I loved Bulletstorm. I honestly think that it’s one of the best cover shooters from the Xbox 360/ PS3 era. It’s a damn shame that it didn’t sell well because I sure would’ve love more of its violent humor. While People Can Fly has never explicitly come out and say it, I personally consider Outriders to be the spiritual sequel to the game.
Both are cover shooters, both are done by People Can Fly and both are violently gory.
So…does that mean Outriders is worth playing?
Read on to find out!
What is Outriders?
Outriders is a 3rd person loot shooter with RPG elements by People Can Fly. It’s a single or multiplayer game (up to three total players) with no microtransactions. It’s published by Square Enix, though Bandai Namco is the one handling the publisher duties in SEA. They’re also the awesome guys who gave us a review key of the game do to this review with!
The game’s out on PC, Xbox Series (free if you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber) and PS4/PS5. There’s also crossplay for the game between all consoles and PC, though as of this writing, only crossplay between the Xbox consoles and the Playstation family is enabled.
I’m reviewing the PS5 version of the game.
If you’ve played the demo of Outriders that came out a couple of weeks ago, you’ll pretty much know what it’s about. Earth’s been devastated, most of humanity’s dead. What’s left have taken to the stars in the hopes of finding a new homeworld for the human race. Thinking Enoch (the world where the game is set) to be that world, the survivors travel there only to find out that things aren’t really like what they thought it’d be.
Fast forward 31 years later.
You, as an Outrider, are awoken from stasis to a strange new world. Everybody is at war and you don’t even know which side you’re supposed to be on. Discovering that, and the greater mysteries that lie in wait on Enoch is pretty much what the game is about.
For the uninitiated, think of Outriders as a third person action RPG with Gear’s cover system and shooting, Destiny’s loot and UI (user interface) and the sci-fi trappings of the biotic skills from Mass Effect. There are 4 different classes you can play as, with each catering to a different playstyle. Right now, it’s hard to say if there’s a clear best class to choose from since it’s new though I can honestly say that the Pyromancer class is pretty meh.
Pew Pew Pew!
Like Bulletstorm, Outriders’ combat is mainly of the cover shooter variety.
Basically, you hide behind suspiciously placed cover to shoot enemies to progress. There’s really not much environmental interaction, which means most fights just boil down to shooting and using your special powers. While some cover can be destroyed, that’s pretty much it in terms of environmental interaction.
Unlike Destiny, your powers are on a faster cooldown, which means you’ll see them in action more.
It’s more like Mass Effect in this sense, though you’re alone, without AI teammates. I just wish that there were more powers to choose from per class! Each class only has a handful of them and they’re hit or miss.
Your powers also synergize with your perks, so you’ll want to take them into consideration as well since you can only equip 3 skills at a time. You’ll naturally unlock powers as you level, and can buff your character via the skill tree…which is pretty complex! You can choose to specialize or be a generalist, both are equally valid options.
Still, most of the game is shooting stuff, shooting more stuff and shooting even more stuff. All the while, stuff is shooting back at you.
With so much shooting, it’s disheartening to see that they variety of guns aren’t more fleshed out. You have your usual suspects; pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, SMGs and LMGs…I’ve yet to encounter any exotic weaponry. Despite being set in the future, I sure as hell didn’t feel like it with the relatively normal selection of guns.
Fortunately, gunplay is very satisfying (a trait Outriders shares with Bulletstorm).
Shooting enemies is very fun; the guns feel powerful enough, the enemies react appropriately when hit and the sounds complement the carnage perfectly. It’s good the shooting feels awesome…because there’s really not much else to the game.
One thing I really love about the game is how health recovery is handled. Depending on your class and weapons, you recover health in a ton of ways; leeching it bit by bit off enemies or getting a massive health buff after killing something with guns or skills.
What it basically means is that as long as you kill or shoot at something, you’ll always be recovering health. You’ll still need to play smart at higher World States, but the system is incredibly forgiving for those who just want to rock and roll.
I do hate the lack of in-game checkpoints though. It only autosaves at the beginning of each battle, so if you die at the very last enemy of the arena, you’re forced to play through the battle all over again. This isn’t much of an issue with most battles (since they’re short), but there are instances where I’ve lost a ton of progress in a fight because I died and had to restart. Some midbattle checkpoints would’ve been great, or the ability to quick save!
Objectives for the game may differ, but the way you achieve them is always the same; go from Point A to Point B killing everything that stands in your way. It does get boring after awhile, so play in short bursts or you’ll risk being burnt out from the game. Enemy variety could also use some work…I’m tens of hours into the game and I’ve been fighting the same enemy archetypes the whole time; the melee bruiser, the armored gunner, the sniper, the ranged attacker and of course, the Elite Captains with extra health.
Outriders has an on-the-fly difficulty setting called World Tier. The higher the tier, the more difficult enemies become. On the flipside, you also get better drops and a higher chance for those drops to be higher quality. I’m not sure if the XP you get scales but it didn’t seem so.
As of this writing, I’m on World Tier 7 (out of 15) and I’ve yet to feel that the enemies seem like bullet sponges. I’m appropriately geared for my level and enemies die with a couple of well placed shots (or depending on the gun’s power, a headshot or two). It’s still hard as hell; enemies fire on you with nigh unerring accuracy and melee enemies can wipe you out in a couple of blows…but it’s still fun.
I love how they make you work to get to the higher tiers; you need a certain amount of XP from killing enemies with the last unlocked World Tier to progress to the next one. That means, you’ll need to actually play on World Tier 6 to unlock World Tier 7. You can’t play on World Tier 1 and keep unlocking higher tiers. Die and a chunk of the XP you’ve banked in the World Tier meter is taken away as punishment.
It actually serves as a skill and gear check, making sure only the most skilled (and equipped) can dive into the latter tiers.
Needless to say, even with skills and good gear I died a whole lot from World Tier 5 onwards.
Death isn’t a big deal though; all the XP and gear you collected before dying is yours to keep.
On the PS5, respawning is pretty much instantaneous too. That goes for the fast travel or other loading, which last no longer than 4 or 5 seconds max. Changing your gear is also quick, though there is a weird lag when you press R3 to tag items to dismantle or sell in bulk.
Speaking of gear, Outriders is awesome in that it allows you to fully customize your weapon.
A few hours into the game, you’ll unlock the ability to tinker with your guns and armor. You can level up gear that you’ve outleveled, make them stronger by upgrading their rarity, change what perk is equipped or even adjust secondary stats! It’s an awesome system that lets you use your favourite gun throughout the game if you want to!
The upgrading doesn’t come free, but you can always dismantle your items to get the ingredients so all you need to do is to keep playing!
Hell, you can even customize your ride, which is pretty cool…even if it serves no gameplay purpose.
What I really miss from Bulletstorm is its zany and violent humor.
In Outriders, the violence is still there but the humor’s been toned down massively. What survives is just a dab of dark humor here and there. I’m bummed but hey, at least the dark humor is funny when it’s there.
I’ve had a couple of chance to play multiplayer with strangers and Ibrahim. You can create a solo game, a Friends-Only game or an open game where everybody can join. That’s provided they are playing on the same console family. For cross play, you’re going to need your friends (or you if you’re joining your friends), to input a custom code into the main menu. That’ll let the game connect to your friends (or your friends to you). It’s that easy!
Problem is the servers can be damn erratic. Sometimes even logging in can be tedious, with us stuck on the title screen as the game tells you to wait. It’s more than a week since launch and having those login issues is annoying. I’ve tried Outriders on PS5 and Xbox Series X and both consoles have the say issues at times.
One of the things I absolute despise (and I cannot stress it enough) is how the camera shakes during cutscenes. It is vomit inducing. You will NOT be able to focus on anything at all because the damn camera can’t even sit still. It might be forgiveable if it happens during action scenes…but nope, it happens EVERY TIME you hit a cutscene.
EVERY. DAMN. TIME.
It’s like you’re watching the cutscenes in the middle of an earthquake!
It’s incredible that NOBODY listened to people bitching about this when the demo came out. There are countless topics on Reddit complaining about this, and thankfully…somebody listened. You can turn off the stupid shaking by going into the options and turning up the Cinematic Camera Smoothing value to 1.0, which eliminates the shaking completely.
The other big issue for me is that the game needs a constant Internet connection. I can understand needing it for authentication as you login, but even single player needs you to be online to play! It’s not like there’s a shared hub like Destiny 2’s Tower, if you play solo, you don’t interact with anybody else!
Honestly, it’s a boneheaded move that’s sure to piss off a ton of people. I know it did me.
Though I’ve been fortunate enough to have a somewhat stable connection, what happens if the game’s servers have issues? I can’t play?! It’s also ridiculous how the game saves your progress. I’ve had times where I lost progress for a whole bounty (side missions against tough, optional bosses) because I lost connection to the damn servers right as I was fast travelling back to base. Can you imagine the rage?! Why the hell doesn’t the game save my progress BEFORE I fast travel or after I’ve completed a quest? I have to leave the damn map before it saves?! STUPID!
All this just serves to illustrate my point; People Can Fly aren’t ready for a AAA game because they make questionable gameplay decisions.
The Bottom Line.
People Can Fly isn’t a AAA developer…and Outriders shows it. The camera shaking issue mentioned above would’ve been kicked out at any major developer. It’d sure as hell wouldn’t make it past Alpha or Beta. There are a ton of other weird niggles (like weird camera cuts) that show off the developer’s inexperience too.
The voice over isn’t particularly good too, even the lines don’t feel natural at times.
However, Outriders is still a massively impressive game, despite its many shortcomings. It’s incredibly fun, there’s a ton of action and hunting for better gear is always an addicting experience. Just don’t expect it to be a very polished title.
Great game needing some more polish and bug fixes.
- Tons of customization options.
- Great gunplay.
- Lots of ways to progress.
- Lengthy quest.
- Only a handful of skills.
- Not a lot of variety in gear or enemies.
- Always online, even for single player.