REVIEW: ‘Outriders’ Isn’t Inventive, But it’s Definitely Fun (Xbox One)

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Outriders

The world of Enoch is a dark and desolate place, and its inhabitants are desperate for respite. Play as one of the last Outriders and save humanity. Or die trying. Outriders is a co-op RPG shooter set in a sci-fi universe developed by People Can Fly and published by Square Enix

After Earth is destroyed, two colony ships containing the last remnants of humanity embark on a journey to an alien planet, Enoch. However, only one ship survives the journey. After setting down on their new home, these colonists—these Outriders—are bombarded by a mysterious storm unlike any they have seen before. The storm, called the Anomaly, begins killing the colonists. Your character is hurt, and to save their life, is put into stasis. 

Over thirty years pass and your character is thawed but emerges changed, Altered. You now have mysterious powers that you learn are a result of your time in the Anomaly. But just as you have been changed, so too has the world. Humans live in fear of the Anomaly, and the few Altered wage war and posit themselves as gods. As one of the last Outriders and possibly the only benevolent Altered, you must help guide humanity out of the dark. 

Where Outriders shines is with its story and setting. The sci-fi, apocalyptic elements are excellent. The Anomaly and its effects are interesting and really what drives more exploration in this game, at least for me. The desperation of humanity is so palpable, from the slums people live in to the everyday violence they commit. The world comes alive rapidly and seamlessly; you’re thrown into the fray quickly, and you’ll travel to numerous different places, from dilapidated cities to a snow-covered volcano.

It’s easy to become emotionally invested in the characters you meet. The dialogue is a boon here, bringing in plenty of tongue-in-cheek banter to liven the mood but also holding us hostage with its serious moments filled to the brink with emotion. The voice actors have done a brilliant job.

The range of personalities and backgrounds are to be blamed for keeping your interactions interesting, but so too is the fact that you never quite know who is friend or foe. Everyone has their own motives and whether they’re good or bad is entirely up to interpretation. It also doesn’t help that you fight against everyone, from Altered to humans and even mutated animals. 

Outriders is extremely RPG light, and I don’t know if I would really call it an RPG. While you can create a character—with a handful of options for hair, skin tone, premade faces, facial scars, and piercings—you aren’t afforded any true dialogue choices. When it comes to missions, you can choose to ask people more questions to learn more about the mission, themselves, or the world, but you never choose the way your character responds to people, and none of your choices change the main story. Your choices in-game mainly amount to which side quests to do, your class and how you upgrade it, and what you do with your gear. 

Outriders

There are four classes to choose from, and I daresay that there’s a class for any sort of player. The classes boil down to range of attack from long to medium to two types of short-range. They feel like pretty typical classes but what sets them apart from other games are the perks. For example, the close-quarter combat Trickster can slow down time, and the medium-range Pyromancer wields fireballs. 

The classes also strongly dictate play style by determining how your character regains health; the Devastator gains health after short-range kills while the Technomancer recovers a portion of the damage dealt as health. But despite the rigidity of these classes, there is still some wiggle room to be had by using class points to upgrade your character. Each class has three trees to apply points, and they can be mixed and matched at will. This rather rigid system doesn’t squash creativity at all, it just makes you think outside the box if you want to design a character that doesn’t quite align with the class parameters.

While you do level up with experience, your armor, health, and damage are largely dependent on the gear you find, which is rather similar to The Division 2’s gear system. The game also allows you to unlock world tiers and, while not a novel system, it’s a great touch. The higher your world tier, the harder the enemies but also the increased probability of getting rarer gear. At the same time, if you want to just cruise through the story, you can choose a lower world tier. But the rewards are better if you challenge yourself, which is where multiplayer really excels.

Bosses are absolutely relentless, especially on higher world tiers. And the minions can easily become overwhelming. The bosses you encounter are multi-stage and require different strategies to overcome. Taking advantage of co-op makes these encounters so much easier. While the first couple days of release have been wrought with server errors, when the servers actually work, it’s extremely easy to drop in and out of co-op, and crossplay is available. Multiplayer easily takes these bosses from being frustratingly hard to being still challenging but much more fun to tackle. 

Similar to Gears of War, Outriders has a cover system. The game’s beginning is made up of hiding behind cover and moving back and forth between available cover. Although this system seems relatively easy while you’re in cover, getting into cover after sprinting around the map can be difficult. I’m not sure if it’s just the fact that the button used to get into cover requires way too much precision, but it’s a bit of a chore to use this cover system. Thankfully, unlike Gears of War, it’s not something every player necessarily needs to use. 

 While the game features a large variety of enemies that utilize a wide array of weapons, eventually, the minions become redundant and a bit boring at times. The levels are also straight-forward. There is some exploring to be done to find a few chests, but overall a lot of areas are very linear. The one change I would like to see is in relation to the subtitles. Currently, there isn’t a way to customize the subtitles. They’re small and white with no background. This results in the text getting lost in the backgrounds more often than not. 

Overall, while Outriders doesn’t invent any new mechanics, the story is enjoyable, and the interesting classes, gear system, and world tiers make for some very challenging but fun gameplay. There were definitely a few hiccups on release day, and there are some easy alterations that can be made to make Outriders more accessible. But I would definitely recommend picking up this title. 

 

Outriders
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Overall, while Outriders doesn’t invent any new mechanics, the story is enjoyable, and the interesting classes, gear system, and world tiers make for some very challenging but fun gameplay. There were definitely a few hiccups on release day, and there are some easy alterations that can be made to make Outriders more accessible. But I would definitely recommend picking up this title.