Photo Credit by Obsidian Entertainment
I’ve spent the better part of three weeks now playing through Obsidian’s latest game The Outer Worlds. In case you’ve been living inside an asteroid and this beauty of a game has gone under your radar let me give you the pitch. You’ve been recently unthawed from a 70 year deep freeze by a mad scientist and asked to help him procure the chemicals needed to wake up everyone else on this colony ship to save the galaxy from the corporations. It’s a third person shoot science fiction role-playing game that looks more than a little bit like Fallout in space. This isn’t Obsidian’s first take on the Fallout-esque gameplay that any long-time Bethesda fans have come to know and love. Obsidian was the one who helmed the much beloved ‘Fallout: New Vegas’ and they have some deep roots in the role-playing game scene as well having done Neverwinter Nights 2 and Pillars of Eternity. With that in mind I present to you my boldest of claims, my hottest of takes…The Outer Worlds is not a ‘Fallout’ game in space. It’s Dungeons And Dragons…in space.
Let’s start by quelling any of that rage that’s started to build up in the Fallout die-hards reading this. Yes, there is branching dialogue trees but that’s not what makes a Fallout game Fallout. Bioware uses branching dialogue trees to great effect in both Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Obsidian has used branching dialogue in their past games as well. Certainly Fallout doesn’t have claim on first person shooting or looting. What about the skill trees and the charm and persuasion? Yes, Fallout has all of that as well…but before Fallout and before any of these games there was another. Dungeons and Dragons, the first true role-playing game from which all other RPGs spawned.
At the heart of The Outer Worlds is role-playing, it’s telling a story with you at the center. This doesn’t make it unique or different from Fallout, but it’s at the crux of the game, if you’re not pushing forward the story, interacting with your crew or the denizens of various space stations and planetary settlements you’re probably not doing much. In Fallout you can get lost in the world, not meet a single NPC for hours and just fight ghouls and super mutants and roam around the ruins of the old worlds. Fallout at its heart is about exploration. There isn’t a whole lot to explore in the Outer Worlds like there is in most Fallout games. There are caves here and there or secret passageways, but they’re more for a piece of bonus loot or supplies. The real meat of the game is in interacting with the people of the world and helping them solve their problems. In Fallout it usually comes down to just being charming enough to get what you want, sometimes another skill may come into play but if you’re not boosting your Charisma you probably not a people person. The Outer Worlds is all about social interaction and role-playing, you can persuade,lie, intimidate, dazzle someone with your engineering knowledge, your medical expertise, your leadership or determination.
In the Outer Worlds you are the player and Obsidian is your Dungeon Master, leading you from port to port on the Unreliable gathering your grew as you move on to the next mission. There’s no getting side tracked to explore the ruins of an old hospital or an underground subway station infested by ghouls. When you’ve finished one quest-line, the Dungeon Master is dropping bread crumbs to the next one. You can sideline the main story line to check out some side quests, but you’ll be back on the beaten path very quickly.
Obsidian has delivered a game that on its face looks very familiar, but when you get down to it The Outer Worlds is quite unique when compared to Fallout. It’s found a way to form its own identity in a space that is overwhelming dominated by Bethesda’s Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises. With Obsidian’s legacy in role-playing games and them now being owned by Microsoft Studios this is just the beginning. The Outer Worlds is the start of a beautiful franchise that may not have dazzled everyone with it’s debut, but the leap from this to whatever the inevitable sequel will bring us is going to be measured in light years.
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