Outriders Review – Bullet Hell

Developer – People Can Fly

Publisher – Square Enix

Platform(s) – PlayStation 5 (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia

MSRP $59.99

Release Date – April 1, 2021

Disclaimer: Review Copy Was Provided For This Review

I don’t think many expected Outriders to attain the level of popularity that it did. I think the games’ success surprised even Square Enix and People Can Fly themselves. Factors such as the Demo that was released to everyone before release and the Xbox Game Pass launch played a part.

I didn’t want to put out a review for this Outriders too quickly because of how more vast this game was than I originally thought. It’s been a month since the game released and after long sessions of playtime and many updates from the team over at People Can Fly, I feel I can finally put up a review.

The buzz for Outriders picked up substantially very close to its release. As I mentioned earlier, that buzz and popularity was something I don’t think the developers themselves expected. Outriders has been subject to a ton of connection issues across all platforms. While it has gotten better in recent weeks, the connection issues are still present for many all these weeks later.

I’m aware that the connection issues have been prevalent for many but I can only speak from my experience in this review. I haven’t experienced any connection issues while in-game for Outriders in all of the hours I’ve put in the game. I’m aware that this doesn’t excuse the many issues plenty of other people have experienced and my playthrough doesn’t necessarily make those issues pardonable. At the same time, I sympathize with the devs in some way simply for the fact that tons of people report their connection issues respectfully and constructively. Then some report their issues in a downright vicious way and are being flat out nasty, it’s not a majority of the player base but it’s still a vocal fraction.

While I didn’t have any in-game connection issues, the opening screen is another story in itself. I always find myself having to restart the game after booting it up because it won’t get off the opening screen. It’s a reoccurring issue where the game gets off the “Authenticating” text then stays on the “signed in” text and only a complete restart of the game will fix it. It happens every time I boot up the game and while it’s not incredibly annoying, I still wish this was fixed by now.

Several humans have abandoned their planet (Earth) that was left for dead and reformed on the planet known as Enoch. A team of soldiers known as the Outriders are tasked with scouting Enoch, which gets cut short after the discovery of an Anomaly storm. Several events lead to you being frozen and being awakened several decades later to discover you have unnatural abilities due to being exposed to the anomaly all those years back. You are tasked with fighting the foes spread throughout the land and completing any task put in your way.

The narrative of Outriders is an interesting one on my end. It’s not a narrative that will have people talking about it for years to come such as The Last of Us Part II or Red Dead Redemption 2. One thing that I like is that Outriders has the feeling that anything can happen. Characters get killed off realistically and when you least expect it. Storylines have a structure that may seem typical but have many twists and turns.

It’s extremely clear that People Can Fly put effort into this narrative and didn’t give it a generic plot structure. Overall, it has its ups and downs in this department. I already previously listed a couple of the highs of the story, but now I have to get to the lows. The dialogue itself can be a real eye-roller in situations where it’s not meant to be. For the most part, the performances are fine but a couple of the voice-overs can sound very stiff and awkward.

I don’t dislike the narrative of Outriders, it just lacks a real sense of direction. There are things I’ll remember about this game for years to come, but there’s nothing I’ll remember about the main campaign, at least in-depth. I will add that I like that it doesn’t overstay its welcome and doesn’t have unnecessary filler. At the end of the day, I found Outriders to be just average from a story perspective.

Let’s get to the main component of Outriders and one of the main reasons I waited weeks to put out this review, the gameplay. There’s so much to unravel here to the point of lunacy. Outriders has 4 classes in Devastator, Pyromancer, Technomancer, and Trickster.

  • Devastator – Close Range. Tank. Stand Your Ground.
  • Pyromancer – Medium Range. Conjurer. Fire.
  • Technomancer – Long Range. Support. Gadgets.
  • Trickster – Close Range. Hit & Run. Spacetime.

This review will be purely from the standpoint of someone who played through the entire game with Technomancer. The Technomancer class has an ability that will heal you every time you do damage to an enemy as well as a melee ability that will temporarily freeze enemies.

Skills are an important part of your arsenal and each class has its own different types. The Technomancer consists of skills such as a destroyable turret that freezes enemies who are hit by it or a skill that temporarily gives you a rocket launcher or a minigun. There’s also the class tree, which is self-explanatory in itself.

After all the class, ability, and skill explanations it’s time for the main question, is Outriders fun to play? In my opinion, this game was way more fun than it had any right to be.

One thing that will be apparent as soon as you start combat is that the enemies with firearms couldn’t miss hitting you even if they wanted. Firearm enemies hit you to the point of absolute absurdity sometimes. This is intentional of course, I think the devs designed this game so that the player will be constantly moving and never stay in one place for a prolonged period because you’ll either be killed or you won’t kill anyone at all. You are going to die a lot, especially if you up the World Tier level (A setting that raises difficulty and loot progression) as I did as I progressed. This design choice may seem annoying at first but I grew to love it the more time I put into learning and studying different enemy types.

Enemies themselves are fine for the most part, I got concerned early on that there wouldn’t be much enemy variety but I’m glad that my concerns were gone later into the game. Boss Battles are so good in their own right, the conflict I had with a giant spider inside of a Volcano towards the beginning of the game is up there as one of my favorites.

I love how dynamic each firearm feels to use, I never found myself always using one weapon in particular. Outriders constantly had me switching because almost every battle I was in called for short-range and long-range and it goes back to that feeling that you’re always supposed to be shifting in some way.

A couple of gripes I have with the combat are how clunky the cover system can feel at times. At times, when I’m in the heat of combat there can be tiny arches that I should be able to easily climb on but can’t. Certain areas have lighting that makes it hard to see where you’re being shot from with bullets coming from any and everywhere. These aren’t a big deal in terms of the combat system as a whole but they are still minor annoyances.

Certain design choices in Outriders can be hit or miss. For a good portion of the game, whenever you open a gate or jump over a gap, the game will start a weird misplaced cutscene instead of a regular animation. It’s comes off as awkward and seems like a mishap that was never fixed, but it’s not because it happens throughout the entire game.

There’s also the design choice to make this game a completely online experience. I feel a lot of the connection issues experienced by many could’ve been avoided if People Can Fly simply let you choose to play Outriders online or offline if you’re in single-player. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a massive deal-breaker but it still would’ve reduced this games’ connection issues that were and are still a prevalent problem for a lot of players.

Environmental design is something I grew to enjoy. You go from a gigantic tree where you see numerous people who’ve been hanged to a volcano that has a surrounding area covered in molten. Like other aspects in this game, I grew to enjoy how dynamic each level in the main narrative looked compared to its last.

From what I understand, Outriders is planned to receive a multitude of content drops in the years to come. I personally can’t see myself returning to this game after those updates drop. Certain multiplayer games hook me enough to continue playing years after release such as Overwatch. As fun as I found the gameplay for Outriders, I think it lacks that feeling to keep you coming back for more after you’ve completed it, similar to a game like Marvel’s Avengers.

Who knows where Outriders will be in a year from now, all I can do is give you my thoughts on what I think of the game now. I have a more forgiving experience from a technical and online perspective than most have with this game. So, I can give my opinion with Outriders the way it was intended, with no bugs or glitches.

Outriders is a good looter shooter from the team over at People Can Fly. It’s just missing that status of great due to its average narrative, certain design decisions, and some lingering connection issues. The gameplay is by far its best aspect and what I suspect most who’ve played Outriders enjoy the most about it. This is by far the biggest IP made by this developer and all things considered, I enjoyed it for the most part.

Rating - 7.5/10

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