While everyone has been eyeball deep in DEATH STRANDING and JEDI FALLEN ORDER, my space-loving butt has still been lost in the environment of THE OUTER WORLDS. I got the game a little bit late (hence the late review), but because I was already a little behind, I wanted to give THE OUTER WORLDS the time that it deserved and it deserves all of the excitement that surrounded it. This is already a contender for Game of the Year and for a damn good reason.
It is common knowledge at this point that THE OUTER WORLDS was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Private Division. We have wanted a game like this from Obsidian since FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS and we have wanted a FALLOUT game like this since, well…FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS. It’s easy to see that THE OUTER WORLDS is a big, sparkly middle finger to Bethesda and honestly, we’re all for that. Bethesda has been screwing over fans since the release of FALLOUT 76 and continues to do so. It’s no surprise that fans of the franchise are straying away from irradiated wastelands to outer space commercialism.
I’m sure at this point you have read review after review, so you already have an idea of the story and that players, for the most part, are big fans of THE OUTER WORLDS and I am right there with them. I loved this game so much. It was everything I hoped for and more. Is it perfect? No, but I challenge you to find a perfect game out there *coughResidentEvil2cough* THE OUTER WORLDS has already been nominated for Game of the Year, but why do gamers love it so much? Let’s look at the reasons why.
If nothing else, this game is beautiful. Even though the character models aren’t photorealistic like RESIDENT EVIL 2 was, the environmental graphics are STUNNING. I remember walking out of The Unreliable onto a planet of rock and floating debris and I just stood there and looked at the sky for a while. Every planet looks different and has it’s own environment filled with color and creatures of different kinds. There are no lazy designs here unless we’re looking at the weapons and armor, but that’s a small nitpick in my opinion comparative to everything else this game has to offer.
Based on just the trailer we got at E3, I was the most excited for the game’s dialogue. I find a game that refuses to take itself too seriously is a lot more fun; a great example of that is BORDERLANDS, even though the third game fell just a bit flat with its dialogue than its past games. Good writing in a game is just as important as good graphics and good mechanics. While the story of THE OUTER WORLDS is pretty good, it’s the dialogue from your character, your companions and the various NPCs through the game that is the best part. Depending on which companion you have, the dialogue reactions to certain situations will change making replayabiity a big factor and something that will change the story each time you play.
There are amazing companions and not so great companions in THE OUTER WORLDS. I immediately had two favorites in Parvati and Ellie. Vicar Max is a bit too whiny and pretty much useless if you just bump up your own hacking skills. Parvati will add an engineering bonus and she’s just a sweet baby angel. Ellie will bump up your medical skill and she is bad ass, crass and full of sass. I found myself getting annoyed by Nyoka pretty much immediately because first impressions are everything and due to a bug in my game, I added her to my roster, but she never appeared and disappeared from her initial spawn point. While I didn’t intend on using her as a companion, it was a bit irritating that I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Felix is…Felix and S.A.M. is adorable, but he was quickly benched. My playthrough was a girl’s club with myself, Ellie and Parvati, and I was happy with my choice.
PLAY YOUR WAY
When Obsidian focused said we could play THE OUTER WORLDS how we wanted to play it, I took that information with a grain of salt. There are many times that games will tout the illusion of choice but that’s all it is…an illusion. BIOSHOCK INFINITE is a great example where choice is an offered, but the outcome is all the same. In THE OUTER WORLDS, not only do the dialogue options change depending on who you have in your party, but they change based on your skill set and the direction you take the conversation. If you want your character to be as dumb as a sack of hammers, actual dumb dialogue options open up with hilarious results. It makes the playability factor jump up extremely fast.
In a lot of games, NPCs are just ways for the story to continue. They give you quests and say the same thing over and over again with no real weight to their existence. Most of the time, NPCs have very little personality, but there are exceptions like Claptrap or any of the characters in BORDERLANDS, especially Tiny Tina. THE OUTER WORLDS has some truly incredible NPCs. My favorite is Martin Callahan, the Moon Man salesman for Spacer’s Choice on Groundbreaker. He is so easy to pass by and never say a word to, but you would be missing out. Once you start talking to Martin, you go down a rabbit hole of stinky moon helmets and a man who sold his soul to Spacer’s Choice. Plus, you can buy your own Moon Man helmet. The armor is crap but you’ll look awesome.
These aren’t the only reasons that we love THE OUTER WORLDS, not by a long shot. Even though this game isn’t 50+ hours long like many games these days, it doesn’t need to be that long. This game values quality over quantity and ties everything in a neat little bow that you can replay over and over again. The story is great, but plays second, third, fourth and fifth fiddle to all of the other things that make it so wonderful. I’m not sure if I’d want to see a sequel to this game, but I definitely hope Obsidian keeps making games like it. THE OUTER WORLDS is available now for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows.