Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 28, 2019
The Outer Worlds

I have been playing a lot of The Outer Worlds over the weekend. I played through several areas, visited several planets and other locations, and reached level 15. So I would like to give you my impressions of the game, without necessarily wanting to call it a "review". The Outer Worlds is one of many modern, big games, that took millions of dollars and several years to make, and as a result are multi-layered and not easily judged on a single aspect. Thus I would rather say which aspects of the game I liked and didn't like.

For me the strongest point of The Outer Worlds is the story, and the way it is told via dialogues with many interesting characters. These dialogues frequently offer you choices, and often different choices are viable. However whatever choice you make, you end up back on the main story line, so there isn't a huge decision tree that changes a lot of the game in response to your choices. And sometimes the game overdoes the idea that different choices should be viable, and ends up forcing you to choose between two flawed solutions, neither of which is really satisfactory. But if you like listening to dialogue in a game, and finding out about strange societal structures by talking to NPCs, The Outer Worlds is definitively the game for you.

Besides that, The Outer World is also a first-person shooter game, in which you explore planets, fight various enemies, and find a lot of loot both on the corpses of the enemies and in various boxes or just lying around, especially in buildings. You will spend a lot of time gathering loot. The disadvantage is that while the quantity of the loot is huge, the quality isn't. Finding a weapon better than the one you are already wielding is rare. Finding an item important for the story is rare. What is common is finding a tiny amount of cash, a few bullets, or low value items like a bag of chips, or low-value weapons and armor. I already hated that aspect in Fallout, and I still hate it in The Outer Worlds. You spend your time gathering garbage, and then from time to time either selling the garbage, or breaking down bad weapons and armor into weapon and armor parts, which you can use to repair the weapons and armor you are actually using. If you have a tendency to look everywhere, you end up with 2,000 spare ammo of each of the three types at level 15, as I did. If you don't look everywhere, you need to live with the fear of missing the few important items out there. For looting I much prefer the Borderlands series of games, where all the important finds come in huge glowing boxes that are impossible to miss.

As a shooter The Outer Worlds is unexceptional. There are multiple difficulty levels. I play on normal, but there is one "story mode" difficulty with even less combat, and two more difficult settings. "Normal" is pretty easy, even for me, and I am not the world's greatest shooter fan. But I don't crank up the difficulty, because already at normal I find multiple enemies moving around me in first-person view confusing. There is a compass system, but I would have much preferred a mini-map. The compass and the waypoint system both fail miserably in buildings with more than one floor, and orientation isn't always easy. Add to that your up to two companions, who will act on their own in combat unless you forbid them to do so, and a fight of your group of three against six enemies can quickly become and very confusing affair. Again, I had more fun in Borderlands.

Overall, I do think I will play The Outer Worlds until the end, just to follow the story. I might skip the searching of all buildings and doing all side-quests for he later part. I certainly won't play it a second time, as I don't think the game has much replayability. If I had paid $60 for the game, I would be slightly miffed now, because for me it isn't really a great game. But it is fun enough, and I got it as part of the Xbox Game Pass for PC (beta), where I am still on my first month for €1. So I don't feel I overpaid. :) Given that you can get over a year of Game Pass for the release price of this one game, I would definitely advise against buying the Xbox or PC version, and recommend taking that Game Pass instead for more games for less money.

Thanks for the review, mate. It is sufficient. Just what I needed before playing. Got the game from here already

Gathering trash is no fun indeed. Didn't like that aspect in Fallout 4. I modded that game heavily and built a LOT. Building is the underrated part of Fallout 4.

What do you feel about Tom Clancy's Division 2? It is a smooth looter shooter set in post-epidemic Washington, DC. There is some sale going on through 29 October. Discounts go as far as 70%. And if you spend 100 Uplay points (not sure about the term), you can get another 20% discount of the already discounted price.
That sounds like a game I would enjoy. I am now seriously considering Xbox game pass even though I already have more games than I have time to play.

By the way a few years back you had a serious issue with motion sickness when playing FPS games. Is that gone or is it still an issue?
I still get motion sickness with *some* first-person view games, but curiously not with all. I can't play any of the Far Cry games, but had no problem with The Outer Worlds. I can't really pin down where exactly the problem is.
@Tobold: Have you ruled out field of view? I remember getting headaches and that really special pain behind my eyeballs quite shortly after starting to play some games with a low FOV. Like 75 or so. In the past game developers had to save every bit of GPU power and some did that by reducing your field of view that PC has to render. Not sure about modern games. Those that give me headaches are very rare now.
I am aware of the influence of field of view, and in some games I could play better by increasing it. In The Outer Worlds the field of view is 75 degrees, so I tried to increase it. But that had weird graphical effects, with straight lines bending beyond the 75 degrees. So I’m playing at 75 degrees, and I don’t get nausea.
> For looting I much prefer the Borderlands
> series of games, where all the important
> finds come in huge glowing boxes that
> are impossible to miss.

This is not the case though, not in borderlands at least. Good loot (Legendaries) can come from any lootable source: trash cans, cardboard boxes, cabinets, ... Even the easiest enemy can drop the ultimate weapon you were looking for. I think this is one of the worst games to play if you're anxious about potentially missing some loot here and there.

This is very true in Borderlands 3 too, which lets you acquire amazing gear from bosses, containers, mobs, whatever. One of my best legendaries came out of a random cabinet in the main base (ship) while running to the questgiver. Some people found the mighty Infinity gun right from the first mob/trashcan when you start playing at level 1.
I have liked the Outer Worlds so far. The characters are the best aspect of the game. Combat is nothing to write home about, but then again I don't think anyone plays these types of games for the combat. The story and world is interesting and the whole capitalism taken to the extreme thing is topical if a bit heavy handed. The corporations are painted as so comically evil their might as well not have even been an option to side with them as the only people that would do that do it simply to see what happens, not because they would actually take their side.

It bodes well for Obsidian that this game is getting rave reviews. I look forward to their next project where they will have the resources of Microsoft behind them and hopefully enough time to put out a better product. Hopefully they can make the decision trees a bit more nuanced. Tough choices like the one at the first settlement are good but not every choice needs to be between 2 crappy options and then a 3rd "best" option.

It's kind of funny how they basically delivered New Vegas:The Redux, a 9 year old game, and it's being hailed as the great revival of the Western RPG. That is a sad statement of how far companies like Bioware and Bethesda have fallen. It is nice though to see what in my mind has been a historically underrated development team finally get some real praise from people.
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