Saturday Morning Gaming: The Spoilerish Review of The Outer Worlds
Okay, I’m going to talk about The Outer Worlds some more and break down into how the game does some seriously AWESOME stuff. That said, I’m going to talk about spoilers. If you’re inclined to get it and want to play it spoiler-free (as I did), just know that my main complaint about the game is that it is too short. I beat it in a couple of weekends. Now, that may be a selling point for you! You might think “I don’t have 100 hours to pour into a game like New Vegas…” and sadly think that you have to pass on this one. Well, you don’t. But if you think “I ain’t paying full price for a game that it took Jaybird a couple of weekends to beat”, that’s also reasonable. Just know that I LOVED the game. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Warning: It might wander into political territory given the political opinions given by the setting of the game as well. I don’t bring it up to argue about it, but to help show the frame the game takes and how it works to serve the story.
Okay one of the first things you do in the game is encounter a guard who has been shot and is bleeding out. If you have a sufficient medical skill, you have the option of helping him out and healing him up. He expresses concerns because, as an employee of Spacer’s Choice, he signed a contract saying that he wouldn’t use the healing supplies that are not Spacer’s Choice. It’s not the best choice, it’s Spacer’s Choice! A few moments later, you find yourself in Edgewater (see what they did there?), a small settlement where you overhear a conflict between a factory owner and his chief engineer. Stuff ain’t workin’ right, you see. The cans are blowing up when they’re being pressure sealed and cooked and she’s trying to explain that the machine is calibrated for Saltuna and if you are putting above an allowed amount of filler in the cans that ain’t Saltuna, the cans will burst.
So the first thing you begin to notice is that the corporations have a weird grip on the society. From what you’re allowed to use to save your own life to being forced to apologize for cans of Saltuna blowing up when you fill them with lizard by-products.
And you find out, as you explore the game, that pretty much all of the corporations are unethical, arrogant, and tyrannical. It’s not “light vs dark” like in the Star Wars RPGs. It’s not “Open Hand vs. Closed Fist” like in Jade Empire. It’s Capitalism vs Agorism. (You’ll find yourself remembering reading about company towns in your history books and you’ll see the worst excesses repeated as you go around and run errands and take missions for the various people who need help. “This is a little heavy-handed”, you will say to yourself a couple of times. The anti-capitalist messaging is less subtle than the pro-vegetarianism messaging. But even as opinionated as I can be about these sorts of things, I found that rolling my eyes a couple of times was sufficient to allow me to fully enjoy the game anyway.)
As you play, you’ll be given ample opportunities to side with the corporations or with the people fighting The Man as you go throughout the galaxy. And then, after you take the mission, they do a great job of giving multiple ways to defeat a particular quest. Do you want to shoot your way through it? You can. Do you want to talk your way out of it? That’ll be an option for 9 out of 10 of them. There was even a mission where I snuck in, did my thing, then snuck out without having a single conversation or shot fired.
On top of that, they did my absolute favorite thing that RPGs could possibly do: they gave me two sides in a conflict, they made both of the sides somewhat sympathetic (or, at least, run by sympathetic people), and then made me pick which of the two would win the conflict… but, if you did a handful of particular side-missions and had a sufficient persuasion skill… you could get both sides to work together.
AND I GOT BOTH SIDES TO WORK TOGETHER.
And then, at the end of the second act: the jaw-dropping big reveal that tied all of the little hints and side-quests together and explained the problem that you had to overcome.
And then, after overcoming it, the game rewards you with Denouement. You get a short speech about each place you visited and what happened to the places depending on the state you left them in. Did you help this group or that group? Well, the group you helped did well. Maybe it’s even thriving. The group you harmed? Man, they splintered off and disappeared. Your companions did well if you helped them. They kind of stagnated if you didn’t. And the galaxy itself? Well, with your help and leadership, it’s poised for The Outer Worlds 2!
Which will be a day one purchase.
So… what are you playing?
(Featured image is released promotional image of The Outer Worlds for fair use. Ownership. copyright, and all rights reserved by Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division)