The Outer Worlds review; A Nuclear Shadow

The Outer Worlds, for all of it’s strengths, can’t make it’s way out of it’s creators legacy.

A small bit of context before making my way into the full review. I am a massive fan of the Fallout series and RPGs as a whole, spending most of my time in Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas.

The Outer Worlds is a good game, not great, not phenomenal. Just good. After two separate playthroughs, doing all the optional content, I feel like there should have been more. There was something missing the entire time I played the game. More on that later.
Baseline review info: The Outer Worlds is a first person shooter with looting and RPG elements, a story you can sometimes interact with but not really, companions that range between fine and great, and voice acting that is nothing really to write home about at the best of times.

Full spoilers past this point, pussies.

Now that that’s over with, the meat begins. We’ll go in order of the points listed. The gunplay in this first person shooter is okay. Some of the weapons are satisfying to use while others feel like I’m just pissing on the random monster that’s totally not just a rejected Fallout design with a new colour palette. The looting element feels like they know that they needed to have some sort of looting, but the things that make the named unique weapons different is just made null and void an hour or two later when your shrink ray only makes that mega giant mantis the size of a giant mantis, doing 6 damage a tick.

I honestly have mixed feelings about the story. You start the game being picked from a group of frozen colonists by a single Rick-looking scientist named Phineas Welles. From there you get into hijinks on a few different parts of the Halcyon system. You can either follow him until the end, or turn him in to the authoritarian corporate overlords named ‘The Board.’ You get this choice when you finally reach space, and can turn him in whenever. If you decide to just go along with Phineas, then you do more space stuff on two more planets and the rich part of the planet you start on.

All in all, you can visit three planets, two ships, and two asteroids. One of those ships and one of those asteroids have playable areas the size of a single building on the other planets. This wouldn’t have been an issue, if the system map hadn’t made me so excited for more.

The planetary map of the Halcyon system put actual stars in my eyes. It felt like I had seen the light of God, and when I discovered the game was over without having any option to go to four more planets in the system, it solidified what I was already feeling about most of the other parts of the game. There was so much potential, but the game doesn’t live up to it.

Going back to the actual issues I have with the plot. Most of it feels inconsequential. Most of Phineas’ jobs are ‘go here so you can meet the next companion.’ Only in the final area, Byzantium, does it really feel like I’m going to get shit done, either in helping Phineas’ plot or ensuring The Board’s control. Compared to Fallout: New Vegas, where the main quest’s driving force is, “I want to find the dude who shot me in the head,” some of the honestly strange reasoning for main quests here feels more like it came from an MMO.

Next up on the chopping block, the companions. Most of them are shallower than a kiddy pool with a leak. The standout is Vicar Max who can become a hippy after having a spiritual religious awakening on LSD. The lowlight sadly is Parvati, whose entire companion quest is based around how she is an asexual lesbian and is going to go on a date with a fellow engineer. It’s a questline that could have been great, but was paced badly because of how you are required to get items for the date in all the areas you unlock in the main story, and you unlock it right after getting out of the second area. While all other companion quests are unlocked and wrapped up within half an hour to an hour, the nature of how you unlock Parvati’s quest points drag to a halt if you’re someone like me, who does all the quests they can in an area before leaving.

Here are a few more miscellaneous nagging issues I had with the game throughout my playthrough with no real coherency to them. I just can’t find a good spot to put them in the rest of the review.

Why are the people who are suffering from a “plague” that is clearly just malnutrition fixed by suddenly becoming vegan with no protein in their diets? How did The Board forget about basic human nutrition? How do The Board expect to unfreeze the people that they froze when they can’t do it in a controlled environment? If The Board knew where the Hope colony was, and they were working on freezing and unfreezing people, why wouldn’t they just unfreeze the people on Hope instead of throwing them into space, leaving the pods open for the people who are dying, and not killing more workers?

From reading this review back, it comes off as needlessly harsh at points, but honestly from the people working on this project, and the scale that the game showed a hint of, it set the bar so high. I like so much about the minute-to-minute, but the more I played the more flaws were revealed. In the end it felt more Fallout 4 than Fallout: New Vegas

If I had to give The Outer Worlds a score, I’m feeling like a strong 6 to a light 7.