Played on RTX3080: 120hrs Playthrough
It has been more than a week since People Can Fly launched Outriders, a game that took inspiration from Diablo, Destiny and Gears of War. It’s a mix that surprisingly works well, and one that had me sink in 120hrs of class building; you’ll be spending a lot of time exploring the Diablo-style map layout while mobs chase you frantically, using cover to push back enemies and vault over to cast some insane magic given to you by the nature of Enoch – colorful loot will launch off disintegrated enemies for you pick to up and manage Destiny-style.
It’s one gameplay loop that is addicting, but far from perfect as it seems just under a week into launch, the developers decided to patch Outriders that would ruin most players builds, and make the game even harder than it already was. It is one that affected me during my review process and has ultimately soured my experience.
The World Building
Before I get into the meat and bones of this review, I have to say that I do find Outriders excellent and with great potential. Enoch and the colony that followed is astounding to say the least. The universe People Can Fly created is grounded and yet very fantastical.
The story starts you several years into the future where Earth is dying due to war and resource abuse – the government created this Intersteller ship housing thousands of humans in cryosleep. After voyaging through space towards the new garden world called Enoch, they arrived with ease. Outriders, soldiers who are first to land and explore, are awoken from cryo and quickly finds that Enoch is not the world they anticipated. After exploring some key nodes sent from the interstellar ship, a team of Outriders encounters a fungal parasite that immediately kills humans. Soon after, a storm erupts, and obliterates everyone within it – except your main character. During the frantic encounter, you are injured and forced back into cryo only to reawaken 30 years later.
You find that the world of Enoch is in great war, once again, with one another. In between the conflict are these heightened humans called Altered; You are one of them. It doesn’t take long to be thrown into conflict and soon finding out that everything isn’t what it’s made to seem. With a 30hrs campaign and each beat unfolding the gameplay loop for endgame, I found it very intriguing to continue playing for the story, even if the gameplay mechanics are particularly uninspired – i.e. lack of co-operative mechanics, platforming or puzzles that would flare the experience.
Environmental and Character Design
I couldn’t help but admire the environmental design of Outriders; it is not an open world game, it is designed very similarly to Diablo 3 as in large zones and corridors with twist and turns for chest to find. There’s around 4 different biomes with 16 locations to run though, each with distinct characteristics that had me stop and take in the vistas. Lots of physics and animations with foliage and rubble made the game feel alive when running through old ruins. If it wasn’t for its beautiful design, I would have felt the monotony of going through the repetitious gameplay loop.
Character models are a mix of caricature and realism with some really decent facial animations. Overall armor and weapon designs are detailed and crisp enough to feel comfortable to farm for. I hate that the Epic loot, specifically the weapons, are similarly designed with just rehashed paint. Hopefully we’ll get better looking loot in the future. However, the Legendary types are truly fantastic in design; Weapons like Voodoo Matchmaker and armor like Armor of the Acari truly add a lot of flavor into my grind and I’m all for it.
The Chase for the Loot
Outriders core mechanics focuses on over-the-shoulder shooting akin to Gears of War, including cover mechanics. You can roll and vault over cover – but the twist is there’s Altered abilities to utilize in the mix. Every class has 3 very powerful abilities to summon; every ability plays a role in status effects, altering your bullets and giving your character distinct armor protection. There’s 4 classes: Pyromancer, Devastator, Technomancer and Trickster. Each class plays distinctively and until you hit the endgame, you’ll have a lot of fun with either choice. Pyromancer is the midrange support where you’ll deal a lot of damage while proccing AOE status effects for your team to melt mobs and champions, Devastator is the tank that can help make sure everyone stays alive with its armor, Trickster is the class that does insane damage close range but can be a glass cannon and Technomancer is the class summoning turrets to add control. Each one has a role to play and until you hit endgame, you’ll find that they all work in synergy.
Once you complete the main story beat, new content unlocks called Expeditions – basically Strikes from Destiny. The goal is to complete these Expeditions and earn new resources called Drop Pod points and spend on upper-tier gear to optimize your build. You unlock new Challenge Tiers, up to 15, increasing gear level as well as enemies. Doing the Expeditions is fun enough and it has me grinding its 14 levels for dozens of hours with the goal of doing Eye of the Storm – the pinnacle activity of the game….but it’s also the shortest Expedition of them all with a hefty requirement of reaching max tier and spending 40,000 pods to do it. To put it to context, until you reach Challenge Tier 12, you’ll be earning about 400 pods on average in each expedition, which takes about 6-15mins to complete. Although you’ll have fun initially with these Expeditions, it won’t take long to realize how uninspired it is. Sure, each location is separated from the main story paths but it shows the little effort People Can Fly put into their mechanics; it’s a simple hordes mode with capture points essentially and that’s it. Coupling that with how lazy Eye of the Storm feels for the grind the devs are expecting from the players feels disrespectful.
This is where things goes downhill from here. Let’s talk about their engine and servers.
A Server Experience Akin to Anthem
When Outriders launched their beta, it was praised on how stable the servers were initially – despite the graphical hiccups which were rectified before launch, everyone was having a blast it seems. Come April 1st, it was immediately apparent how unprepared the devs were; servers were ticking for hours where most people weren’t able to play until the next day. It was a consistent thing throughout the 1st week of Outriders and although it has been patched at this point, servers still has issues for some. That wasn’t the only problem Outriders was having, reports of players having their characters wiped entirely was network-wide alongside having gear stored in storage getting deleted as well. This is coupled with enemy AI being too strong for most to progress in the game meaningfully. Outriders had a rough 2 weeks, I tell you this much. But, People Can Fly managed to stay transparent through twitter, launching server maintenances and patch’s that ultimately brought the game to playable state, and that’s credit worth giving.
It doesn’t end there though; you see, once you hit endgame and start character building, it is quickly realized how effective certain abilities are compared to others, leaving little room to experiment with new builds – and primarily it’s because the enemies you are facing are too overwhelming with rush mechanics, snipers that tracks behind walls and overly exerted health pools in the upper tiers. Altogether paired with moments of glitched attacks from mobs that are unavoidable. Happens all the time and let me explain.
One moment I am taking down a captain, suddenly a bleeding effect mob spawns behind me interrupting my entire focus while a sniper is tracking me from the distance because a new wave of enemies just spawned in. I get hit with a sniper shot, stunning me and giving time for the captain to freeze me, while rolling out of freeze, I am frozen only to have another mob one shot me. All the while, I am capped with optimal stats on a tier-level that’s 5 levels below me.
And yet, instead of tuning the enemies behaviors, the developers decided to assume that the top 1% players who can play the game for 18hrs a day, is the entire player base altogether and nerfed pretty much every ability in each class; a disconnect from their player base that ultimately soured my experience and nullified my on-the-fly build and everyone else – negating any chance of experimenting with different builds.
REVIEW SCORE: 6/10
Outriders is a gorgeous looking game with a story that’s solid enough to dive in, one that also plays well with amazing loot and potential for build crafting. But, Once you make it known that you are not mindful of your players is when things fall apart – with AI that seems too overpowered, uninspired endgame to grind and pretty much nothing to chase, Outriders just feels like a glorified one-shot experience.
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