Obsidian has been playing the same game for years. It is as if he had a formula enclosed in a safe around which he builds each of his titles, so much so that some traits common to all are recognizable. Obviously at times she took more space to experiment (Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, Alpha Protocol, Pillars of Eternity 2), while at other times she chose the path that gave her more confidence to bring home the result. As we will see in the course of review of The Outer Worlds, the title belongs to this second category, in the sense that it invents absolutely nothing either in the genre to which it belongs, that of action role-playing games in the first person, or among the productions of Obsidian itself.
Many have seen in The Outer Worlds the possible spiritual sequel to Fallout: New Vegas, another title from the American developer, not straying too far from the truth.
Difficult to say how the game was conceived, but we imagine that the disappointment of fans for Fallout 4 and for some compromise solutions compared to New Vegas, was not secondary in the decision to make a title that follows part of the structure of what remains one of the most famous chapters of the entire post apocalyptic series of Bethesda.
The Outer Worlds tells of a survivor (or a survivor) of the spaceship Hope, adrift in space for reasons that will be discovered during the game, which is awakened from hibernation by a space criminal, a certain Phineas, after a journey that lasted much longer than expected to the colony of Alcione, that is, a system of planets governed by a conglomerate of multinationals, dedicated to the intensive exploitation of local resources. Still shaken by the abrupt return to the living, ours character is sent from Phineas to a planet of the colony, in search of a spaceship and answers. Why did what was supposed to be a ten-year peaceful journey to a new life turn into a seventy-year-long nightmare (time spent in hibernation)? What does Phineas want from us? Why was Hope abandoned without anyone doing anything to save its occupants?
To these questions will be added many others, as our events intertwine with the government of the colony of Alcione and with the factions that were born on its planets, all in their own way in open conflict with the policies of the Council. governing body of the colony.
The first thing to do before venturing into The Outer Worlds is to create a character. The included editor allows you to determine their appearance, gender, as well as attributes basic (Body, Mind and Personality), which will directly affect the ability. The latter are the most important characterizing element of the character, which also have the function of setting firm stakes in the gameplay. Skills are divided into groups of two or three and can range from 0 to 100. For example, the 'Distance' group includes the Guns, Long Firearms and Heavy Weapons skills, while the 'Invisibility' group includes Stealth , Hacking and Burglary.
Up to the value of 50 the skill points must be assigned to the group and not to the single skill, from 50 onwards the assignments become individual instead. In this way it is possible to specialize the character in a certain skill, after having made him become capable in a certain field that includes the skill itself. After the skills you need to select the aptitudes, that is, you need to choose a character trait with its bonus. Once this is done, we are ready to go. Consider that the gameplay foresees the possibility that we will have second thoughts: once aboard the spaceship with which we will travel far and wide in space, the Unreliable (it's called that), we will find a terminal with which we can reassign all the initial points and those obtained by climbing level.
As extensively told in the preview phase, The Outer Worlds is divided into more or less vast territories that can be visited individually.
So no open world. In reality it is a perfect fit for the style of play, as it would have been really difficult to manage the adventure as an open world while maintaining the same narrative structure, which involves frequent trips to very different places, with the latter being planets, gigantic spaceships, satellites, secret bases and so on.
The first area, a portion of the planet Terrarum 2 with a town in the colony of Alcione dedicated to the production of cans of a strange tuna, serves as an introduction to the game system, as well as to the political situation we will have to deal with from here on out. Speaking with the locals, we will discover that essentially the multinationals consider the settlers as their own and have tied them completely to the production system, conditioning them physically and mentally.
Those who did not want to accept the impositions, or who simply became aware of their miserable state, rebelled by becoming marauders or founding small communities outside the cities of the colony.
In the first portion of the game, the social division is clearly represented, with us being called to take a stand by making a radical and in some ways too abrupt choice. Fortunately, with the opening of the universe everything becomes more nuanced and the vision of the world of the authors of Obsidian lights up with really interesting aspects. Basically The Outer Worlds seems to be a critique of the capitalist system and the alienation it produces in people, in reality the system of choices within the game greatly limits the revolutionary message inherent in the plot, which results in one of two possible endings. Without giving you precise advances, know that often acting in the way that seems right leads to results completely opposite to those desired.
As already mentioned, the Obsidian title is essentially a first person action RPG where the gameplay changes enormously based on the progression choice for the character.
Basically it is possible to play it as if it were a first-person shooter, that is by shooting on sight at any enemy, or to decide for a more thoughtful approach, perhaps using stealth or other skills at our disposal in order not to have to carry out an indiscriminate massacre. We don't think it's possible to finish it without firing a shot, but some situations allow you to avoid firefights. For example, it is possible to persuade a certain character not to commit a certain action simply by talking to him, or you can take advantage of the ravines of some levels to go unnoticed behind the enemies (the maps almost always have side accesses or hidden passages that allow you to reach the objectives. without getting noticed). Everything is up to the player.
We opted for a character specialized in long firearms, decidedly stealthy and with developed scientific skills. In this way we were able to test the combat system, the stealth one, despite having paid a little in the money dialogues.
The Outer Worlds combat system is very reminiscent of that of Fallout. It is essentially one first person shooter in which it is possible to slow down the time to aim better and accomplish a certain number of actions (shoot, use consumables and so on), after which you go back to fighting in real time, waiting for the time manipulation bar to reload. Having time to aim is essential to take advantage of the localized damage of enemies, or to hit their weak points. For example, some robots are very resistant to damage, unless you hit them in a specific point.
Le weaponry available are many and are almost all modifiable through kits that are found in the game world.
We therefore have melee weapons such as electric mallets, plasma blades, hammers and others, assault rifles that with the right coupling can become sniper rifles, heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, pistols, plasma weapons, scientific weapons (from often very strange effects) and so on. Even at the level of armor there is a certain variety, although the slots that concern them are only two: body and head. Each piece of equipment is subject to wear and tear and, from time to time, must be repaired at workbenches, using spare parts obtained by disassembling unused weapons and armor, or by contacting specialized non-player characters. The workbenches also allow you to improve weapons and armor by manipulating them or applying the aforementioned kits, so as to increase the level of Customization of the whole experience. The enemies are of many types and range from the aforementioned marauders, to crazy robots, some of very large size, to get to the local fauna, which to define unfriendly is an understatement. For example, it will happen to meet large mantises capable of killing us in a few strokes or insidious whirling swarms.
Depending on our behavior, we can also upset some of the colony's factions, increasing the number of characters eager to take us out.
The combat system is double-bound with the character progression, Because kill enemies is one of the main ways to accumulate experience points. The others are solving the missions that are assigned to us or using the skills developed when possible (for example, breaking into doors and containers, or persuading a character through dialogue choices). If we want, we can act alone for the entire adventure, or we can take with us one or two of the six companions that we will find while exploring the colony. We have opted to always have two companions with us, not only to have help in combat, but also to follow their stories and to discover their relationships with other non-player characters, who often give life to unexpected and beautiful dialogues to read. . As announced by Obsidian, the main character cannot engage in any love affair. Without revealing too much, however, we can tell you that in reality there is something like this and it concerns some comrades.
Paradoxically, the fact that the love stories live in an indirect way has allowed the screenwriters to make them more delicate than the brutality with which they are usually faced in video games, complete with courtship sequences and drunks designed to forget a love disappointment. In short, they are always linked to quests, but you are not rewarded for having brought this or that character to bed.
From point of view stylistic, with The Outer Worlds Obsidian did a great job, probably the best in its history. Knowing that he did not have an unlimited budget, he staked everything on writing and on the creation of illustrations that describe the colony of Alcione in a utopian and grotesque way, creating what seemed to many a Fallout imaginary of space, full of irony and great contrasts, which are reflected in society, only apparently united, and in the game world itself.
In particular, there are some truly memorable dialogues, between characters who end up revealing unthinkable sides of themselves and others who turn out to be just absurd, despite their apparent seriousness. There is no shortage of hilarious moments, such as the dialogues with ADA, the artificial intelligence that guides the Unreliable, or some chats with Nyoka, one of the companions.
At the level technical, on the other hand, the style is a little less pronounced and the quality of the various places visited is more fluctuating. Especially the interiors are decidedly anonymous, where the external areas stand out at least for the chromatic refinement and the attempt to hypothesize the original architectures. Too bad for the excessive compression of some maps, in which the relevant areas are very close to each other. In general, smaller places, those intended for a single function, which do not have that glass ball with snow aftertaste of larger territories, make it better. To say: at a certain point you have to visit a gigantic spaceship, in which, however, the key places are one in a row to the other (one in each room, practically), complete with a hidden area full of marauders a few steps from the center of command of the Mordets, a military security force commanded by one of the independent factions.
Probably all of this is due to the lack of funds to do something bigger, but it is undeniable that it is noticed and that it can be alienating. Fortunately, the negative impression is mitigated by quick trips, which allow you to reach the key places on each map by selecting them from the general map, and from the numerous movements that we will make during our adventure. For the rest we would like to point out that it is better to play one of the last two difficulty levels right away, especially if you are an expert in the genre, because the normal one is really easy. Playing on medium-high difficulty, it took us about thirty hours to finish the game, but opening each container and trying to explore each map as best we could.
Fortunately The Outer Worlds is highly replayable, thanks to the game system itself that invites you to experiment with all the possibilities offered, both in terms of mechanics and in terms of the plot itself. In short, we are faced with a great single player adventure that deserves your money and your time.
As we tried to explain in the review, The Outer Worlds is a typical Obsidian title, which guarantees a certain freedom of approach at all levels, while also trying to tell a good story. If you like the developer style of Neverwinter Nights 2, you will surely appreciate this too. Sure, we would have liked to have seen a little more general courage and the compression of some maps is downright disturbing, but otherwise we're looking at a great title, waiting to see Microsoft's first post-acquisition effort.
- The Obsidian formula always works
- Hilarious dialogues and situations
- Fairly multifaceted character progression
- Some stylistic choices
- Replayable at least twice to see the major endings
- A little more courage wouldn't hurt
- Some maps are too compressed
- Some interiors are anonymous