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The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition review – Boldly going

Quirky western RPGs aren’t necessarily a dime a dozen. There are standouts, like Fallout 3 or Skyrim, but we haven’t had that renaissance in the genre one might hope. I for one love these kinds of games, so when The Outer Worlds arrived on the scene (made by the team behind the amazing and underrated Fallout New Vegas), I was more than ready to try it. Things happen, of course. After playing it for only a little while, it made its way beneath the crushing weight of my backlog. With the release of an upgraded version for current gen consoles and PC, however, The Outer Worlds is back to the top of my list.

If you don’t remember the words we had for the original release, let me drop them right here.

For better or worse, The Outer Worlds is a perfectly middle-of-the-road open-world RPG. It doesn’t take any big risks, but that also keeps it from falling on its face. Despite some great writing, the game doesn’t have much to say about the corporate dystopia it establishes, ultimately playing it too safe to justify the premise. Obsidian’s expertise with the genre makes The Outer Worlds a competent RPG, if not an especially interesting one.

Our own Brian Lawver wasn’t as high on The Outer Worlds as I am now, so this is a similar situation as we were in with Days Gone (even down to the verbiage). You can check out the full review here, but know that we are on different pages as far as the content goes. I think Outer Worlds is a fantastic game, and there are plenty of reasons why.

Obsidian Entertainment is a master of building intricate stories, with amazing work on games like Fallout New Vegas and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II. After their recent smaller release from a tiny team led by Josh Sawyer in Pentiment (our review here), they are clearly one of Xbox’s best acquisitions. The Outer Worlds works so well because of its great story, but also because of the narrative choice behind it. Sure, not every piece of dialogue is going to change something, but it’s a fun narrative and has a lot of depth to it.

You begin The Outer Worlds as a colonist trapped aboard a ship (The Hope) that was supposed to take you to a new world to begin a new space age via a faster-than-light hyperdrive, but something terribly wrong brings it to a standstill. Without anyone manning the helm, The Hope meanders through the stars, leaving all of you to the grip of space. Thanks to a scientist, Phineas Wells, you are the one colonist who escapes The Hope’s confines on a mission to help the rest of your shipmates break loose from cryo-sleep.

Once you get this running on your current gen system (we’re playing on PlayStation 5), you’ll love what you see. The Halcyon system is a sight to behold in 4K and HDR, bursting with color. Obsidian went with a blend of 80% Fallout and 20% Borderlands in the artstyle, and the retro sci-fi feel really works for The Outer Worlds. It drew me to the game originally, and it remains a highlight of the experience. At its best, there are loads of beautiful details, but unfortunately there are also moments where things are too gray and dingy. It can be a bit of a smorgasbord, and it depends on where you are in the galaxy as to what you get. The cities in particular can be a bit darker and somewhat foggy in appearance, so make sure to adjust your brightness accordingly. Some of it can be chalked up to the day and night cycle, it just doesn’t always work in its favor.

Even with that, the character models look great in this updated version. I never had any qualms with the originals per say, but anytime you can get even more out of an upgrade it’s a good thing. The models appear in a close-up, Skyrim or Fallout fashion when you have a conversation with each character, meaning any flaws should be noticeable and on full display. This isn’t the case, with the models further enhanced by fantastic animations that are top notch. My only complaint is that occasionally the mouth tracking while they talk isn’t the best, and the hair is completely stiff on both theirs and your heads. You get plenty of color and cuts, just not any physics along with it.

Where this version can be hit or miss is with the performance. This breaks down into two modes, performance and cinematic. If you’ve been gaming for a while, you understand that this means you’re going for either better frame rate or better resolution. I’ll be honest, while the performance mode certainly runs the cleanest, I can’t tell a huge difference between the two. Performance is probably the better option, because the loss of resolution isn’t a big drop, and the cinematic mode leads to a more inconsistent frame rate without a lot of return on the resolution being better.

Weirdly still, even though better, the performance mode can still have its issues such as fickle frames in random instances. I’d guess we’re getting close to 60 FPS, but the occasional stutter is frustrating. This showed up most often for me when moving the camera a lot or running, so I’d assume it has to do with loading in the detail of your surroundings. It’s still better than the original game, but it’s not solid. On the plus side though, you won’t be waiting for things to load when you enter new areas for very long; the SSDs behind current gen systems means you’re in the action in seconds.

A nice extra the PlayStation 5 has going for it is the DualSense controller. Not all games get the additional umph DualSense provides, and the ones that do don’t always do it right, but The Outer World’s adaptive triggers are fun to leave active. It works similar to something like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War or Deathloop, allowing you to feel the bounce of the recoil when you fire a gun. For example, the assault rifle fights back with you on the R2 button, so it’s a nice little bit of immersion. Not every game can do this, especially multiplayer ones, so it’s nice to have this in a slower paced FPS where it can be enjoyable.

Another little thing that shows Obsidian’s attention to detail: an immediate notice upon booting up the game about the expansions. The Outer World’s contains two expansions, Peril On Gorgon and Murder on Eridanos. As with many pieces of DLC, these are best experienced once you’ve played a bit of the base game, and some are only accessible at that point. This notification at the start lets you know not only what those requirements are, but also where to go in order to engage them. These details sit right on the main menu to click as well, so even if you forget, they’re easily accessible. It’s a little touch, but it’s much appreciated.

Lastly, Obsidian decided to jump up the level cap with this release. If you’re a big fan of The Outer Worlds, or you just want to be able to do more, this is your shot to do so. There are a ton of ways to build your character in The Outer Worlds, so the ability to go even further will allow for even more shenanigans as you traverse the galaxy. Games rarely see increases like this even with expansions added, so it’s a nice addition that didn’t have to be made. The only thing that sucks: there isn’t any save transferring, so you’re starting from the beginning. I’m sure plenty of people who worked super hard on their character on last gen consoles won’t be thrilled.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition review – Boldly going
80

Great

The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition

Review Guidelines

The Outer Worlds is an awesome game, so it’s nice to have the option to enjoy it with all the amenities of a new generation of hardware. While the performance is a bit iffy, the visuals really pop, and the updated character models add to your immersion in this imaginative space adventure. It’s no surprise we’ve got a second one on the way, and now you can get ready for the sequel on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S in style.

David Burdette

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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