Just put everything in the pot, stir, don't shake, that's all.
Easier said than done right. But this is done right. But let's start at the beginnings.
I wasn't expecting much of this game, and had no intention of buying it especially after they announced it as an Epic exclusive. But actually the only reason to not buy it is that it is exclusively on two of the worst platforms that PC has currently. The Epic Games Store, and the Microsoft Store.
So am I a hypocrite or a pirate? I'm sorry to disappoint, but neither. I come by the game because I recently purchased an AMD CPU which came bundled with a 3 month Xbox Games Pass for PC subscription. Which allowed me to play the game literally for free. I'd never put up my own money towards any subscription on live service when it comes to gaming. I feel that subscription and live services puts unnecessary pressure on the player to play the game, even when they don't necessarily want to. Even with this 3 month period I felt somewhat pressured to finish the game before it runs out. I like to experience games at my own leisure. But Fear of Missing Out makes that impossible for live service games. And the bad feeling of wasting money makes it impossible for subscriptions. That is why I firmly believe that along with microtransactions live services and subscriptions are a cancer for gaming that needs to be cut out.
But I digress, let's talk about the actual game. As mentioned I didn't expect a great game, I expected an OK game at best, with lots of bugs and issues. Instead first few hours of the game were flawless, both in quality and presentation. I admit I was captivated by it. It all just felt right. The gunplay is remarkably enjoyable far better than in Fallout 4 for comparison. The graphics isn't great but good enough. What most got to me is the atmosphere and the slight humour and sarcastic undertones.
It is true that you can see the influence of many things that came before. Most notably Mass Effect 2, Fallout New Vegas, Bioshock, even pop culture. Your ship, yes you get a ship, and her crew reminded me of Firefly. But instead of space western this is more like space steampunk.
I had a fear that the game will have a bad case of the woke, but thankfully that is not true. Some might argue that the mere number of female characters in high power positions and the existence of a same sex relationship makes this an SJW game, but that is not true. They do not try to drill anything into you, there are no snide remarks at the expense of straightness or males. I never for once thought during the game that I was being lectured. This game is about as woke as the original Star Trek (not the stupid kelvin timeline). Meaning female characters aren't prop pieces, they feel natural in their roles, you never question how they earned their position.
The game structure is most similar to Mass Effect 2, you have a main story, and along the way you meet people who you can hire as crew to go with you. But it is not forced on you, you can turn any of them down, and even send them away after you hired them, if you want to.
But it is actually good to have them around, while not for directly conversing with them. As unfortunately you cannot romance them or even discuss things with them like in Mass Effect. But because their skills compliment your own. So when you go on a mission a medic can boost your medical skills. Or a person familiar with locks can grant you lockpicking skills even if your own character has zero. Or taking an intimidating figure will help you in conversations with NPCs. And speaking about conversations your companions sometimes actually chip in during those. Offer their opinions or disapproval of your actions. The companions all have personal missions again a'la Mass Effect 2, but here the consequences of not doing them are not final if you know what I mean.
By far the most rewarding companion quest is the one you do for Parvati, which is actually the ominous quest that offended some puritan conservatives. I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but grin as she stumbles her way trough that journey. Hating the character for being gay is just wrong.
The game has many skills that are treated similarly to New Vegas. And also there is a hardcore mode in the game where you have to drink, eat and sleep to stay alive. I loved hardcore mode in NV, but here it has a serious bad side that prevented me from even trying it. Your companions actually die permanently when their health runs out during fights. And judging by how suicidal their AI is, I imagine playing with permadeath must be a nightmare. Unless you never actually take them to missions. There is a perk you can unlock that gives them a second change, but it is 5th tier perk which doesn't even unlock until the very end of the game, rendering it pointless.
Another issue with the game, that the initial awe didn't last, 4-5 hours in the game does loose its steam somewhat. It still remains enjoyable, but no longer feels like a masterpiece. Without rushing too badly, but definitely not exploring everything or doing every side quest it took me 16 hours to finish the main story. Which might sound disappointing to some people, but I think it is OK. Padding the game would only make it boring. The sweet spot is around 30-40 hours for me. A good story driven game has no business taking more than that amount of my time. I don't want DA:I and AC:Odyssey style sandboxes where you repeat the same tasks ad nauseum at different locations. In Outer Worlds, there is no repetition. And more importantly almost zero backtracking. Which actually contributes to it being so short, as I never had to retrace my steps since you can fast travel directly back to your ship from most locations.
The story was about the most underwhelming part of the game. It really didn't grab my attention. It's there but I never felt emotionally attached to the outcome at any point during the game. The only characters that I actually felt mattered were my crew (at least the 4 I liked). Speaking of the crew about the most source of fun in the game is their banter, so you must take them out in different combinations for that alone.
I think I about covered everything of interest, so let's see the pros and cons:
- Comedic aspect
- You can hire your crew
- Graphics design
- Skill system
- Crew banter
- Full character face customization
- Your ship AI
- Too few big hub locations
- The main story is not interesting
- Can't have meaningful conversations with your crew or romance any of them
- Game is a bit too easy.
- Hardcore mode ruined by permadeath for companions
- Looses steam about 1/3 way trough
- Not really that many complex side missions apart from the companion ones
- some bugs, and I ran into one game breaking bug
- Doesn't handle ultrawide correctly (cutscenes and load screens streched)
- Some necessary settings can only be adjusted by ini editing
technical: 7/10 (new category for the QA aspects how bug free / stable is the game)
overall impression: 8/10