Early into my space adventure I accidentally stole a can of food. The fallout from this event ruined my reputation with an entire corporation. That is when I knew that The Outer Worlds was going to live up to the promise of actions having real consequences. And boy howdy, was I ever excited to see just how my decisions would impact the Halcyon colony.
First things first. You are a resident of the Hope, an intergalactic ship transporting thousands of colonists from Earth to the new Halcyon colony. Due to circumstances unknown, your ship arrived late and you’ve been frozen for 25 years, until someone removes your stasis pod from the floating morgue and wakes you up. Because of the way I prefer to play my first runs, I built my character, Ripley, to be a smooth talking, know-it-all cashier. The majority of my skill points earned throughout Ripley’s journey went into building those numbers; giving me more dialogue options, as well as improving my science skills. So if you want a character whose main build is melee weapons-based and being a horrible communicator, build one. Want a gun-slinging space cowboy? You can do that, too.
Somewhere, Out There
There’s a whole cluster of planets to explore in The Outer Worlds, and if there is one very important thing I can tell you in this review, it’s that things are missable! That’s right. You see that map image I posted above this paragraph? I have seen the credit roll and still not visited four of those planets. I’ve also only collected four possible companions during this time. Obsidian Games built a way for gamers to experience multiple story lines—whether they be good, bad, or something in between—and nailed the execution.
The planets I have had the pleasure of exploring so far seem to have a few things in common: there is always a corporation town and another town filled with defectors; a third group, marauders, seem to be hassling both parties; and some form of local wildlife roams the hills. Things are never really black or white—unless you want them to be. Grey space exists, especially if you’ve gifted yourself with a golden tongue. How you choose to handle quests given to you by these opposing factions is up to you and will affect your Reputation. Vendor prices and people’s willingness to cooperate with you are just a couple of ways in which your Reputation with the various groups in Halcyon are impacted.
One of the side effects of the thawing process is this awesome thing called Tactical Time Dilation. When you tap that R1 button, the purple haze spreads and time slows, allowing you the opportunity to zoom in on a target and learn all about them. This is a great way to discover your enemies’ weak points to perform maximum damage. It’s relatively short, however, well selected perks can bump the length of active time. I like to use this when encountering new enemies or when I am surrounded. Sometimes I just use it because it’s cool.
There are a lot of weapons to find throughout Halcyon. Not Pandora levels of loot drops, but a decent selection of common and special tools of the trade waiting to be hoarded. Instead of having to run around looking for a better version of any piece of equipment, weapon or armor, you can upgrade and modify everything.
Mods can be looted or purchased from one of the several corporation vending machines. For guns there are two to three areas you can modify, and the grip on melee ones. Armor is slightly different; most of the clothing and helmets you will find come with some skill bonuses to bolster those you are using. Things like a +3 to Blocking or +5 to Hacking. The mods you can apply are separate from those. Most armor can also hold up to four modifications. While I modded outfits for Ripley to (again) nudge my dialogue skills, I found tweaking other gear for my companions’ skill sets to be extremely important to keep them alive just a little longer.
One of the neat additions in The Outer Worlds is the Flaw system. Anyone who has played a pen and paper RPG before has surely encountered Flaws. Once you take a lot of certain types of damage, either elemental or from certain enemies, a screen pops up offering you an extra Perk point in exchange for taking increased damage from said element/enemy. You can take every Flaw or pass on them all (unless playing on the hardest difficulty, which forces them on you). For the record, I took one, making me susceptible to plasma damage. I used that Perk point to bump up my carry capacity.
The Buddy System
Companions were important in Fallout: New Vegas and are even more so in The Outer Worlds. They each have unique stories and side quests to experience. If they have something to say during a scene, they will speak up and give you their opinion. Companions won’t always agree with you; if your actions contradict their beliefs, they will tell you as much and might even leave your entourage. They also provide banter on the road and on the ship. I’m still scratching my head as to how Nyoka got herself into that position (see above).
You don’t have to take anyone with you when you step off the Unreliable. If you do, they’ll help you carry all the loot you scavenge (or steal) and lend a hand in a gun fight. Be sure to equip your traveling buddies with gear that complements their fighting style and unique attack command (left or right on the D-pad). Be careful though. Once again, if playing on the hardest difficulty, companion permadeath is a feature.
There are specific perks for your companions. Each tier has three base perks with companion specific bonus ones here and there. I personally liked snagging the ones that bumped Ripley’s skills. Look, I lied to A LOT of people and bots. Basically, if lying was an option, there was a 98% chance I took that dialogue path.
When the credits rolled for the first time and I saw a handful of story line endings, I just had to back track just a bit with Ripley to see what would happen if I went right instead of left at a very specific fork. But that wasn’t enough. I need to find those other companions, explore those uncharted planets, and see what would have happened if I hadn’t stolen that can of saltuna. What other Easter eggs are out there just waiting to make me burst out laughing?
The combination of The Outer Worlds‘ stunning visuals and immersive story telling have positioned the game to be an amazing start to a beloved franchise. We’ve only just scratched the surface with Halcyon’s tale, and I am certain Obsidian has begun planting seeds for its future.
The Outer Worlds review code provided by Obsidian Entertainment. Version 1.01 reviewed on a launch PlayStation 4 console. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.