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Outriders Game Review: Diving into the New Square Enix RPG-Shooter
June 23, 2021
Reading time: 7 minutes
Warning: This game is not suitable for younger viewers as it’s rated M for Mature. M-rated video games may contain content that is inappropriate for children and/or unlabeled content that exposes younger viewers to explicit messages and themes.
Outriders release date: April 1, 2021 for the full game
Since the first Outriderstrailer was shown off in early 2020, fans of frantic looter-shooter games have been eagerly awaiting its release. And after more news and gameplay footage was revealed, many compared the game to titles like Destiny and Borderlands.
It was a fitting comparison given that Outriders is brimming with loot to collect and missions to complete. Player response mirrored that feedback during the Outriders beta phase in early 2021 that included the prologue and opening chapter. Its intriguing narrative approach, gritty atmosphere, and multi-dimensional characters have gone a long way to set this game apart from the rest of the pack.
Superficially, it may seem that Outriders is simply “another looter-shooter,” but when you look beneath the surface, there’s much more to the game than that. In fact, the team at game developer People Can Fly has done a lot to ensure Outriders does not simply rehash the games that came before it.
In our Outriders review, we’ll explore what makes this game stand out and why it will definitely scratch a certain itch for plenty of gamers.
Outriders sets the stage with an interesting riff on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi setting used in many other video games and movies. It's the middle of the 21st century, and habitation on Earth has become untenable. The Earth's governments combine their efforts to work toward preserving humanity on Enoch, a planet that's close to Earth and similar enough that it could help the planet’s inhabitants make a home there.
The Enoch Colonization Authority (ECA) sent two colony ships with 500,000 colonists apiece in an attempt to give humanity a new beginning. The first humans to traverse Enoch are the Outriders, a special group of soldiers tasked with scouting the area and making room for the colonists. They're met with an extreme challenge, though, in the form of the Anomaly, an energy storm that the ECA wants to keep quiet.
The ECA decides instead to get rid of the Outriders to preserve the secret, but one survives: You. Your player is placed into cryostasis after being wounded during a battle with the ECA, and you’re revived 31 years later to find that the ECA's colonization failed and humanity is essentially no better off than it was.
It's a narrative that has plenty in common with games like Destiny or Anthem, leaving room for player interpretation of how rebuilding humanity in a far-off place may look.
You enter the game as the Outrider, after waking up 31 years later. In a bid to see if humanity is still salvageable, begin your search for a “mysterious signal.” Following a cutscene, you choose between 4 character classes: Devastator, Pyromancer, Technomancer, or Trickster.
After making your choice, you jump right into combat and start taking out those who wish to keep you from completing your quest. Each class has its own set of unique skills and abilities to acquire, and you'll further customize your character as you level up. This is where the Outriders gameplay really shines.
While some of the game classes can feel similar at first, there are a variety of builds you create to accommodate different types of players.
Devastators are close-range tanks, and they're good with physical damage.
Pyromancers are better at medium range, and allow players to utilize fire to launch offensives.
Technomancers are long-range support classes with a variety of useful gadgets.
Tricksters are another close-range class that use a special "Spacetime" ability to cleave through the fabric of space and time to plot and do damage.
Each class has 8 skills to unlock and 3 sub-classes to choose from, which you can change up at any time. There is also a vast skill tree (called a “class tree” for this game) where you can make your build your unique.
Different builds offer maneuverability and improved shootouts for each character, which makes combat feel quick and satisfying. You can also start a new character to use a different class, if you want.
The World Tier system
You can tailor the game even further thanks to the World Tier system. It rewards forward momentum and progression, but also helps to curb things from getting too difficult for players who want to enjoy the game's narrative as it unfolds.
As the World Tier increases, combat becomes more difficult, but you’re able to get better rewards – it’s the classic risk vs reward setup. You can dial the World Tier down to make things easier, and then turn it up again to reap increased rewards. The World Tier setup is an interesting way for you to tweak your movement through Enoch as you collect loot, complete objectives, and finish the campaign.
Weapons and defense options
Builds and skills are only part of the way to clean house when exploring Enoch. Outriders also contains a wide variety of weapons, like assault rifles, shotguns, automatic sniper rifles, light machine guns, revolvers, and more.
The weapons have rarities that vary from white to gold (or Common to Legendary). Each has a number of types, mod slots, and other statistics. There are also Legendary Weapons that you can collect that have higher stats, different firing modes, firepower, and other awesome perks.
In the same vein, there are plenty of defensive items such as armor and equipment that players can use to keep themselves in the battle. These have additional tiers, too. There aren't microtransactions for players to level up. which ensures that your gameplay performance is dependent on actually playing the game, and not just shelling out cash for a quick boost.
Outriders is a cooperative adventure that's best experienced as part of a 3-person squad. It's simple to invite others to your game so you can join together and tackle a variety of missions. The servers hold up to sustained play for hours, and it's simple to meet up and decide what objectives you want to complete together. The game offers cross-play multiplayer for easy access for players across all platforms, meaning there's an opportunity for anyone who'd like to play to join.
Graphics and visual elements
Outriders is a visually stunning game with all its fantastical elements. It's set in a semi-believable world that could have been torn from your favorite science fiction film. Though it does occasionally have issues with frame drops, overall it performs well, looks great, and it's certainly apparent how much work went into making it look and feel like the triple-A (AAA) title People Can Fly and Square Enix intended for it to be.
Audio, sound effects, and music
The same can be said of the top-tier voice acting, which imbues each character, even the lesser roles, with unique personalities. The performances be each voice actor is excellent, as is the soundtrack and sound effects that accompany monsters, weapons, and other environmental events.
Everything comes together to make for a genuinely exciting and unique experience. There are hours worth of content to wade through, so you won't grow bored, even across the dozens of hours it will take you to complete the main storyline. The narrative is compelling if you want to solo it, although we commend playing with a squad for the increased fun factor.
Outriders is an inventive new take on what's typically seen as a "looter-shooter." This designation may not have been immediately obvious based on the early advertising and the Outriders demo and beta. However, this is a challenging and satisfying game that isn't bogged down by microtransactions or frustrating free-to-play trappings. Plus, Square Enix and People Can Fly seem committed to ensuring it continues to receive new content.
Overall, Outriders is a great buy in terms of re-playability and value, since there are plenty of things to do, a story that's easy to get caught up in, and a genuinely exciting way to customize how you engage with the game world. If this is indicative of what the union of both companies means for the genre in the future, it should be an exciting time for gamers looking to have their loot and shooter, too.
About the Author: Brittany Vincent is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Brittany is a gaming and tech journalist, consultant, and author. She collects retro and modern gaming consoles, niche titles, and she loves helping others succeed in their favorite games.
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