In 2010, the world was graced with a little known game called Fallout: New Vegas. It wasn’t Bethesda who created the game (who released Fallout 3 just two years prior), it was another fantastic developer you may have heard of. Obsidian, too many, released the best game in the Fallout series (post its isometric predecessors). New Vegas took the foundations Bethesda made taking the series into an open-world structure and expanded it through fantastic writing and storytelling.

 

To say that Fallout: New Vegas is one of my favorite games a gross understatement. When I heard that Obsidian would be creating a new original IP that takes that same approach into a science-fiction setting, I was pretty excited. The Outer Worlds is a bold new science-fiction RPG, created from the ground by Obsidian. It takes players across space and various worlds, allowing them to be whoever they want to be.

Do you want to be a hero? Go ahead. A scoundrel? Absolutely.

Do you want to just straight up be a space douche? Well, you can.

The Outer Worlds is a fantastic showcase of Obsidian’s prowess as developers, while still replicating some of their past mistakes.

Choose Your Own Adventure

While you don’t start the game getting shot in the head by a character voiced by Chandler from Friends, The Outer Worlds starts with just as interesting of a hook. It begins with Phineas Vernon Welles who boards a derelict spaceship called the Hope where you’re just a human popsicle. By that I mean you have been cryogenically frozen, and abandoned in space. Luckily, Welles is there to set you free and to inform you that the galaxy has sort of gone to crap and that he needs your help to awaken the rest of the crew.

A bold new world.

The main story of The Outer Worlds is interesting enough to hook you: It’s the writing, characters and the sheer amount of choice players have that will keep you playing. Within moments of beginning your adventure, you will realize that almost everyone has something to say. Whether it’s important, hilarious or just plain bizarre is up to the player to discover. When walking up to someone, the dialogue choices are deep, well written and offer choices to gain insight into characters that may or may not have any relevance to your adventure. There were moments it felt like I was just having a conversation rather than talking to an NPC for a purpose.

The Outer Worlds is filled with characters, like this guy.

Part of this is thanks to the sheer amount of player agency you’re granted. In The Outer Worlds, I’ve chosen to be a sorta-good-guy-but-I-might-still-stab you type of character. My character reflects it in the kind of dialogue choices I make. During one conversation I showed some compassion, while also reminding them not to waste my time or I’ll punch them. It’s this morally grey flow in a conversation that makes the game so compelling.

Protect her at all costs.

In games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the modern Fallout games, I don’t normally care about the companions. Except for Dogmeat, god I love Dogmeat so very much. But yes, usually, companions just get in my way and I tend to adventure on my own instead. In The Outer Worlds, however, I’ve been loving to get to know the people around me, similar to how I loved talking to Garrus or Wrex in the Mass Effect series.

Another fantastic companion.

I love talking to my crewmates because the fantastic writing makes them feel human. Some of their dialogue feels wonky and awkward which fits perfectly with their character. Your first companion Parvati is a timid engineer who I will literally fight anyone if they dare hurt her. It’s these connections during firefights and moments of exploration, where player-character interactions shine.

Space Cowboy

The Outer Worlds is not New Vegas in space, but it also sort of is. Much like the famed post-apocalyptic booze and blackjack simulator, The Outer Worlds is a first-person action RPG. It combines a host of tools at your disposal including weapons and items, as well as a way to assign points to a specific affinity like long-ranged weapons or science.

Combat could use a lot more punch.

While the skills system feels deep and rewarding, the actual moment-to-moment gameplay doesn’t quite shine as bright. Combat feels a bit stiff, but it gets the job done. Player choice in terms of narrative is fantastic but falters when it comes to tweaking your weapons, armor, and items. Except for a few weapons, most of them feel a bit useless especially when the stealth in this game is surprisingly effective.

None of this matters though, since the game itself is quite easy.

This would be scary normally, but it wasn’t a challenge.

Playing on hard is not much of a challenge. Enemy A.I. is not the brightest. There was one moment where I was on top of a bunker behind two enemies and I shot them at point-blank range and quite loudly too. Just down the hill maybe a few feet away, a group of oblivious guards just stood there letting their friends get shot by me. The overall combat experience feels a bit disjointed, not at all complimenting the fantastic narrative direction in the game. Many would forgive this considering it’s an RPG first and foremost, but even the combat in New Vegas had more heft and tension to it.

My character sheet early on in the game. Dump ALL your points into dialog. Trust me.

While the combat is not groundbreaking, the choice of assigning skill points is a nice nostalgic callback. Outer Worlds allows the player to assign skill points, as mentioned above, into various categories. This impacts gameplay in various ways, but the most impacted category is anything to do with what you have to say. I found myself dumping points into dialogue and science so I could out talk, out-think and hack into as many computers as I could. Once again, player choice in the game is something I can really appreciate and even applaud Obsidian for, especially for those like me who found the combat lackluster.

Uncharted (and incorporated) Frontier

The world of The Outer Worlds, is filled with people working for mega-corporations who own entire worlds. Citizens living in places like Edgewater, the starting worlds, live, breathe and die for their corporate overlords. Obsidian has truly created an intriguing universe, and once again showed their mastery in world-building.

Aged, but beautiful visuals.

This is established through well-written lore that you discover through emails and messages on terminals, the iconography, and art-work littering the streets of a small town and right back down to the fantastic dialogue. When visiting new locations, I actually felt the compulsion to talk to people, read these messages and to understand how this world works. This need to know more about this fictitious world was a pleasant surprise.

Read the emails to go more in-depth into the world.

Another surprise is the fact that the game is not an open-world. Instead, it employs smaller regions across various planets, ships, and more locations for players to travel to. To me, this was a bold choice since more and more games are becoming larger sandboxes rather than a focused experience. While the scale is smaller, unfortunately, it does not make it more interesting. The various zones are well crafted, but feel quite dull and not worth exploring other than to read more about its world. I wish the various worlds felt a bit more alive.

Loading screens are visual treats reflecting the universe of The Outer Worlds.

Obsidian has done a fantastic job with the audio/visual presentation for the game. While it may not like as visually impressive as other action RPG’s, The Outer Worlds has such a fantastic art style to it that you can’t help but look at every nook and cranny. Colorful vistas, beautifully designed domiciles (which is space for “house”) and so much more give the game a unique look that sets it apart from others.

The Outer Worlds’ writing is top-notch, and hilarious.

Outer Worlds also sounds fantastic. Dialogue is varies voiced by a great cast of voice actors, weapons sound great and animals sound appropriately alien. Then there’s the soundtrack. Every day I check to see if the soundtrack is available for me to download, and every day so far I am pretty sad: Obsidian has crafted a fantastic soundtrack that fits the tone of the game perfectly.

Another surprise was how well the game runs. There have been rare instances where I’ve had any trouble with the game on a technical level. It makes me so happy to say I’ve come across little to no bugs whatsoever which is a testament to how much Obsidian has improved on a technical level. On my PC in Ultra-settings, the game runs perfectly with only a few minor hiccups in frames here and there.

The Beginning of something special

What we have here is a game that feels like an indie game in many ways: it doesn’t have the punch and resources of a triple A-game, but it also has that indie spirit that many triple-A games desperately need right now. Obsidian has crafted an unforgettable world filled with amazing characters and dialogue that makes me want to invest more in the world. While the game lacks in interesting things to explore within the world itself, it’s the relationships and interactions with these deep, complex characters that players will spend most of their time exploring.

I’m a leaf on the wind, watch how I sore.

The Outer Worlds is not perfect. In many ways, it does not match the pedigree set by New Vegas or other action RPG’s, but in other ways, there’s nothing quite like it. What we have here instead, is the beginning of a compelling new universe that I hope Obsidian will continue to explore and develop over the years to come.

The Outer Worlds Review
The Good
  • Fantastic cast of characters
  • World building is detailed and compelling
  • Obsidian's writing is as formidable as it is funny
The Bad
  • Exploration feels lackluster
  • Combat could use a lot more punch
  • Enemy A.I. is poor
8.5Overall Score
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About The Author

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Robin Ghosh (a.k.a. SpectreRobin) is a Sr. Staff Writer at GAW. He is a published writer, photographer, videographer and budding filmmaker and is currently the content director of TABOOZAPP. Having recently finished his masters in media production at Ryerson University, he is gearing up to take his career to the next level (ha, gaming pun). Robin is in love with role-playing games, sim-shooters like Deus Ex and Prey and has a soft spot for survival games like DayZ. He will play anything with a good story and a compelling world to explore. That being said no matter what year it is, he will probably at some point have a craving to play Skyrim again for the 3rd time..4th? Who knows, he really....really likes Skyrim.