I’m starting this review with the date above because; since the launch of Outriders this game has had many bugs and updates. As of this date, there was an appreciation package that rolled out to ALL players giving them a bunch of resources (for modding and upgrading gear) and a Legendary weapon (the rarest). Well, my account only got the resources so…WELP. There is another update coming in that is meant to buff the drop rate for said Legendaries in-game which were HARD nerfed soon after the game launched. I remember playing the beta/demo with Ian and Joseph and I had a Legendary drop in the first encounter area, at level 5.
I finished the game, as of this date (as having a B tier adult life takes a lot of time) and have only had 1 legendary drop from random enemies. The others I have came from guaranteed legendaries as rewards from quests. About 5 weapons and 1 piece of armour. For some context: you can have 3 weapons equipped at a time and 5 armour pieces (Exodia style)
This is a “Looter-Shooter” you’re here for the gear and the abilities. A compelling and comprehensive story helps keep you playing but the rewards and how you slaughter countless enemies are the important stuff. Outriders excels at one of these. Shoots for the stars but burns in the sun like Icarus on another, and has an endgame problem with another.
So, for this review I am breaking the structure into 3 parts that make a Looter-Shooter:
Gear (Gameplay part 2)
Then the presentation and if/how the package mirrors other common s’looters out there; namely Destiny 2.
This will not be a lengthy review. I am going to cover the important bits however.
Riders on the storm….(Narrative)
Thought I’d get the hardest point out of the way first, the story. Ah Outriders… Outriders, outriders, outriders… how close you were to telling a good story!! AH. Dear reader let me tell you, Joseph and I had our theories for how this would all end. With each new area discovered and new enemies or story beat we thought we were seeing this long tale take shape. O the hubris. Only to end on a “…REALLY!?” This may be the longest part of the review but in order to understand our frustration you must know what lead us down our doomed path. Bear with me.
You are an Outrider. A soldier/warrior/cool guy (or girl) that was part of an expedition that left Earth to find a new home world for the humans. Since we pretty much destroyed the Earth. I named my Outrider Ryder though I really wish I named him Ghost Ryder as I mainly played as the Pyromancer class. Such a missed opportunity…. anyway. You land with your “first contact” crew on the planet of Enoch and are introduced to a few mechanics that are all very reminiscent of Gears of War i.e., a lot of take cover and no jumping.
Then you are tasked for finding the source of a signal one of your probs picked up and then that’s where it happens. Suddenly a cosmic storm starts swirling around you and your crew. Water starts rising into the air like gravity was inverted. Lightning starts to strike and the wind looks like it got neons. So, you all run for cover but some don’t make it and the lightning hits them and they start being abducted by it only to be painfully eaten by it like some sort of Thanos dusting but with lightning. Cut to a safe distance and your chief science officer starts a mutiny and a lot of the troops turn on you and your team. You get hurt in the fire-fight and are placed into a cryogenic pod to stabilize you while the others lay down the law. O btw, these cry pods were used to get you all here, over like 80 years! (Just remember that)
Well as is the case with staff, they forgot about you and you end up being revived by some rebels. Well turns out about 30 years have now passed and the whole area you are in is very Mad Max Thunderdome but way more violent. The raining A**wholes take you to the edge of the city to see if you “make it” through the desert and incoming storm. You remember it eating your friends. You are not happy about this at all. You get thrown out. Storm hits. Surprise, it doesn’t kill you. But you feel…changed. From this point on you are known as an Altered. Getting superpowers, regen and immunity to the storms.
At this point you get to pick your starting class. For simplicity let’s go with; Temporal phasing/dashing guy (me in the clips in this review); Pyro guy (dat also me and completed campaign on); rock armour guy and turret spawning guy (this was Joseph) After this point you make your way through the desert, using your powers and shooting the guns you find against the bad guys. Until you get to the net city and discover some of your friends survived but are now 30 years older, and meaner.
The plot then goes like this: That same signal is still out there, so you think it is another colony ship and go looking. On the way you reach new towns and the person in charge of the area needs your help killing the bad guys/monsters and some other altered on the enemy team (all you do is kill things btw) as a reward they give you xp and gear. You then move from area to area. Killing and looting. Outriding. Until you come across “the natives” in large swaths that seem mostly brutish and violent. They too have guns and abilities yet you didn’t seem them on your initial visit to Enoch…where did they come from? (Seeds sown, mind racing)
You move through and find their “ancient civilisation” in ruins and 1 non-violent left who guides you through the area. You discover they had a way of harnessing the storms. Calming them even and giving themselves abilities (our minds further sprinting, who/what ended them??)
Then the plot point that sealed our fates. We find a tank…in a dessert plain..that dates as 100 years old. Apparently, we didn’t bring it, so who did?… Further exploration reveals bunkers and military instillations. Other outrider artifacts and staches. A large human city preparing for war at the edge of nowhere begged the question, where did all these people come from??… Joe and I were certain. It’s time travel….
*MAJOR SPOLER AHEAD*
No not time-travel. That would have been to cool and interesting. No! Instead… the humans left behind on earth made a mad 2nd last ditch effort (Outrider programme was the 1st) and invented a warp drive.
Yes they invented warp travel. All while we were sleeping in our cryo pods on our way to the new planet.
Did they send a message to inform us? Na
Did they pick us up? No
Did they alert us once we landed? Big fat NOPE
So dear reader that was the big revelation. Apparently, they landed and just messed things up so badly that they started a war with the natives by trying to harness their powers and the storm but instead experimented on them to the point the natives went berserk and altered themselves into rage monsters. Thus, the s**t hole we find ourselves in.
“What am I?” (Gameplay)
Onward to the abilities
At an early story point mentioned above; you choose from 1 of 4 classes and abilities. I tried the Trickster and Pyromancer.
This was honestly the most fun part of the whole experience. It is very easy to compare this to the other big one, Destiny 2. The major difference is that, honestly (and this is coming from a diehard D2 player) the abilities in this game are more fun and varied. Mods in this game also work in tandem with your abilities for both weapon and armour mods to buff your abilities in interesting ways.
For example; you can have a mod that doubles the number of charges you have for an ability and another that utilizes the effect of one ability, so that when activated, causes a chain reaction or alternate effect. On all enemies in an area. They also recharge in under 30 seconds. Compare this to D2 that needs you to make sure you have the right stat make-up to lower your recharge time for your abilities. With weapons that do their own thing and armour that alters stats unless you have an exotic that MIGHT alter an ability, slightly.
Your ability trees are almost stock standard with buffs to recharge rate, Elite damage and ability effect. Mostly they don’t do much until you reach the end branch of the tree. You also want to make sure to pick 1 tree and complete it. Try it out, then respect to a different tree if it does not suit your playstyle.
Speaking of playstyle. Each battle encounter (map?) is designed with cover options. These aren’t for you [insert gru meme] these are for your enemies. They have Hawkeye like aim and 0 damage falloff for their weapons. So don’t hide. Your abilities are designed for you to be up in their face and using your affects to stun/burn/freeze/slow-time (so fun) and generally lay waste to the enemy. O also it’s how you heal. There is a passive heal but it’s not the pain healing. Killing things with your abilities and weapons is how you heal.
There are 2 faults to this system however:
- This doesn’t help in boss fights or when facing 2 or more elites as they hit HARD but you only heal on kills (mostly)
- You will face other “altered” who seem to have much cooler abilities than you. You cannot obtain their abilities in anyway. So that kinda sucked.
Otherwise, I rate Outriders higher than D2 when it comes to their ability system
Suit up (Gameplay, part 2)
This works in tandem with the gear system. As mentioned, there are mods you equip to your armour and guns that can change your ability effect, the ability itself; charge and usage time, or add to it. By the end Joe and I were causing the effects; Burn, Ash, Bleed, Toxic, and freeze with every bullet we shot. That’s just the guns! We then had our abilities to use to enhance those effects and cause more damage.
On the grunts, this made things very exciting. Watching a body explode and the body parts flying as shrapnel outward killing other grunts then chaining that with lightning strikes falling from the sky was very VERY pleasing to witness. The other side of this though is you needed all of those effects to do any kind of real damage to bosses and Elites. The difficulty curve per encounter can be very sharp and in later skirmishes you end up using the very cover you chastised as 4 Elites show up with heavy machine guns that kill in a few seconds. Though they do sprinkle in some grunt spawns to help you heal but still a pain.
We’re not in Kansas anymore
Outriders is the first game by People Can Fly and honestly, for a first outing it is very nice to look at. Yes there are numerous bugs at launch and still persisting but none of these take away from the actual presentation of the game. Just how you play it. The vistas in Outriders are actually really well designed and rather striking to look at
Abilities popping off are rather spectacular. Especially when you combine them with explosive effect (as above). The developers here decided to not go for that ultra-realistic; Mass Effect Andromeda look, which was a wise choice but what they have presented is a game that looks pretty good and who’s parts manage to make a functioning game that delivers on what you would expect from a looter shooter.
Visually, Outriders could be better looking. It is definitely more of a dead space rather than a mass effect or Gears of War in the visuals. Lacking a polish and reflective polygon quality only found in big budget AAA titles. In saying that though, they achieved a lot and made a very presentable package.
There are some downsides however. From beginning to end, while there a are varied enemies, each humanoid enemy works the same way; they rush you and shoot you. The elites are also the same with almost no flinch and powers you can never have (still annoyed at that, some are so cool!) and then there are 2 types of bosses: the one’s that are giant beasts that you really only fight to get through an area and the super elites (final boss) that don’t shoot you but have abilities that just wreck you while being immense bullet sponges.
I could go into so much more about this game: The minor hub worlds as you progress. Each mission being a liner experience and tight maps ala Gears of War. Bounty and hunt systems. Trade and upgrade economy etc. but honestly; if you’ve played an MMO or looter-based game with RPG and gear mechanics then you know these things. They are EVERYWHERE.
Overall thew experience with Outriders that I (and Joe) felt was that we played it because we commit to the purchase and it was a good Co-op experience. However it was let down by its repetitiveness and grindy endgame that required us to have all the best mods to adequately face off against the final boss. Not to mention that the end is not the end. You then have a *SECRET ENDING* which requires you to go back through all the previous levels and completed some tasks. And by tasks they mean harder enemy encounters (read as minor horde modes) which we elected not to bother with after that lack-lustre finale reveal.
At the end I would rate Outriders a generous 05/10
A solid experience but not a noteworthy addition to the genre. It aimed high but was ultimately let down by its budget, writing and repetitive gameplay