Earth is falling apart. Civil wars threaten everyday civilians, rednecks have stormed the capital and pollution has blacked out the sky.
This is not a recap of 2021 so far, but rather the jumping off point for Outriders, the latest entry into the looter shooter genre from publisher Square Enix and developer People Can Fly.
Since launch on 1st April we’ve spent 41 hours in the game, finishing the main campaign and starting to progress through it again on alternate characters. We have made some headway into the endgame grind and while we’re yet to hit that 100 percent completion, we know enough about the game in front of us to make a judgement call.
Until now we’ve avoided spoilers, but from here on out, all bets are off. If you want to know whether Outriders is worth the price of admission, skip to the bottom of this review.
As an aside, Outriders was reviewed on a PC with the following specifications:
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600
- 16GB DDR4 @ 3600MHz
- AMD Radeon RX 5600XT
- SATA SSD
We ran the DirectX 11 version of the game at medium settings at 2560 x 1440 resolution.
A questing we shall go
Outriders has three main quest types before you reach the end of the campaign – namely the main quest, side quests and collector quests.
The main quest is self explanatory – as you progress through these quests, you get closer to the end story. There are some rewards tied to these quests, but for the most part you will be progressing along a path, dispatching enemies and interacting with an object or person before a cutscene triggers.
Side quests are confusing.
Some side quests will have exposition tied to the main story, others won’t. All side quests are also repeatable and there is a reason for that. The main quests in Outriders are rather short and the combat sections, while plentiful, aren’t enough to build up experience and get good gear.
To solve this issue you have side quests which you can grind to your heart’s content. These are often a few waves of enemies with a tanky elite enemy (or three) appearing toward the end of combat.
Collector missions task you with completing a Wanted bounty, a hunt for a monster or finding a piece of humanity’s history on Enoch. These quests have rewards tied to them but before we talk about those we need to address the World Tier system.
Much like The Division, Outriders handles difficulty by putting you in charge.
Higher World Tiers offer up a bit more challenge with better rewards tied to that challenge however, there isn’t ever really a need to grind these out in our experience, even if Legendary drop rate is “increased”.
We say this because the only reason to grind out World Tiers is to make the campaign and side quests significantly more difficult for yourself.
While the Legendary drop rate is supposedly improved, even at higher world tiers we received one Legendary drops from the world while playing the main campaign. It’s simply not worth the frustration and doubly so when World Tiers no longer matter at the end game.
The main, side and collector quests are fun during the campaign but just like every looter shooter, their relevance disappears once you’ve finished the campaign.
When the credits roll on Outriders, you and your crew have managed to drop resources from the Flores to Enoch and this introduces the Expeditions which is where you will spend your endgame.
Expeditions are like side quests but they are a lot harder and they are timed. While you can take longer than the timer permits, you will want to finish these Expeditions as quickly as possible for the best rewards.
Your goal is to reach and claim the Drop Pod and the resources contained within. While we generally hate time trials or content that emulates them, it works in Outriders.
As you acquire gear in Outriders you will notice mods in gear and weapons. You can acquire these mods by dismantling the item and you can then use that mod forever in other weapons or armour depending on what mod it is.
There are three tiers of mods with Tier 3 being the best.
Early into the game you are introduced to the modding system and while it’s fun to play around with mods before the endgame, we really started to appreciate People Can Fly’s systems when we started with Expeditions.
We’re maining a Devastator so we’ll use it as an example.
Our three main powers we use while solo are:
- Tremor: Create a series of explosions around you, each dealing damage and draining Health from enemies within a medium radius around you
- Golem: Fortify yourself against incoming damage
- Gravity Leap: Leap into the air and strike your targets from above, dealing damage and Interrupting enemies within a small radius of the area you land in
You can augment these skills very slightly through the class tree system, but once you get into armour mods you can amplify these skills.
For instance, the mod Golem of Death can extend your Golem skill by two seconds for every enemy killed. This means that you could effectively have Golem up infinitely provided you keep killing enemies.
Human Fortress can amplify the damage of Tremor and improve healing.
By mixing and matching mods with different armour types and weapons (which can also be modded) you can really get lost in theorycrafting a build and we have. The build above, coupled with some other mods has created what we call the Invincible Wall because even in high-level content we’ve nigh on invincible.
With four classes, each with three class trees to explore and their own mods to play with, Outriders can keep you busy for over 100 hours quite easily.
There is so much to do in Outriders but there has always been an aspect of Outriders we’ve found tough to swallow – it ends.
Unlike Destiny or World of Warcraft, Outriders is not a live service game and as such it ends when you reach the Eye of the Storm. There is no raid, no dungeons to crawl, no infinite grind to pursue and that might just be Outriders’ biggest strength.
Yes, new Legendary weapons to pursue every few months might be nice, new side quests and Expeditions beyond the Eye of the Storm would be interesting but is it necessary when there are already games that scratch that itch?
Outriders works as a game with an ending and it’s actually rather nice to be able to set a goal, accomplish it and walk away from the game.
Bugs and things that need improving
During our playthrough on two characters we encountered a few bugs. Sometimes we’d load into the game and our HUD would be invisible. Sometimes interacting with an object would crash the game.
There are many bugs and some can become incredibly frustrating such as a crash happening after 15 minutes of fighting a boss. These bugs really detract from the fun you can have in this game and hopefully the developer can address these quickly.
Something we simply can’t forgive is the amount of loading screens in Outriders.
Everytime you enter a new area in a region there is a loading screen/cutscene and it gets to a point where you will get tired of seeing a loading screen.
Because of these screens, Outriders feels a lot more like it’s on rails compared to the living breathing worlds of Destiny or WoW. There aren’t really spaces that jump out at you and aside from the trenches of Trench Town, there isn’t really a memorable location in Outriders.
The quests are engaging, but we’d love to have spent a bit more time getting to explore Enoch on our own unencumbered by fallen trees.
We’d also loved to have heard more about the Altered, how they came to be and why some like us and others don’t.
While Outriders does hit the ball out of the park with some story beats, it misses the mark on others and the inconsistency here does shine a bit too bright.
Buy, wait for sale or Game Pass it?
Much like those that came before it, Outriders was marred by launch bugs which it has seemingly been able to get a handle on since 9th April. The game is not perfect and multiplayer is still a massive issue at time of writing.
However, Outriders is fun and getting to the endgame where you are theorycrafting new builds and chasing faster Expedition completions is a great way to spend your time.
There is a lot of fun to be had in Outriders but given the launch issues, we have to tell you to wait a bit for Outriders, perhaps not until a 50 percent off sale, but a bit of waiting will mean that the team has time to fix the more frustrating issues with the game.
Outriders has done a lot for the looter shooter genre from a conceptual point of view and the systems in play really do help to create an experience that is both challenging and fulfilling.
For fans of Destiny, The Division, Diablo, and World of Warcraft, Outriders is a must play, you just don’t have to play it right now.
An anomaly of sorts in the looter shooter genre, Outriders does somethings well and others poorly. Overall it's a fun romp with surprisingly deep systems worth exploring in the endgame. There is a lot to love here but we'd recommend waiting until the launch issues are resolved.