28/01/2020

🔫🔫 Re-Freeze – Britt’s take on the Outer Worlds 🔫🔫 #TheOuterWorlds

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I know that my boss, ‘He Who Walks Behind The Frost’* or (‘Rich’ if you aren’t into the whole brevity thing**) was really taken with Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds, and, due to our almost psychic gaming connection, he knew that it would be something that I would find trouser-burningly interesting as well.

Being lucky enough to have been given an Xbox One S for Christmas from my dearly beloved, I instantly got hips deep into Game Pass and took full advantage by spending the festive period inhaling The Outer Worlds.

Did I like it? Yes… but with some caveats.
Straight off, I’d like to say that I did enjoy the game and I do hope it will spin off into a series as the groundwork is here for what could be an interesting world (or worlds, rather) as there aren’t too many open-world RPGs in first-person with such a grand scope and focus on a narrative thrust in mind.

All of these things are good, I really enjoy getting lost in such titles but, whilst I did have some other issues such as not being invested in the characters/motivations (especially when it came to the side-quests) and finding the design of the locations themselves a bit bland, the real issue for me was the loading times.
The way I like to play games in the RPG genre is not to set up a load of quests and then churn through them but instead to choose single side-quests and follow them through to the end. I find that this helps me keep the narrative threads in my mind. I tend to eschew the more MMO-based approach of starting a huge chunk of them and then ticking them off as I wander around as I find that I’d randomly talk to one character and they’d thank me, take something out of my inventory and I’d get XP or an item for something I have no awareness of as it’s just one of the dozens of ongoing quests I’ve long forgotten.

Instead, I’ll get a quest, work to the end and then start another so that I can keep up to speed and fully immersed with the task in hand, the issue in TOW is that there is a lot of to-and-fro with the planets and the fact you always need to fast-travel back to your ship and then onto the relevant planet and then (usually) back to the original quest-giver, it really feels grinding. I spent around twenty hours with TOW and I would say 3 or so hours were spent looking at loading screens.
Whilst this wasn’t a true deal-breaker, it did bring me to a weird point in my gaming career, whereby I was deciding whether or not to do quests based not on my interest in the specifics, rewards or emotional investment but purely by thinking…’ can I put up with the loading that will come with this?’ It was a very, very strange situation to be in.
I also felt that the humour that shone through in some of the scripted moments (usually from the main doctor) didn’t run through the entire game which was a shame as the team clearly have the chops to get some nice comedic work written.
In summary, I did enjoy The Outer Worlds, it does feel like a companion piece to Fallout: New Vegas in the game engine and gameplay similarities but I am looking forward to the next generation of consoles’ SSD speed boost eliminating my biggest personal bugbear of loading times and, now that TOW has cemented its place, it would be cool to see some narrative risks being taken in the next game in the series, whether the game goes darker and edgier or perhaps (and more realistically) more comedic and loose, it does feel like an injection of personality is needed to completely separate it from its peers, THAT  would really remove my trousers.

I’m keen to see what Obsidian brings us next!
*One for the Children of the Corn fans, both of you.
**One for The Big Lebowski fans, the millions of us.
Britt

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