Well it’s better late than never! I wanted to have this out a few weeks ago, however it’s taken me a bit longer to finish than I expected, and I still had to take part in family tasks and life as it were. I will say however, I have had a blast with Outriders despite its messy launch. I did try to play upon the initial release, but gave up due to the many connection issues it had (which have been well documented by now!). Once that was resolved though, I haven’t had any issues since the opening weekend with regards to connecting to the game.
Let’s start with the story of Outriders – we have ruined Earth and need to leave it, so we are sent across the galaxy to land on Enoch (a planet that should be humans second chance). However, it all quickly goes to pot. Within an hour of landing, we’re hit by an anomaly which is a very pretty storm that wrecks everything, along with giving some select few powers. You end being shoved in a stasis pod to be woken up many decades later and you’re thought to be the last Outrider. However, you don’t wake up the same as you are one of the lucky ones to receive powers! The story is played out in cut scenes, however much of the back story is hidden away in the side quests or text files you pick up, which adds further lore to the game. This is a shame as not every one will do the side quests or collect items, so they may miss out. It’s also worth talking to the characters and asking the optional sentences as this adds further to the story. The game does have some nice story twists as it goes on; some not expected, some you will see coming, but it’s a fun ride overall.
You will be asked to choose your class before it all starts. I opted for being a Pyromancer as it sounded the most fun to me! We then have Technomancer, Devastator and lastly Trickster, all have varying abilities. Pyromancer can conjure fire and is most useful at a medium distance. It’s tons of fun making a big pool of fire explode from the ground along with setting everything to burn as it causes constant damage to the enemies. Technomancer is a long range support class. I’ll be honest, I don’t see this being chosen that much and that’s due to how the combat works. Trickster is as it sounds – a hit and run type which can slow down time. Having a trickster on your side is very useful as they can slow all the enemies so that you can do up close and brutal damage. Devastator is your tank, designed to be at the front taking the damage. This class gets extra health and armour and some cool abilities such as earthquake.
The classes themselves don’t impact Outrider’s story, just simply how your combat will play out. I played this mostly in solo, which works very well considering it’s meant for co-op play and I didn’t feel disadvantaged by doing it solo. This is due to the frankly outstanding difficulty system that’s in play, which is known as World Tiers. As the game progresses, this will increase just through general play. Each Tier will change elements, such as enemy levels as they may get levelled 4+ above your level. It increases the modifier for the chance of rare loot dropping, along with increasing the max level cap of the gear you can wear. Essentially, you make this game as hard as you want it to be. By the end, I managed to get to World Tier 7, but I’d say if playing solo, World Tier 5 is a great balance. The other aspect that makes this great is that’s its changeable on fly, so if you really do struggle, a quick pause is all it takes to lower it.
Moving onto the combat then – it’s so much fun! This is down to the weapons and the abilities you have in play. I opted for volcanic rounds which makes your weapon fire lava bullets, so essentially rinsing enemy armour. I also had the power to steal health from the enemies, which comes in handy as the amount of enemies you face at once time is insane! By the end, I had an ability which allowed me to make a large fire bomb which erupted from beneath an enemy, thus doing nearly 5k damage in itself. Combine this with the many many guns you will pick up, it mixes the game play up greatly. I decided to run with a high capacity light machine gun and a shotgun for when enemies came up close (which happens more often than you would think). The combat is further varied as each weapon can be modded to add extra abilities, which could include toxic damage or slowing an enemy down. There are three levels to the mods – the higher the mod, the better the results.
Outriders also has a cover system which is is very familiar… which is to be expected as this developer did make Gears of War Judgement. For the most part, enemies will just run towards you or spam grenades behind any cover you’re in, so it pays to just keep on the move and use your powers as you’re moving. The combat plays out like it’s wanting you to attack up close and not be behind cover popping off shots from afar, and this is why I feel the Technomancer class just doesn’t fit. The game has snipers, however they almost feel a pointless addition and it’s like they have been put in just because it’s a weapon. This is more apparent when you start facing the planet’s monster enemies who continually just charge at you. The medium range classes play best here.
As this is a looter shooter, it’s all about finishing the game to be able to start the end game content. You will need to continually increase your damage output and make sure your armour stats are solid too, especially as the World Tier is going up as: the higher that is, the better the rewards you get. Outriders also wants you to make sure your anomaly power is high as it’s best way to stay on top of a fight if you can chain your abilities, or use them in quick succession. As you’re fighting, the drops are a regular thing – whether that be a weapon or piece of armour. They all change how your characters look, so your character can end up looking different to say the least. This is all easily managed with the games inventory system which only takes a click or two to change anything. Outriders has a simplicity about it that other looter shooters don’t have. They really have made it extremely accessible.
Now I have to be honest as everything I have said so far is good, but the game does have some points I felt let it down a bit. One of these is the audio. Outriders just didn’t have enough of a punch when in combat, or if a cut scene was trying to portray a certain emotion. It is lacklustre. The other element which stuck with me throughout the game was that there was always a brown tinge. If you remember back to the PS3/Xbox 360 days, we had the running joke of “everything is brown”, and I had that feeling with this at times. I get that the game is set on a planet that’s at war, but even in areas where it should be colourful, it still has that tinge. There is an area called “The Forest” which is nice, but that tinge of brown still lingers. The only time I felt it wasn’t as bad was a part where you’re on a snowy mountain – figures! The game also had some clipping issues in cut scenes. Your character would be stood next to another talking, but their feet wouldn’t be viewable as they had gone through the floor. In another scene, my characters arm just floated above a table, even though she was clearly meant to have them resting on it.
None of this is game breaking of course, but it’s worth mentioning as it is a distraction. I would still recommend playing Outriders as it’s a fun ride. It is on the long side, but that could be due to my solo playthrough. By the end, I had that “this is getting long” feeling. However, it’s on Game Pass so it’s a perfect opportunity to give it a go!
Outriders is available now on PS5, PS4. Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, Stadia and PC for around £50 depending on platform, or get it through Game Pass whilst it’s there.