Gaming

The Outer Worlds so good, it is out of this world

You just found a targeting module from a crashed spaceship. You have the choice of giving it to a pro mega-corporation faction or a rebel faction. Your choice will mean the death of one of the factions.

This dilemma of choices is a constant theme of The Outer Worlds, a science-fiction action role-playing game (RPG) set in an alternate future, where a consortium of mega-corporations has colonised and terraformed alien planets.

You are one of the thousands of passengers in cryosleep hibernation aboard a colony spaceship that has malfunctioned and been abandoned at the edge of the Halcyon system.

You are awakened by a scientist named Phineas Welles. Your main quest sounds simple enough: Get to the nearest colony planet in Halcyon and get help to restart the colony spaceship and save your fellow colonists.

However, in classic RPG fashion, you will find yourself having to do tasks for locals, recruit companions to work together with you, side with certain factions and become entangled in the bigger scheme of things.

It is the typical zero-to-hero RPG story again. But I really love the excellent writing in The Outer Worlds. And I shall not spoil it for you.

The game is played via a firstperson perspective and the first thing that strikes you when you land on the first planet is how gorgeous the game world is. It reminds me of the movie Avatar.

The graphics are nicely textured and beautifully coloured. The musical score and sound effects are top-notch as well.

While the RPG elements are core to the gameplay, you cannot escape combat as well. And the combat mechanics are very intuitive for an RPG. You can slow down time to help you fire a head shot to get rid of your enemies.

You can also loot your downed enemies for weapons, modification items, armour and other equipment. At workbenches found around the Halcyon system, you can modify and upgrade your weapons and armour. Or you can find vending machines to buy and sell equipment.

 

Of course, every time you gain enough experience, you will level up. When you have levelled up enough, you get certain perks such as the ability to carry more equipment. I highly recommend you get this perk as you will try to hoard as much loot as possible.

Dialogue skills are very important too. When you talk to a character that has a quest or is integral to the storyline, you get a big talking head and myriad dialogue options. You might not get certain dialogue options that help advance the storyline in alternate ways if your dialogue or persuasion skills are too low.

  • FOR

    • Engaging role-playing

    • Superb voice acting

    • Beautiful graphics

    • Intuitive combat mechanics


    AGAINST

    • Companion characters' artificial intelligence suspect

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: From $81.90 (PS4; PC, version tested; Xbox One)

    GENRE: Role-playing

    RATING: 9.5/10

Choose your dialogue wisely as your actions will cause your reputation to rise or fall within certain factions. And you might not be able to continue playing in a way you would like. For instance, a character might not want to talk to you anymore when you side too much with her partner and you thus lose the chance to cooperate with her.

The voice acting is excellent - the lines are delivered with the right emotions and facial expressions. In fact, your companions might be talking among themselves when you are moving from one place to another. It is interesting and hilarious to hear their stories, especially when you are transversing arduous, treacherous terrain.

My only complaint about this game is the suspect artificial intelligence of your companions. During combat, they have a tendency to rush towards enemies and prevent you from getting a clean shot. Not to mention, after hitting the enemies, they sometimes run into a wall and get stuck, thus rendering them useless for the rest of the battle.

This is a purely single-player game and there is no multiplayer aspect, but you can always replay the game to get the perfect outcome.

To be honest, I had not finished the game when I wrote this review. And I was already 20 hours into it. It was just that I enjoyed finishing all the side quests before embarking on the main ones.

Quite simply, The Outer Worlds is a role-playing experience that is completely out of this world with its excellent writing, superb gameplay and intuitive combat mechanics.

To me, it is easily the game of the year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'The Outer Worlds so good, it is out of this world'. Print Edition | Subscribe