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Looking Back – 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.

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.

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.

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.

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