By KAI HUGESSEN
The Outer Worlds is a brand new single-player RPG from Obsidian Entertainment.
Obsidian are the masterminds behind “KOTOR 2,” “Fallout: New Vegas,” and more. If none of these ring a bell, here it is in layman’s terms: they know their stuff, and have absolutely nailed it in “The Outer Worlds,” which released last month on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
To start you off, the game flings you into a distant future, far from Earth and everything you know, the Halcyon System. Here, you find a government run by businesses, a corporate conglomerate known as The Board, who run every aspect of life in the colony, with one goal: profit.
The Outer Worlds lays its cards out from the beginning. A hilarious, character-driven sci-fi romp, that will take you across the solar system in a strikingly beautiful yet bleak dystopian future.
The game’s tutorial section, Emerald Vale, introduces you not only to the game’s mechanics, but also its setting, theme and messages. Within the first hours, you’re forced to learn about this world, and make a decision that would irreversibly change it. It’s not an easy choice either. You have to decide between cutting the power to a disease-ridden corporate town, filled with people who are just trying to get by in the only world they know, or to a scraggly but determined group of deserters, who have left the strict regiment of corporate life and roughed it out in the wild. People will be hurt whatever you chose, and the entire future of the Emerald Vale depends on your actions here.
It’s a shocking statement by the game, telling you that it’s not going to be black and white. The choices you make will have an impact, and they won’t be easy.
These choices are made all the more impactful by the personal connection brought on by your companions. Each is their own individual, with their own stories and views on you and the world. They’ll take note of your decisions and your relationship with them will change based on what you do. The poor mechanic from a frontier town may resent you for cutting it’s power, or a dock worker from the slums of one of the last free havens of Halcyon may get mad you sold out the settlement to the Board.
The way these characters interact with you is part of a fully-developed and fully in-depth dialogue system, where you can interact with almost anyone who won’t shoot you first. Speaking of shooting, included in this systematic package is an entire combat system. It’s decently done, and doesn’t feel lacking with a good selection of both ranged and melee weapons, but it pales compared to the dedication that was clearly put into the dialogue and skills features.
There’s our segue into skills. There’s a decent variety of skills and perks you can take, to help you in and out of combat. For example, I was at one point, carrying hundreds of pounds worth of equipment through the industrial wasteland in the centre of Emerald Vale. It was slowing me down, and I had to slowly trek towards one of the two local settlements, terrified I’d be attacked. When I was attacked, I narrowly defeated my attackers, and leveled up, giving me the opportunity to boost my carrying capacity and make a break for society. Your companions get a taste of it too, with each having a relatively simple skill tree for you to develop and play with.
Skills are granted by leveling up with experience, which you gain from achieving quests and goals while adventuring about Halcyon. While you’ll usually only have one or two objectives relating to the main story at a time, there’s a huge variety of side missions available that reward you with money, items and the aformentioned experience.
And that, is the best way to describe the Outer Worlds. An experience. Trekking through the hot sulfur pools of a planet that was left to rot, or mingling among the elite of the colony’s wealthiest, the Outer Worlds will never stop being something.
You’ll always have something to do, somewhere to be or something new to explore. Even the moments away from it all, isolated and alone at the rough edges of the colony, there will be something. A stranded castaway or a pack of angry alien wildlife, the Outer Worlds will never stop giving you something to play with, or run from.