They say all the stories have been written, there’s just new takes on them – and while that’s true in a sense, it doesn’t mean that one of those new takes can’t be as interesting or as fresh as one that’s entirely original.
The Outer Worlds, from Fallout: New Vegas creators Obsidian, “borrows” a lot of inspiration and mechanics from the famed post-apocalyptic series, but builds upon it and takes it in an exciting new direction – in what I believe to perhaps be the best new IP of this current, and outgoing, generation of video games.
Set in a far away solar system called Halcyon, the game sees you take control of a character who is ripped from cryogenic sleep aboard a colony ship from Earth that never quite made it. The main plot sees you help the mad scientist that woke you up in an attempt to revive your fellow slumber mates and save the colony. In your way are a range of different factions and corporations belonging to different worlds, which all take different stances on the mystical “Board” that rule the colony.
Or, that’s one way to look at it. The Outer Worlds offers you a wealth of opportunities that Fallout used to as well in being able to craft your own story out of the game’s universe. Almost all plots in the game, even the main story, can be bended to your will – so that characters you don’t like can be given short shrift, and the ones you do can end up running the show. Giving you this control is what makes an RPG so fun, as you can approach the game in the way you want to and also, if you fancy, play the game again and again, discovering new elements you’ve never seen before.
For the most part, the main story is a rather good tale and provides a satisfying journey throughout the many worlds of Halcyon. The game thrives most of all though in your encounters with the people of Halcyon, some of whom will join you as crewmates in your adventure. Of course, there’s a good share of fetch quests which task you as a space-faring errand boy, but for the most part the various side missions provide a solid variety of different tasks to keep you busy and allow you to explore.
In seeing the variety that Halcyon has to offer, you encounter a wide array of landscapes that are frequently breath-taking. Stopping too long in one place may lead you to be overrun by marauders or hostile local fauna though, so that’s where the combat of the game comes in. For me this is where the game makes its clearest distinction from its spawning series – as the gunplay is responsive and varied, with special abilities and a selection of weapons that is far more interesting than Fallout had to offer. Granted, it does replace the famed VATS mechanic with the analogous TTD (Tactical Time Dilation), but on the whole it does a fantastic job of making the game feel lively.
Fighting your way through is an option for any problem, but more often than not you’ll be using conversation to navigate encounters. Dialogue in the game is rich and very often hilarious, which give the game more charm than almost any other out there. Everything in the way you speak to people and learn more about their lives is crafted so meticulously and in such depth that the world itself comes alive. Even after putting down the game I still find myself humming the fake corporate jingles of the many companies that provide Halcyon’s merchandise. You’ll fall in love with your crewmates by helping them out and hearing them banter back and forth with each other. These interactions are the real highlight of the game and why you’ll want to keep coming back to it over and over again.
Re-inventing the wheel isn’t always necessary, and The Outer Worlds proves that by providing a fresh lick of paint and a compelling narrative that you can make a tried-and-tested RPG format into a stellar new gaming franchise. This has been one of my favourite plays in many years and one that I’ll be eagerly replaying again and again, and if you like either first person shooters or have dabbled in Fallout or other RPG games before, then this one should definitely be worth a bit of your time.