The Outer Worlds Review

“It’s not the Best Choice, it’s Spacer’s Choice!”

General Info

Release Date(s):
General: Oct 25, 2019
Switch: June 5, 2020
Rating: M 17+
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Private Division
Platform I Played On: PC
Platform(s) Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Adventure
Difficultly I Played On: Normal

There are two DLC for this game and I have not played either of them as of yet. The one that does intrigue me is the Murder of Eridanos. I may eventually play it but just not at this time. I have way too much of a backlog~

Synopsis

Taken from Obsidian’s Official Site

The Outer Worlds (obsidian.net)

Lost in transit while on a colonist ship bound for the furthest edge of the galaxy, you awake decades later than you expected only to find yourself in the midst of a deep conspiracy threatening to destroy the Halcyon colony.

As you explore the furthest reaches of space and encounter a host of factions all vying for power, who you decide to become will determine the fate of everyone in Halcyon. In the corporate equation for the colony, you are the unplanned variable.

Why You Should Play? The Short Version

>> A non-hyper futuristic space game, atomic era twist!

>> Ability to explore different areas

>> Lots of potential to tinker with character stats

>> Deadpan humor and bureaucracy at its finest!~

Pros

  • Interesting world
  • Atomic era influences
  • Deadpan humor
  • Interesting dialogue opportunities and outcomes
  • Flexible for exploration and taking on quests
  • Ability to tinker and allocate stats

Cons

  • Forgettable protagonist
  • Companion characters lack depth and impact
  • Story could’ve been fleshed out a bit more
  • Forgettable side quests
  • Was not invested in story, character, or general gameplay
  • Wished ending had a bit more substance, felt somewhat anticlimactic

First Impressions

Beware there may be minor spoilers below depending on one’s qualification of a spoiler. Read at your own risk. In my opinion, this review should not spoil any new player’s experience with the game~

Disclaimer: This is my HOBBY blog with my own opinions, please take that into consideration~

The Outer Worlds is a game where I had seen it casually listed on various game stores and never gave it any attention. Funny thing is when I saw the trailer for the Outer Worlds 2 the sense of humor in the trailer made me think I was missing out on something. With this game seemingly to be perpetually on sale everywhere I got it at a reasonable price and decided to give it a go.

I really liked the premise of the game in that you are essentially one of the many colonist earthlings going to the space colony of Halcyon. In the beginning we know there is clearly something wrong and somewhat sinister going on due to the fact that an entire colony is letting a group of humans just sit frozen in time in space. The game starts off with a brief cutscene allowing the player to absorb the overall premise of the game and what type of adventure we are in for.

From the get-go you can tell that this game has big ambitions but could still use a bit of polishing. I really liked in the character creation portion how you can choose your “earth job” and that you can get really sarcastic remarks depending what job you choose such as the game questioning if that should even be a valid job 😂 This dry sense of humor runs through the entirety of the game with varying subtleties.

We get to play as an outsider seeing the ridiculousness of the colony and its combination of extreme bureaucracy, corporatism, and pseudo authoritarian/communist/totalitarian society all wrapped up in one happy complicated bindle. From the beginning of the game, you figure out pretty quickly that there is a guise of “everyone being happy” but only a select few actually get the benefits from society There is one power in exclusive control and dictates how the colony works and how people should think.

The actual main story is pretty short and, in my opinion, somewhat simplistic. In the beginning it looks like we are going on this grand epic adventure and then it seems to collapse into more optional side quests. Not that this structure is a bad thing I just wish we had more of a main story to keep the players a bit more engaged. I also wish for more of the main story we would have had a few more cutscenes just to match the opening sequence. This would make the main quest feel a bit different from the side quests and would have maybe made the main story have the feeling of more importance and urgency in comparison to the multitudes of side quests. This feeling I had while playing the game is somewhat hard to describe, but the story aspect is just simply missing that finishing touch that makes a player actively engaged, compelled, and wanting to actually care about the story.

From the get-go we get to see that Halcyon is essentially a haven for needless bureaucracy. As the game progressed (especially when we reached Byzantium, the capital city) it somewhat reminded me of the 1985 movie Brazil, anyone? Bureaucracy is king in the colony and at the helm is the governing body, the board. Essentially you are the outsider that has the potential to question the overall bureaucracy and give it critiques. The game does provide the subtle themes of power and maintenance of balancing everything needed to make society run.

I wish the story had a bit more nuance and gave the player some tougher choices in the game especially towards the end. We essentially have two choices of the core ending and shall we say I was a bit underwhelmed. I think the game overemphasizes the awfulness of the one side so if you are playing with a moral conscious there is really only one route to choose. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the option of playing the evil/chaotic route in a game, in fact that should stay. It simply would have been nice to see some third branching option that maybe made decisions more difficult for the player and for role-playing purposes.

My general feelings of the game and the overall plot made me think about the purpose of this game. I have come to the conclusion that a heavy amount of this game is geared towards the concept of exploration of the world at one’s own leisure. For plot-oriented people like me this concept of just meandering about is hard to grasp because the story telling, and overall ambience of the game is more of our focus (the reason I cannot get into Skyrim). The different areas and the side quests involving those areas do make for a wide variety of exploration and getting small tidbits of the world as one progresses through the game. For the person that enjoys just mindlessly running around and shooting things I think there are ample areas that sustain this style of gameplay.

So, this game does not baby you whatsoever. They kind of drop you in the game with minimal explanation and essentially say “go have fun”~ I personally don’t mind this method (even though sometimes can be frustrating) because it makes you actively try to figure out the scope and limitations of the game. Let’s just say this game makes me feel like a noob quite often 🤣 I was honestly really confused throughout a great portion of the game because I was just aimlessly wandering about (though that’s not a bad thing at all).

Speaking of cluelessness, a bit of story time, when I was still a fledgling in this game I managed to completely bypass the Groundbreaker portion of the story because in large I had no clue where I was going. Groundbreaker is basically where you can get two of your six companions and learn a lot of the in-game lore. When I got to the planet Monarch, I landed, and boy was a struggling because I would get killed nearly instantaneously by various annoying creatures. I ended up stealth walking to the city on the planet and then did various side quests and grinded my way to stability. After completing the monarch story, I continued onto the portion that where we are in the capital city. Then finally got to a point where it was hinting at the final mission and I thought to myself this feels way too short and I only have three companions 😂

Turns out, if you skip an entire area you miss out on a huge chunk of the game, who would have thought 🤣🤣🤣 So I actually booted up a save right after I had completed the monarch stuff and did all the areas I could before proceeding with the main plot. The game truly does not guide you and does not care if you choose to bypass much of its story and creations. Needless to say after that incident of my stupidity and confusion somehow the game started to make a whole lot more sense. That whole incident made me understand how the game and plot were structured and that I should simply enjoy the experience offered to me. Let’s say this game humbles me

Eventually, I got tired of my toss aside playthrough and simply told myself just finish it; you are so close! So I plowed through the remaining portion of the game and did just that. Afterwards I just wanted to get a feel of how the game began and just restarted the game. I can honestly say that after my sacrificial first character the overall experience of the game was much smoother the second time ‘round. I think sometimes that in an RPG the first character is a throw-away so to speak so I was not upset by feeling the need to restart my game for a more encompassing experience.

All in all, I have my criticisms about the game but I still felt like it was an enjoyable experience. I roughly spent around 50 hours of the game before I officially completed it. That being said, I think realistically it could have been 40 if it weren’t for my mix-up with going to monarch incredibly early. If I play the game in a mindset that this is not ultra-polished like some games and that I should just sit back and enjoy travelling from one place to another. Enjoy the absurdities of corporatism and bureaucracy 😂

Side Quests

Lots of Side Quests // Something Amiss // Forgot Purpose of Side Quest

The game does contain quite a few side quests that are completely optional. The actual game has many labels for quests but in the end most instances of these were not memorable. There are some quests that are faction oriented, personal favors, or companion quests, etc.. For the purposes of this review everything will be lumped together as a side quest.

I am somewhat torn as to whether or not I actually like the overall execution and quality of the side quests. On one have I am glad they are not all simplistic fetch quests, on the other hand while doing the side quests I often times forgot why we even got into this mess in the first place. This is akin to my feelings of the execution of the main story, I feel like there was something just slightly missing that made me feel invested and engaged with the stories of the side quests. I will say I do like that some of the side quests to make an attempt to have a follow-up with some of the main story events which makes them feel a little less random.

I think some side quests have a really good premise and plot while some just felt a bit boring. There are a few side quests that take you to a specific area and then within that area it turns into a chain a side quests and more optional new side quests within the area. Sometimes because of the confinement in this space I would totally forget the whole reason I was at the particular location and that the side quest began with a particular person and location. I just wish some things about the side quest were a bit more streamlined and that decision oriented quests would have more emphasis on story.

I think the game could have cut out a few of the side quests because the Outer Worlds does borderline on the side quests being filler for the game to feel longer. If there was more focus on the more story oriented (or even fraction oriented side quests) the side quests could have potentially been more impactful and worth one’s time.

The Characters

Underdeveloped // Wanted More // Really Good Character Premises

In general, I think there is some element missing from the overall character execution in the Outer Worlds. I like that we get companions and we get to meet people along the way. Unfortunately, I found myself not really caring about any character or their backstory. I think sometimes they just feel like they are there… While I thought some characters had a really good premise and were somewhat interesting there is something missing that gives you that element of attachment or connection or simply at the very least comradery. I think this may be intertwined with my opinions about our protagonist in that there is just something missing from the overall quality of characterizations in the Outer Worlds at large.

In the Outer Worlds we get some companions that join us in our quest for various reasons. Now, playing this game and being a Dragon Age and Mass Effect fan my bar for well executed companions is fairly high. This game had really interesting premises for the companions but ultimately most were kind of forgettable. It never felt like wholistically we were actually a team with goals and ambitions and very little “bonding moments”.

When I discuss bonding moments there were lots of opportunity it just felt like the outcome was a simple thank you towards the Captain. It would have been nice to have a cutscene or more dialogue options as a whole. I will just say I wanted just a bit more substance and interaction from my companions. Though I gotta hand it to all the voice actors because I think that’s the reason why I can like many of the companions to the degree that I do! Really well executed in the voice acting front!

Parvati Holcomb: The first companion we get is Parvati, who is probably one of the more memorable companions in my opinion. She’s an engineer and essentially is from a backwater town and is clearly curious about the rest of the colony. I think the earlier events of the game and literally her being your sole companion for a significant amount of time she just has more presence and we actually got to hear her opinions and comments about various situations at a higher frequency.

I think overall Parvati at least has the illusion that she was created to have most people like her character and therefor given more effort in the execution of her character, to me that is very apparent (and I wish the others had that same degree of presence). As far as her side quest goes I wish there was maybe a bit more than just getting her to have a date? Not that I’m saying she shouldn’t find happiness but I wish there was a bit more story than her bumbling about in her love matters. All in all I quite like Parvati and bring her along on many missions. I like the notion of her being able to see the world and her wanting to see the world.

Vicar Maximillian DeSoto (Vicar Max): The second companion is the Vicar, who is part of Halcyon’s religion which honestly I’m still not 100% certain of what it all entails other than we are all part of “the Plan”. He is scholastic in nature and wants to acquire more knowledge and gives some interesting perspectives. Once you get to learn more of his backstory he really is an interesting character filled with past mistakes, opinions, and is certainly a unique addition to our companion roster.

I think the Vicar is not inherently meant to be liked but rather giving us a very different perspective of the world. I think he bends the stereotype of what a religious character means at large and in this in-game universe. I also like that he’s on the slightly older side and that the game didn’t put a ton a green, younger, or conventionally good looking youths as our companions. His side quest is also a big “meh” for me in that I wasn’t quite sure of the entirety of it and honestly he almost became nihilistic near the end of it while simultaneously still wanting to save the colony. Again, with all the companions I wished for a better execution of the story. I brought him along many missions because he also had a level of tact in certain environments.

Nyoka Ramnarim-Wentworth III: The third companion I got was Nyoka, which most people probably got her last because she’s located on Monarch 🤣🤣 Nyoka is a bounty hunter with a bit of a drinking problem and we basically have to get her help because of her knowledge and connections on Monarch. Her backstory is interesting but I wish her character would have been fleshed out just a tad more. I liked the premise of her character and in comparison with some of the other companion quests I thought hers had a decent progression. However, that still doesn’t mean I wish there was more substance and story backing it.

One thing I will note is that towards the end of the game it felt like she has significantly less dialogue in situations than the other crew members to the point it didn’t feel like she was there. This is sad because I liked her opinions interjected in past conversations. I like that she’s still sensible but has that bounty hunter fearlessness that embodies her character. She is one of the people I usually bring long in many of my missions because she’s not as clueless and has a bit more tact than our other companions.

Felix Millstone: Felix as a character was a big miss for me. I get having someone who’s more on the green side in our group is fun but considering his life on the groundbreaker he shouldn’t have been THAT green. My impression is that he’s kind of the “meathead” of the group but with a nerdy edge? I felt like he was a poor copy of Parvati’s personality with a smidgen of youthful cockiness. His backstory did give us insight to the whole corporation situation of Halcyon but I felt like he was simply a facilitator for lore and not for his own character’s sake. He just seemed to be missing something that I couldn’t click with. Now I respect the notion that our ragtag team of a crew won’t have everyone be super smart but at least give the guy some level of expertise that is maybe mentioned at some point in the game? 🥴

Dr. Ellie Fenhill: For majority of the game I wasn’t particularly a fan of Ellie. She seemed distant for much of the game and her occasional banter with others just felt a bit lacking. Her companion quest also doesn’t trigger for a long while so I was wondering if I messed up and she hated my character 🤣 Like many of the companions, I liked the premise of her character but there was something missing that made either us the player or our character to actually connect with her. Her actual companion quest was a good one and it made me understand and respect her character a bit more than my first impressions. Though I will admit because it was so late in the story I was in the frame of mind “too little too late”. I just wish she had more substance 😭 Also, just out of curiosity, I wonder why she is the only other character on the main cover art, did I miss something in the game??? Is she that important or well-liked of character??

SAM: SAM is a cleaning mechanical (robot) that in all fairness I didn’t really care to get and probably underutilized him. I just would rather have real humans than a cleaning robot for dialogue opportunities. That being said I liked that there was a mechanical option for the people that want a robot as a companion instead of the human choices at our disposal. To fully acquire SAM there’s various missions that need to be completed that are somewhat forgettable and out of the way. After those missions he’s just kind of there for the remainder of the game.

Our Protagonist: Captain Hawthorn (though not really)

Meh // Not much Character Growth // A Vessel for the Player to Shoot Things

Honestly the protagonist fell quite flat for me in that we are voiceless, never see our character (all in 1st person cannot even see our legs 😱), and there isn’t much sense of motivation. Even though I gave my captain a look and a name she just simply lacked presence in my opinion. The most I ever got to a semblance of a character is how aggressive, sarcastic, or smart she was with the dialogue options. Which I will admit some of the sarcastic choices were quite funny 😂

Now I won’t be one of those people who hates unvoiced characters and only wants voiced. I think you can become attached to a voiceless character if the story backs up your overall choices and you can see your character develop. I think with the voiceless character in this case there was not enough at stake or progressive change for your character.

I think as protagonists go, I felt like the Captain was a vessel for the player to simply go out and shoot things, explore, and do some moderate story. There is very little emphasis on character growth and sense consequences. It just felt a bit… bland…

This execution of our protagonist is I think what many fear when a story driven or RPG game is not done in the third person or hybrid and only in first person. Since we never see our character there needs to be something dynamic going on to bring him/her to life. Without this we might as well be playing a first-person shooter with minimal story and simply be a vessel for the player.

With all my criticisms I can say one has to play the main character in a particular mindset. You aren’t playing as a dynamic or memorable character and the game has more of an exploratory and shotting emphasis. While the RPG tag is slapped onto this game it is not a Mass Effect experience. There are simply choices and you as the player are the driving force of the game’s progression and some of the consequences.

I have to say I do not hate the protagonist in any way. Perhaps I am simply not geared to fully enjoy this style of protagonist. However, I am excited to see what improvements and changes the developers are going to do in the next installment of the series and if/how the execution of the protagonist changes.

Gameplay

Keyboard = NO // Weapon Choices // Not Always Needing to be Reliant on Weapons

Options: Keyboard and Controller

I started out the game on my keyboard, and my goodness I was not a fan of it whatsoever. Once I switched to a controller everything became significantly less clunky and I actually enjoyed playing the game. Something about the overall movement just felt stiff on the keyboard that I didn’t experience with the controller.

The game at its core is a pretty straightforward first-person shooter. I will say I am definitely not the greatest at the shooting controls at this particular game. Maybe I’m not doing everything right but it really seems like the enemies have about 100 layers of armor on them because they don’t die quick and you use a ridiculous number of bullets.

You have various weapons (mele and firearms) at your disposal. Honestly, I kind of stuck with one or two weapons. My plasma pistol was a favorite of mine 😈😈 My pistol and usually a shotgun or something of that variety are the main weapons I utilized. With the plethora of weapons that can be acquired in the game I just kind of experimented and went with weapons on a trial and error basis. The weapons you get can be modified with different attributes as well as your armor.

The game utilizes a system in which both your weapons and armor deteriorate over time and you either can swap out a new fresh weapon or fix your weapons using part components. I typically am not a fan of my weapons or armor deteriorating but this game does not make it obsessive to the point where you feel like you are swapping out weapons at a high frequency. Though with this deterioration system does make a lot of sense as to why we can acquire a ridiculous number of weapons throughout the game. Honestly the weapon system was middle of the road for me, and it didn’t feel like there was much remarkable about it. I played with the tools the game gave me.

We can have two companions with us at a time. And they have their own armor and weapons that you can change out. Though I gotta say the actual assistance I got with the characters was hit or miss. Sometimes they were a great help and sometimes everyone just seemed to die too quickly. I’m not sure if they were super useful when I basically finished the final boss battle with my armor and theirs being exactly the same and yet I’m the only one standing 😂

There are two kinds of character enhancements you can do. One is the actual skill points, and the other are perk points. The skills are allocated to fairly standard skills categories such as weapons, defense, or dialogue. You can allocate them however you wish and what you want your character to be good at. I focused on the dialogue and science-oriented skills because they were quite useful in dialogue situations. The perks are similar in that they give you attributes but are a bit more unique and varied. Such as an increase in your base health or carrying capacity or reducing ability cooldowns. If you fail at enough things, for example have too many instances of creatures spitting acid on you 🥴 Spacers Choice says they found a flaw in you. You can choose to take this flaw to accumulate more perk points or decline the offer. If you decline you only get a limited number of perk points. I quite liked the execution of the character skill/attribute system, straightforward with varying options for customization.

The game does a nice job of balancing of not relying on coming in guns a blazing. In certain areas you can use your dialogue points to wheedle your way out of a situation. Some of these instances are quite comedic or just plain stupid. Some instances you can have a disguise too that has a timer and you don’t need to plow through endless hordes of enemies. Why not just walk past them? When the timer runs out you are met with more dialogue options to continue your mission. If you fail, it’s an all-out brawl and everyone immediately shoots you down. I like this bit of variety in our choice to execute some missions or specific areas.

Graphics & Artistic/Aesthetic Style

Atomic Era Vibe // I LOVE the Advertisements 😍 // Decent Graphics

I will say I love the 1950s style advertising that is sprinkled throughout the game. It’s like a revisioning of the atomic era but with a modern twist. The commercial jingles, the catchphrases, to the very illustrations are clearly reminiscent of that particular era and I like that it’s not a space game with everything sleek and new. I love when games go through the effort of making little things such as advertisements, newspapers, books, etc. because it gives more visual, audible, or readable insights into the overall atmosphere of the game. Honestly the advertising and corporate items are what made the game visually interesting.

I like varying structures in the game towards the end. I will fully admit I was a bit tired of seeing rundown space facilities. Two areas provided a bit of a change of scenery and that would be the groundbreaker and Byzantium. Having a space station of sorts and a city scape somewhat balance the abundance of derelict small towns and nature scenes in the game.

Graphics wise are pretty good. It’s not as polished as many AAA titles but it does not feel subpar. The most noticeable thing to me were people’s eye sockets. As weird as this might be it was one of the first things I noticed when playing the game and how there are next to no characters that have any glossiness or reflective light. In many current games you at least get a smidgen of reflective light in eye sockets and I was surprised that this game with all the other gorgeous details that this one was simply not present. There were some moments when transitioning from one area to the next that the scenery was a bit blurry for a second of so until everything rendered properly. Other than that, there were no graphical issues that were ultra-off-putting or noticeable.

Would I Recommend?

There are many things I like and enjoyed while playing the Outer Worlds. If I were to describe the game in one short phrase it would be a “diamond in the rough”. While there are many fun elements to the game there are things that when polished and better execution it would warrant a higher score. As it stands now, I can say it was a fun experience to play. The game has good bones, and I am excited to see what the Outer Worlds 2 will bring to the series!

I think as a whole the actual storytelling was not as compelling as I would have liked it. The overall story sounded complex at first but then ultimately turned into a choice of siding with evil versus good. If this were a linear story I wouldn’t have minded that simple choice but as an RPG I would have liked there to be more repercussions or side quests that effected the final story choices.

The overall characterizations are also in a similar vein in that I wanted to like all of our companions, but I really didn’t feel any connection via my character. I wish there was just more characterization and maybe a bit more dynamic execution of the characters. I didn’t hate them, but I wasn’t overly concerned or attached to them.

I wouldn’t recommend this game if you wanted a complex engaging story or dynamic characters. This game doesn’t have the aura of a AAA game and it is a “diamond in the rough” experience. If you wanted everything to feel super immersive or more choice options in an RPG game this might not be the game for you.

I would recommend this game to the people who want a space themed game, an interesting story premise, or as a breather from more intense games. If you think you can play a game that you can critique while still enjoying what the game actually offers this is not a bad experience whatsoever. There is a level of deadpan humor in this game that is enjoyable and you just simply go along with it. I don’t think this game is meant to be taken seriously and it’s simply a good time and you get to explore a somewhat absurd world. If you see this game on sale, I recommend picking it up because it is a fun game to play. “It’s not the best choice, it’s spacers choice”~