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First Impressions: The Outer Worlds

Credit: Obsidian

Gotta love those great outdoors. Especially when they try to eat you.

I got into Fallout a little after Fallout 3 came out. A friend of mine who loves the OG games calls me a pleb for that, but whatever, he’s a butt. Despite Bethesda’s penchant for bugs, it was a grand old time with likable characters and fun gameplay. Fallout New Vegas was even better, with better combat and better writing, not to mention a few helpful tweaks (though still plenty of bugs). I’m not super into the current state of Fallout, though; I’d rather eschew all of the paid DLC and silly base-building in favor of a proper adventure. Luckily, Obsidian isn’t under Bethesda’s banner anymore, so they’ve had a proper chance to spread their wings with The Outer Worlds.

You play as a customizable colonist in hypersleep about the Hope, a massive passenger freighter destined for the far-off space colony of Halcyon. Unfortunately, something went sour in transit, leaving you in stasis for about 60 years longer than you should’ve been. You’re awakened by outlaw inventor Phineas Welles, who tells you that the colony has suffered under the iron grip of massive corporations, and that the collective skill and intelligence of the Hope’s passengers could set things right. With a jumpsuit and pistol, you set off in search of the chemicals Phineas needs to awaken your fellow survivors.

Right off the bat, I felt a familiarity in The Outer Worlds reminiscent of New Vegas. You can carry all sorts of armor and weapons, recruit party members, and build your character to be a marksman, a melee fighter, a smooth-talker, or pretty much anything else. Replace space with a nuclear apocalypse, and it’s pretty much Fallout. Though, since Obsidian had full control, the experience feels much more streamlined. The inventory management is simple, the dialogue is smart and entertaining, and the combat is quick and punchy. There’s only three types of ammo, light, heavy, and energy, but lots of different weapons that utilize them differently, so there’s plenty of room for playstyle tweaking.

I think if there’s one thing that differentiates The Outer Worlds from its Bethesda cousins, it’s that it feels like there’s a little more going on in the background of things. For example, the mad raiders that roam the wilds of the first planet, the Marauders. When I killed one and took his armor, I saw it was a little better than what I had on, so I wore it. In Fallout games, you could wear pretty much anything and nobody would bat an eye (unless you were from an opposing faction, in which case they’d just shoot you). But when I wandered into town dressed like a Marauder, I got reactions ranging from fear to confusion to disgust. One man, a neat freak, was mortified that I was wearing something he could tell was lifted off a corpse, and I actually got the option for an intimidation speech check that read along the lines of “wanna see my hands?” Little touches like that are very impressive from a writing and coding standpoint, not to mention hilarious.

I’m only a few hours into The Outer Worlds, but so far, I’m enjoying my time. There have been a few instances where I needed to hike to a waypoint, but I always relished those moments in Fallout games, and I do here as well, helped by the lush and colorful environments. I just can’t wait until I can find a really good shotgun. That was when things always took a turn for the messy in New Vegas, and what fun it was.