Yep, The Outer Worlds is good. Damned good.
I’m not sure I’d say it breaks any molds in any big way (though it does have some really neat twists on stuff we’ve seen before), but it’s really polished, and densely packed with good stuff. Ultimately it feels like, by leaving Fallout behind, Obsidian has managed to create the best post-Black-Isle-era Fallout game yet.
In fact, as much as I’ve loved Fallout over the years, there’s something to be said for leaving the drab post-apocalyptic wasteland (and its many shades of brown) behind for a brand new aesthetic, which is every bit as rich and dripping with charm. The Outer Worlds captures all of the same style (often with a dash of the same 50s era inspiration), a world and society that feels lived-in and believable (and hilariously fucked up). And the characters and quests just beg you to keep exploring.
I’m going to recount an early game experience as vaguely as I can, in order to avoid spoilers but still convey how great the quests are in Outer Worlds. I was presented with a situation where there’s one thing, but two different people want the thing. So naturally, I have to decide who gets the thing. Pretty standard, we’ve seen that before in these games: I have to please one person, and disappoint the other.
I’d thought I’d made a decision, but one of my companions presented an argument that made me reconsider, which surprised me a little bit. But beyond that, after I made the decision, the quest didn’t simply end there. Where a lot of games might have simply said “now live with the consequences”, I was actually able to continue talking to everyone involved, and was presented with a number of options to reconcile the new situation I’d created. In the end I was able to take rough deal where I’d basically fucked someone over, and spin it into a situation that (I think) was actually better for everyone in the long run.
I know that’s vague, but the point I’m making is that Outer Worlds has a lot of beautifully crafted quests that are not at all black and white, and even when you pick one side or another, that doesn’t always mean that’s the end of the story. Making these tough decisions just opens up more interesting storytelling options.
And on top of that, I feel like The Outer Worlds gives you more choices for how to handle situations than Fallout ever did. There are so many times that I was certain I was heading for a fight, or for murder, and the game presented me with an option to lie, threaten or sweet talk my way around a confrontation, and it makes the game so much more interesting that way.
The game is definitely more segmented than Fallout has been in recent years; there’s no giant, sprawling open world to traverse here. Instead you’re hopping back and forth between smaller zones on different planets, but each of these areas is densely populated with design, instead of just space. There’s still lots to do, lots to find, lots to see, and stuff to discover off the beaten path, just without so much of the emptiness inbetween it all.
If I had one major gripe about the game right now, it’s the text size. It’s painfully small, and you do a lot of reading in The Outer Worlds. Especially if, like me, you love reading all of that the computer terminals have to offer. So I’m hoping we’ll see a patch in the near future that adjust the font size.
If you’ve enjoyed Fallout 3 or 4 or NV, you’ll love The Outer Worlds. It’s basically those games, but distilled into the best essence of itself. I’m not saying I’d never go back to the nuclear wasteland, but Obsidian has done something pretty cool here, and they’ve done it in a way that they retain full ownership. That bodes well for the future if we’re lucky enough to see this spin into a franchise.
“It’s not the best choice, it’s Spacer’s Choice!”