Review | Outriders
I’ve been playing Outriders consistently for the past week, and while I enjoyed almost every moment I spent in it, it’s the kind of game you would want to love but it doesn’t let you do it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad game. It just has a lot of problems when you try to play it how it’s intended: as a multiplayer game. The frustration you see now is what has accumulated in several days of playing more than a few hours every day, with constant issues regarding multiplayer. You’ll get constant “connection dropped” messages. When you try to leave a party, when you return to the lobby, when you die. It’s almost completely random at this point. There’s been gradual improvements in the past few days, making the game much more playable. Sadly, it’s not quite there yet.
For now, let’s just imagine a few more weeks have passed by, and People Can Fly has managed to fix all of the network issues and even the cross-play mode. Now I can talk more about the game! Outriders is a multiplayer-focused RPG, built very similar to the Destiny formula. You have the option of playing one of the four available classes. This includes the Devastator, Pyromancer, Technomancer, and the Trickster, each having a completely different play style. The Pyromancer, for example, is a medium-range class that can conjure fire spells like heatwave, eruption, and thermal bombs. On the other hand, the Trickster is close-ranged with attacks mostly based on hit & run tactics and time manipulation.
The fighting mechanics revolve around knowing when to use your abilities alongside the three weapons each player carries. You can’t just go spamming spells, as elite and boss enemies will develop resistances, ruining common strategies. The more status effect abilities you use on a target, the more resistant they become to it. A good way of knowing when to stop is to watch the swirly icon near the enemy’s health bar. When it’s white, it’s fine to go nuts and unload your abilities, but when it’s blue it means that the enemy is immune to every status effect, forcing you to resort to guns or melee attacks.
Mods are equally, if not more, important than the skills. They can completely change how you play the game. One of the most notable examples is the freeze mod, giving you a way of tackling huge waves of enemies. Each item can be assigned one or more mods, but be careful that they do not stack. If you see a red background on your weapon customization screen, it means you’re doing something wrong, essentially wasting mods. Unfortunately, mods can’t be moved between characters using the stash, but you’ll be able to move almost everything else.
The world scaling system is a rather interesting one, allowing you to choose how difficult the game is at any point. Playing at higher world tiers will make AI more clever, but will also increase the rewards and XP you receive. I would recommend playing through the main story to level up the world tier and then come back to side quests at the highest tier to farm for gear. Weirdly, doing side quests too early in the game seems to be a bit punishing for the players. Doing them early on makes it so you have to farm even more to get decent gear.
Playing with one or more friends will also increase the difficulty of the game, but combining two or more classes in a party can do a lot more damage than just playing by yourself. Having a team also helps you build more complex fighting tactics for the more difficult parts of the game. Someone can focus on the boss, while the others can play important roles like crowd control or sniping. And while dying in single-player will restore you to the last checkpoint, dying in multiplayer is much more lenient. You can either revive yourself once every encounter, or your teammates can revive you infinitely. This alone makes multiplayer a much easier experience.
The game has its missions structured in “rooms”. Each room has its objectives, mainly killing enemies of different types. At the end, you’ll recover a key or push a lever to unlock the next stage. It’s important to keep in mind that each room contains one or more hidden loot chests. Those that go off track will find it rewarding while people rushing to finish will miss out. Luckily, most of these chests aren’t that hard to find, making it less of a hassle.
I know that I’ve already complained about the multiplayer, but when it works it’s a true marvel. The matchmaking system seems to match players at the same checkpoint, which is impressive. This makes it so players don’t end up skipping any of the content by joining random parties. Advancing to other rooms or areas of the game is only possible with confirmation from all party members. If you don’t want to skip a cutscene or if you want to spend a bit more time looking for those awesome loot chests, nobody can force you too. Of course, they can still kick you out of the party.
The developer also promised cross-play, which as of writing this review, is disabled due to technical issues. [Editor’s note: cross-play updates are rolling out this weekend across all platforms]. It would be amazing to see it working in all its glory, as cross-play is a feature that makes lives so much more convenient. It’s sad that only a few games have managed to implement it properly.
As with many other games that release on both next-gen and last-gen consoles, Outriders won’t be a true marvel when it comes to graphics. It looks great, but feels the same on next-gen, ultimately lacking the wow element I would have expected from a 2021 game. But I’ve seen this happening in the past with the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and I know that there’s at least one more year or two left until developers stop investing time in the previous-gen versions of games. Having to develop fewer versions will redirect important resources and will result in a more polished product.
I almost always refrain from giving out too many details about a game’s story, and I also feel like Outriders‘ essence is in its gameplay and multiplayer components rather than in an intricate plot. The story is there and it’s good enough to keep you engaged, but it won’t blow your mind. Thankfully, that was exactly what I was expecting from the game.
All in all, Outriders delivers a strong package and can be a strong competitor to games like Destiny. It might not be an amazing story, but the gameplay offers something unique and engaging while really keeping you on your toes. For those who subscribe to Xbox Game Pass, they get a free pass, so there’s no reason not to try it. However, if you’re not patient and don’t want to suffer through some technical issues, I would strongly recommend waiting a few more weeks for a patch or two. It may even be wise to follow the official forums to know when everything is working properly.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
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