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What You Need To Know About The Outer Worlds, Obsidian’s Latest RPG
Obsidian Entertainment: a company known for breaking new ground with its slew of RPGs from Fallout 2 all the way to the fart-breaking South Park: The Stick of Truth. It’s also a company known for breaking its own games thanks to their potentially game-breaking bugs in their open-world offerings, usually patched out as time goes by.
With just a few weeks before its sci-fi epic The Outer Worlds come out, here’s a quick feature on what you can expect.
Here’s the main plot: your character was on a ship transporting humans to the newly-formed Halcyon colony, a duo of planets on the edge of the galaxy. The ship got lost on the way, which means youâ€™ve been in cryosleep for 70 years. That should be too long for you to survive but somehow, a scientist has managed to awaken you, and he wants your help saving your fellow frozen travellers.
You can choose to help him or immediately turn him into the corporate authorities -the whole colony and everything in it is run and owned by various corporations- for a cash reward. You can even play both sides against each other. Or, you can just venture off and explore the world from the get-go. The main story is branching and will have multiple endingsâ€”the one you see will depend on the choices you make.
Most of the time, youâ€™ll be on the two main planets. One has been better terraformed and is more populated. The other is wilder, and home to more aggressive alien life. The best point of comparison here is with No Man’s Sky, except more structured and with Obsidian’s brand of sardonic humour. Like it’s emulating Futurama but with an R-rating tacked on.
You’ll definitely have one big choice on whether to side with Phineas Wells, the scientist who rescues you from 70 years of cryo-sleep, or The Board. That main choice will dictate which ending of The Outer Worlds you see, similar to Fallout: New Vegas’s big decision at the battle for Hoover Dam.
Other quest choices, co-director Leonard Boyarsky saidÂ will be reflected in a series of slides showing how your choices and approach to various quests impacted the future of the colony.
It sounds like your choicesÂ willÂ matter, but more on a minute-to-minute and quest-by-quest basis rather than as part of a grand web of permuted endings. Obsidian is known for its complex quests with various solutions and entry-points, which each have ways for the game to acknowledge your ingenuity (or lack of it), as Obsidian comically highlights in its announcement trailer from 2018.
The most common misconception here is that this game feels like an overblown mod of its 2010 title Fallout: New Vegas. Far from it; the shooting feels a little more refined and the V.A.T.S. system is replaced with a slow-down-time mechanic that lets you line up your attacks in a real-time manner.
Just watch this 20-minute gameplay footage from TGS 2019 so that you can get the hang of how this potentially 30-to40-hour game plays out.
Boyarsky said that the focus in The Outer Worlds is on reactivity and replayability.
“[B]ecause of our size and budget, those necessitate a smaller, more tightly-controlled game than a giant sandbox open world where you can run everywhere.”
So yeah; the game’s world is not as sprawling and as expansive as New Vegas, but a tad more focused and packed. Think Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II’s style of stage layout.
Combat is first-person, and weapons will include pistols, laser rifles and sci-fi scythes as well as other melee weapons. You will be able to modify your weapons, upgrading them and picking different ammo types, such as bullets that deal elemental damage. You will also come across special “science weapons” with cool effects such as a shrink ray. Because when you think 50s sci-fi art deco trappings, you think shrink ray.
The Outer Worlds will also have a V.A.T.S.-style “tactical time dilation” mechanic that lets you slow time, and when you use it youâ€™ll be able to see more information about an enemy, such as their remaining health.
Itâ€™ll let you target individual body partsâ€”although unlike V.A.T.S., youâ€™ll always be aiming manually. Targeting individual body parts will trigger different effects on enemies. A headshot might trigger blindness and leg shots might slow them down.
Lastly, youâ€™ll have companions to help you out in combat. Theyâ€™ll each have different abilities, and you can issue them with basic instructions during firefights ala Mass Effect series.
In other words, a lot more real-time and more twitch-savvy than Fallout: New Vegas. That being said…
Fallout New Vegas fans may remember a robot named Yes Man voiced by “Newsradio” Dave Foley. Well, that Obsidian archetype that won’t judge your poor choices will be making a comeback in the form of a ship AI called ADA. And your ship is called the Unreliable. Heh.
ADA is essentially a giant box with a little face on it and will react to the paths you choose you take when on Halcyon. Since she’s not a person, she would probably find your potentially evil acts of destruction amusing. Or your acts of kindness praiseworthy. Either way, she won’t backstab you unlike your other companions if you choose to take an extreme route in a moral path.
You pick up companions on your travels, and theyâ€™ll all live on a spaceship that serves as your home base between missions. You can pick two to accompany you when you leave the ship. If you aren’t into the whole companion thing, there will be perks to help you play solo.
They will all have different motivations, which youâ€™ll be able to dig into during Mass Effect-style companion missions. If you do something they donâ€™t like, theyÂ might abandon your causeÂ entirely.
Each has a special ability and different expertise. As well as providing support during combat, theyâ€™ll interject in dialogue, and you can call on their skills when youâ€™re backed into a corner. You might ask a companion that has a quick tongue to handle a tricky negotiation, for example.
If you want to make the best use of your companions then instead of specialising your main character in stealth, combat or speech you can choose to be a “leader,” which is essentially a jack-of-all-trades. Playing as a leader, you’ll choose perks that enhance the abilities of your companions.
Whether you favour brute force, the gift of the gab for speech checks, or stealth, you’ll have a lot of options on how to solve quests on Halcyon. Main quests have multiple steps and approaches; it’s up to you to pick which one suits your skillsets.
You have six main skillsâ€”strength, intelligence, so forthâ€”that you can dump points into, and each one goes up to 100. Those skills will directly affect what happens in the game. For example, melee weapons will have a damage range, and the higher your melee skill, the more damage youâ€™ll deal. Youâ€™ll be able to distribute your points to create different character archetypes, such as one that is good at sneaking, or a firearms expert.
Your skills will also impact what dialogue options youâ€™ll get to choose and, just like the creatorâ€™s previous games, you can choose a “dumb” dialogue option if you have the right stats, which should provide some comic relief.
For every 20 points you put into a skill, you get to pick a perk. Obsidian hasnâ€™t yet detailed what any of the perks will do, but it should be a chance to further customise your character to fit your playstyle.
One of the more unique things about The Outer Worlds is that you can pick up optional negative traits, called “flaws,” as you move about the world. These relate to specific events: if youâ€™re burned in a fire, for example, you might be given the option of becoming afraid of flames. Youâ€™ll be limited in how many flaws you can pick up, but every time you choose one, you also get to pick a perk to balance it out.
You can customise your characterâ€™s appearance, too, though the game is played first-person. Don’t worry: you’ll see yourself in the menu and if you let the game idle.
You can use a holographic shroud that makes you look like a factory worker, for instance. However, the hologram’s power drains as you move and you have to get through speech checks if it fizzles out. Tense, but probably rewarding in its own right.
Unlike some RPGs, there aren’t any ‘essential’ NPCs in The Outer Worlds. If you see someone,Â you can kill them, even if they’re a quest-giver. There still be ways to acquire their quest, even if the quest-giver is deadâ€”maybe you can loot their body, or search their residence, or pick the lock of their safe.
Co-devs Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain stated that they’re not sure if players are able to do a pure pacifist run in the game. Basically, that means finishing the game while not killing anyone or anything. Maybe they’re being coy?
Obsidian is open to the idea of mods in The Outer Worlds, but that’s really up to its partner Epic Games. The team will have “further discussions” with the company in the future; there will not be a modkit at launch.
The Steam version will be available a year after. Which means no Steam or PC achievements until then. Boo…
The Outer Worlds will be out 25th October for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.