I went into Outriders with hope that this game would be the “next big looter shooter” akin to games like Division, and Borderlands, hell even a bit of Destiny thrown in there too. That's just it though, it wants to be all of those combined into one, and while the idea seems great, the execution is mediocre at best.
When I say the game has an Identity crisis, what do I mean? I mean that the game ISN’T a live service game but acts like one. The game has all the makings of one yet this is a complete package. The layout of the game is treated in such a way that it IS in fact meant to be a live service game. Looter shooters are supposed to make you feel good as you progress and only entice you more to get better gear, and be more badass. While they absolutely nail the buildcrafting, they don’t give you more reason to...keep doing it.
For me personally, when I am playing a live service game, I want the WORLD to pull me in, keep me interested and the loot to give me that rush to “get the best gear” I possibly can in order to take out the opposition as quickly as possible. This game delivers on that, but just way too late into the game,“Endgame” is where the game shines, and why I think this game would have been better as an actual live service game, instead of a complete package.
Now before you go and write off what I am trying to say, hear me out.
Gaming has changed DRAMATICALLY over the last 8 or so years. The consumption of games is different than it was not too long ago, I look at loot based games differently now than I did back when I was playing Diablo II and III, Borderlands series, Mass Effect etc. Investing my time has to feel meaningful, and make me want to come back to keep me engaged with a game. While You can argue that Outriders delivers a complete package, I will say this, “If the world is boring and the story subpar and generic, why would I go back?” and that's exactly the problem I have with Outriders. It tries so hard to be more than one type of game, that it's just a few different games blended into one and done in such a poor and mismanaged way, I feel no reason to go back to experience it.
Outriders has a World Tier system, akin to that of Diablo III Nephalem Rifts. You level up and get EXP, you also get EXP for a World Tier level, and as you go up in World Tiers the game will ramp up enemy difficulty by overleveling them by a number, but that's just it. The only “real” reward you get for going up in the Tier system, is higher level gear. Which sounds nice and all, but I can tell you that the “Legendary loot modifier” is a lie. This is where I felt the most cheated from the game, and because there is no proper explanation of how this works, I worked my way through the game, all the sidequest, and extra content to World Tier 15. I didn’t get a single legendary drop from any boss, mob, or chest. The only time I got legendaries in the game was for completing a series of quest, or quest chains. Had I known that the Legendary modifier didn’t actually work. I would have probably stopped around Tier 10 and finished the game, but as someone who loves loot in a LOOTER SHOOTER, I thought “Might as well try and get those legendaries and suffer through the higher tiers”. It never happened.
People can fly want people to grind the endgame and only the endgame, by nerfing the Legendary drop rate from “named or boss” enemies to a staggering number, removing the ability for chest to drop legendaries, and now as of me writing this, they have effectively ruined any reason to do hunts, bounties or any other repeatable quest, for legendaries. They have effectively funneled every player to only do Expeditions to farm out legendaries. This is where they get so much wrong with the LOOT in a looter shooter. Things that made games like Borderlands 2 great, was farming for gear you wanted, and even targeting certain bosses for a specific item, you won't find that here. It’s all in the expeditions.
Speaking of Expeditions let's discuss those. My character is a Devastator, and I get kicked from lobbies. Why do you ask? Because apparently I am useless. I am at the appropriate level for the Expedition, I have a build that works well, but for the random lobbies I join, just not well enough.
Ya see, these Expeditions are timed, the faster you kill things, and finish it the better the loot. It’s great and it's probably the single most exciting reason to play the game, but imagine if you were constantly kicked from the lobbies because you were the “worst” of the 4 classes? That really blows. I don’t blame the people kicking me because they didn’t balance this game. People Can Fly did, and as of writing this they have nerfed all DPS builds basically by 30-50% depending on the skill and class you are. I don’t think nerfs are bad to keep a game alive, especially when the end users break it, I do think it's pretty messed up to ONLY nerf DPS classes, and not buff anything else. Basically gating people from wanting to try other builds or classes because….the game is little over a week old.
While this sounds like a rant I promise you this is a review on the current state of this game. I just wanted to get out the most important aspects of the game that failed so I can get onto the rest of it.
Oh boy, the story. So I won’t go into too much detail here as I don’t want to spoil anything. I’ll summarize, You are an Outrider and you are tasked with being the first group to land on the planet Enoch to survey it, and give the go ahead for humanity to make its new home. Things go wrong in about 15 minutes, you’re thrown into a cryo pod after being “infected” with something. You wake up 31 years later, to see just how bad it is when humanity has landed.
While you were sleeping, which they jab at you a few times (as if it were your fault), Humanity was at war with each other. See, there wasn’t enough food or supplies to feed all the souls that landed, but the ECA has to make a choice. “Leave the people in the cryo pods to die because the systems only lasted so long” or “release them and let them fend for themselves on a new planet with nothing and no resources. This causes a war between the ECA and the Insurgents. Your new task is to find a Dr, and he has the last “uplink” to reach the “Flores” and get the rest of the supplies to drop down and save the rest of humanity. Along the way you’ll encounter a lot of murdering, a lot of alien creatures, and a cool alien race (that is probably the best part of the story). This leaves a great plot twist and I won’t say anything about it here because that is literally the ONLY redeeming quality of the story.
The story is as generic as it sounds, albeit the one saving grace being the Alien race.
Voice acting and character interaction is HORRENDOUS, the Main Character sounds so disinterested in everything going on, landing on a new planet, exploring a lot of areas that look like they could just be earth. If the Main Character isn’t interested in the world you’re in why should you be?
Gameplay and controls.
I have heard good things about the game on PC, and I haven’t play it on PC, but I can tell you on Playstation 5 the controls are horrible, aiming is awkward, the aim assist only centers to the chest of an enemy and everything just feel off, or like a third person shooter from 2016. There is no jumping, the cover system is a literal JOKE, and from a studio that worked on a Gears of War title (Judgement) you’d think it would shine.
This game is not a cover shooter, its far beyond that, you’re better off rushing into every fight head on and doing your best to kill the massive mobs before they kill you. While there is nothing wrong with that approach, the controls don’t exactly align with that play style. I was running on the edge of ramps, couldn’t scale up a waist high wall, or get out of a bad situation quickly because I wasn’t able to. Some walls are scalable, some ramps you could drop down off the side to get to cover quickly but it's so inconsistent I stopped relying on logic and just made my way around an entire platform instead of dropping down to safety because it made more sense somehow.
In my conclusion of this review on Outriders. I have to say this. I was excited for a new SciFi looter shooter, something different perhaps? But I was so disappointed by so many things. It's clear that People Can Fly had a vision. One that, with more time and polish could have probably been something amazing, but all we’re left with is a game that wants to be a live service game, and really only wants you to care about the endgame. After hitting Challenge Tier 15 in the endgame you have nothing left to do. If this game had a roadmap of some sort, even with the hope that things would get better, maybe I’d be more excited to see where it goes, but all in all I see another Anthem in terms of longevity here. I don’t see SE giving this game a lot of support after the initial release, which is a shame because the things that work in the game are a solid foundation for a good looter shooter.