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access_time June 5, 2020 at 9:00 AM in Reviews by David Poole

Review | The Outer Worlds (Switch Version)

It’s been over half a year since Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds was released. In our original review, we gave it a 9 out of 10, claiming it as a great first impression for a new IP. When word got out that a Nintendo Switch version was being made, people grew a bit skeptical. With some help from Virtuos Games, bringing the sci-fi western RPG to the system was a challenge, but it finally made it. While it might not be the “definitive” version, this version may be worth checking out for the gamer on the go.

If you haven’t played The Outer Worlds before, the story is really what you make of it. Waking from cryosleep on the space ship HOPE, Dr. Phineas Welles tasks you with essentially overthrowing the mega-corporations that plague the Halcyon space system. Creating your own character, you can adjust their skills and traits to your heart’s desire. In true RPG fashion, your choices will determine the way the story plays out. You’ll build relationships, gain allies, and maybe even make some poor decisions that will come back to bite you. Whatever you do, you’re given a ton of freedom to do it.

Now, being that this is the Nintendo Switch version, the big question is this: how does it look? Well, considering the difference in power between the Switch and other platforms, graphical expectations were already low. With that in mind, I found myself both impressed and disappointed with different aspects. Character models look pretty solid, retaining much of the style and charm of the ones in the original release. The environments can also retain a sense of detail found in the other versions. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all of them, as there are a lot of environmental hiccups that feel questionable. One of the biggest issues involves a shader used for wet surfaces. It makes puddles seem overly shiny or reflective, making it stick out like a sore thumb.

Other issues come from the textures sometimes taking a bit to load. Assets that you come across can sometimes take a bit to load, even giving lower poly models. It seems obvious that these were sacrifices to make the game perform as best as possible. Overall, the game does perform reasonably, though the frame rate does dip below 30 FPS from time to time. Load times can sometimes be an issue as well, as new areas can take upwards of a minute to load. Moving through open areas can also hit players with mini-loads that briefly interrupt gameplay.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Switch version without portability. This seems to be where The Outer Worlds takes the biggest hit. While the game performs about the same in handheld mode, the visual quality drops even further, blurring the graphics immensely. It’s even more noticeable due to the incredibly sharp HUD elements, making a big contrast that basically highlights the downgrade more. Choosing between the two options, TV mode is the most ideal experience, with handheld mode as a last resort. Both options are definitely still playable, but it does make one wonder if more improvements can be made.

Visual fidelity aside, the rest of the game is still exactly what you would get from the other platforms. Combat works well, offering gunplay and melee styles, allowing players to play how they want. The game still has the unique science weapons like the shrink ray or the gloop gun, which offers some fun. Other than that, the normal and heavy weapons offer a satisfying enough combat experience. Add to that with the Tactical Time Dilation, which slows down time for a period of time, and you have a lot of solid shootouts to look forward to. There’s also several companions that you’ll be able to enlist to your crew, each with their own unique abilities. They come in handy not only during combat, but they can even boost your other stats for the less hostile moments.

Of course, fighting is only one of many options to use in The Outer Worlds. Players can choose to be more stealthy, or in some cases, they can even use dialogue to get them out of a jam. Using the many different perks and skills, players can adjust their character towards different proficiencies during their journey. This includes raising their stealth capabilities, their hacking abilities, and even their persuasiveness. There are even “flaws” which add new abilities at a cost of something else. All of these skills come in handy and offer different replayability options for players that enjoy taking different routes. It also helps to gain some of the dialogue skills, as the game has fantastic writing.

The Outer Worlds has a lot of political propaganda and messages that make for an interesting world. The writing plays with this, allowing players to either comply like a normal citizen, lie to get what they want, or even just persuade the self-righteous to give up their terrible lifestyle. Players can even make a “dumb” build character, offering a fun dialogue option that still gets a laugh here and there. The great writing also comes with a great voice cast, including our Epic Win Award winner, Ashly Burch. The companions all offer something fun and different, and their own personal quests gives them added depth. With six companions total, there’s likely going to be at least one that you’ll bond with.

One of the requested features for the Switch version of the game was motion control aiming. This works with both the joy-cons or the pro controller, but I honestly wasn’t a fan. It works alright, but it just didn’t feel necessary to me. Enemies don’t move all that quickly and the TTD system makes it even less of a problem. One thing I did notice was an incredibly persistent auto-aim, which worked surprisingly well. I don’t recall it being like that in the original release, perhaps an improved feature for more accessibility. I didn’t end up sticking with it, but I can see it being helpful for those that need it.

Overall, when it comes to The Outer Worlds for the Nintendo Switch, it’s not a perfect representation, but it still captures most of the experience. While it’s a visual downgrade, the rest of what makes the game remains in tact. The Nintendo Switch is a continuously growing platform, so more games like this are more than welcome. If you have it on another platform, it might not be worth double dipping. Playing on the go is a nice option, but it still doesn’t feel like the ideal way to explore the Halcyon system. In a way, it’s not the best choice, but it IS still Spacer’s Choice.

Final Score: 7.5 out of 10

GotGame is on OpenCritic, check out our reviews here.

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