The Outer Worlds (PS4) Review

Obsidian Entertainment, for most people, is most well known for Fallout: New Vegas, the follow up to Bethesda’s Fallout 3 on PC and the last generation of consoles. Although they’ve developed other hits, such as South Park and the Stick of Truth and the critically acclaimed Pillars of Eternity I and II, the team have returned to the Fallout format in their latest game, The Outer Worlds – a game which could be perfectly summed up, at first glance, as ‘Fallout in Space’…

Despite the developers stating not to expect a massive open world, like in games such as Fallout 4, and to expect a smaller and more condensed experience, my first blind playthrough (which didn’t even include all side quests or finding all colleagues) took me around 25-30 hours. Also, thanks to a clarification tweet from publisher Private Division, we know that the PS4 version I’ve been playing was 1440p, whereas the Xbox Version (which is in GamePass on day one) will be 4K with higher-quality assets.

Now, having played the game and experienced the beauty the game offers, I can’t imagine it looking any better than this PS4 version, but if it does, it must look freaking gorgeous!

The Outer Worlds 1

Why would anyone wake this guy up!

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The Outer Worlds perfectly incorporates its character creation into the story, which is done brilliantly. You’re a colonist, aboard the transport ship ‘Hope’ on your way to Halcyon via a ten-year stasis-slept trip. However, something goes wrong with the ship and it falls out of lightspeed early, causing the ship to drift at regular speed for over seventy years. Fortunately, before ‘The Board’ were able to infiltrate and lock down the ship, a wanted criminal known as Phineas manages to sneak aboard and revive one of the citizens.

This is where the character creation comes in, as you choose from multiple options such as what to invest skill points into, what your background was, and what you look like, Phineas will pull the character you create from the thousands aboard the ship. I thought this was pretty cool as it’s much better than just getting your face restructured or just ‘being’ there with no explanation as to why.

Once you’re out, you’re sent to Terra 2 in hopes of meeting up with a smuggler who will aid you. Your mission: supply Phineas with a substance he can use to revive the rest of the colonists and stand by him as he takes on the political agenda in Halcyon, an agenda which isn’t quite the one described within all of the marketing materials and promises for this once prosperous place. Sadly, the smuggler isn’t too smart and ends up with a fate akin to the Wicked Witch…

So, it’s up to you to enrol new companions, travel between various planets, resolve local and wide-spread conflicts, and ultimately help revive your fellow colonists and take down the corporate-ran agencies who will stop at nothing to remove the threat to their plans, you.

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The Outer Worlds 2

Hmm, after hearing what he wants it for, do I give it to him or let slip the name for my testicle?

GamePlay
Whereas the story I mentioned above is technically the backbone of the narrative, the journey you take to achieve your goals will be different for everyone who plays the game. Just like Fallout, the game is built around player choices and decisions which change the world around you – for better and worse. As you travel across the galaxy to various planets (In my playthrough, there was one or two which I never even had access to because of the choices I made), you’ll meet up with a variety of people and creatures throughout numerous settlements, wastelands, caves, factories, and cities. Each world has it’s own factions to help out (and possibly side with) as well as variants on the local monster wildlife and flora.

The Outer Worlds almost demands multiple playthroughs – not in terms of the trophies, as most of them simply require you to make a choice and not a ‘certain’ choice, but because you’ll want to. One such example, on the first planet, sees you being tasked with diverting power from a small rebel settlement and sending all the power to the major city on the planet so they can power their machines and force the rebels to return to their jobs where they belong – in the factories. However, after speaking to the rebels, you can instead send all the power to them, thus pissing off the Fat Cat and increasing your reputation with the Hippies. Or, you can fuel the city and then either kill or force the Fat Cat to leave so the Hippies can move in and take over the town – every choice changes the lives of the people within the game.

Reputation is a major part of the game, every faction you meet has a Positive and Negative bar. The more positive it is, the bigger discounts you get and the friendlier the people are; piss off the faction and expect to be shot on sight and refused business. This scale is also permanent – I found no way to reduce the hate a faction has for you (as it’s two separate bars). So, if you’re not careful and end up doing something terrible by accident as I did, then say goodbye to a bunch of side quests, colleagues, info, weapons, and dialogue options if you’re trying to bring two factions together in peace. 

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The Outer Worlds 3

All I did was kill her crush, now she hates me!

The world is permanent
Aside from creatures and bandits who reside on the road and in caves, everyone in the world of The Outer Worlds is a living being. I rarely spotted a ‘clone’ among the humans and a lot of people had a name (that’s how you know you can talk to them and have a conversation rather than a one-line response). As such, if you kill someone, they stay dead. So, try not to go crazy with your trigger finger when you’re walking around town – maybe hold Square and holster your weapon and try not to dress in Marauder uniforms.

This is an awesome concept as it makes you really think about both your decisions when talking to people and when choosing which faction you wish to side with and who to shoot. Again though, just like the reputation meter – once you’ve annoyed a colony, I couldn’t figure out how to get them to stop shooting me. As such, I had to go on a few rampages and effectively wipe out entire settlements and spaceships just because they wouldn’t leave me alone – it was life or death.

This is my story: I am captain Fred and I love posters. I collect them, along with foam finger gloves and random trinkets, so I can decorate my run-down spaceship. As such, when I was visiting a rather big space station, full of hotels, bars, hospital, and seedy people, I spotted a nice poster on the wall which I was able to grab. However, I was spotted and instantly became public enemy number one with no option to give it back or pay for my crime. Instead, my two companions opened fire in retaliation of the onslaught I was receiving from the guards. Before I knew it, I had performed genocide, I’d wiped out the entire population, including my companion’s lesbian lover – so she also chose to leave my side. 

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This was the moment I realised, every choice and action I take will affect not only those who die and suffer, but also those who I interact with who are linked to the people I accidentally blew the arms, legs, and head off with my plasma gun. F

The Outer Worlds 4

Gotta admit, initiating Nyoka’s special move in that helmet is glorious!

Gear and weapons
I love games which gives you a vast selection of gear and weapons to not only wear and prance around in, but also upgrade and modify with multiple enhancements. The Outer Worlds was heavenly! There’s a multitude of suits and helmets to both find and buy within the game, each one visually changing your character. Not only that, but you can also dress up all of your companions independently so they all have their own visual identity. Seeing as I don’t really care about them, and they resurrect after each battle anyway, on normal, I decided to dress them in a visually appealing gear, rather than protective ones. So, I gave one of them a giant mascot’s head, shaped like the moon, and the other had a rather dapper top hat!

Weapons also play a major part in the game, obviously. There’s a wide selection of guns but it was a bit disappointing that all guns of the same ‘type’ are identical in terms of power, so no varying stats or reason to swap. However, using the workbenches, you can ‘tinker’ with the weapons and gear to boost their stats as well as insert various ‘modifications’ to add effects such as plasma bullets, a sniper sight, boosting your personal trails and stats, and many more. These modifications are one-time use and can’t be removed, so it’s best holding onto them until you’re sure you’ve found your dream weapon and look.

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I think the most interesting item, and one I didn’t understand until multiple hours into the game, is the health bong (I can’t remember its actual name). You can insert various ‘consumables’ into your bong in your inventory, each one offering various things such as boosting how much health you get from using the device, reducing ability cooldowns, increasing your attack damage and more. As your level increases, you can insert more items at a time – like a blender. Then, every time you take a puff of the magic gas, you’ll not only get a health boost but you’ll also get all the benefits you’ve shoved into the contraption!

Also, just like in previous Fallout games, you can activate your ability which helps you aim for the enemies much easier. However, instead of this turning tactical and letting you target certain parts, it simply slows down time for a short period. Funnily enough, I gained an achievement for shooting over 30 people in the balls whilst in slow-motion. I didn’t even read the trophies before I played the game so I must have just been fascinated by how they bend over and grab their goolies when you shoot them during the slow down!

The Outer Worlds 5

I’m glad this guy isn’t our chef!

Companions
Unlike the Fallout series, The Outer Worlds lets you bring up to two companions with you on your journey to the planet/space stations. Each one has their own personalities, agendas, weapons, abilities, and suits. As captain, you can force them to wear whatever you want, hence my Moon-headed partner, and they’ll also use whatever weapons you give them. You can give them up to two weapons at a time (you can hold four in your quick slot) and they will alternate between them depending on the situation and whatever ‘personality’ you’ve given them.

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The abilities are fun to use. Each character has a cool-down but once it’s ready, push left or right on the D-Pad and watch as you get a short cinematic, based on what weapon they have, as they lay into whatever you’re currently looking at. These are unskippable and I kinda wished you had the choice of making them real-time instead of slow-motion after you’d seen them about 50 times, but it still looked awesome.

I absolutely love the amount of control we have over these trustworthy followers. You can set how close or far they will follow you, what weapon they’ll use (in case you want them to hold back and just shoot), and whether you want them to be aggressive, passive or defensive. I’ve just realised all of mine were ‘aggressive’ – that’s probably why they kept getting me into trouble by starting fights! You even have your own skill tree per person which lets you unlock various ‘Perks’ which will do things such as boosting their health, decreasing reload times and increasing speed.

Now, what I found surprising is that I didn’t actually find all the companions in my playthrough. I only had access to four (three once I killed her lover) with a few empty slots in my ship. This is crucial if you’re looking at the trophies as some of them relate to helping out each of your companions with their own agendas. As you’re travelling with the chosen two, one of them will ask to speak with you, letting you in on a secret or making a request to look into something when you’re next on a certain planet. If you accept, you now have a companion quest to work through. I thought this was cool as each story, despite feeling a little like an advanced fetch-quest at times, was unique and offered interesting dialogue and experiences which spanned the galaxy.

The Outer Worlds 6

Ahhh, such a beautiful station. It’s a shame that someone stole a poster and caused a mass-genocide…

Missions and quests
Speaking of which, I particularly enjoyed the missions within The Outer Worlds, probably more than the ones we were given in Fallout 4. As I mentioned above, every action has a consequence so you have to be wary of what you’re doing. As such, a lot of the missions come with both optional parts and alternative ways to resolve the issue. Will you get a worker back into work by blackmailing the manager and raising his pay, or will you break into the worker’s hidden stash and force him back due to having no funds? Similarly, will you side with a faction and start a war with an opposing one, or will you try to appoint a new leader and make peace between the two? It’s your life, deal with things however you wish.

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The missions themselves are all made up of multiple parts, rarely ever simply being a ‘go here and do that’ type of quest. It’s usually a case of being given a place to go, you get there and investigate, this then gives you options on what you can do followed by a branched outcome and additional mission based on what you initially chose to action. This not only changes the dialogue and narrative, but it can also lead to much bigger changes and events which you might have otherwise not seen. 

My one complaint is that the main quest seemed a little rushed towards the end. Sure, it had taken me about 30 hours or so before I even hit this final mission (which is a ‘point of no return’ as well), but the end boss wasn’t really satisfying or clever, it was a bit disappointing and almost as frustrating as the one in Wolfenstein: Young Blood. However, up until that point, and after the boss, I have nothing but praise for the stories and quests. Not to mention the tonnes of side-narrative you’ll gather from terminals, notes, random people you talk to and conversations you’ll overhear as you walk around. 

The Outer Worlds is a living, breathing world with a lot to discover both by yourself and as part of the enforced narrative. 

The Outer Worlds 7

He’s either dancing or in agony – I’m not sure which it is…

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Flaws (in a good way)
One of the final things which I thought was done brilliantly, as I’ve never seen it done before, is how the game gives you a reward in exchange for being terrible. Let’s say you’ve been killed a few times by a robotic enemy, or you find yourself having to take a puff on the old health bong fairly often whilst facing them – The Outer Worlds will notice this. You’ll get a pop up offering you a new ‘Perk point’, so you can buy a new Perk, in exchange for your character now being scared of robotic foes. What this really means is, you’ll lose a certain amount of three stats in exchange for a Perk point. Thus, rewarding you for accepting to be worse off.

Speaking of skills – my god is it overwhelming! There are seventeen skills you can increase when you level up. They come in various skill groups and you increase multiple stats at the same time. For example, increasing your ‘Leadership’ will increase both Inspiration and Determination. But, once you hit level 50 in these, you have to level them up individually, using one point for a single increase instead of one point for multiple. It’s a great system which allows for quick progression to being a badass but then slowly trickling you into becoming a God.

Also, whilst I’m talking about Perks, these are pretty much your ‘skill tree’. You have the choice of a whole bunch of passive and active abilities which you can enable by spending your Perk points. These further enhance your characters outside of the skills above, allowing you to survive even the more deadly encounters later on into the game.

The Outer Worlds 8

Yeah… no

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Supernova and the platinum
The Outer Worlds platinum requirement is a bastard. Look at the above – that’s Supernova mode. You have to complete that if you wish to get the platinum. The mode is essentially a very hard survival game, having to both eat and drink to survive as well as always ensuring your colleagues don’t permadeath on you and leave you on your lonesome. For me, this requirement is a bit harsh and should have been added separately as a free DLC-based trophy. I don’t doubt that some people will look at that and laugh, thinking it’s easy as they work their way towards the elusive platinum trophy – but not me. I’ll replay the game for the various side missions I missed, but I doubt I’ll ever attempt this mode.

There’s one thing missing which I really wanted the game to have – New Game+. Once you hit the ‘point of no return’, that’s it. No going back, no travelling away, no changing your mind – nothing but moving forward and finishing the game. Why was this annoying, upsetting and silly? You got a mountain of experience for defeating the end boss – what’s the point if you can’t actually use it once it’s dead? This is another reason why I’m never going to attempt the hardest difficulty – because I can’t take my levelled up guy with me…

Personally, I never actually read the trophy requirements until I was sat watching the credits roll on my first playthrough. For me, not knowing what the requirements were actually enhanced my enjoyment as I made various choices based on how I wanted my character to act, rather than trying to trigger various trophies. As such, I’d recommend not looking at the trophies (as most are hidden) and just play it the first time for fun, then go back and look at them for your second run. You’ll get more enjoyment out of it.

The Outer Worlds 9

You can’t deny, the game looks incredible and so pretty!

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Technical
I personally thought that The Outer Worlds looked bloody amazing. Playing on my PS4 Pro, at a reported 1440p, everything looked so detailed, colourful, realistic and futuristic. From the extremely highly detailed character models to the lush and enchanting worlds, I was fully immersed and mesmerised by the amount of love and attention the developers have put into the game. Also, as a first for this type of game, I never encountered any bugs, glitches, crashes, or strange events during my entire playthrough. I went in expecting people with wonky bodies, floating citizens, creatures spamming through rocks or my colleagues getting stuck – but nope, everything ran like a dream. 

Even the framerate never seemed to slip or go below 30 from what I could see. This is one hell of a game!

In terms of the vocal work – every single character has a voice. Sure, a lot of the unnamed people simply say a line from a bank of ‘conversation’ files when you talk to them, but every named character has something to say with great voice acting. I also loved the random conversations you’re not a part of. Simply walking around town you’ll hear people talking about current events in order to feed you exposition without being blunt about it. It’s a great mechanic and it truly made the world feel more alive and special.

On a side note, the music is very subtle and most of the time takes a backseat to the ambient noises and the racket coming from both your and the opposing team’s weapons. I feel this greatly enhanced the atmosphere and added to the realism. Although I did pop on some heavy rock music via the PS4 dashboard for about eight hours or so, that really got me pumped when I was causing genocide on various planets – by accident, of course…

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**One final thing, which I forgot to originally state – there’s no Photo mode. I’ve seen online that people aren’t happy with the lack of a third-person viewpoint as well. Maybe as a future update, we could see the inclusion of both a robust photo mode and a third-person camera?**

Official Trailer

Final Conclusion:
Personally, I feel that The Outer Worlds is much more than ‘Fallout in Space’, it’s a brilliant masterpiece which strives on player-choice and morality. Whether you’re exploring the numerous planets, working your way through the many quests, trying to get on the good side of a faction, or simply having a ‘blast’ killing everyone, there’s always something to do. Visually the game is simply gorgeous, Mechanically it’s deep and highly customisable for your playstyle, and in terms of the story and lore, there’s so much to read, discover and become a part of.

The Outer Worlds isn’t a simply a game, it’s another universe awaiting your direction.

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Whether you’re playing The Outer Worlds day-one via Xbox GamePass on both the Xbox One or PC, or you’re picking it up on the PS4 or the Epic Games Store (or the Switch in the near future), Halcyon awaits you, traveller. 

**If picking up the game on PC, via the Epic Games Store, please consider supporting the site by ordering via our affiliate link HERE. You pay the same price but we get a small cut in commission for each sale***

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

The Outer Worlds

£49.99
9.3

Final Score

9.3/10

The Good:

  • - Beautiful looking game and performs perfectly
  • - Every choice you make matters, moulding the world around you
  • - Wide selection of gear and weapons which can be further enhanced to your own preference with modifications and tinkering
  • - Interesting story and entertaining narrative
  • - Despite not being one massive open world, it's a decent number of smaller open planets to explore and experience

The Bad:

  • - No New Game+ mode, so Supernova will be almost impossible
  • - No way to say sorry for stealing or accidentally shooting someone's face off
  • - Despite a large selection of weapons, a lot of them are the same with no varying stats unless you've tinkered with it yourself
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