Bethesda doesn’t like it when you call The Outer Worlds ‘Fallout in Space’. That will be because The Outer Worlds isn’t a Bethesda game.
Last year, I wrote about The Outer Worlds in a few Last Week’s Gaming articles. I inhaled this game. As a fan of the Fallout games, I was keen on seeing Obsidian’s take on a new world to explore.
This review was delayed partly because I played The Outer Worlds on Xbox with Game Pass, and my plan was always to buy it on Switch upon release and do a review. Launch delays, and the game coming to Switch just as I started getting busy work-wise, meant that this is a review long in the making.
Before I talk about the game, I am going to get the Switch comparison out of the way.
Like The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, there are visual sacrifices. The Switch is an impressive piece of hardware, but it’s not in the same class as the ‘proper’ consoles in terms of raw power.
There are texture popping issues, and frame rates dip when a lot of characters are in an area. A fight with about 8-10 enemies (which happens a couple of times in the first world), my guess is about 15-18 frames per second in handheld mode? I can only estimate from feel, but the dips are apparent, and if you are in melee combat, this will make things harder than ranged combat.
That said, I am now about 40% complete on Switch, and I have played almost exclusively in handheld mode. Yes, I have had to reload because of the fights I have lost. But I had to do that on the Xbox One S as well. General exploration and gameplay have been fun, and everything works well overall.
My biggest complaint is the ‘fuzziness’ of the screen when playing in handheld mode. The game is compensating for lower performance by dropping the resolution. When exploring the open world, it’s almost impossible to tell a tree from a human enemy at a distance. It’s not game-breaking, but I was using my gun scope to look at trees a lot!
I also have not seen any of the ‘loading circles’ mid-game other people complaining about at any time. I don’t know why. I have the eShop (downloaded) version, but I do have a slightly overkill for Switch SD card. The exact card from Amazon is: Samsung 512GB 100MB/s (U3) MicroSDXC Evo Select Memory Card with Adapter (MB-ME512GA/AM).
I am not trying to say this is the best card for Switch or anything like that, but if your using a slower card, maybe that is part of the problem? A lot of information needs to be loaded into the world, and a slower card may cause these pauses in play. But because I didn’t experience the issue, it’s a semi-educated guess.
So should I play The Outer Worlds on Switch?
It’s a hard one. I am going to finish The Outer Worlds a couple more times at least, playing with different skill builds and faction responses.
This week, I had an in-person meeting. The drive had the potential for a lot of traffic, but it was a good drive, and I got there pretty early. Being able to pull out my Switch and do a couple of quest steps and put it away was great.
Again, like The Witcher on Switch, being able to play wherever I am in short bursts like this is the primary benefit. The longest session I played continuously was about 3 hours, and I had to plug the charger in.
If you only have a Switch, you will enjoy playing The Outer Worlds. If you primarily want to play in docked mode and have a PS4/Xbox One (or a gaming PC), I would stick to those versions. The experience is better, but the gameplay is identical.
OK, so what is The Outer Worlds?
The Outer Worlds in a lot of ways is a typical RPG adventure. You play a character and become the hero to some and the enemy of others.
The story begins in a way I really enjoy. Short version, two colony ships were sent into the far reaches of space. Everyone was cryogenically frozen for the trip, and the idea was that a new solar system would be terraformed and inhabited.
Things didn’t quite go to plan, and one ship (The Hope) didn’t quite make it. All of the colonists are still in hibernation, and instead of being frozen for 10 years, you are woken up 70 years later.
From here, you set out to explore the new worlds. You can try and save everyone from the greedy corporations, or join them and make life very comfortable for yourself. The choice is yours.
Because your character is coming in effectively 60 years late, asking why the world works the way it does makes sense in the narrative. On my first playthrough, I asked everyone everything I could to learn about the world. The second time, I knew which questions to ask, and skipped asking about the corporations or who certain characters are.
What The Outer Worlds isn’t.
It’s not Fallout. Obsidian developed Fallout: New Vegas, a game that on launch I couldn’t play. It was so full of game-breaking bugs I just had to stop. Over time, all of these issues were fixed, and New Vegas became so polished, too many it’s considered the best Fallout game to date.
There are very similar mechanics though, so the comparison for Fallout players is unfortunately natural. You can slow time instead of using the V.A.T.S. system, some conversations lead to side quests, and those quests can end in different ways with the choices you make.
While there is a lot of combat in the game, it’s also not a shooter or first-person combat game. You can solve a lot of problems with violence, but you can also talk your way through a lot of situations. If you have science skill, you can also use that to help/hurt people (and yourself).
Fallout was built on 7 character statistics – the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. The Outer Worlds has expanded the character customisation, but also made it still streamlined for a baseline experience.
But what do you do in the game?
Here is where it gets tricky. On the first world of Edgewater, you need a power regulator to repair your ship and leave the planet. Everyone does this, and it’s why I concentrate on only showing this world.
But even with this seemingly linear opening act, you can choose very different ways of reaching your own goal. You can help the people there or make more money supporting some more selfish characters.
You can help the settlement overall, or you can help a single faction for short term goals and let the colony suffer in the long term. Things you set in motion at this early stage can open choices later in the game – or close them.
Oh no, I don’t want an early choice to ruin the game for me!
It won’t. Unlike some adventure games I have played, there is no ‘critical’ choice you can make very early on. You will see the options being laid out, but it will be at least 8 hours in before you can commit to a path.
Character creation follows this methodology as well. You are presented with a screen full of statistics, but until you hit a level of 50 in a branch, you upgrade all skills within. From there, you can choose to specialise in particular areas. For example, you can increase ranged weapons to 50, but then decide to specialise in handguns. You can still use the other weapons without handicaps – you just don’t get any bonuses either.
OK. So why would I want to play The Outer Worlds? You haven’t talked much about that.
It’s tough to talk about The Outer Worlds in detail without either a) spoilers or b) talking about potential story areas you might not see.
The Outer Worlds has a lot of humour to it, but it also has a story that can be as deep as you want it to be. The overall story is about corporate greed, but how you explore this storyline is up to you. You can play the game ignoring the lore, or you can explore deeper and form bonds with your crew and NPCs.
Bottom line, if you enjoy sci-fi and open-world RPGs, The Outer Worlds is a game that should be on your radar.
If you have a PC/Xbox and Game Pass and are on the fence, grab it on Game Pass. You don’t need a ‘great’ video card to play The Outer Worlds on PC, so even if you try it out before buying it for PS4/Switch you will have a great idea of what you are getting into.
Take all the best elements of playing Fallout: New Vegas, and move it into a new environment. Multiple quests, character stats that allow you to play differently, faction relationships – it’s all here.
The Outer Worlds still isn’t perfect. For example, defeated enemies can disappear, making quests impossible to complete. Some of the choices you get are very black and white – not every storyline has nuance.
But if you enjoy a semi-open ended adventure, The Outer Worlds is a fantastic start to hopefully a new franchise.
Best play experience order – PC (mid-high tier graphics card) > PS4/Xbox One > Switch. That said, The Outer Worlds is enjoyable on every platform. The Switch version has the most visual sacrifices, but you can play it anywhere – it’s a pretty good trade-off.
- Solid (if cliched) story
- Plenty of player choice in story and upgrade system
- Great atmosphere overall
- Combat isn’t deep, so don’t need to be great at shooters to do well
- Replayable for different endings/character types
- On Game Pass if you want to try/play that way
- Not a lot of enemy types
- Hub style open world – lots of loading screens
- You can get quest breaking bugs, especially when enemies you need to loot vanish.
Until next time,