Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Private Division
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), PC, Xbox One
Release Date: October 25, 2019
Genre: RPG, First-person shooter
The Outer Worlds is an entire video game based around one simple question: What if Amazon ruled the cosmos? The game is set in a semi-dystopian future where corporations, not nations, reign over entire planets. Humans are just a commodity without any individualism--they're just extensions of their corporate overlords. It sounds depressing, but Obsidian makes it fun.
With The Outer Worlds, Obsidian has crafted an RPG with tons of satirical snark wrapped up in their humorous, jaunty style, creating a unique gameplay experience that's one-part a critical examination of capitalism through the lens of wit, and one-part damn good RPG. Both come together to make a surprisingly delicious and unique blend.
The Outer Worlds is a mix of Obsidian's best talents (and their shortcomings, too). It's a fusion of everything they've done so far that doesn't take many risks. But the result is a damn fine example of a tried-and-true method. If it isn't broken, don't fix it.
If you're looking for a classic Obsidian-style RPG with obvious Fallout overtones, The Outer Worlds is for you. Although this is an FPS, it's not really an action game. It's a game mostly about tactical strategy than great aim; your foundation is your build quality and team synergy.
At its core, The Outer Worlds is Obsidian's own unique answer to modern Fallout shooters. It's also an ode to those older RPGs of yore, the kind where skills are extremely synergized and often lead to unexpectedly awesome builds. The kind of games where experimentation is key, where there's a lot of choices, and where everything feels meaningful.
With original Fallout devs Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky at the helm, The Outer Worlds feels, looks, and plays more like Fallout than, say, Fallout 76. It has some old throwbacks to Fallout 1 with its flaws system, and the skills are entwined like an old cRPG. It also steals BioWare's thunder with its amazing companions and humorous/meaningful dialog sequences that often branch out into optional side quests.
But it's not nearly as big as a Fallout game.
The Outer Worlds is AA through-and-through and doesn't have the same luster or expansiveness of games like Fallout 4. You won't see a huge 100+ storyline with tons of sidequests, collectibles, or big mod support. The Outer Worlds' size doesn't actually detract from the game and adds to the mystique and overall charm to the experience.
The game is basically a self-contained slice of Obsidian's most potent skills. It's a singleplayer-only RPG without any crazy live-oriented multiplayer or grinding. You don't have to spend a lot of time to beat it, nor do you have to min-max everything or collect all the weapons. Those paths are there if you want them, but by no means are they necessary.
That's what I find most refreshing about The Outer Worlds. It's authentic and doesn't lie to you. It tells you what you're going to get upfront, a Fallout: New Vegas in space with deep KOTOR-like mechanics with a beginning, middle, and end.
There's no crazy grinding or crafting to artificially elongate playtime (although there is weapon maintenance and crafting, it's done in a way that's not extremely detrimental to the player).
Obsidian respects you as an RPG fan, and more importantly, it respects your time. It doesn't bog the game down with too many complicated systems.
Instead, its RPG mechanics are interwoven in a logical and satisfying way that ensures none of your choices are actually bad choices. They're just choices. Everything you choose to do, from what quests you tackle, who you choose to help, or what skills or weapons you choose to use--everything is valid and has a meaningful consequence. Sometimes those consequences aren't what you expected. Finding out is part of the fun.
In this review, we'll discuss everything that makes The Outer Worlds unique while not necessarily massively iterative. The game sits right in the middle between too hot or too cold. It's just right.