Color me surprised, Outriders is quite good! Or at least it scratches that looter/shooter itch that’s been sorely missing. It’s not a perfect game, but it does a LOT more well than not.
The demo focused on the first town and quests. It feels like it’s pulled straight out of an 80s sci-fi story, and really isn’t remarkable. Honestly, the story is just bad until you hit the forest (hub 5 if I recall) and then it starts getting mildly interesting. The next few hubs, until you get to the gate to the ‘other side’ all do a decent job expanding on the story and characters. The post-gate items, which is pretty much the second half, is a slow descent into madness. It swings wildly in moods between serious and camp towards a very serious topic of genocide for colonization purposes. The tone is hard to follow, and the final act is a rather large let down.
The story really boils down to the price people are willing to pay in order to survive and never finds a balance – instead every character outside you group holds to the ethos that the ends justify the means.
There are some really cool ideas here, but they just aren’t used enough. The Wanderer is one, Moloch another. The Outrider Bunker quest line (the only true questline) is a highlight worth note…
That said, you’re in for a decent ride for 20+ hrs, and that’s more than on offer in most games out there.
I figure I should touch on this a bit… the main quest is the major source of all XP. Only do that and you should reach 28 (of 30) by the end. Complete all the sidequests for an extra level. Complete all the Beast/Bounty/History hunts and hit 30 easily. This is a really smart method for alts… as the main quest can be sped through in a fraction of the time for a full run.
World Tiers are a neat difficulty mechanic that only applies to the leveling portion. You get increased difficulty for the chance at better quality drops while leveling. It has zero, nilch, nada, bearing on the end-game activity of expeditions. So for a single player run, then fill your boots with a challenging run! If you’re leveling an alt, put it to WT1 and zoom through it all.
I’ll say that 30 levels feels meaningful. Each level has a meaningful impact on character progress… and enemy difficulty. The difference between a level 25 gun and a level 26 gun is significant. Gosh forbid you level twice and feel like you’re shooting confetti.
Which brings me to mods and crafting. The cost to modify a weapon/armor, or level them up is super cheap for blue/green items. To the point where they are practically free. The downside to this is that the game is balanced around having all your mods slotted, so you can’t reasonably equip dropped materials past level 15 without modding back at base. You’ll end up completing a zone, heading to camp, modding, then taking the truck to the next zone.
Purple/Orange items have much higher crafting costs, and you should just mod them (for cheap) rather than upgrade their level. In practical terms, this means that if you find a well-rolled gun at level 5, you could theoretically keep it until 30, for no real cost.
Mod collecting is a neat mini game, that really shines at the later parts. Clearly some mods are astronomically better than others.
Expeditions & Challenge Tier
When you complete the last story quest, you unlock timed dungeon runs called Expeditions. They are generally less than 20 minutes, and depending on your speed you unlock higher Challenge Tiers. These tiers are identical to World Tiers in that enemies are harder, you get better drops, and can upgrade items to a higher level. CT scaling is odd, in that it goes 31, 32, 34, 35, 37, 38, 40 and so on until CT15. Every 2nd CT increase is a 2 level increment, which is really quite painful.
Dying (or a group wipe) has you restart the entire expedition. So if you’re 15 minutes in and the boss gets you, restart again. You do get a consolation reward if you fail (3 deaths), so there’s always some progress.
I find the beauty of expeditions (so far) is that the timers are relatively generous, the spawns are predictable, and the ‘farm’ runs are usually less than 10 minutes. You can run the same map again and again (just abandon an expedition until the one you want shows up), so it’s more muscle memory than much else.
Right… the challenge here is that while mods are useful and interchangeable, the stats on items is the real meat and potatoes. My technomancer uses assault rifles at a distance with Blighted Rounds. That means I want a gun with crit damage and long range damage. Armor is similar, in that I want Firepower, Long Range Damage, and either CDR or short range damage. Finding those great rolls is one part – finding the right mods is the next.
Blue items have 1 mod, purple have 2 (level 1 and 2), and orange have 2 (level 2 and 3). Running full blue items is ok, and will get you through a lot – but to more easily push content, you want more mods. This is the looter part of the game, and the RNG portion can be a bit rough in the run to CT15.
Right now, I ran some simple ones to get to CT5. CT4 enemies died in a single burst. CT5 enemies take 2. That seems small, but it’s twice the damage. It’s clear that higher challenges are much, much more depending on damage spikes which are almost exclusively enabled through status effects (toxic, burn, frozen, etc…)
I don’t mind the grind in games. Diablo 3 still has regular play, and I enjoy PoE and Grim Dawn as well. Shooter grinds though… that’s been a while. Let’s see where it goes. This isn’t a game as a service – all you get are expeditions, no seasons or anything. There’s no customization/transmog either, which is a real shame given the look of some items.
I think I’ll give an alt a try – probly a trickster. Technomancer is a blast though.
Outriders pleasantly surprised me on nearly all fronts. Certainly worth a look.