Initial release date: April 1, 2021
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Writer(s): Joshua Rubin
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
Developers: People Can Fly, Square Enix
"Review Copy Provided By Square-Enix"
Square-Enix and shooters is not a thing or combination I’d ever find myself pining for especially since the company is know best for putting out industry defining JRPGs and have for the last few decades. When Outriders was announced, I must admit, I was a bit confused as to what to expect with it because it honestly looked like it was a quick cash grab attempt to cash in on the Destiny, Borderlands, The Division, Anthem looter shooter craze that had been going on for the last decade plus. I wasn’t initially impressed by the trailers but over time I started to become invested enough to want to dive in especially after finding out that development studio People Can Fly was working on this title. So the question now is does SE have what it takes to craft a superb looter shooter that makes you actually want to keep playing or does it fall flat? Let’s find out!
In the 22nd century: Earth is no longer able to sustain life due to all the climate disasters that have been occurring which have caused the livability of the planet to be eroded to the point where humanity has had to make an exodus in order to a new planet in order to survive. You take on the role of the Outrider and are tasked with explore the planet and recover the data probes that detail the colonization efforts made previously on the planet Enoch.
Describing the gameplay of Outriders is easy; it’s what happens when you take the core mechanics of Gears of War, mix in some Mass Effect 2/3, add a pinch of Destiny 1/2, sprinkle in some Division 1/2, and you find yourself with a game that is just pure fun! Outriders is a third-person shooter with loot mechanics/gear/customizations similar to Destiny, the gunplay and cover system of Gears, and the RPG elements of Mass Effect and The Division (and Destiny too).
The controls are very easy to pick up and get used to especially if you’ve played Gears because it’s almost identical in how it functions with you having your buttons mapped almost the same way with the left trigger being your ADS (Aim Down Sights), right trigger being shoot, A button being dodge/find cover/sprint, and the like; basically think of all you can do in Gears of War and there you go and you even have a melee button too.
The core gameplay aside from being built around what Gears of War is basically is with its cover-based shooter gameplay is also inspired by what you would get from mixing Mass Effect/The Division/Destiny with its focus on RPG elements for stat focused gameplay and learning the pros and cons of every weapon you use and what buffs and debuffs each weapon and piece of armor and attack and skill have. Like Borderlands (and majority of the above) you will be downing enemies and taking their loot and adding that to your stash allowing you to gain more gear to use and craft as you see fit. Yes, I said crafting, as this game allows you to breakdown any item or weapon you have to its core components in order to craft even greater gear.
You have a loadout of 3 weapons that you can cycle through and intermix as you see fit. I personally make sure to carry dual pistols, assault rifle, and shotgun into battle since I want to be able to keep the chaos flowing.
Each attack you do does a certain amount of damage and takes off HP from your enemies and in like turn; your enemies deal damage to your HP as well. You can use your various skills to be able to buff yourself with stat boosts and defensive and offensive bonuses as well as utilize skills and weaknesses of enemies to debuff them and make them all the weaker and more susceptible to massive damage.
There are several classes to choose from based on how you would like to play the game. In typical RPG fashion:
· Technomancer: Long range, support, uses gadgets.
· Pyromancer: Medium range, conjurer, uses fire.
· Trickster: Close range, hit and run, manipulates spacetime.
· Devastator: Close range, tank, allows you to stand your ground.
I personally play as the Devastator because I always love playing as a tank in RPGs and being at the forefront of battle. I have access to defensive boosts and all-around chaos wrecking offensive abilities that can leave my enemies in tatters.
The game can be played both in single player and in online drop in drop out multiplayer. The fun part about the game’s multiplayer is the fact that you can play this title cross platform with friends and strangers across PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S and that cross play functionality is definitely one of the things that will keep players engaged with this game for years to come.
One can say that the game feels easy to the point where it almost feels like you’re fighting eave after wave of easy to kill enemies as if you’re in a Musou/Dynasty Warriors game and yet all that goes out the window when you start fighting mid bosses and level bosses which will curb stomp you into the ground and humble you.
The way this game allows me to be incredibly creative in how I go about dealing damage to my enemies is almost a work of art in and of itself and I absolutely love it.
Graphically speaking, Outriders looks really good. The character models are all really good but they certainly look like they could’ve came straight out of Destiny or even Mad Max with they’re post-apocalyptic dystopian looks. I’ve noticed how detailed the world is and how lush it looks and how sometimes the characters in the game look completely out of place and not on the level of detail as the environment. Your player created character noticeably stands out from the crowd by looking like a created character and not one native to the story. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing it’s just something that is noticeable.
This game has superb sound direction from the voice acting to the soundtrack to the ambience of the flora and fauna to the environmental destruction and every pop off from a weapon. Everything here sounds excellent. There isn’t much for me to dive into here other than the game’s audio will make you feel like you’re part of its world
The only real downside for this game was the launch and pre-launch which saw innumerable disconnects making this phenomenal game basically unplayable. The game would constantly disconnect from the servers over and over to the point where the official Outriders social media accounts were apologizing for the constant issues. The reason this review has been delayed is because for many days I honestly could not play the game due to all the server issues and I had the game before launch since I was reviewing the game.
The only other downside I’ve run into occasionally is the random times when the game decides to update and it randomly boots you out of the game causing you to relaunch the game in STEAM. I can’t speak to how this runs on console but on PC it does occasionally happen although not nearly as frequently as before.
This is one of the most fun games I’ve played not only of 2021 but in the last several years and it continues to draw me back in over and over and over again. I am in disbelief at how Square-Enix was able to perfectly marry together so many different game genres into one and do so incredibly well to make what will be considered one of the best new IPs of 2021 and will most certainly be up there in the best games of the year. With incredibly fluid controls, a solid easy to follow story, lavish graphics, phenomenal multiplayer with cross play built in (when it works), and an incredibly deep class system and upgrade pathways; Outriders is a game that MUST be experienced by every gamer out there. I love this game and so will you!