People Can Fly's looter-shooter Outriders has been one of our most anticipated games for quite some time now. The title that takes place on a ruthless alien planet and equips us with incredible, powerful abilities seemed to tick a lot of the boxes in what makes for a great looter-shooter. Following an Easter weekend packed with all things Outriders, without too much foreshadowing, we've come to the conclusion that a lot of the hype for this game seems to have been justified, but it isn't without its faults of which it has a few.
Outriders follows our hero, the leader of a military group known as The Outriders who, along with his/her team, are sent to check out the potential of the distant planet Enoch before bringing the remaining human population to its surface. Upon discovering this lush and gorgeous planet is actually an inhospitable nightmare, plagued by vicious fauna and destructive storms known as The Anomaly that vaporises those it touches or transforms them into something otherworldly, the landing order is engaged, sending humanity down a bleak path.
After being touched by The Anomaly, our Outrider is thrust into a cryogenic chamber with the hope of being awoke in the future when a cure has been found, but thirty years later humanity has crumbled into factions fighting over resources and land, and our Outrider who awoke amid the chaos of warfare, has become something new: a powerful being with mystical and deadly powers, an Altered. Using the newfound abilities, Outriders' story sees us venture further than anyone before into the wilds of Enoch in search of a way of ensuring the survival of humanity. The storyline itself is engaging and will keep you interested, but it's the gameplay where Outriders excels.
Built as a looter-shooter, Outriders is a story-based third-person game that basically asks you to gun down everything that stands in your way in the hopes of earning some new gear that makes you stronger or more capable against your foes. On the surface, the title plays quite similarly to The Division with cover systems and tactical gameplay, but the locations, foes and abilities at your disposal give off more of a Borderlands feel, albeit with a much more serious tone.
As it stands, the game has four Altered classes to choose from; the Pyromancer, the Trickster, the Technomancer, and the Devastator. Each comes with unique abilities and playstyles, for example the Devastator excels at being a bullet sponge, and acting as a tanky presence on the battlefield, whereas the Trickster is more about abusing its movement to evade and punish those that cross its path.
Outriders is a story-centric experience and it can be played just like that. You can complete the campaign solo or with two extra friends, and you can do it in one quick sweep or you can look to explore the many side quests available. But, for those looking for more of a challenge, the World Tiers system is a form of adding difficulty to the game by increasing the levels of enemies to make them stronger and deal more damage, in return for a much better chance at getting higher quality loot. There are 15 tiers to unlock and play on, and essentially it's like Borderlands 3's Mayhem Mode. The catch is that World Tiers require you to play on the highest available option to unlock the next one, and by the time you reach World Tier 7, things will start becoming challenging.
As for the enemies, there are a range of humans and wildlife to face. Humans can be regular gun-sporting foes or armoured minigun-using mini-bosses, and for the most part the range you'll face is quite broad. There is also a spanning list of wildlife to chew through, from flying bug-like creatures known as Strix, to the ruthless, towering Brood Mothers, but in terms of fauna, the majority of what you'll have to gun down are the smaller and weaker Perforo creatures. There are also bosses and mini-bosses that have unique attacks, a lot of health, and will pretty much instantly kill you on high World Tiers. The main difference that separates bosses and mini-bosses from typical enemies are the aforementioned abilities. These are heavy hitting powers, like your own, that can be interrupted if hit with certain attacks, and similar to your Outrider, these abilities can be used as status or crowd control effects, so make sure you don't get hit by one.
Eliminating foes will often drop new weapons or armour that can increase your defence or power if equipped. Considering Outriders is a looter-shooter that is largely about amassing better stats, this will often mean equipping the best items you have, despite what your favourites are - until you reach the expeditions in the endgame that is. These are missions that are for the bravest Outriders out there, and will see you face the most challenging encounters yet for the most rewarding and powerful gear. You can do these solo, but for the most part, having a few friends around to help with the tough and large numbers of enemies is pretty vital to completing these on the high World Tiers especially.
The main issues plaguing Outriders today are largely centred around its multiplayer. The game is designed to be played with up to three people, and can be played cross-platform. The problem is that the servers are currently quite unstable. We usually wouldn't look to mention this, especially at the launch of a game, but our experiences with multiplayer so far has involved connection failures and even the inability to re-add people to a game after they have disconnected. And, this doesn't even cover the many issues we have had with the game crashing, which is amplified considerably when trying to play multiplayer. We've been enjoying the game on an Xbox Series X, and as a single player experience, it works pretty well. There's been a few crashes here and there, but when it comes to multiplayer, the triggers for crashing are much more common, seemingly worse so on last-gen consoles, and it seriously hampers the ability to enjoy Outriders with friends.
This conveniently brings us on to our biggest annoyance of Outriders, which is the fact that the game is always online. You cannot experience Outriders offline at all, despite the game being entirely playable as a solo title, which is why it can be irritating when the game is literally unplayable for server related issues despite you having a solo character.
With all this being said, our time so far with Outriders has been an incredibly fun one. This is a game that is enjoyable, engaging, and rewarding to play at every turn, it's just a few minor issues that stop it from being something truly special. If you have the courage to brave the wilds of Enoch, Outriders delivers a story backed with tight gameplay and shooting mechanics, and despite having the opportunity to increase the challenge through World Tiers, the Altered abilities never cease in making you feel like a god among men.
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