Developed by People Can Fly, the minds behind 2011’s surprise hit Bulletstorm, Outriders is a new venture for not only the talented studio but a unique team-up with publishers Square Enix. Trying their hand at cornering the online looter shooter genre Outriders offers a crisp and intense action adventure but fails to stick the landing with plodding cutscenes and frustrating segments that make this review ‘ongoing’.
Spoiler: the Earth is gone and a group of individuals known as Outriders are partially to blame for the poor future of mankind. Upon scouting a new planet named Enoch something happens that causes you to disappear for the majority of civilizations growth. You wake up to a world that has since moved on full of chaos and insanity. The player is tasked with not only exploring the vast world that is Enoch but to also explore the future of mankind.
The games world in itself is pretty interesting and is a sort of bridge between James Cameron’s Avatar and Mad Max: Fury Road and I sort of dig it. It’s not all cavemen and spandex there is an abundance of technological advances but it almost feels like it doesn’t matter due to the situation the Terrans are facing.
The game drops you into what I believe is the most abysmal character customization that I have seen since Pokemon GO. The shallow amount of customization in terms of your characters looks cannot be glanced over in a game that boast a large online scope and really brought me down from the high that I had when booting the game up for the first time. This amount of character customizations cannot fly in a 2021 game like this.
Another issue I take offense with and it may be a personal preference is the absurd amount of fade to black cutscenes within the game. Nothing in Outriders has a connected flow to it and it is immediately clear from the first cutscene to the last cutscene. That dreaded fade to black will happen so often that it will surprise you in certain locations and during certain missions that it will immediately pull you out of the game even for a short moment.
It may sound like a nitpick but trust me after a dozen of these interferences from miniscule objectives like “clear the debris”, “talk to this person”, or even “open the door” you will start to wonder why this Xbox 360-era annoyance still made it to the year 2021.
Run and Gun and Run and Gun
The gameplay for Outriders does not break the boundaries for the genre but what it does right it does surprisingly well whether it’s the differences in classes, each skill tree, looting, or it’s strategic covering system. For the most part this game plays like Gears of War and Destiny in which combat location is painfully obvious with several blockades and natural cover points in which enemies spawn and attack you with.
People Can Fly succeeded in making each weapon, sound, and skill feel crisp and top notch making the combat very engaging with each encounter. Boss fights are quite challenging with a unique move-set but a random pattern of rotation making each attempt feeling like a game of chess in some instances. During one try I would try to run and gun my way to the enemies face in hopes that I can blow their head off while other attempts boiled down to very safe cover and long range weaponry.
Inventory management is fun but a sometimes a chore to play with for console players due to the necessary cursor system the game adopts for all versions. The game does a good job in labelling each item, page, and skill for those who may otherwise get confused by making their system very understandable whether that would be adding indicator on higher or lower ranked gear, making the skill tree very simplistic, or a simple fast travel system using flags planted in various locations.
It all feels very recycled from other games but with that distinct flavor you would only get from People Can Fly.
What Is This Online?
This is where the review comes to a dead stop because as of this writing I have yet to have a full session with random online players. In fact, getting signed in to play the game is a challenge all in its own! On Monday April 5th I decided to test how many times I was able to log in successfully and also record how frequently the game would fail.
In conclusion within 20 log in attempts I was successful 11 times within 5 seconds, 4 times within 10 seconds, and 6 times waiting over 5 minutes before closing out of the application and restarting the game. There was no pattern to this issue either. On a Saturday I would hop in with no issue whatsoever same goes for Sunday. When Monday rolled around I began to see the wait and as of writing the issue continues to persist.
Out of the handful of times I attempted to play a full area online in a squad none of them were consistent to the end. All instances of online multiplayer crumbled typically within the first enemy encounters and that is downright disappointing. I can forgive the game for having terrible multiplayer but when you offer a game that has a single player campaign but requires unreliable online servers that is when you have truly failed to clear the lowest of bars.
I will come back to this review as I continue to attempt to join random groups and hope to report back with more positive impressions.
Overall I didn’t hate my time on Epoch in fact I thought that the crisp and gruesome action in Outriders was far better than I was expecting. Outside of the gameplay though everything feels less polished with cringe worthy dialogue, obnoxious cutscene dips, and unplayable online in some instances. In the future I will offer a follow-up reporting on the online aspect of Outriders but at this time I have nothing to say about it.
Outriders reminds me of the enjoyable moments of my teenage Xbox 360 filled adolescence playing games like Gears of War 2, Army of Two, and Bulletstorm sprinkled with some detailed and enjoyable rpg elements that make the game more tailor-made to my chaotic preference. I can definitely see myself coming back to Outriders if and when they add more content and patch the online issues.