- Review: Outriders - 8/108/10
I would recommend Outriders to those that are looking for a new take on The Division.
Developer – People Can Fly, Square Enix
Publisher – Square Enix
Platform – Playstation, Xbox, PC, Stadia
Review Copy given by publisher*
I honestly don’t think I have ever been so conflicted by a game. There are parts that I absolutely hate, and others that I really enjoy. I really didn’t like the story or the characters, but I find myself coming back for the gameplay loop. Unfortunately, I’m going to sound like I am trashing the game for most of this review. However, this game is a great pickup for looter-shooter lovers, but I know it won’t be for everyone.
Over the past few weeks, when I’m streaming the game, people ask for a comparison of Outriders to other games. I usually hear that they’ve heard it’s like Destiny mixed with Gears of War. I think that a better comparison would be a futuristic Division set in space, with linear environments and no PVP. If you like the Division’s gameplay, you will feel right at home with Outriders.
I’m going to start with my favorite aspects of the game. If you enjoy what I say here you will likely enjoy the game. The combat is super smooth. The guns, for the most part, feel good to fire. The weapons and armor look fantastic, with a lot of different visual options. The skill tree offers multiple branches per class based on which build you prefer, and the anomaly powers themselves are pretty useful as well.
The combat and gameplay is essentially The Division but with more linear environments. It is also a third person, cover-intended, shooter. I say cover-intended because it’s certainly suggested you should think about ducking behind things, but for the most part it’s pretty useless. While you can take cover, movement is going to get you out of most tight situations. The endgame content is often completely devoid of cover options anyways. Aside from guns, you can also equip three different powers. These include throwable turrets that freeze people, healing powers, and ways to add an element to your weapons.
Weapons and armor are pretty uniquely designed and are customizable in respect to their modifications. Killing enemies or completing quests offers randomly generated gear with different stats and mods. There are a good variety of weapons to suit your playstyle and you can change the variant of each weapon. For instance, an assault weapon might have three different variants, such as full auto, burst fire, or single fire. The gear also has stats such as additional firepower, long range damage, and healing received. Eventually, you will start grinding for gear that will optimize your build and look awesome while doing so.
Each skill tree has three distinct paths that you can choose to spend points on depending on your playstyle. You are also allowed to respec your points at any time without any type of penalty. This should be an option for every game in the genre. It allows you the opportunity to experiment with different builds and see what works best for you. The skill tree has everything from simple stat boosts, increases to modifications, and buffs while using certain skills.
Once you complete the story, either solo or playing with two others, you unlock the best part of the game: Expeditions. This is the endgame content of Outriders. Here, you select from missions completely separate from the story. If you are successful in vanquishing the scores of enemies thrown at you, a loot treasure trove is yours for the, well, looting. The faster you complete the mission the higher the ranking you receive, increasing your chances at better gear. The lowest difficulties of these expeditions are easy and can be completed solo, but offer fewer rewards than the more difficult, higher tiers. This adds a great incentive to optimize your gear and skills so that you can become even stronger.
The other nice thing is you can enhance the stats on your gear and alter modifications. This makes getting weaker gear somewhat beneficial because you can salvage them for mods and stat-boosting currency. There is always a feeling of progression, at least until you start going for the absolute maxing of your characters.
Unfortunately, it’s not all guns and glory for Outriders. I’m going to be very blunt and rip off the metaphorical band-aid. First, the story is pretty bland and very generic. Secondly, the characters, except for maybe one or two, are completely unlikable. Third, the facial animations and cinematography are atrocious. And finally, a lot of the gear choices are completely worthless.
The story is probably one of the most generic space adventures I have ever seen in a video game. You arrive at a new planet and home for humanity, everything goes wrong, and you need to save the world. Even from the first cinematic you can tell how edgy this game attempting to be. I don’t have a problem with adding attitude when it suits the mood; however, when you add so much edge in the first few sentences, it just feels pointless. It’s hard to describe unless you have experienced for yourself.
The main character is such a drag throughout most of the game. I always hate playing the abrasive and reluctant hero. After nearly every conversation you say, “Don’t get used to me helping”. At the same time, you know you will absolutely do every single quest that person offers. It’s just the type of dialogue that is contrary to the actual actions of your character.
The game also repeats the same type of scenario to show that “war is hell”. I can’t tell you how many times people turn around and shoot someone they just helped because they were enemies. I do know that within one hour of playing, it happened four times. It was painful to experience. Knowing what will happen because of stereotypical situations is one of the biggest letdowns in a story. In Outriders’ case, characters that jump to violence first end up getting killed by another character literally seconds after. This makes Outriders feel extremely dated, despite its impressive graphics. Don’t even get me started on the shaky cam!
As I said before, the gear system, for the most part, is really great. Unfortunately, there are just a few select mods that are clearly the best options. I would say about 95% of them are just not worth using. You can even get arguably the best mods in the game about halfway through. Another downside is that you can’t visually change the gear to styles that you like. For instance, you might get an awesome drop, but it might not match your current setup, so it looks really out of place. I have a hunch this will eventually be remedied though.
I would recommend Outriders to those that are looking for a different take on The Division. If you can put up with the bland story, you might really enjoy Outriders’ gameplay. It’s a pretty typical looter-shooter with a decent co-op mode, especially if you have friends to play with. It is also completely cross-play, so you can feel free to invite your friends on Xbox, PlayStation, or PC to play through the story and maybe run a few expeditions to try and get the best loot! Hopefully, the game will be fleshed out in the future with more open environments, customization options, and better gear modifications. The framework is there!