Outriders Review – A Beast of an Anomaly

outriders review

Merriam-Webster describes an anomaly as “something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified” or as a “deviation from the common rule.” Anomaly is somethng you’ll hear quite a lot in Outriders due to its story, but the word is apt for the game itself, as it’s a peculiar style of looter shooter, though one that should feel familiar to a lot of gamers who played some of the game it’s inspired by it.

By all intents and purposes, Outriders is an anomaly to the genre simply because it’s fun, doesn’t feature any microtransactions, nor promises of “live service” content, which is what gamers are used to for titles similar to it (Destiny, The Division, etc.). While this is Outriders review will cover a lot about the gameplay, grind and whatnot, don’t expect us (me) to talk about the same stuff we discussed in our demo impressions.

Outriders Legendary Weapons

Altered Reality

In most looter shooters, players have come to expect a few things: the loot grind, an ever-evolving endgame, loads of bosses and mobs to kill, and some type of microtransasction currency. I’m happy to say that Outriders doesn’t feature any kind of microtransaction (at least for now), though the game seems suited for it.

Outriders feels like a complete boxed experience; by this, I mean that the game has a beginning, middle, and an ending, and doesn’t really try to hook gamers into a live service offering (since the devs have repeatedly said it’s not a GaaS title). This honestly feels refreshing, since players can jump in, experience what the game has to offer, and jump out. That’s it. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do once you beat the main campaign, as there are Expeditions in the game that scale up in difficulty, and where the best gear in the game can be obtained (more on Expeditions later in this review).

While the story might have some cliche stuff thrown in, I enjoyed it for the most part. Sure, you’re the “savior of the world” again, as is in most RPGs and whatnot, but at least your character has their own personality. There are even some surprising stuff regarding the story as well, which we won’t spoil. It’s not the most original story in any medium, but it’ll be enough to get most gamers hooked to know just what’s happening in Enoch, its inhabitants, and so on.

Familiar Grounds

Let’s not beat around the bush when it comes to Outriders’ core gameplay: it heavily borrows from established franchises like Gears of War, Destiny, The Division, Warframe and more. While it is noticeable in some aspects, PCF has managed to craft their own spin on things for the most part.

Outriders Demo Update 1.07

Outriders won’t win any rewards for originality, but when the core gameplay loop is this much fun, it doesn’t need to.

Sure, there are cover like in any traditional third-person shooter, but the game has you focus on going aggressive more than anything else to build back health. There are different tiers of loot, but the reliance on just getting legendary weapons and calling it a day won’t work, as there are lower class weapons that are better in some areas, and it’s up to the player to decide whether they want to level up that said weapon, improve its rarity, and so on, though that means you’ll be spending a lot of in-game currency to do this. It’s the simple things that make Outriders stand out, as you don’t feel cheated out of your time since the game just throws a ton of loot/gear in your face. While the majority of these said loot will be scrapped or sold, you won’t feel cheated that much given you’ll need all your resources if you want to do well in the shooter’s endgame.

Given People Can Fly’s history with shooters, it’s no surprise that the shooting mechanics in the game feel excellent. The different guns all feel distinct in their own right and smacking an enemy around with a hail of bullets feel very satisfying. Factor in how there are loads of mods that give your guns and armor added abilities, the playstyle and class builds player can craft are endless.

In addition to the gunplay, armor and mods, Outriders also features a good slate of abilities for each class. While you can only use three skills at a time, the powers and classes all feel different enough that players will need to strategize on how they’ll approach each mission (or side-mission) in order to be the most effective. Players will feel powerful, and an actual “Altered” when playing the game, and it’s not just because you have loads of guns at your disposal, but rather, the stuff that you can do seem otherwordly, and appear overpowered when taken at face value. Thankfully, the game’s AI is more than up to the challenge. These assholes will flank you, rush at players, snipe with precision, and just be a pain in the ass that you’ll sometimes feel it’s unfair. People Can Fly knows this, which is why they built in “World Tiers” into the game. Find an encounter annoyingly hard? Lower the World Tier so you can make mincemeat out of ’em! Once you’ve properly leveled up, obtained better gear, then you can hike the World Tier back up. World Tiers are also tied into gear rarity, so there’s an incentive to push for the hardest difficulty as you can.

Sprinkle in two or three-player co-op into the mix, and you can just guess how fun the chaos is. Combining powers on targets, coordinating which skills to use and when adds a layer of depth to Outriders that feels empowering. You can finish Outriders by yourself, but make no mistake: this was made as a co-op game, and it thrives in those situations.

Outriders Demo March 5 Update

Rough Riders

While players might feel powerful whenever they unlock a new power, or obtain a new weapon, they’ll quickly fall back to earth given how many enemies are thrown at players in almost every encounter. Sure, there are some braindead mobs to clear out, but for the most part, the game’s AI is commendable in how enemies will flank players, rush, snipe, and just simply try and overwhelm players with the amount of on-screen enemies all gunning/rushing for your head. It feels unfair sometimes, but I’d rather have that than just clearing through rooms with ease given how stupid the AI is.

Unfortunately though, while the AI is to be commended, the game’s other technical achievements aren’t on the same level. At the time of this writing, players are still plagued by sign-in issues, disconnects, loading problems, crashing and loads more. It’s been over 10 days since the game launched (the initial 2-3 days of launch was riddled with server issues), and there are even new issues surfacing. While I do feel that PCF will eventually be able to sort it all out, it’s still hard to swallow all these — especially for people who bought the game at full price, and were expecting a AAA experience (that works) out of the gate.

Outriders Demo

Another thing to point out is how some stuff just feels unpolished. Selling or scrapping gear takes longer than needed given how sometimes the game won’t recognize you pressing the right analog stick down, and while you can group scrap items depending on rarity, there’s no way to lock equipment, so the chances of accidentally scrapping gear is high.

While Outriders is mostly a linear affair, there are loads of side missions to cover which grant oodles of loot. Unfortunately, the in-game map is possibly one of the worst I’ve seen in any game. Forget about having an active marker showing where you are in the map in real-time, but even which direction you’re looking at (pointed in) isn’t there, either. This leads to frustrating situations since the game’s objective marker sometimes glitches and doesn’t show where you need to go, or some side missions glitch out where you can’t even properly track them.

If that wasn’t enough, there is no in-game communication tool. Sure, the game offers crossplay, but try and talk to your friend playing PC. Me and my friends literally had to open a separate messaging app on my phone, and use that for comms, which feels downright silly that PCF didn’t develop a way for gamers to talk across all three platforms.

Exploring the Endgame

Beating Outriders and its side missions will clock in around 40 hours give or take, which isn’t a small number by any means. However, beating the game opens up Expeditions, which is the game’s endgame loop. You’re going to once again move up in tiers, and doing so will net you better loot, and will inch you closer to the Eye of the Storm, which is the mode’s final challenge.

There is currently no word on whether we’ll get any new Outriders DLC, or if more Expeditions are planned, but what’s there is adequate enough to give players more opportunities to personalize their gear, and unleash their new weapons and abilities on tougher enemies. I admit, it’s fun grinding the different Expedition skirmishes in order to potentially score legendary gear, and to earn Drop Pod points which is the endgame’s new currency for buying new stuff, and  leveling up guns and armor past the campaign’s level cap. It’s a nice little diversion, but once you beat the Eye of the Storm, that’s about it. People Can Fly has not promised any new seasonal content, DLC, or other stuff players can chew on, though I suspect given how many people are playing the game, that new content is an inevitability.

Outriders’ endgame pretty much consists of fighting tougher enemies, so you can upgrade your gear in order to fight more tougher enemies, and so on. Mind, this is the same loop for games like Destiny and The Division, though those games do have seasonal content to keep things fresh.

outriders new gameplay

Landing on Enoch

At its core, Outriders is a pretty fun game — though one riddled with technical issues, which I’m hoping will get resolved soon. However, when you’re not experiencing these said tech malfunctions (which has been the case for me since sometime last week), the game is loads of fun, and easily worth the price of admission even if there’s no promised post-launch content.

If you’re a fan of looter shooters like Destiny, The Division, then you’ll feel right at home in Enoch. And when you factor in that there are no microtransactions, have friends to play with, then Outriders is going to be a must-play for you. Tech issues aside, Outriders has been the most fun co-op experiences I’ve had in a long while in games, and even playing solo, there is a certain Diablo-ness to its loot grind that will have you keep coming back for more.

Square Enix and People Can Fly have managed to pull off an anomaly — as it managed to successfully craft a proper looter shooter from the ground up, where companies like EA have failed with the likes of Anthem. While Square Enix’s lofty ambitions for a multiplayer-centric game might have failed with Marvel’s Avengers, the publisher can now breathe a little easier as it has a bonafide franchise in its hands, and I for one, cannot wait to see what People Can Fly has planned for Outriders’ future.

Note: While my experience has been relatively pain-less since the launch server issues, I know that’s far from being the norm. If you’re experiencing it (server disconnects, inventory wipe, etc.), feel free to dock a point. That said, outside of the server and tech issues, the game’s core gameplay is fun, and that’s where it earned the score.

Score: 9/10

Pros:

  • Satisfying gunplay
  • Addicting loot grind
  • Meaty single-player campaign with a solid endgame mode
  • AI is challenging
  • Scales well for beginners to veteran shooter players (thanks to the World Tier system)
  • Will make you feel powerful with character abilities

Cons:

  • Server and sign-in issues galore when it launched (and it’s still happening from time to time)
  • Some annoying design choices that we’re hoping gets patched
  • No cross-platform mic support
  • No promises of post-launch content support

Review code provided by the publisher. Played on PS5. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.

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