The Outer Worlds on Xbox One

The boys and girls at Obsidian Entertainment might be the last bastion for western-developed role playing titles. Its body of work speaks for itself, by having every title it worked on being completely steeped in RPG mechanics foremost than any other aspect. From its South Park games to Knights of the Old Republic II, even licensed properties were given utmost care when it came to allowing the user to immerse themselves in character building, and using skill checks to challenge whatever conundrum the story will present. It has always been an effective way to present role-playing since the days of pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons, and ever since Fallout: New Vegas took the best qualities of modern first person action titles and Obsidian Entertainment's dedication to role-playing, gamers have been waiting for a true follow-up. Whatever can be said about Fallout 4 or Fallout 76, they did stray away from their, roots and fans have been wondering when Obsidian Entertainment would show Bethesda how it should be done. That time is now. Take a trip to The Outer Worlds on Xbox One.

The Outer Worlds asks the question "what if Theodore Roosevelt never became president?" Without him the Sherman Anti-Trust Act never gets implemented, which was intended to prevent business monopolies. This distant time in history was the catalyst to the nightmarish dystopian future where titans of industry have become almost like Gods. Monolithic corporations have become almost like religious factions, and employees are poor souls who are doomed to a life of indentured servitude. Much like the Oddworld games, The Outer Worlds has a very strong anti-capitalist message.

This bleak "what-if" scenario never holds back with the biting sardonic commentary of the nature of big businesses controlling every single aspect of regular people's lives. The tone rarely is ever truly depressing, and things are played up for black comedy, like the news broadcasts in the original two Robocop movies. Naturally, this meticulously constructed back-drop is the player's playground for the ensuing shenanigans they will cause.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on Xbox One

Like the good RPG that it is, The Outer Worlds has a character-builder where stats are allocated. Building a protagonist with the statistics to fit a play style is going to establish the rest of the experience and the options presented are streamlined just enough so that they don't need to be agonized. The playability has enough wiggle-room to accommodate most skill-levels, but really the reason why anyone would care about any of these is to create a specialist. Fans of New Vegas are going to be very satisfied with the sheer amount of customisation and expression that is available.

From a charismatic genius who can talk his way out of any situation and is a gifted sniper, to an absolute knuckle-dragging buffoon who can make bodies fall to pieces when he swings a shovel; the options for role-playing completely trample the likes of Fallout 4. Much like previous Obsidian Entertainment releases, making a low-intelligent build results in hilarious alternate dialogue sequences, where every NPC treats the hero like a special-needs individual, with lots of sarcasm. All of these options matter because they greatly impact the way the quests and main story will unfold. A guy who isn't much for words is going to have a different experience than a character who can sell a vendor his own stock back to him.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on Xbox One

Calling The Outer Worlds an open-world game is not accurate. It does offer freedom to do things out of some sequence and offers options to do things in a myriad of ways. At best this is a series of biomes with sandbox elements.

Each area is full of things to see and do, and quests to botch, or enemies to make. At any rate, most people playing will have several unique experiences despite the scope not being as vast as similar RPGs. Even joinable party members will have their own disposition, and can choose if they're going to be a close confidant or bitter partner depending on the actions the player makes. There is so much attention to detail given to the role-playing experience and efforts made to make every play-through be unique. 'Flaws,' for example, are a means to offer a creative risk versus reward for the character development system. Pretty much, this means that the protagonist can take a substantial negative attribute in exchange for a bonus perk. This is key in making a truly unique specialist build, and can lead to hilarious results like being stricken with paranoia which makes the hero very jumpy when trying to be stealthy.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on Xbox One

The Outer Worlds plays very much like the first-person action RPGs from last gen. It's already an effective and graceful system that can't be improved on much. The time-dilation version of Fallout 4's VATS is really just a glorified slow-mo bullet-time mode, but with the added effect of being able to gain useful information about whatever is targeted. Whether it's the target's weakness or their favourite food, there is always a utility for everything in The Outer Worlds. Combat is functional but otherwise unremarkable. Don't expect gunplay or the level of polish seen in Doom or Wolfenstein, since much of the mechanics are determined by stats and tons of low level junk weapons.

On Xbox One, The Outer Worlds is a looker. It's an utterly lurid and psychedelic art style meeting the industrial revolution, and somewhere in between is the familiar classic Fallout that everyone misses. The art is being pushed over realism since there is a specific style Obsidian Entertainment is obviously aiming for and it is mostly met. The worlds of the Halcyon system are truly alien and bizarre; teeming with strange wild life and unique brands that own and run everything. Even the man-made settings have such distinctive flavour, like the couple of space stations that can be explored feel lived in and have their own cultures to them. The only real issues are technical, with some lacking facial expression and lip synching, which all looks very 2010. Other bothersome irritants are the loading times which are much too long for what this game is, and some egregious LODs popping in and out here and there. It is unclear what the Xbox One X enhancements will be since, it is not yet out as of writing this review, but hopefully it would smooth out some of these gripes as well, as even out the frame rate a bit since there is no excuse for it to drop below 30.

Screenshot for The Outer Worlds on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The Outer Worlds is a thinking-man's Fallout 4. While Bethesda failed to push its venerable RPG series into a more thoughtful direction, Obsidian Entertainment thankfully is still around to show them how it is done. Conceptually, the idea of a dystopian space system that is ruled by a board of monopolies could not have been executed more deftly. The only room for criticism is that the developers hardly ever show very much in terms of shades of grey towards the good aspects of capitalism, which is ironic since the success of The Outer Worlds is riding on a capitalist system. Too often, Halcyon's board will be truly greedy monsters that dehumanize their employees, and the writers go to great lengths to ensure that the reasoning is air-tight. Sometimes it can be a bit hard to believe that regular people would accept the lifestyles forced upon them by their corporate overlords. Everything in the setting hinges on the complete cynicism towards the human spirit. With some updates to iron out some of the minor hiccups, this can be considered a real classic.

Developer

Obsidian Entertainment

Publisher

Private Division

Genre

Real Time RPG

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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