I didn’t have that much interest in Outriders, as somewhat indicated by the fact that I had no plans on buying and reviewing it. It seemed like a very minimal attraction of looter shooter at the time, but I’d be happy to be wrong because that’s part of the learning process. Thus, for no additional cost, I downloaded it and gave it a chance beyond its unimpressive demo.
…this game is massively repetitive…
I think it’s important to say this right away: this game is massively repetitive and linear on a very bad scale. You shoot, and you shoot, and you do more shooting, and maybe you even use your at-first-cool moves, but since those have a cooldown, you’ll inevitably shoot. You’ll even just shoot at bullet sponge bosses, dodge stuff, and shoot again. What’s worse is that it’s solidly built but isn’t polished: you’ll find just trying to round corners in cover to be hit or miss. I thought maybe there would be vehicle sequences (though you can meaninglessly customize your truck), or some surprising class changes, but even the side quests are also just hunting beasts or marked bounties. To make matters worse, their “auto-tier” levels are really strange. If you let the game decide your world tier, you’ll end up dying at the drop of a hat. This can happen so suddenly sometimes that I wouldn’t blame you for becoming frustrated and turning down the difficulty. It’s not that I don’t welcome a challenge, it’s that clearly some things were trying to force me to play with others, and that’s where things got worse. No, I’m not talking about the server issues they’ll inevitably fix (though I played the entirety of my time with my privacy open, and not one random ever joined which says a lot about their server issues), I’m talking about the latency issues that aren’t server side that occurred more often than not. I’m talking about poor netcode for a game that practically forces co-op if you leave the world tiers on auto. Using your abilities, enemies, damage, and even loading are all linked to the host, so if they have a bad connection, it runs like Smash Bros online. During these laggy gameplay sessions, my abilities were activating way out of sync with my button presses. And while there are some good hooks when it comes to equipment building, namely legendary guns, you’d better really love shooting a lot, or the gameplay just isn’t going to cut it.
…I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is an actual story here…
This is where things are hard to quantify. This is because this game is inherently designed around a loop, or in other words, you’re meant to do things multiple times for those shiny RNG drops or with friends for greater enjoyment. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is an actual story here; more on that later. When you see the credits roll, if you mostly solo’d it like I did, you’ll probably be around the 15-20 hour mark. This is held together by said actual story, and once you’ve completed it, there is an endgame grind of more mindless shooting to reach another final boss. And let me be honest: after a few expeditions of more (but insane) shooting, I lost interest and am not even sure I’m going to pursue this.
Basically, the game gets better as you go.
You might be surprised to find that this is where there is some solid redemption. But first, you need to know this is the definition of a AA game. There are many signs that this is an overall lower budget affair, and this also manifests in things like crashing (which I hope have been fixed by now), and some very strange load sequences. The devs say this is to align everyone in multiplayer, but when games like Destiny don’t have this issue, I know it’s a poor design issue. But then there’s the redemption I didn’t see coming: the story. While the story is also delivered through subpar cinematic quality, someone actually WROTE a story for this. I mean, I was genuinely curious because they made the script handle both genuine character issues and also this brand-new planet, even if the story is incomplete. Not only that, but I also feel as if the maps were built backwards in development: they started at the end and worked their way towards the beginning. Why? Because the artwork and level designs actually amp up towards the end while most other games want to show you their cards early on to get you hooked. Basically, the game gets better as you go. The stale shooting mechanics could not overcome my curiosity, and that says something in this category.
There is a strange hype surrounding this game…
I’ll be blunt: I had no starting interest in this game; and even less so after the demo. But I have Game Pass, so I gave the game a shot. Sadly, my gut instinct turned out correct. There is a strange hype surrounding this game because of some inexplicable desire to hype up the underdog, but I’m not swayed by the masses. At its core, this game is blindingly repetitive, unpolished, and draws from but in no way outdoes many other games. This isn’t Mass Effect, this isn’t Gears of War, this isn’t Destiny, and it just can’t hold a candle to any of them. It does, however, feature a well-written story underneath its lower budget presentation, and it does amp up the visuals by the end.