24

Cowardice Is A Viable Strategy

April 3, 2019 by Tim

Hey, it’s my Birthday! Want to get me a present? You can head over to our Patreon and support the comic strip. $3 a month gets you these comics early, delivered right to your phone or email, and in a higher resolution than here on the site. Plus a whole bunch of other extras!

I feel like Outward is getting criminally little attention, but I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it. It’s a survival fantasy RPG with co-op, and I love the harshness of the world. You’re not the offspring of a dragon, or part of a long lost lineage of heroes… you’re not “the one.” You’re just a person. And you set out for adventure to see what you can make of yourself.

Read More β–Ό

I really enjoy the consideration that playing takes. Before you head off on a journey, you have to think about a number of things like am I bringing appropriate clothing for the climate, do I have food and water, do I have any potions or teas I might need, do I have enough travel rations for the journey, or should I bring some salt to make some along the way? Because inventory space is at a premium, deciding what to bring and what to leave home is just as important as the weapon you’re carrying.

The game reminds me of a Souls game or Dragon’s Dogma, and not solely because the combat relies on careful maneuvering and you can die easily if you don’t plan your encounters. Outward does very little hand-holding. In fact, you don’t even show up on your map. There’s no magic little blip showing you exactly where you are. You need to use surrounding landmarks to orient yourself, and your compass to navigate.

There are tons of skills to learn throughout the world, and even more recipes for crafting, but you have to seek them out. You have to talk to NPCs and find out what they can teach you. There’s no breadcrumb trail, no waypoints, and often, a lot of things NPCs ask you to do, don’t even go into your quest log.

Speaking of quests, there are a lot of them; there’s a whole main storyline that begins by asking you to ally yourself with one of three Kingdoms, and once you pick one, the other two (and their questline) become unavailable. Which means that it is impossible to see all of Outward in one playthrough.

But you can’t take your quests for granted, either. If someone asks you to find a friend of theirs lost in the desert, if you don’t find him within a number of days, that fucker will die. The prince of my kingdom was murdered, and I started tracking down clues to find the killer. One clue led me to kingdom one zone over, and I didn’t feel like making the trek, so I said “eh, I’ll get to it.” By the time I was ready to make the trip, any evidence at that location had vanished. I failed the quest, and that was that.

Outward is a game where not only do your decisions matter, but you have to live with them. The game is constantly saving over its save slot, so there is no save-scumming, no reloading to try a different dialogue option. I confronted a bandit leader that I really wanted to kill, because he had a cool sword and I hoped he might drop it for me. He plead his case for why he was doing the shit he was doing, and just to assuage my conscience, I told him to turn himself in. I fully expected him to balk at the suggestion and then we’d fight, but to my surprise… he agreed. He surrendered to face justice and literally everyone (myself most of all), was shocked that I managed to resolve the confrontation with dialogue.

Combat is interesting; it’s methodical, and the hitboxes are serious business, so you have to have a plan. Backpacks tend to hinder your dodge, so it’s common practice to shrug off your pack before a swordfight. This alone can be harrowing, because if you die, or you have to flee, you risk leaving it behind and having to find it again.

I opted to play a melee character, but magic is an option if you decide to take an early pilgrimage to a magic mountain. There you’ll be able to decide how much of your Health and Stamina to trade in exchange for mana. Do you want a little mana pool, just to dabble with, or do you want to be a spell-chucking beast made of paper? It’s up to you.

Spells are cast by activating combinations of runes, which is very cool. You actually have to learn your spells. You can’t simply hit a button and chuck a fireball. No, you need to remember that it’s red rune, red rune, yellow run (or whatever it is) to launch that badboy. It’s a very cool system that feels right at home in the game.

While I do carry a large sword, I have found myself relying more and more on traps to overcome the various encounters I come across. Combat can be so very deadly, especially with enemies you don’t know, that I prefer to just stack the odds in my favor whenever possible. I’ll creep in, and lay down a literal field’s worth of tripwires or pressure plates, before stepping back and luring my prey in with a well-placed arrow. I can pick up any traps that don’t get triggered, so I’m not at risk of losing my supplies, and I often clear whole dungeons this way, breaking down my enemy’s weapons and armor into scrap, which I can use to build more traps to kill more of their friends.

Outward is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and while I don’t think it’s ugly, no one will accuse it of being next-gen. It’s got a charm to it, though, a certain nostalgia almost like it’s a game that belongs in a past generation (and yet with some fresh ideas and trends we only have now.)

The fact that you can bring a buddy (or stranger) into your world (or hop into theirs) is just delicious icing on a yummy cake. You can play co-op via internet, or via split-screen on the same TV, and that alone earns Outward a huge award in my book. We don’t have nearly enough co-op titles these days, nevermind a sprawling, challenging RPG like this one. Story progress only advances for the host, however, so while you can help out in other people’s games, get loot and skills to take back to your game, your world remains your own, in stasis while you’re off traversing someone else’s game.

Like I said, I’m having a lot of fun with the game, and if it sounds like something that would scratch an itch you have, I highly recommend it.

In other news, I dabbled with a couple of ideas for some shirts featuring characters from The Campaign that I wanted to see if there was any interest in. I’ve got Groff and Flizwit, and if it looks like there’s demand, I’ll go ahead and design shirts for Tobyn and Cake, and we’ll get them made. So sound off in the comments if these shirts are something you’d buy.

Read Less β–²


45
Leave a Reply

avatar
35 Comment threads
10 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
37 Comment authors
DrakeCarlbennschieNealTim Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
James Kite
Guest

Like the sound of the game after your spiel…really going to have to invest in a computer at some point.

?

One day, some day

Lauren
Guest
Lauren

It’s also on console! πŸ™‚

SilverShadow4
Guest
SilverShadow4

Outward is officially added to my wishlist of games lol

And I’m totally down for buying those shirts!

Freelance
Guest
Freelance

Sounds like a neat game. My biggest disappointment is how you didn’t show 2 luring into the traps like how you said in the commentary–like he’s also holding a bow, and we see an arrow in the other guy’s knee.

Havok
Member
Havok

I think the cake shirt would be cool. should consider putting their catch phrases on the back. If they have them

Neal
Guest
Neal

Totally a cake shirt!

Lauren
Guest
Lauren

Love the designs, though not a t-shirt fan – all four might look nice as prints though? πŸ™‚

Scortch
Guest
Scortch

This game does look pretty amazing. I am going to have to throw that on my list. I’m very glad you mentioned this, I have never heard this one before.

Fotis
Guest
Fotis

Hey Tim!
Long time reader, love the work πŸ™‚

For a while now I’ve been reading the comics at 125-150% zoom because it’s kind of tough to make out the letters at regular size.
Any chance you could make it scale with screen resolution?
Or whichever way you’d prefer to make it easier to read on PC πŸ™‚

Cheers!

Mcmordain
Guest
Mcmordain

For a long time this is the first game I consider buying at full price. The problem is the Steam app makes my mouse lag for some reason and I cannot figure out why… and playing this with a laggy mouse doesn’t seem like a good idea.
On the note of things not popping up in your quest log. I watched the VOD of your latest stream and I think that you missed the two tabs on the left side of the Quest page. The upper one shows your quests and I guess the lover one could be your regular journal.

Squidfish
Guest
Squidfish

Oooo Like the t shirts

Poitter
Guest
Poitter

So true, adding beast bones to traps for the bleeding damage and then running around in circles until they drop, classic!

schnozzberries
Member
schnozzberries

You should definitely have the full set of shirts available. I for one would pick Cake.

Padraic
Guest
Padraic

As far as the shirts go, I know my wife would love a Cake shirt! And since I often play the DM, I think I wouldn’t mind getting a Tobyn shirt. But it should have Tobyn in front and a cloaked figure of himself behind him to show his dual role as DM. Just my (not so) humble opinion…

Sean
Guest
Sean

Well I’m sold. I appreciate the thoughtful post about it. The part about the Bandit leader was what really sold me, gonna get myself a notebook so I can take notes and draw maps. Can’t wait!

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Happy Birthday! I love the T-shirt designs, fantastic work as usual. Might I also suggest a shirt with all four main characters from The Campaign as well?

Joshua Eddleston
Guest
Joshua Eddleston

Hi Tim! Been following your work for ages now (I started about 10 years ago during 1.0 and spent most of my lunch and free periods catching up on your comics) and it’s genuinely amazing how much your art style has changed and improved since 1.0 began. Sincerely, keep up the amazing work πŸ˜€

Just wanted to let you know that and wish you a Happy Birthday! (And also to just say keep up the great work)

efes
Guest
efes

re: maps, I loved the original Thief approach to that, way back in the ’90s. You’re going to break into some legendary, half-forgotten catacombs or a heavily guarded mansion without much intel available, you’re not gonna have a perfect map β€” at most a rubbish high-level sketch. I’d also love to live to see a game that allows you to use a compass & draw on the map to find positions, make it more precise etc., although that might bias too much towards players (rather than characters) who can do navigation.

DannyboyO1
Guest
DannyboyO1

Miasmata. The game is one part scavenger hunt, one part “hide from monster”, and three parts orienteering. You pop out your blank sheet of grid paper and compass, and look around for a couple “known” landmarks. And then get a heading on landmarks that are not known, so that when you have an angle on it from two “known” spots, it’ll upgrade to a known landmark, because you’ll have its location on your map, where the two lines meet. You play “spot the landmark” manually, but the map is updated automatically. You’re not allowed to make the map come out… Read more »

Tyler
Guest
Tyler

I’m glad people are having fun with Outward. I looked at it briefly… but I already flounder around real life trying to survive. I’ve never understood why people want to do that in a game as well. I play video games for escapism and to feel MIGHTY. But, I also accept that everyone looks for something different in their entertainment!

KaoGen
Guest
KaoGen

I think my biggest complaint with Outward would have to be that they seem to have forgotten that just because youre a nobody, doesnt mean you’re completely incapable of growing as a person. Why my ability to swat people with a halberd is exactly the same in my first fight as my last is beyond me, and why i have to pay people to magically gain attributes seems almost against the idea they were going for. Almost makes it more rewarding to just do a few loops through all the locations in the world (they respawn loot every in game… Read more »

Paradox
Guest
Paradox

Today’s your birthday?

We’ve shared a birthday this whole time and I didn’t know it?

Happy birthday!

Massdefect1
Guest
Massdefect1

Oh hey your birthday is today? Mine was yesterday! Happy birthday!

Ray
Guest
Ray

Happy Birthday Tim. Now I understand why I have loved your strip for all these years, my wife was born on the third too. She is my better 3/4’s so it’s no wonder wonder you art has been on my favorites for a decade.

DPS
Guest
DPS

So, basically how I played HZD.

John
Guest
John

Need…shirt…must have…for D&D nights…

Seriously though. I want those shirts. Get them up for sale so I can pour the contents of my wallet into your bank account!

Tim van der Meij
Guest
Tim van der Meij

Wanted to mention that I didn’t enjoy the previous comic for personal reasons, but couldn’t post it because the comment submission wouldn’t let me. Liked today’s comic though.

Zach
Guest
Zach

Need those shirts!!

Him.
Guest
Him.

Honestly, this is just the evolved form of “run around the edge of a foe’s vision, shooting them while they look bewildered”. We’ve been heading towards this for a loooong time, and now we have a game that has both major difficulty and does it properly!

Ron
Guest
Ron

@Fotis, Could it be your own hardware or vision? I personally don’t have trouble reading the text on PC unless I go below 60%

Name Withheld
Guest
Name Withheld

Ah, Outward… one of those “difficult” games where the challenge arises not from actual difficulty but from terrible mechanics, awkward, clunky combat and pseudo-realistic nonsense that doesn’t make any sense.

I tried it. It sucked. It is getting exactly the amount of attention it should… almost none.

anon
Guest
anon

Outward has been AMAZING. I’ve been playing it all day and I love it immensely!

Havok
Member
Havok

It actually seems like a pretty cool game. Just don’t know if i have the time to get the full experience of the game. Seems like you’d have to play through a pretty expansive game three time.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Hmm. The save slot thing can be fixed with a couple peeks under the hood. I bet I can find the file and make a copy to be re-insterted later. And since I’m doing that how about tweaking my stats a bit? Bending the game to my will is half the fun with PC

Adam Cook
Guest
Adam Cook

I’m adding this, but I’m not sure if “items not added to quest log” is a good thing for someone like that may not play enough to remember what I was doing…

bennschie
Guest
bennschie

Why canΒ΄t I buy the shirts yet? I love the Idea!

Carl
Guest

Thanks. I just lost like four days because of this comic. Oh well. New game.

Drake
Guest
Drake

It has Co-Op….. Except only one person progresses through the story, while the other is tagging along. The exclusive skills can be stolen from the host’s game, along with exclusive rewards, permanently breaking the game. It’s a running simulator, and without all the running and just doing the main quest, can be beaten in and hour, but costs $40. There’s a lot missing there, that’s birthing fanboys that know nothing about the game, and they go and spend their money, only to realize how broken and bad the game actually is.