The RPG genre has taken a hit in recent years. Following big publisher buyouts, many of the beloved RPG titles that we know and love are decreasing in quality. What used to be open and robust games are now a microtransaction covered shell of what they once were.
Dragon Age 4 has no clear release date. Fallout 76 was a clear turn away for the classic Fallout style and has now turned into another battle-royale. Mass Effect Andromeda decimated the outlook for the continuation of the franchise. While previous successful titles are still definitely playable, there is only so much replayability. As much as I like to play Skyrim, adding countless hours to my already ridiculous count, I’d LOVE to play something new.
Of course, there have been some pretty good games that have satiated my RPG love for a little while: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Borderlands 2, and Monster Hunter: World. However, these titles were all missing one element or another to be the full RPG package for me. Odyssey and Borderlands didn’t give enough freedom for character choice. The player narratives were narrow compared to other games. Monster Hunter is more focused on the combat and leveling than bringing a story-telling experience which makes sense for the game.
Just when you think all hope is lost, enter Obsidian and Private Division’s new choice-based RPG, The Outer Worlds.
This game has a chance to breathe new life into the genre. The space-western is set in the corporate ruled settlements (ironic since Obsidian is owned by Microsoft) on the edge of the galaxy. Well, that is, until your player character comes around and inevitably shakes things up. From the E3 demo, it was clear that Obsidian is capitalizing on the style of humor and mayhem that made New Vegas so popular. The Outer Worlds definitely looks like it could deliver a wonderful experience on all fronts. Narrative Director, Dan Mcphee assured press at the E3 preview that the game would champion freedom of choice.
“We’ve put in a lot of perks to suit a variety of different playstyles. Depending on your stats, for example, your character can be of below average intelligence, which unlocks dumb dialogue when speaking with other NPCs. That’s a super fun thing to play with, and a fun call back to New Vegas, too, which hopefully a lot of fans can appreciate.”
Play as an intelligent silver-tongued leader or a dummy with a heart of gold, The Outer Worlds makes sure that anything is possible to play. There will always be multiple pathways to victory. Heck, you can even just shoot the person that annoys you. This is the whacky, grey morality that draws me to this game.
The game does not punish you for doing what you want. It just lets it happen. Of course, actions have consequences but there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong way to go about doing things. The demo showed a mission where the player goes on a mission to clear out a factory filled with cystypigs, genetically modified pigs that grow bacon flavored cysts. Somehow, this doesn’t seem bonkers in this universe. The game presents multiple avenues. Go in guns blazing or sneak in the side entrance. Once you’re in, you can choose to continue your approach or change it up. Clear out the factory with various dialogue options. You can even use your lack of intelligence skill (as mentioned above) to your advantage with some good old fashioned dumb luck. Even when the player meets the character they were ordered to kill, the options are there. Kill them, don’t, compromise, or get hired to kill the original quest giver. The Outer Worlds is a perfect example of the true neutral RPG.
The outlook of the genre looks bleak but after years of waiting. The Outer Worlds could give us some relief. At the very least until Elder Scrolls 6 or Cyberpunk 2077 comes out. The game still has four months to go before release on October 25, 2019. Until then, I’ll be patiently waiting to be proven right. Otherwise, I guess I’ll lose all my internet cred.
Help us, Obsidian. You’re our only hope.