A 980 might not be enough if it was a VR title, but for pancake games, it's going to depend on a couple of things. One, do you want to play the game in 4k? Resolution makes a huge difference in performance, to the point where a friend started to get snippy with me when I told him I got 30fps in Metro 2033 benchmarks despite my having a card that was a generation older than his. I ran at 1360x768 and he was running at IIRC 1600x1050 and that's a substantial enough difference that we both pulled about 30fps in the benchmarks. The difference from 1080p to 4k resolution is 4X as much to render. So, regarding your question, what kind of FPS do you need to get out of this and at what resolution? That same friend who was adamant that it was impossible I was getting 30fps in Metro began to believe that he could readily identify the difference between 90fps and 144 fps, so these days I'm sure he'd be very unhappy with the way a 980 performed in any modern game. I myself have tended to be happy with smooth performance, never dipping below 30fps is fine in 2D for me in many cases, as long as there isn't awful screen tearing to the point that I want to turn into a character from the end of Event Horizon I'm usually alright with graphics performance and will benefit more from having higher settings like bettter AA than I will from getting a solid 60fps, not that I can't tell the difference it's just that I don't really care.
Since I've gotten into the VR community I've come to realize that what is acceptable with a monitor strapped to your face is very different, so if this was a VR title you'd need a solid 90fps with no dips below 60 and as few dips below 90 as possible so a 980 wouldn't be likely to pull that off with anything modern that wasn't using very stylized graphics and was performance oriented. For a flat game though, it's really all about your own personal preferences. If you've got to have a resolution above 1080p with all the bells and whistles the answer might be a newer card will help ensure that you don't end up having a disappointing experience.
How do you feel about other UE4 titles? If for instance, Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice runs great at your preferred resolution and max settings you'll probably be fine, or will at least have a better idea of what to expect regarding performance. The 9 series cards were really the same chipset as the 7 series cards, but the huge performance gains listed prior to the 10 series launching are like the "6X performance increase* ** ***" from the 10 series to the 20 series, they exist almost entirely on paper. The real world performance is generally hampered by the fact that games want to e.g. run on AMD hardware too, so while you would see significant performance improvements at 4k resolution and max settings jumping from a 980 to a 2080 or something brand new, most people just don't need that kind of performance (or have the cash to drop on such an enthusiast tier bleeding-edge graphics card for that matter.)
You're probably going to be okay if all you want is to run the game, but there are a lot of unanswered questions here, even your i7 and 16gb of RAM is a huge variable, although not one I feel the need to bring up so much given that the last several years of CPU improvements have improved the hell out of performance-per-watt but for a desktop gaming PC we've had a plateau in performance that has lasted longer than these things used to last.
At the end of the day a lot of things depend on Obsidian, and how much optimization they do. Their priority may well be on game affecting bugs and crashes and such, so the game might not launch in a super optimized state (also the game might have AMD optimization focus even if they do optimize the hell out of it, for console purposes since these days those are all low end AMD APUs). Not even an Obsidian employee could tell you exactly what the game would get in average FPS at launch on a test rig with a 980 at this point (and real world rigs have so much more potential for weirdness that's just impossible to QA so no one can really tell anyone what kind of performance they'll get out of a title beyond what they would consider a reasonable margin of error), and if they could they almost certainly wouldn't. That said, it's not unreasonable to try and extrapolate and buying something like Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice could easily give you an idea of what a newer UE4 title does with your rig performance wise. I would say that at the price point Ninja Theory asked for that title it is an affordable way to gauge what you might anticipate from The Outer Worlds, at least in my opinion, but YMMV.
TL;DR: Try a new UE4 title and see what that does for you, it may be able to give you some idea what you can anticipate from The Outer Worlds. Even if you had told us the resolution you're aiming for, your Frames-Per-Second preferences etc. it'd be a shot in the dark trying to guess what you'll think of how your rig performs with a game that isn't even out yet.
Edited by Clawdius_Talonious, 18 March 2019 - 10:29 PM.