Developer Obsidian Entertainment has made a name for itself with classics like Knights of the Old Republic 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, and the fan-favorite Fallout: New Vegas. It’s therefore fair to say that the Californian studio knows its craft. And that’s no different with The Outer Worlds: extensive freedom of choice, great characters, and a good pinch of dark humor.
A fun ride right from the start
The Outer Worlds already establishes excellent humor in its first minutes. The character editor thus offers a whole range of witty remarks from doctor Phineas Wells, your rescuer from deep sleep. This is the plot of the game: Many years ago, powerful companies set off for the Halcyon system to create new jobs and to build a second home for humanity. Your character was accommodated on one of these colonist ships and was meant to arrive some time ago. But as it happens with interstellar journeys in cryosleep, the spaceship drifted away and has been bobbing around in space ever since.
Fortunately, the doctor mentioned above illegally gains control of the spaceship and picks out a companion to rescue the entire vessel. Using a large selection screen, Wells enters various search parameters, like intelligence, leadership quality, and charisma, and has the computer present him the relevant persons - a cleverly solved avatar creation process. The appearance adjustment possibilities are pleasantly generous and make extensive personalization possible. The first place you visit is called Edgewater and is located on the terraformed planet Terra 2. You reach the ground with a landing capsule and try to find Captain Hawthorne, which is not as easy as it sounds.
Communication is everything
Dialogue options offer massive freedom of choice. Depending on your skill level, you can either counter your interviewer with answers and questions or shoot them down. This is not limited to language-based skills but also knowledge about technology, medicine, or how scary your character is. If you choose to wear the outfit of an outlaw Marauder, your interviewer will probably mention this or even flee from you. This results in dozens of solutions for the same problem, which can vary with every new attempt.
The Outer Worlds is, of course, not just about talking. It also features fierce brawls and gunfights with more or less unusual weapons. If you have invested your points into strength and melee, you can tackle your opponents with big hammers - or use poisonous sickles to scythe their heads. Almost every weapon can be upgraded with different modifications: want a better rifle scope for the sniper or plasma damage for your pistol? No problem - assuming you have the necessary manual skills.
A bullet says more than a thousand words
Tactical Time Dilation enables you to slow down time for a few seconds due to your brain damage caused by cryosleep. Gain an advantage while fighting, circle around your opponents, and don’t miss your shots. Besides, a small info box displays the weaknesses and strengths of your opponents when aiming them down. This is similar to V.A.T.S. from Fallout but works with an energy bar instead of action points. If you stand completely still and only look around, you can leave the Tactical Time Dilation running for an almost infinitely long time. Only movements or shots make the time run down.
The game does not have classic Medkits. Instead, you inhale various drugs that provide you with new health, strengthen your weapon damage, or make you smarter during skill checks. If your medical knowledge is high enough, you can pack up to four consumable items into your mask and give yourself a cocktail of different stimulants. This is, however, only really necessary at higher levels of difficulty, as fights are pretty straightforward. If you have some experience with ego-shooters or role-playing games, we suggest you choose Hard difficulty.
Don't go alone
The game provides you with up to six companions, two of whom you can choose to accompany you on your journey. All of them live on your ship, the UN-Reliable, which you unlock after the first hours of playtime. All companions offer unique abilities that you can trigger at the touch of a button. Parvati can jump and knockdown enemies with a big EMP hammer, while the always drunk Nyoko unpacks a heavy machine gun.
Since Leonard Boyarsky and Timothy Cain were responsible for the first Fallouts and Obsidian Entertainment produced the fan-favorite Fallout: New Vegas, the game offers clear parallels to the series by Bethesda. The combination of 50’s advertising and futuristic sci-fi frenzy does not just fit into a wasteland but also blends wonderfully into a distant galaxy. To develop your talents, you get experience points for practically every action - but the fastest way to progress is by completing quests. Every second level-up provides you with points for perks. These passive abilities can give you more life energy, larger energy supply for the Time Dilation, or increased carrying space.
Each run is different
The Outer Worlds has so many different options and its size is just right; a second run is no problem. The possibility to make yourself dumb and to set your intelligence below average results in incredibly funny dialogues and reactions of your interviewers. Besides, one can look at the comprehensible problems of the Halcyon colonies from a different perspective and try out more complex solutions. After all, it is possible just to shoot down every NPC and bypass the diplomatic path.
Even wiping out an entire city of its inhabitants is so well handled that you feel like you are in a living world. From a technical point of view, this is quite remarkable. The game runs flawlessly, almost without any bugs, and generally shines like a well-polished software diamond. The dialogue options of the game are pure gold! If you have the chance to have a chat with the mustached hipster drug courier in Fallbrook, you should take up the opportunity. Apart from the creative gags, the missions are well-staged and offer many different solutions. Games rarely offer similar freedom, and the world reacts to everything that you do, and its just fun to watch the chaos unfold.