Poor Bungie. Every time a new looter-shooter is released gamers give it the moniker “Destiny killer” and while one is yet to do that, it’s a rather unfair comparison.
For one, Destiny has many years of refining behind it and, if you recall, both the original game and its sequel didn’t exactly set the gaming sector on fire.
The latest game to get the Destiny-killer status is Outriders but comparing the two games is like comparing the taste of red wine to vinegar. Both are useful, but not for the same thing.
So after spending four hours in Outriders and having completed the free demo twice, what is People Can Fly offering to players and is it worth the price of admission?
The Outriders demo is unbelievably short and a little light on details.
You take control of an Outrider which is a mercenary that made it off of a dying Earth onto a spaceship bound for the Earth-like Enoch.
The cutscenes that set the scenes for the opening moments of the game are a tad confusing. It seems as if humans have already made it on to Enoch and our Outrider is simply bringing up the rear. The timeline is very confusing and then it gets even more complex.
After a brief tutorial you encounter The Anomaly – a storm brimming with magical energy that proceeds to destroy the humans on the ground.
The player gets hit by lightning during this storm at which point they are frozen until a doctor can tend to their wounds.
Fast forward 31 years and your Outrider awakens on Enoch which is now brimming with human life only things aren’t good.
Humanity has descended into chaos and one gets a distinct Mad Max vibe from the scenes that play out before you.
It’s at the point where the prologue completes and you discover you are Altered. That means, you got hit with lightning during an Anomaly storm and you now have special powers.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Players can choose from one of four classes:
Each of these classes has a pre-defined playstyle because, in Outriders, you have to kill in order to regenerate HP. How this regeneration works differs from class to class.
The Technomancer, for instance, favours taking enemies out from a distance while the Trickster is more focused on sneaking up behind enemies, slowing them down and cutting them to bits.
But whichever class you choose, Outriders is not a cover-based shooter.
Our first playthrough with the Technomancer had us adopt The Division style of play whereby we took to cover to dispatch enemies and this worked up until World Tier 2 (more on this in a bit) where enemies would rush us constantly.
In one particular quest, Marksman enemies were able to deal so much damage to us we questioned whether the cover was even working.
It was here that it dawned on us, movement is the key to winning fire fights. Hell, the game even tells you that enemies are scared of you in the opening moments following the prologue.
You are death incarnate and you should be wading into enemies.
Adopting this approach increased the fun factor one hundred fold and before long we were whooping and shouting with joy at clutch plays that had us regen health when it mattered most.
We don’t know if this is truly the way Outriders is meant to be played but it sure is fun to make a bee-line for the strongest enemy and focus them down using the other enemies as health packs when needed.
But sadly, that fun didn’t last too long though this is down to the demo being incredibly short.
World Tiers and you
Much like The Division series, People Can Fly has opted to make use of World Tiers to amp up the difficulty.
We like this solution as it means even noobs like us can have fun in missions with folks of a similar skill level.
The only trouble with World Tiers right now is that the really interesting gear is locked behind higher drop rates which are tied to higher World Tiers.
Now, we are just fine with making games aspirational and making it tough to grind out gear is what keeps things interesting in games like Destiny 2, but Outriders is not a live service game and it will reach a conclusion.
This means that once players have completed the game, getting them back is going to be tough and locking better gear drops behind multiple completions of the same missions at a higher difficulty is a recipe for disaster.
Not once in my two playthroughs of the demo did I get a Legendary weapon to drop and I am not going to spend multiple hours farming a demo for a chance to get a weapon I may not use. We’ve heard that Mods in Legendary weapons might be useful in the end game but as the demo is just a slice of the full game, we’re not farming anything until we know more.
What we will say however is that right now, Legendary drop rates need to be the same regardless of World Tier. If somebody wants to have a casual experience in World Tier 1, they shouldn’t only get a selection of gear because of that.
Grinding can be fun if it’s rewarding, the way People Can Fly is doing it though just makes me dread the grind and I worry that in later stages players will be forced to bash their heads against stronger enemies in hopes of getting relevant gear to drop.
Story, handicam and sundry
The story of Outriders is, well, we’re not itching to know more if that’s anything to go by.
The planet of Enoch looks a lot like Earth with a bit of alien fauna and flora. It’s so much like Earth that apparently humans can breathe without worry.
It’s all just a bit too familiar and it doesn’t help that humanity has ruined the planet to the point where it looks like Europe during the first World War while our Outrider slept for 31 years.
Making things even worse is the handicam that was seemingly used for every cutscene.
Firstly, cutscenes are locked at 30fps so on the 144Hz monitor I’m using the difference was jarring. There’s also so much camera shake in these cutscenes watching them had me worried that my GPU was dying.
We really hope that this is not the final version of the game that is being shipped on 1st April and that the cutscenes have been reworked because watching them is the worst experience we’ve had to date, and we’ve finished Cyberpunk 2077 three times.
Other issues we’ve spotted are an alarming number of loading screens that are seen:
- When loading the game up
- When loading up your character
- When moving between areas
- When moving into a mission zone
- When moving out of a mission zone
- When fast travelling
While the loading screens aren’t visible for a long time, they do inhibit the flow of playing the game and we’re getting strong Anthem vibes from these loading screens.
This is made worse by the fact that Outriders isn’t an open world game but rather a series of corridors you fight through before returning to base. This means that you’re seeing a loading screen at least every 15 minutes and that’s not fun.
But once again, we have a very small slice of Outriders to enjoy right now and what we have is fun for a few hours.
That having been said, from what we’ve seen, we’re not pre-ordering Outriders and we’ll wait for a full release and more reviews before we part ways with our money.