Occasionally, I’m reluctant to try new things, which causes me to miss out on some good stuff. The most recent example of this seems to be The Outer Worlds (2019), a sci-fi FPS RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment.
When Obsidian initially released The Outer Worlds, many players and reviewers painted the game as a spiritual successor to an earlier Obsidian RPG title, Fallout: New Vegas (2010). These evocations held a lot of gravity and generated a lot of buzz for Obsidian’s new space-faring adventure. After all, New Vegas is widely heralded as one of the best contemporary roleplaying games. It did many things well, but most notably, it was a potent reminder of the RPG genre’s power: New Vegas contextualized its world and fully supported player choice, which produced a far more robust experience than other genres could offer.
As you might be able to tell, I’m a big fan of Fallout: New Vegas, so the comparisons to that game weren’t lost on me. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t keen on playing The Outer Worlds until just recently. Perhaps it was the game’s particular brand of sci-fi that turned me off — a pastiche of aesthetic influences that seems to strive for a happy medium between Star Wars’ junky Tatooine vibes and Mass Effect’s sleek, refined world.
But regardless, I fired The Outer Worlds up last week (it’s on Xbox Game pass!), and I’ve been having a blast. Part of the reason is the difficulty: I like my sci-fi/wasteland game worlds to be punishing, and in that sense, The Outer Worlds’ Supernova difficulty delivers a fitting challenge.
Like Fallout: New Vegas’s hardcore mode and Fallout 4’s survival difficulty, The Outer Worlds’ Supernova difficulty forces you to monitor your character’s hunger, thirst, and sleep levels — or perish. It also raises the amount of damage you take and removes quicksaving, so being reckless and entering a fight without taking precautions can mean certain death.
While Supernova difficulty might sound masochistic, it makes The Outer Worlds a lot more engaging, as do the similar modes in F:NV and F4. Death can come swiftly, making combat exhilarating and tense. But the low odds of survival also mean that every new gear and equipment upgrade has much more significance.
I have less to say about the game’s writing since I’m still in the first area. But so far, there’s a healthy amount of engaging exposition to sift through if you’re so inclined, and The Outer Worlds seems to have a good sense of humour. Most of the jokes target the game’s domineering corporations and their contrived notions of corporate chivalry. I am hoping that the writing will have a little more range later on: As of now, the game’s narrative theme amounts to “CORPORATIONS BAD!” But again, I’m only 4-5 hours in.
Anyway, I’m going to get in a few more hours of The Outer Worlds before the weekend concludes. Onwards!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I strive to write & post something new at Digital Visceral at least once a week. If you liked what you read, you can get updates whenever I post by clicking the button below. Feeling extra generous? You can buy me a coffee here!