Ever since it was announced that Obsidian where working on a brand-new game, my gaming spider-sense started tingling especially when that new game had an announcement trailer which looked like they were making their very own Fallout style game. The team behind Fallout: New Vegas were working on a game that would move away from the post-apocalyptic universe of Fallout and go to the stars in a fresh space sci-fi themed game whilst retaining all the things fans have loved about their Fallout entry.
The Outer Worlds places you the player as one of thousands of colonists on board the colony ship ‘The Hope’ which was lost in transit bound for the furthest edge of the galaxy. A mysterious stranger revives you and, in a panic, launches you in an escape pod in the hope of meeting his contact on the planet below with the goal of helping the stranger find a way to revive everyone else on The Hope in order to save the Halcyon galaxy.
On the run up to release, everything about The Outer Worlds made it seem like the Fallout game that everyone wanted and deserved but Bethesda had failed to deliver and when you do fire up and jump into the game, you simply cannot escape just how Fallouty it feels. But thinking that this game is simply a prettier copy of say Fallout 4, the most recent Fallout title because Fallout 76 really REALLY does not count, is a huge disservice to what Obsidian has managed to achieve with The Outer Worlds. So much of this game takes anything you would know from a Fallout experience and completely spins it on its head to deliver quite frankly, my 2019 GOTY experience.
It really doesn’t take long for The Outer Worlds to shake off the obvious comparisons with Fallout as within minutes of taking control of your own customised character, all you need to do is two things, look down then look up. By looking down you immediately get the tone of the humour that The Outer Worlds as you discover that the very contact that the mysterious stranger, Phineas Welles, has sent you to meet. However, stepping out of the escape pod and looking down, and you discover the squashed remains of that very contact underneath the pod, in fact only the legs are sticking out like the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz. It is quite an introduction to the world and is a sense humour I really liked even more as its threaded throughout the game in the characters you meet, companions that join you and in all the missions both main story and side quests you pick up along the way. This is just a game full of worlds that are just fun to explore and experience.
Looking up at the same moment reveals how astonishing the visuals are in The Outer Worlds, and I mean this game is just gorgeous on the eyes especially on the Xbox One X. Looking up into the sky and seeing planets, moons and space craft is impressive alone, but the colour schemes are so vibrant from the environments, to the wildlife and the structures that everything really just pops right off the screen. I just really love the sci-fi setting over the post-apocalyptic setting of Fallout and it immediately lifts every location you visit through the story campaign. The diversity between the different places you will visit as well as you move from world to world completing missions shows the depth of design Obsidian has gone to into making this galaxy feel like a genuine collection of living breathing worlds and people.
Everything about the Outer Worlds is just so lovingly polished right down to amour and weapon design to the excellent animations in cut-scenes with some of the best facial animation that compliments the tremendous voice acting of all the NPCs you meet on your journey but especially when it comes down to your companions. Having a travelling companion is nothing new to Obsidian or to Fallout fans, but what has changed is that the companion system is far more in tune with the MASS Effect style of using companions, which for The Outer Worlds is perhaps the highlight of the game for me. Like MASS Effect, you will meet a variety of people and some will even other to help you on your travels whether it is just to help you out on a mission or in the hopes you will in turn be able to help them out which leads to having a companion quest for each of them who join your crew. These can really be very fun side objectives and depending on whether or not you actually take them on and then how you complete them will help them fulfil their own goals and improve their relationship with you. Some can be short whilst others can be very interesting multi-step missions that will require visiting new worlds. The companions are so well written and performed by the cast that despite this being the first time ‘meeting’ them so to speak, I connected to all of them as though we had spent more than a single game travelling together, especially Parvati voiced by Ashley Burch who Borderlands fans will instantly recognise as Tiny Tenah, who is just so wholesome and lovely as the first companion you meet that it just connects you right away to the heart of the game.
The RPG elements work exceedingly well as you not only use XP to gain levels in order to upgrade your skills but also to unlock perks for your character as well as all the companions who will all level up even if they are not selected for your active party making the option of switching party members depending on how their own skills can augment your own or just to help out on a particular mission. You can choose their chosen weapons and armour as well so the level of team management and how you upgrade their perks is such a great element to have. But when it comes to how you tailor your character’s skill set is where this game comes to life. No matter which style of play you want to use, the skill and perk trees allow you to explore a single style or a mixture of a few and just as the launch trailer shows, you can be an assassin, a criminal, a gunslinger, a hero or a bad guy. The game facilitates any wish you want and the quests be it a main story or a side story, allows for a such a freedom of choice that almost everyone you make will impact the very worlds you visit, good or bad it will be up to you and it will make you want to replay the game perhaps to make a different decision or change how you treat and deal with a companion.
The Outer Worlds is simply an incredible game that took everything they knew about Fallout and evolved it into something very new and brilliant whilst looking to other game series to bring their sci-fi vision to life. It has left behind all the failings of Fallout and given fans of that series and Obsidian something truly remarkable to lose yourself in. In the forty plus hours that it took me to complete my first run on hard, the moment the credits finished rolling I immediately jumped back in to start another run and I am planning to attempt the more perma-death focused ‘Supernova’ difficulty for my time off at Christmas. There really is not downside to playing this game and it has all the making of the start of a fantastic series for Obsidian. Plus, if you have Xbox Game Pass you can play this right now, which alone is a very good reason to go play in this majestic sci-fi adventure.
Play this now, you will not regret it.