The latest title from People Can Fly and publisher Square Enix – Outriders – broke cover on 1st April and we spent most of the long weekend playing through the game’s main campaign.
We say most of the long weekend because, unfortunately, Outriders fell victim to its own hype and servers were in a constant state of flux every evening from Friday evening onward.
By Sunday, servers were somewhat stable and in a mammoth session that ended at around 2AM, we finally found that magic spark that has us close to recommending Outriders.
Despite 25 hours in the game, we are yet to finish the main campaign so this isn’t our full review. Rather, this is our experience through the campaign, what we feel works, what doesn’t and why you should pull the trigger if you’re on the fence about Outriders.
Building a killing machine
For the first 10 hours Outriders is a slow burn and, oddly, that’s a good thing.
Outriders has a multitude of systems in play at any given point and rather than dumping these systems on the player en-masse, you slowly become acclimatised to the various systems at play.
Let’s start with classes. There are four in Outriders namely:
- Technomancer – Long-range, support and gadgets
- Pyromancer – Mid-range, DPS, fire damage
- Trickster – Close-range, space/time manipulation, DPS
- Devastator – Close-range, tank
We have started the campaign with each of those classes and each has a unique identity and playstyle that you will have to become acquainted with. In our experience, Devastator is the most fun and the easiest for solo players thanks to the massive health pool of the class and its damage mitigation abilities.
Whatever class you do play, however, your only means of healing is killing. Well, that’s not especially true as you do recover some health when out of a fight but for the most part you will be killing to regenerate health. But even this is a loaded statement as classes behave differently as regards healing.
Our advice is to play through the prologue and then create a new character, select a class and play up until you get to the Onslaught quest. This quest culminates in a fight that acts as both a gear and damage check and if you manage to defeat the boss comfortably, the rest of the game will be easy enough for you.
As you progress through Outriders you will be collecting a lot of gear. Gear has its own level and comes in one of five rarities:
- Common – White
- Unusual – Green
- Rare – Blue
- Epic – Purple
- Legendary – Orange
Even this rarity can be upgraded and you might want to do that because the mod system in this game is superb.
Deconstructing Rare, Epic and Legendary gear will grant you the mods from that gear. There are three tiers of mods (Tier 1, 2 and 3) with Tier 3 offering the best bonuses.
As you progress through the game you will be given the chance to swap out mods, change the attributes of a piece of gear and upgrade gear to a higher power level. Generally in games such as Outriders you would want to hold off on doing these things until the end game but as we’ll get to, you don’t want to do that here.
As we mentioned you collect a lot of gear and the material cost to upgrade gear is so minimal compared to how much you’re collecting, you really are encouraged to upgrade gear as you go.
Skills in Outriders are unlocked as you play but our favourite system so far is the class system or rather the sub-class system.
Each Outrider can take one of three sub-class paths that amplify their skills and weapon damage. We say one of three but in reality switching sub-classes is as easy as hitting a key and reselecting which skills you want to use.
All of these elements combine to provide us with one of the most freeing RPGs we’ve ever played.
During the aforementioned Onslaught mission we kept dying mid-way through which forces you to start the mission all over again. A quick reshuffle of our gear and abilities and we were breezing through the mission.
The customisation is top notch and it’s incredible to see a developer give players so much agency but there is a catch.
Outriders is tough as nails.
World tiers and you
Despite your god-like powers, enemies are tough in Outriders but they also don’t have to be.
Our least favourite aspect of the Outriders demo was the World Tier system but after 25 hours, it’s actually one of our favourite systems in the game.
As you progress through the game you will be filling up two bars at the top of your screen. The top bar is your experience (XP) and not even dying will lose you XP. In fact, if you’re farming for gear, dying is actually beneficial as you won’t have to contend with loading screens to enter and exit missions.
The second bar is your World Tier and this is the bar you want to pay attention to.
World Tiers offer increasing chances for Legendary Gear to drop as you slay out while also bumping up enemy difficulty. While enemies do yield more XP, dying a few too many times will actually lose you World Tier XP.
If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is.
Logic would tell you to play at the highest World Tier whenever you have the chance but we’ve found the opposite to be true.
World Tiers should act as a personal damage and gear check. Before you find yourself in a boss fight experiment with a different World Tier to see where your damage could use some work, what skills you should be using and whether your gear needs an upgrade. If you find yourself on respawn screen too often, drop down a tier and work toward getting to that next tier.
What makes this system great is that you can switch between World Tiers instantly which means you don’t have to exit the game to try something more challenging or beat a boss that has been hammering you to the ground for 20 minutes.
To quote Todd Howard, “It just works”.
The story gets way better
The opening moments and the first 10 hours of Outriders aren’t going to win any awards but, looking back, they are necessary.
For those who skipped the demo, these are the cliffnotes for Outriders.
Earth has been left on the brink of death thanks to war and natural disasters so humans do the only logical thing. No not save the planet, we go somewhere else.
That somewhere else is Enoch which looks like Earth. Unfortunately a storm known as The Anomaly tears through the pioneers on Enoch and leaves you the player wounded. Your character gets put into cryo and wakes up 30 years later to a world that is tearing itself apart.
The Outrider is very much a unwilling superhero, at least for the first bit of the game.
As you progress through the story, you start to see the humanity in this god-like entity and you’re also given insight into Enoch, a world with far more secrets than anybody discovered in the 30 years on the planet.
The story missions are generally rather short with a bit of combat mixed in with exploration but you will be spending the large portion of your game time doing side quests. Side quests can be repeated endlessly but we recommend saving these missions for when you desperately need gear. We make this recommendation because they can be quite tough and you will be looting gear in droves as you progress through the game.
The story guides you through a variety of Enoch’s biomes. You’ll move through sprawling cities, trench warfare, jungle, desert and even into a volcano as you move through the story. The skyboxes are incredible and the while the spaces feel familiar, you are constantly reminded this place isn’t Earth.
The characters you meet along the way are incredibly interesting and we’ve found ourselves stopping the game to listen to Jakub and his “daughter” Channa chatting more than once.
We also love the constant reminders that even with massive beasts that can kill thousands in a second, humans are the most dangerous thing on Enoch.
So far, we’re having a lot of fun with Outriders but we are yet to reach the endgame and that is what we feel will make or break this game.
With that having been said, there is gear to chase, mods to unlock and once the campaign is over you will be able to grind out Expeditions and an all new Challenge Tier.
Beyond that there are four classes to master and many collectibles to find throughout the world.
But the reason you should jump into Outriders if you’re on the fence, is because it’s fun.
The level of customisation available to you is unlike anything we’ve seen in a game like this before and its only getting better the more we play.
The story is also incredibly engaging which is an oddity in the realm of looter shooters. If we had to pick one thing we dislike about the story it’s that everybody looks very young though maybe Enoch’s atmosphere has something to do with that.
Something we should mention is how many loading screens you will see in Outriders. There are many but once you’re in an area loading is done through short cutscenes of your character opening a door or a fade to black. We are playing the game on PC with a SATA SSD and loading is fast enough to be near unnoticeable.
Outriders is out now for Xbox, PlayStation and PC and you really should be playing it if you enjoyed The Division 2, Destiny 2 or Diablo 3.