The Outer Worlds Review

A first-person shooter with a focus on story decisions and dark humor

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4.2

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds

Lifewire / Kelsey Simon 

What We Like
  • Great worldbuilding

  • Fun gameplay

  • Fun dialogue prompts

  • Humorous Story

  • Solid graphics

What We Don't Like
  • Not overly unique

  • Shorter playthrough

The Outer Worlds is a single-player shooter focused on providing a fun story full of dry, dark humor. It will take players through space to various colonized planets as you try to save your ship and the people living in stasis upon it.

4.2

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds

Lifewire / Kelsey Simon 

The Outer Worlds is a single-player action-adventure game full of guns, colonists, spaceships, and monsters. You’ll venture out into a sci-fi world and try to save your ship which has had a serious malfunction. The shooting in Outer Worlds is fun, but the game’s best feature is its choice-driven story. We played the game on PC for roughly 20 hours, thoroughly enjoying its dark humor and fun gameplay. 

Story: Engaging dialogue and dark humor

The Outer Worlds is a science fiction game with a focus on dry, dark humor. You’ll start the game by waking up on a malfunctioning spaceship. A man has woken you from stasis and says he needs you to save the ship and all the people living in stasis upon it. His name is Phineas Welles, and he’ll give you a very brief rundown that you’re to meet a smuggler who will take you to someone who can save your ship and people. As you go through this short cutscene sequence, you’ll be prompted to make your character, select your aptitude, skills, and attributes, before Phineas will drop you in a pod down to a planet where you’re to meet the smuggler, Hawthorne.

The game does a great job of keeping things brief, but still providing you with the essential information. You’ll crash, pop out of your pod, and find that you’ve landed right on top of Hawthorne, who’s very dead. It’s this moment that makes it clear that this story is going to be full of a dark, almost dry humor. It becomes even clearer after you’ll go through the tutorial phase of learning to shoot and come upon Hawthorne’s ship. 

Some things will feel familiar, like that you have a moral compass and can decide whether you’re going to steal from others, make evil choices, kill or lie. 

The ship’s AI tells you that she can only help Hawthorne, and then promptly asks you what your name is, again? You’ll pick up Hawthorne’s identity as you venture forth to find the piece of your engine that needs repair and meet a variety of characters that live inside the town of Emerald Vale―two of which can join you as companions if you allow them to. 

While in Emerald Vale, you’ll start to get a better feel for how this particular role-playing game is going to work. Some things will feel familiar, like that you have a moral compass and can decide whether you’re going to steal from others, make evil choices, kill or lie. The Outer Worlds also puts a lot of emphasis on allowing your character to make decisions and impact the story’s direction. 

If you level up your dialogue skills, like I did, you’ll have a lot of options available to you that involve persuading people. Or you can level up your engineering skills and fix broken robots that will help you fight later or unlock doors that otherwise would be unavailable. You’ll have a lot of say in how the story progresses just based upon your interactions with the non-player characters you meet and speak with.

The story choices are fun, the dialogue is well written and engages you to read and think. The game is very similar to Mass Effect in this way but has a strong Bioshock feel with its push of Spacer Choice propaganda (the large corporation in The Outer Worlds that provides for most living upon the colonized planets you’ll visit throughout the game) and its darker humor and life outlook. 

The only thing lacking about the plot and story of The Outer Worlds is that the premise behind the game isn’t overly original—but this is a weak complaint. Overall, the story and plot are fun and enticing, and more than enough to grip you in proceeding forward. 

The Outer Worlds
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Gameplay: Shooting enemies for story progression

The Outer Worlds is a first-person shooter role-playing adventure. The game allows for a fairly open world exploration, but has a more linear story path with main missions, and the occasional side mission. You can choose to explore open areas and kill the enemies that lurk out in the wild, but there isn’t really the same incentive to doing so as there is in games such as Skyrim. Mostly, you’ll stick to the main story path and occasionally venture off it to finish a simple side mission before venturing back. 

The game focuses on a system of tinkering and repair with weapons and armor. You’ll need to destroy unwanted armor and weapons for bits and make sure to regularly repair and upgrade your equipment. You’ll also have a wide range of drinks and foods that will enhance different stats after consumption. However, I found that within the first ten hours of the game I had loads of food, and hardly ever felt a need to use much of it. The consumables might be more important if you’re playing at a higher level, but if you’re on the normal difficulty, it’s doubtful you’ll need to use nearly as many as you find―especially not if you use the companions that will choose to join you in your adventures. Beyond just the weapons, armor, and consumables, you’ll also find junk that can be sold for extra money.

The main focus of Outer Worlds is to offer players a fun and humorous story with interesting dialogue prompts that can change the plot and effect characters.

Overall, the gameplay is really just a basic single-player first-person shooter with a few tweaks. The first interesting aspect of Outer Worlds is that you have the ability to slow down time. This slow down can allow for you to grab a moment when you need to regain your bearing and it can also help you take aim if you need it. Honestly though, while this skill is introduced early in the game, I never used it much. It just didn’t feel necessary, mainly because the weapons in Outer Worlds are powerful, and other than running out of ammo occasionally, you won’t ever struggle to kill the enemies on normal difficulty. 

The main focus of Outer Worlds is to offer players a fun and humorous story with interesting dialogue prompts that can change the plot and effect characters. The shooting is just a fun way to progress the story. 

The Outer Worlds
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Graphics: Average, but solid

The Outer Worlds doesn’t attempt to do anything amazing with its graphics, which is totally fine. There’s no artistic flair like with Borderlands, nor is there an attempt at extremely realistic textures like with Monster Hunter: World, but the Outer Worlds does enough. The graphics are on par with other big name titles, and the landscapes of the various planets you’ll visit are interesting and different enough. This helps make exploration fun, but really, there isn’t anything amazing about the graphics. They are what they need to be. The only other thing also worth mentioning is the slightly humorous, constant propaganda that you’ll come across in various areas. In Emerald Vale, the starting area, you’ll start to see this theme and it will be carried through the rest of the game.

The Outer Worlds
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Price: Not bad if you enjoy story-driven games

The Outer Worlds costs $60 new, although you might be able to catch it on sale if you watch closely. Even at full cost, it’s a game worth buying if you enjoy science fiction inspired first-person shooters―or more specifically, single-player shooter games with a focus on storytelling. As someone who often doesn’t like spending loads of money on a new game, I will say that Outer Worlds was one I didn’t mind buying. The game is fun and well written. It’s an adventure to be had, and while it’s not the best game that’s ever been made, it’s a solid, well-made game that most will enjoy.

Competition: Sci-fi games with strong series

As mentioned earlier in the review, it is easy to see where else The Outer Worlds (view on Amazon) takes inspiration. Mass Effect is a series with a lot of similarities. First, Mass Effect is also a sci-fi shooter focused on story-telling and decision-making. Its gameplay will feel very similar to Outer Worlds, although Outer Worlds has a better sense of humor. The second game that is similar and worth looking into is the Bioshock series. Bioshock is also a science fiction shooter with an apocalyptic feeling. It has a very similar gameplay experience as Mass Effect and Outer Worlds, and comes with a darker, well-written plot.

Final Verdict

A fun shooter full of dark humor. 

The Outer Worlds is a story-drive first-person shooter that has a great sense of humor. Each decision you make will impact how the game unfolds. The shooting, while basic, is fun and provides the perfect vehicle to propel you forward on your adventure. Overall, The Outer Worlds is a solid game if you’re looking for a fun, humorous single-player experience.

Specs

  • Product Name The Outer Worlds`
  • Product Brand Private Division
  • Price $59.99
  • ESRB Rating M (Mature 17+)
  • ESRB Descriptors Blood and gore, Intense violence, Strong language
  • Genre Role Playing