The Outer Worlds is overrated and one of the best RPGs of 2019.
Confused after reading the title? I honestly too. Still, there is no better way to describe this game at this point. Let’s start with the most important thing: The Outer Worlds is great entertainment, doesn’t take too long, and is bug-free. It is a rarity in itself that all three of these qualities can be found in an RPG. Sounds good right?
However, if we take a closer look at the real RPG elements of this game, we mainly see a lot of things that are … well, just ‘OK’. The story? Entertaining, but never really compelling. The combat? Enough variation, but a little more weapons would have been nice. Enough choices to make? Absolutely, although there are only a few choices that really seem to make a difference. The world? Not too big with nice surprises, but sometimes suspiciously empty. Graphics and sound? Great to peek at, but I wouldn’t call both ‘beautiful’. Etc., etc.
In short: most of what The Outer Worlds does is not very special, but just ‘OK’. And that is by no means a disaster. Even with relatively small RPGs like this, it is a monster job to work out every element to perfection. The trick is to work out all aspects well enough and put the emphasis on a place or two away. A game does not have to score on every level with a push. As long as the quality is adequate across the board, you as a studio can focus on further developing the most important things.
And this is where Obsidian’s distinctiveness comes to light. The studio has clearly focused on the characters in this game. That starts with your own character, which can be adjusted both in terms of appearance and interior through a fairly extensive editor. The latter aspect in particular has been worked out well through an effective points system. In several playthroughs, the difference between a charming sniper and an oil-stupid club-swinger is very noticeable. However, the really fun builds hide behind strange combinations. For example, you may be socially unskilled, but thanks to a high lockpick skill you often get what you are looking for. And despite your aversion to weapons, sneak and perception skills allow you to move around the world without harming anyone else.
Cherry on the cake are the other characters you will encounter. Especially the NPCs that do not travel with you are often well written and offer funny and surprising conversation options. For example, a scientist asks you to enter a laboratory full of monsters and bandits to save his groundbreaking research. However, because you have given your character quite a bit of knowledge about science, you soon notice that it is nothing more than alien . Then you can have the best man explain why he’s developing it for ten minutes, embarrassed, and tell him over and over again “that it’s probably for personal use.”
So The Outer Worlds is entertaining and memorable despite a good dose of ‘meh’ at all the right points. It sets itself apart from other RPGs by laying a solid foundation and reserving the real quality for just a few dots. There is nothing wrong with that and that deserves an excellent final grade. Still, I have to have a chat with colleague Jurjen and other reviewers, because a review rating of 78/100 had also done justice to this game.