Obsidian Entertainment has consistently put out stellar RPGs for the last decade, but all of its creative juices have been strained of originality. Fallout: New Vegas and South Park: The Stick of Truth, while loved by many, are not synonymous with the Obsidian name. Though the developer has taken a crack at its own IP before, The Outer Worlds looks like the world’s first real taste of an unhinged Obsidian. Bringing together everything fans love about Obsidian-led games with the production values of a AAA RPG, The Outer Worlds plans to show players what the team can do when given time and the right tools.
Thanks to Obsidian’s generosity, OnlySP was given the chance to check out a behind-closed-doors viewing of the game at E3 2019. Even though the footage was hands-off, what was shown was more than enough to justify high hopes.
Obsidian has worked up enough goodwill in the last decade to fill a wasteland. From the moment the demo started, The Outer Worlds proved that Obsidian deserves all of its praise.
Falbrook, a town on the planet Monarch, was showcased in the demo’s early moments and looked to offer Rockstar Games-levels of character. Townsfolk were walking around, talking with each other as business carried on as usual. The western, sci-fi fusion felt lived-in and was a nice reminder that Obsidian can do more than just make gripping RPG gameplay.
From the streets of Falbrook, the player walked into a nearby bar area to talk with an NPC. Here, dialogue and the importance of choice was shown in full effect. Those familiar with Fallout: New Vegas will find similar NPC interactivity here, as dialogue options have varying paths to take. Of course, standard options can be chosen to progress the story or learn more about another character’s background. Again following the example of Fallout was how dialogue can change depending on how the player character is set up. Obsidian did not go into detail about how dynamic this feature can be but did give the example of unique dialogue options for players who choose to have a low-intelligence character.
A true Fallout: New Vegas spiritual successor needs more than the classic RPG developer’s advanced dialogue, though, and The Outer Worlds’s combat offered just that. Though appearing sluggish during the first encounter, combat can pick up quickly. For example, The Outer World’s has a slow-motion mechanic called Tactical Time Dilation, which can most easily be compared to Fallout’s V.A.T.S. mechanic. This spin on an ability familiar to both Obsidian and Fallout fans alike is a great example of the developer’s willingness to blend its past experience with new ideas. Similar mechanics have been a staple of modern games, though normally can only be found in arcade-like games. Seeing such an arcadey ability used in a proper RPG was refreshing and should offer some hope to those worried The Outer Worlds could be all bark and no bite.
Obsidian doubled down on the importance of choice shortly after the first encounter by stressing the choices players can make both outside and inside combat. Again, as seen in many modern games, The Outer Worlds promises the option to take a stealth approach when infiltrating enemy lines.
What was really stunning about everything shown in the demo was the world and universe building. Leaving the town of Falbrook, which was interesting in its own right, led to fungal treetops that towered over the landscape. Pollen and spores filled the air as the player progressed onward. Obsidian claims the game will remind players of the team’s dark sense of humor, and the creatures and environments are unique both in name and appearance. The Outer Worlds looks to be both lived-in and well-realized, thus justifying its existence in the process. The entire reason Obsidian, or any developer for that matter, needed to take a leap of faith with its own IP was to prove it can produce a world worth living in. Despite gameplay and RPG mechanics that may not be wholly unique, the game’s namesake is.
Obsidian is promising outer worlds that are brimming with character. The Outer Worlds, while not promising anything too outside of the box in terms of gameplay, looks to offer a world like no one has ever seen before. Expect a much more polished Fallout: New Vegas with environments built from the ground up when The Outer Worlds finally finds its way to shelves on October 25, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.