Review: The Outer Worlds (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: The Outer Worlds
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (38.69 GB)
Release Date: October 25, 2019
Publisher: Private Division
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
If I could get a dime (nay, a nickel) every time someone says, “The Outer Worlds is basically a Fallout: New Vegas clone”, I could actually buy out Bethesda and make a better Fallout. Because Obsidian actually made a better Fallout (than the current outing I mean) that doesn’t really feel like Vegas at all. Sure, the guts are in there; Obsidian’s brilliant conversation and choice openness is present. But thematically, The Outer Worlds gave me a vibe of two things I really love: Mass Effect (pre PS4) and the TV show, Firefly.

And while the story starts off simple enough, the action RPG quickly takes twists and turns that truly feel influenced by your choices. That is not in part, but solely, due to Obsidian’s expertise at letting you play the game the way you want to. I mean, sure, you can’t blow up a planet, but you can certainly take liberties in how you treat people and how they, in turn, respond to that.

The reason I liken this more to Mass Effect-meets-Firefly is because you don’t stay on one planet for long. Planet hopping is in the mix for you and your crew.

Yes, crew.

I stayed away from Outer Worlds info on purpose, because I didn’t want anything spoiled, so I personally had no idea that you could travel with a small crew (three, including you). The choice is there to go solo on missions, but the banter and assists that these rogues provide adds to the fun. So, whenever someone asked if they could join my ragtag team, I always accepted, but not before grilling them a bit. Yes, Firefly fans, you can even have a “preacher” on your team.

Combat in The Outer Worlds is handled via first person. So, you can choose to go in guns blazing, or the melee route: with swords, scythes, axes, hammers, or whatever else you can find on the road. Leveling up allows you to spend a healthy amount of skill points on the combat style you prefer, and after level 50 on the overall category, you can focus on a specific type (pistols, and one-handed versus two-handed weapons and rifles for example).

But this is far from being the only component of your person that you can spend skill points on. Outer Worlds‘ narrative is very dependent on conversation and how you handle yourself. So, there is a skills section for dialogue and knowledge (for things like science and medicine). The subsections of those include your ability to persuade or lie well, or your understanding of medicine when, for example, you offer to help a stranger who’s been hurt in the wild.

The Outer Wilds is not a huge game. It can be completed in a few hours if you plow through it. But it’s a game that rewards exploration with narrative. If you choose to ignore companion quests, then you will miss out on some great storytelling. But really, none of these quests are required. They just flesh out the universe, and I found myself taking on every quest I could find before jumping back into the main story. I did the same with The Witcher 3.

Visuals:
Stylistically, The Outer Worlds is beautiful. Every planet you visit has a unique look and tone, with a color scheme that evokes cold or warmth. The consistency in the architecture found in cities supports the “western” theme throughout. It’s a lived-in old world, but one that’s still afforded the benefits of modern technology.

Weapons and armors are also rich in style and also fit well into the retro world, where Rocketeer-like masks are part of the norm, and everything is rusted or worn in some way.

Character models and animations are the only places where I feel The Outer Worlds took a small hit. As an open-world RPG, it’s somewhat understandable that hundreds of characters will not have the graphical fidelity as something like Uncharted, or God of War. However, watching characters shift into position before talking to you feels dated and it’s something I hadn’t seen in a few years, so it breaks immersion ever so slightly.

Audio:
While the visuals on the cinematics and character conversations felt a little dated, the dialogue and acting was top notch. Not only was the writing also evocative of that Firefly western in space, but the talent behind the voice work did a great job putting voice to the writing. I especially loved the various personalities in your team (should you choose to travel with one).

Music ranges from twangy guitar riffs to orchestral epic-ness and was always a pleasure to have as a companion to this space odyssey.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The Outer Worlds was (and is) the RPG I needed in my life. It’s a spacefaring, gun-slinging adventure that’s as deep or simple as you want it to be, based on how you play. Because of Obsidian’s experience with conversation systems and consequences, you can also determine how you’d like to be seen as a character, and how you handle situations.

It’s not quite as long or extensive as other RPGs, and some of the planet locations are pretty small, but what the game does with its real estate it does better than what bigger games do with miles and miles of gaming environments. It keeps you engaged.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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