Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds feels much more like Fallout: New Vegas than I anticipated

Outer Worlds is considered one of my most anticipated video games of 2019 and I’ve by no means performed it. Nonetheless. Is {that a} unhealthy signal? Perhaps, but it surely’s Obsidian’s space-faring religious successor to Fallout: New Vegas. That’s fairly a pedigree, and lots to get my consideration. At E3 2019 I’ve at the least had the possibility to see extra of The Outer Worlds, courtesy of a half-hour behind-closed-doors demo.

And the quick model? It appears much more like Fallout: New Vegas than I anticipated.

New New Vegas

One of many features I’m most involved in, and it was seen within the trailer Obsidian confirmed Sunday at Microsoft’s press convention: The variety of distinctive aesthetics on-hand in The Outer Worlds. It’s all very clearly the identical sport, and but there are specific areas that resemble Soviet structure and design, others that show Vegas ranges of ostentation, others Artwork Deco.

After which there’s the city of Fallbrook, which we began our demo in. A smuggling city, it’s half Previous West and half pirate shanty, a little bit of form-follows-function that subtly clues you in on a spot’s function earlier than you’ve met even a single inhabitant.

Anyway, I may wax on about Obsidian’s artwork design for hours most likely but it surely’s not the crux of the demo. We rapidly met up with Catherine Malin, considered one of Fallbrook’s key residents. “Come for vice or advantage? As a result of we solely promote one right here,” she greeted us with, earlier than giving us a job. Malin needed us to infiltrate and conquer an area “boarst” manufacturing facility, a phrase that’s about as disgusting because the product it describes.

Apparently the native firms have bred “cystipigs,” pigs who develop further meat sacs on their necks which then slough off when matured, prepared for harvesting and packaging into what Obsidian referred to as “sustainable meat product.” Sorry, I ought to’ve informed you to get a bucket prepared earlier than studying that paragraph.


Fallbrook in The Outer Worlds.

Appeal and Intimidate checks confirmed up nearly instantly, indications that that is undoubtedly an Obsidian sport. They usually stored exhibiting up in nearly each single dialogue alternative. It looks like Obsidian is drawing on its expertise with Pillars of Eternity to tell Outer Worlds on this respect, much more than the scattered talent checks in New Vegas. It’s very promising for individuals who wish to really roleplay.

Different features are equally more likely to get RPG followers scorching and bothered. This being what I assume is a reasonably early quest, Malin laid out each technique of infiltration. We may go in weapons blazing, ask “Duncan” for a disguise, or enter via the monster-infested sewers—the doorway of which, in a nod to overdone tropes, is hidden behind a waterfall.

We additionally had two companions with us, Ellie and Nyoko. One’s an alcoholic big-game hunter, the opposite a fast-talking medic. A aspect observe: At larger difficulties, companions can die completely. Watch out, I assume.

tow e3 ellie ability 01 1920 Obsidian

Ellie joined us on our journey.

Exiting to Monarch, the more open part of our demo, we had to fight through a few creatures on the way to the factory: Mantisaurs, Mega Raptidons, and so forth. Some backstory: Apparently Monarch was originally known as “Terra-1,” the first planet to be terraformed, but the process went wrong and instead of killing the native fauna it transformed them into murderous monsters. The rest of the corporations abandoned the planet, but Monarch back-stabbed them and took it over, resulting in a blockade that encircles the planet.

As Obsidian tells it, the other corporations started spreading propaganda about Monarch, that it’s “inhabited by cannibals, monsters, and worse…the unemployed.”

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a strong undercurrent of corporate malfeasance and class struggle at play in Outer Worlds. It crops up everywhere, from guards asking for identification papers to the aforementioned cystipigs and their horrible treatment, to the way robots on the factory floor are equipped with lethal weaponry and can be hacked to turn on all denizens. Or, again quoting Obsidian, “They take termination procedures very seriously here.”


tow e3 scrapbot 01 1920 Obsidian

I’m excited to see these ideas expanded on in the full game. Obsidian’s always been top-tier when it comes to faction writing, and I’ll be curious whether there are good and bad corporations, or whether all of them are varying shades of evil as in New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity II. In fact, I’d bet on the latter.

Beyond words

The biggest surprise though is that Outer Worlds looks like it’ll be fun to play, not just well-written. Obsidian’s often struggled with the mechanics and systems in its games, but it’s borrowing quite a bit from Fallout: New Vegas and then melding it with interesting ideas of its own.

There’s no V.A.T.S., per se, but there is “Tactical Time Dilation.” So…yeah, there’s V.A.T.S., which should make shooting fairly bearable. The weapons seem unique and interesting as well, with chainguns filled with shock ammo, plasma weapons that can be charged like Halo’s, and what looked like a shrink ray in Sunday’s trailer. I hope there are a lot of weird weapons to break me out of the usual sniper-rifle and submachine gun rut.

And Obsidian’s stealth system seems genius. You can wear a disguise into the factory, which then lets you walk straight through—except a meter’s constantly ticking down when you move. The meter resets in each new area, so the challenge is to make it to the next door without running out. Even if you do, you can try and lie your way past the next set of guards as well—three times, with each check getting progressively harder.

tow e3 marauders 01 1920 Obsidian

It’s a lot smarter than the crouch-and-hide stealth of games past, more “realistic” in a way, and as a Charisma and Sneaking player myself I’m excited to get my hands on it.

Lastly, the “Flaw” system seems really neat. We only got a brief look at it, but in certain situations the game will offer you a tough choice: Take a permanent disadvantage in one area to unlock an instant perk point, boosting you in another. In our case we took a lot of damage from robots in the factory, prompting the “Robophobia” Flaw. We’d take more damage from robots in the future as well, but we’d get a free perk point in the here-and-now. There’s a lot of potential for some unique and oddball builds depending on what Obsidian programs in as Flaws.

Bottom line

There are still a lot of unknowns, and it’s an Obsidian game—meaning we won’t really know whether it’s good until we’ve played through it. Obsidian’s still got a reputation for bugs to overcome, and this is also a “smaller” RPG than we’re used to in the modern era, which makes me curious about the pacing.

[ Further reading: 41 must-see PC games at E3 2019: Watch every trailer ]

I am curious though. After this hands-off demo, The Outer Worlds is still one of my most anticipated games of 2019. Heck, probably even more anticipated coming out of the demo actually. Hopefully I can get over my revulsion regarding the word “boarst” before October.

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