The Outer Worlds will force players to navigate their own moral compass rather than simplistic good and bad choices.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Obsidian Entertainment’s senior designer Brian Heins revealed the focus on morally grey choices stems from his personal experiences.
In the game, a Board is responsible for overseeing each colony, reflecting the game’s attempt to show a faceless corporation using power against the powerless.
However, Obsidian is not simply portraying the Board as an obvious villain. Players will have multiple opportunities to see events from the Board’s perspective, and, in some circumstances, may agree with its motives and actions.
The way Obsidian has achieved this is by making sure that the player has face-to-face interactions with individuals within the ‘faceless corporation’.
“We wanted to put a human face on it, so you’re actually working with specific people. […] We wanted to give a personal touch to the faceless corporations. If you can’t sympathise with the corporate board, you can sympathise with the person you are dealing with in the game,” Heins explained.
“Choices are interesting when they’re hard,” he added, “when both sides have equal weight to their argument and you have to decide which one to go with. That’s much more interesting than if one side is clearly right, the other is clearly wrong and you don’t have to think about the choice at all.”
He previously stated the game will still allow players to either be a guardian angel or an evil juggernaut slaughtering everyone.
For those quests that require players to assassinate individuals or group, Obsidian has focused on the reasons why the quest giver wants that person or people eliminated:
“[W]e try to give the reason why that character wants these people eliminated. It may be dark, but if you buy into their world view you’ll understand why that’s what they want to achieve. […] It’s all different shades of the individual motivations of the characters.”
Furthermore, Heins also discussed that the fictional firms in the title were influenced by his own experiences:
“I’ve worked for EA, I’ve worked for Take-Two, Rockstar, now I work for Microsoft. I’ve worked for the ‘big faceless evil corporations’ and on the inside they’re not faceless or evil. There’s always reasons for why decisions are made.”