Outriders Review – A Fun Looter Plagued by Technical Issues
Outriders, a new looter-shooter, out of People Can Fly and Square Enix promises players a mix of third-person run and gun action with special abilities thrown in for good measure. Square Enix sent me a code early and having put roughly 35 hours into the game I feel I can give a fairly balanced review of the title. See my thoughts in the Outriders review below.
Technical Issues Really Hurt a Fun Looter
During the media tour for Outriders People Can Fly pitched the game as “not a game as a service” title. This meant the title was feature complete at launch. Unfortunately for me this description of the game is arguably disingenuous. Yes, the title is feature complete, but it relies heavily on servers to provide many aspects of its gameplay. This means that the game is unplayable if the servers are not available. There has been a ton of downtime for the title over the launch weekend, which really hurt my overall experience.
Server issues aside the core gameplay of Outriders is a fun mashup of titles we’ve seen before. I am drawn to comparing this to a sort of Mass Effect 3 and Borderlands mixture given the frenetic, fast paced moment to moment combat you experience. Combat has you balancing a mix of gunplay and powers that make each encounter fun. You can duck into cover when needed thanks to the cover system, but you will spend most of your time running and gunning as you fight hoards of enemies across various map locations.
To flush out combat there are a wide variety of weapons, abilities, and builds to make and use. People Can Fly gives the player a wide range of options across the four classes to really build out your character how you want. I personally played through the game as the Devastator Class which is the game’s tank character. This class features a number of abilities centered around close-combat and taking huge amounts of damage. This class like the other three features a sprawling ability tree that is levelled up as you increase your character’s level to the 30 cap. The ability tree is very interesting and well done, offering players the chance to make their builds fairly unique. You can respec at anytime with no cost to yourself, making experimentation a key part of the gameplay.
While combat is the bulk of the game there is a main story and a number of side stories you can experience through quests and side quests. These stories are fully voiced and are for the most part entertaining enough. Some of the writing didn’t land for me personally, but it was serviceable for what the game is trying to accomplish. One thing that is a bit odd is how they handle story transitions and map transitions. There are a lot of cutscenes and fade to blacks transitions that feel strange in how they are added. This becomes more apparent the longer you play the game.
The campaign itself clocks in at roughly 10-15 hours with full completion of the side quests and activities being closer to 25+ hours. So there is plenty of value here. Plus there is a special end-game collection of missions called Expeditions that further extend gameplay time to infinity in theory.
Nailing the Looter-Shooter Loop
If you are new to the looter-shooter genre you need to understand you will be playing the same content again and again, and again. This goes for most games in the genre and Outriders is no different. You will spend your time grinding and farming the same content for gear from the rather large pool of items. This gear comes in a variety of rarities ranging from commons to legendries.
There is a lot of content to grind from a wide range of sources. You can replay side missions and story missions as much as you like. This allows you to farm bosses and elites for drops to your hearts content. While some people find this repetition annoying, I enjoyed the simplicity of the gameplay loop. When it works it works well. This is true for both the main story and the end-game. The game does a good job of pushing you towards the next more powerful unlock. This feedback loop means you will continually be improving as you play the game. Even if it is only marginally.
Performance and Testing
Before I wrap things up I just need to touch on the performance and what feels like a slight lack of QA. Server issues are a major source of problems, but weren’t the only problems I encountered with the game. There are a number of bugs that were missed in QA. Things like a disappearing HUD, getting trapped in rocks due to ability usage, frequent crashes, and other annoyances frequently plagued my experience. Multiplayer also has been experience issues with connectivity and some people losing their entire end-game inventories. Given the current state of the gaming industry, it was unfortunate to encounter so many bugs, especially after the numerous updates PCF made to the demo.
If you are a fan of or are looking for a new looter shooter I would recommend giving Outriders a look at some point. There is enough interesting ideas here to make for a fun experience. With that said the game is suffering from a ton of technical issues from server stability to in-game bugs. Over time I expect this to be ironed out by the developers, but it is a major issue you need to be aware of. There is a chance you will buy this game and not be able to play it for periods of time if the servers are unstable.