I know, I know, I am late to the review party for Outriders, but I got a chance to play it for the first time and well, it’s really good. I really like Outriders.
People Can Fly know how to make a good-ass shooting game. They’ve done it with Bulletstorm, Gears of War, the one with the blonde dude, and now with Outriders. For those who don’t know, Outriders is a third-person RPG looter-shooter and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to play.
Shooting feels great and since you’ll do that 95% of the time, that’s a really good thing. All of the weapons feel crunchy and sorta heavy and deliver some devastating amounts of damage to the poor souls at the end of the barrel. Heads get decapitated or just explode, arms and legs get cut off or blown to smithereens. Heck, often your shotgun will just straight up cut a dude in half and that’s well, just glorious and satisfying carnage that never gets old.
Looter-shooter games, in my books, live or die by the quality of the loot and how the pacing of how you get that loot. Figures, right? Outriders does an excellent job on these two fronts. All of the weapons feel quite nice to shoot, there’s a big pool of stats, perks, or mods for the random loot you get and the game constantly showers you with better loot the more you play. Then you have the legendary weapons, think the exotics from Destiny, and man, these are some devastating death-delivering machines.
But as it’s the usual with looter-shooters, soon a low-tier weapon might drop which has a better overall power level than your legendary one. While you can upgrade any of the weapons in the game, legendaries included, you can do that up to a point. This usually makes an early dropped legendary obsolete an hour or two later as power really matters in Outriders. So, what can you do? Well, that’s easy. In Outriders, you can just dismantle any weapon or any piece of gear for that matter, and all of the mods attached to it will become available for you to use on other weapons.
This modding system opens up a ton of possibilities for experimentation as you can craft any piece of gear to synergize with your specific class, abilities, and perks you have chosen to unlock. There are four available classes to choose from in Outriders, each offering unique abilities that transform how you play the game. The Trickster, the class I mainly used, is a close-range class meaning that when you combine its abilities and perks with a powerful automatic shotgun which in turn has mods that boost those abilities turns you into a devastating killing machine.
So for example, if an enemy is behind cover, you can teleport behind them, which also slows them down for a second or two, and you can start blasting them to smithereens with a modded auto shotgun that deals more damage to slowed down enemies. Add on top of that the bonus from an unlocked class perk that allows you to deal more damage to enemies from behind and you can just turn them into mushy red goo. Once you are done with that enemy, the rest will try to flank or rush you. That’s when you use the ability to cast a bubble which slows down time for enemies to quickly follow up with the ability which turns you into a sword-wielding spinny boi that cuts everyone and everything around you while at the same time filling all your health back plus additional shield. Or you can cast the bubble to use it as a massive shield as it stops any incoming fire, use the ability that boosts the damage of your bullets dramatically and mow down everything in front of you. These are just two of the many combinations you can try. It’s a blast just messing around and trying different strategies and obliterating everything around you in the most gruesome and satisfying way. Ah, death, you never fail to amuse me!
Once you are done exploring what you can do with one class, remember that there are three more additional classes for you to wreak havoc with. You have the Devastator, the tanky class with its earthquake abilities, the Technomancer, the long-range class that can deploy devastating turrets that also poison enemies, and finally the Pyromancer that, as you might have guessed, lights everyone on fire. However, all of these powers, abilities, and weapons do not make playing through Outriders a ride in the park. Oh no. Outriders can be quite challenging as very often you have to fight tooth and nail to clear an encounter. The more you progress, the harder each encounter becomes, if you want so. See, another cool thing that Outriders offers is the ability to change the overall difficulty on the fly. As you kill more and more enemies and level up, the World Tier also levels up with you, meaning that enemies will scale up too to challenge you. But if you keep dying over and over again, you can lower the World Tier on the fly. This makes the game easier, but at the same time, you will get fewer and crappier rewards from each encounter. It’s a really well-designed system that caters to players who are up for a challenge and the ones that want to just go through the story.
Outriders is not a live-service game and while there’s an endgame activity, there’s a full-on single-player campaign that can be played solo or online co-op. The story, more on that later, sees you travel throughout all of Enoch. It’s not an open-world, but each region or biome is a self-contained level with 3-4 branching corridor-like mini levels. There’s always a camp that serves as a hub area where you can talk with the rest of the characters that are accompanying you in this journey and also where you pick up the main missions and side quests that can be completed whenever you want. Completing said side quests will reward you with loot, but that’s not the main reason you should actually do them. The mini-stories these side-quests tell and the characters you get to talk and interact with are really interesting and do a fantastic job of world-building. For example, you get to interact with a coked-out-of-his-mind man, save someone by playing a rigged Russian Roulette game and even help someone, who just wanted to take a shit in peace, from a horde of hungry and angry alien monsters. There are a ton of side-quests to complete and I would advise you to not skip on them.
Expeditions are the endgame activity that opens up once you complete the story. Short, but extremely tough timed missions that shower you with some amazing loot once you successfully complete them. These are designed to make you sweat and you have to use everything you learned, unlocked, and upgraded in the main campaign if you want to succeed. Going solo is really tough and since the game is like what, 6 months old, I was having a tough time finding anyone to join and play in co-op. Unfortunately, the same thing can be said about the campaign, no one is playing this game anymore and that sucks. All throughout my 30 hours of completing the campaign, only two other random players joined me on two separate occasions for just a couple of minutes and I never saw anyone else. However, I really enjoyed the time when I was slaying enemies in a squad with another player. I would slow them down and they would just ground pound the shit out of them with their Devastator class. I wish Outriders had an active player base so that I could enjoy all the glorious carnage along with two other players cause heck, it was a lot of fun for the mere moments I experienced it. But it kinda makes sense in a way. As I said, it’s not a live-service game, there’s no new content, no roadmap so once you are done with experiencing what the game has to offer, that is it. And, unfortunately, that happened a few months ago.
I really liked the story of Outriders and its execution. In a TL: DR fashion, humanity fucked up Earth so they just left it and looked to the stars for the next planet that could support life. That planet is Enoch, which looks like Earth, but, of course, it’s not Earth. It’s an alien planet with strange creatures, aliens (duh!), and an electromagnetic storm known as “the Anomaly” which is devastating. This Anomaly obliterates electronic devices and kills 99.9% of humans that it touches. But that other 0.1% that survives, alters them giving them god-like powers like the ones I talked about before. Your character, an Outrider, is altered by the anomaly and after being cryogenically frozen for 30 years wakes up to find a different Enoch. To no one surprise, as humans never change, they have royally fucked up, again. They have split into many different factions led by altered humans, all fighting for power, territory, and food. Altered and hostile alien creatures ranging from small to massive beasts lay waste to everything and everyone. The Anomaly still devastating everything that it comes in contact with… yeah Enoch is not a nice place to live.
Of course, it’s all up to you to save the day. But, you see, your character did not choose this nor does he or she want to deal with any of this. I really liked this approach as you can clearly see your character's hesitation in doing any of this. The Outrider scoffs and grunts, makes snarky comments, and basically doesn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone. He shoots first, talks later. He is completely unfazed when people just die in front of him. He is basically a god that doesn’t want to deal with anyone’s chores. Still, someone has to deal with everything, and well, he rises up to that challenge. It’s a great story with some interesting twists set in an intriguing universe with a cool cast of characters. I am going to be completely honest, I really enjoyed all it had to offer.
As for the presentation, Outriders looks really good and runs smooth as butter. I never experienced a frame drop while playing on the PS5. Character models, creature designs, animations, all look great. There’s a great variety of environments or biomes from deserts and forests to snowy peaks and ancient alien ruins, all filled with tons of small details. One strange thing though happens is the loading of said new areas. Every time you enter a new area, the screen fades to black, a small 2-3 second animation of your dude opening a door, climbing something, jumping over a gap, etc. plays out then fade to black again, another 3-4 second loading screen and you are back to the game. Like, what and why? But then I remember that this game also came out on the old gen and it’s an Unreal engine game, notorious for its loading quirks and it all makes sense. Anyway, the voice acting is good, most of the time, and the soundtrack is also good enough, but the overall audio mixing is somewhat of a mixed bag especially when playing with headphones. Voices sound muffled, your own footsteps sound like they come from 2-3 meters behind you and the overall directional sound leaves a lot to be desired. It feels as something has gone terribly wrong with the whole PS5’s Tempest Audio Engine, so keep an ear out for that.
But in the end, Outriders is a really good-ass game. Excellent gunplay, exciting loot, fantastic powers, tons of strategies to try, high replay value, intriguing story and universe, there’s a lot to love in Outriders. If you haven’t picked up this one yet, now it’s the best time as it is probably on sale and if you are on Xbox or PC, it’s also on GamePass so there’s no excuse to not try it. Thanks for reading!