That felt good.
I am going to try and avoid some spoilers here. There’s a fair chunk of Outer Worlds that depends on the in-game world context to drive the story forward, and it’s not front and center. By the time you reach the 3/4 mark, a lot of the seemingly separate threads start coming together, making for a very satisfying conclusion.
After completing it, I thought about world size. When nearly every bit is meaningful and tied into the larger story, then that feels like the adventure makes sense. It’s not linear by any means, and there’s a lot of just plan ol’ exploration to be had. But everything is purposeful, and not just a random checkbox (Fallout 4 irked me about this, and AC: Odyssey took this to 11). No one said “God of War is too short”. Outer Worlds clocks in near 30 hours, and it’s a fun 30 hours throughout.
And the entire is a real homage to the Fallout 1/2 closeout. A stream of stills, with a voice over that goes over your various choices, your companions, and the storyline general conclusion. It’s enough to say that this story is complete, but at the same time could be rather simply added into a larger galactic one. Throughout I kept thinking this was an Isaac Asimov storyline…all the way through the punch. Impressive.
I want to point out the quality of writing and quest building. While the mechanics of some quests boil down to “go here, kill the bad guys, get the thing, come back” you are presented with multiple options to complete each of those goals. Take a backdoor. Break the ventilation and put everyone to sleep. Lie your way through the front door. Some quests are interlinked, so that actions in one affect another. You probably won’t realize it until later too.
Also, do all the companion quests. The rewards are ok (skill points mostly) but the quests themselves are generally morally grey and reall well executed.
Some housekeeping notes from the playthrough:
- I didn’t encounter a single bug. Not one!
- Max level is 30. Doing all the quests gets you there easily. Doing only the main quests will make it a lot harder.
- Invest in carry weight boosts. Good golly things are heavy here. Adreno (health packs) in particular.
- My playthrough was as a smooth talking sniper. Dialogue skills were maxed, Lockpick and Hack were pretty close to max, and Long Guns. Mal?!
- Almost all the combat is optional, either through sneaking or dialogue options
- Companion abilities are extremely powerful in combat. Perks that allow for them to refresh make a big difference. Plus its fun to see someone drop kick a giant mantis.
- Regular difficulty is extreme easy-mode, making defensive stats meaningless. Good idea to boost it. There are some decent combat mechanics here on Hard. I died often enough that it felt challenging.
- There’s a fair amount of weapon variety that will fit any playtstyle you want. Unique weapons cannot be modified but are generally better than their regular counterparts.
- A ranged sniper benefits a LOT from Long Guns, Sneak, and Science (with an electric/plasma weapon).
- Science weapons are quite useful with the right perks.
- I did not use melee in my playthrough.
- The max for any skill check is 100. More than that adds some bonuses (like extra damage), so it’s a soft cap.
- Lockpick/Hack are used outside of dialogue, meaning you can equip gear to get to the max.
- Sneak is used for damage boosts (when not detected). It is useless for pickpocketing (which is too bad).
- All dialogue skills (Persuade/Intimidate/Lie) are active, you need the skill points before you start talking.
- Science skills are usually passive, though can open some interesting dialogue choices if you’re in the 60 range.
- I found no checks for combat (melee, range, defense) or leadership skills. They are only used for combat.
- You do not need to allocate skills immediately upon level up. If your build is working, then only apply perks on level up and save the points for later.
- Companions add a lot of skill points, more so when they complete their quests.
- Engineering is an interesting skill. Tinkering allows you to upgrade items a level (more damage/armor) making them useful for longer. Mods are interesting upgrades – mostly when talking about adding skill points or changing damage types.
- My next replay (after the holidays so that I forget some of the details) will likely be a dumb melee grunt.
Given the resources Obsidian has to build something like this, that’s an achievement on its own. The game is not perfect, but there is so much positive here that it’s a new high bar. This is a GotY candidate for that alone.