Looking Back – The Outer Worlds

the galaxy screen that you interact with from your spaceship in The Outer Worlds

Being brutally honest, I have a problem with all RPGs. I love them but I have a hard time investing the time to finish them. In recent years, it’s hard for me to remember the RPGs I played through completion. Whereas Japanese-style RPGs are just too long, Western-style RPGs have so many branching storylines that I often get overwhelmed with wanting to ‘play the right way’ that I don’t end up investing the time.

One of the many building sites you will encounter while travelling around Halycon.

That was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome with The Outer Worlds. Unfortunately, even when I was trying to streamline my experience and finish as quickly as I could, I just couldn’t stop completing side quests, making multiple saves, and seeing how I could game the system so that I could be the hero I want. While my efforts made the last few sections of the game pretty easy, my Stranger wasn’t good enough to get the best possible ending (at least what I assume is the best possible ending).

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy The Outer Worlds. By the end of it, I was really interested in seeing how the story would play out. Did I and my companions manage to do enough to save Halcyon? I contemplated the different choices I had as I got closer to the end and I feel like I made the right decisions. Without spoiling how the game ends, I was content with how I got there even if I couldn’t do it exactly as I wanted.

The cast of characters is really interesting but you can see more attention for some over others. While a character like Pavarti had a really deep companion storyline, SAM was almost never used. Outside of when having a party member to complete their storyline, Pavarti was almost always with me with either Elle or Nyoka tagging along. I was also a real fan of ADA and kind was hoping I could interact more with it. I also found the cast of NPCs to be really interesting and I was invested in seeing how their story’s unfolded. I was impressed at how many secondary characters were given actual dialog and there are plenty of secrets to stumble upon if you go off the main story path.

an example of what you will see during the game's many long loading screens

However, I did have a few problems with the game. The first is the length of time I spent looking at loading screens. I played this on an Xbox One S, so maybe the game is slowest there, but having to wait so long between sections took me out of the adventure sometimes. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the menu system. I can’t tell you how many times I hit RB when I should have hit RT or vice versa. 

Another thing, maybe because of the fact that I jumped back into this game six months after I originally started, a lot of the game’s mechanics and gameplay features fell by the wayside. It took me a while before I realized I could direct my companions or the true benefits of tinkering my weapons. 

I was able to get pretty deep into the game without having to upgrade my weapons, so even though I missed the opportunity to do so earlier on, I don’t think it altered my enjoyment. I have never been too keen on weapon mods, so this isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to The Outer Worlds. I would rather spend my time exploring the world, not comparing and contrasting what parts to add to my weapons.

NPC Celia Robbins, taken from a conversation our character has with her during the game.

All that being said, I am glad I got around to finishing The Outer Worlds, especially as a Nintendo Switch port is just around the corner. The 20 or so hours I spent did just enough to keep me interested without making me feel like I was slogging along. I need more RPGs that are in the 15-30 hour range; those that don’t pad itself with so much side quest content that it detracts you from the core story.

That’s not to say that I don’t want to play longer length RPGs. I am looking forward to getting my hands on Cyberpunk 2077 later this year, which will probably be a 60-80 hour experience. But if there are any sub 30 hour RPGs out there that I missed out on, I certainly want to get my hands on them.