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full on review (no spoilers)

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So, not going to lie, I had pretty high hopes for The Outer Worlds.  Given who was involved in its development, I thought that it was going to be Arcanum/F: NV in space.  Honestly, I still prefer Arcanum or F: NV to TOW.  What had I hoped to see from those games that I didn't or felt like it wasn't delivered as well?

Length and depth.  With both F: NV and Arcanum, you can play them dozens of times, because there are so many quests and so many things to find/discover/uncover.  It is impossible to do all that in a single playthrough.  I am a completionist.  I don't care what game I play, I try to milk it to its fullest potential, I want to squeeze absolutely everything out of it as I can.  If I play it again, I will still try to get everything out of it that I can.  Great RPGs in general, and F: NV and Arcanum in particular, have tons of juice to squeeze after a single playthrough.  I have played both of those games MANY times (5+).  I always found new things.  I have beat TOW and honestly don't want to give it another playthrough, because I feel like it wouldn't be that much different.  I obviously have a different experience by making different choices, but I feel like there is probably nothing that I missed (or, very, very little).  I feel like there is not much more juice to squeeze.  I briefly started a playthrough with a 2nd character, very different from my 1st, and could already see where it was going.  I could imagine how the rest of the game would play out and it just didn't motivate me to keep playing.  In terms of the sheer number of hours involved in playing either (being a completionist), TOW is nowhere near as long. 

Companions.  To be fair, neither Arcanum or F: NV had great companions.  Arcanum had companions who had interesting backstories and could have been really compelling, but they were almost free of banter, interaction, and reaction to the story.  F: NV only let you have a single companion, effectively.  Some of them were good and had a reasonable amount of development, but you still didn't get that deep character depth, development, and involvement.  I was hoping that Obsidian would draw from their experiences making Tyranny and Deadfire, and we would end up with companions along the lines of Baldur's Gate 2 or the Mass Effect franchise - heck, Planescape Torment.  I thought that we were going to get some seriously fleshed out, interesting companions who would develop over time and have fascinating backstories and really interesting banter and reactions/interactions with the story and player actions.  The companions weren't complete trash... but honestly, I find absolutely nothing memorable about any of them.  Anomen, the noble who has struggled to do well for his family name and honor Helm, who is arrogant but internally conflicted about his status and sometimes the actions of the Church of Helm.  Viconia, who is jaded, distrustful and contemptuous, but can be convinced that life is valuable and that there is value in trying to help others.  Aerie, who is wounded and hobbled by fear, with a heart of gold, who can be given confidence and learn to be strong.  ME's Garrus, Miranda, Morgan, Grunt and the list could go on.  Any of the Planescape Torment companions.  All of these companions genuinely interested me and I was invested in them.  Ellie, Vicar and Parvati were the only companions I could even stand in TOW (I liked SAM... but he had zero personality), and while I didn't dislike them, I also found them to be very vanilla and not at all interesting. 

Customization.  This game doesn't even get close to F: NV or Arcanum in either respect.  There are a billion character builds for either game.  In both of them, I played Doc Holiday - physically weak, fragile, but very fast, great with handguns, super lucky, and a gambler.  I literally got rich in both games gambling as my Doc Holiday character and would gun people down with my pistols if it became necessary.  I played a sniper/scout, a brawler, a thief, a scientist and a talker in each game.  No gambling in this game, so no Doc Holiday.  Stealing is possible... but it is honestly pretty easy, in general (with pickpocketing being ridiculous).  In my first playthrough, without trying very hard, I managed to be a scientist talker sniper thief.  Didn't have great charisma, but could pass most dialogue checks with my intelligence or knowledge.  Was pretty damn effective with "long rifles".  Was super smart.  This doesn't get into items.  There were TONS of cool schematics in Arcanum, and it is impossible to master all the different tech branches in 1 playthrough.  In F: NV, there are also tons of options for mods to weapons/armor, unique/special weapons/armor, and things of that nature.  At the midpoint of TOW, I was literally already bored with the weapons and armor I had found, and it didn't really change from there.

Bad guy.  To me, Jon Irenicus remains the absolute best bad guy of any cRPG.  He was interesting, believable, and actually scary.  He was also slightly sympathetic and definitely understandable.  His voice actor was incredible.  Arcanum's bad guy was not nearly as interesting, but he was still good.  Who you wanted to designate at the bad guy for F: NV depended entirely on your perception of who would do the best for the Mojave, or who you philosophically supported most, as an organization.  TOW?  As far as I can see, there is really only "1" bad guy... and he is pretty pathetic (and not really that bad, per se).  He is hardly developed.  You don't even know who he is until late in the game.  Defeating him is... anticlimatic.  Beating Jon Irenicus was HARD.  Beating the bad guy in Arcanum was HARD.  Beating the key bad guy in a cRPG should be really hard and you should feel invested in defeating them.... I just didn't feel that way with TOW. 

The universe in general.  Both F: NV and Arcanum had some genuinely interesting NPCs.  So did Planescape Torment, Mass Effect, and a number of great RPGs.  Sidequests that were really interesting and compelling.  I didn't feel this with TOW.  There were a few here and there with a bit of development and backstory, but for the most part, the side quests were to go kill something or fetch something, and that was about it.  The majority of the NPCs simply had no development or backstory. 

There might be more, but that is all I can think of right now.  Honestly, though it took me 2 years to play it, I vastly prefer Tyranny to TOW.  I prefer Deadfire to TOW.  I had thought TOW actually had a chance of dethroning BG2 as my favorite cRPG... but I honestly don't think that I would put it in my top 10.  Definitely not in my top 5.  This isn't to say that TOW "sucks" or is a bad game.  It is a good game.  I would give it and 88 out of 100.  But, I had hoped that it was going to be a 96/97/98/99. 

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All fair statements.  I also rate it as decent and for the moment filling my time but unless it is heavily modded I doubt I will return to play it again in if I run into a lull in games to play.  This is how I really rate cRPG if in a few years after I initially played them I have a desire to boot them up and play through them again I will rate them high.  I get the feeling from TOW that Obsidian made it to fulfill some contractual obligation.  Which they did using as little time and assets as they could get away with, I am hoping there is a TOW 2 made by someone who really has a passion for the potential universe already began in TOW.

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I don't think I've ever agreed to disagree more in my life.  I never wanted or expected TOW to be like Arcanum or New Vegas so in essence I was not disappointed (in fact the opposite) but you make quite an interesting antithesis to its design philosophy.

“If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.” 

-Ulysses S. Grant

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21 hours ago, Wormerine said:

Overall I agree, except thanks to following Outer Worlds pre-release more closely, and didn’t have such high hopes or expectations, as devs did state whenever given a chance that it is a smaller title. If anything, I was presently surprised in some aspects. 

I saw the gameplay estimates, so that was what kept my enthusiasm down, slightly.  That being said, because I am such a completionist, I honestly thought that I would still get more gameplay out of it.  In general, I have always played more hours than are estimated for the games I have played, and usually a significant number more.  That being said, I think that I clocked in right around 45 hours by the time that I finished this, and while that isn't terrible... the problem is more that I don't feel the need/desire to replay it again.  I beat Tyranny in probably about the same amount of time, then I immediately started replaying it with a different character and immediately could appreciate the difference in the story reactivity and the gameplay experience itself.  And despite them being semi-similiar characters, the game and the epilogue were VERY different.  I told a friend, "Yeah, my 2nd playthrough, I got exactly the epilogue that I was hoping for... but I had to do a LOT of stuff that I really didn't want to and make some seriously hard decisions." 

15 hours ago, IndiraLightfoot said:

Clearly, Michael_Galt and I are still waiting for the same kind of deep wide-berth replayability-juicy game! Thx for the review. 

Sure!  That is what I most like about RPGs.  I like that they are essentially "choose your story" adventures that can make you examine philosophical, moral, or political issues.  I love when there are serious companions that make you think of people you know or could imagine and actually identify or sympathize with and want to "get to know". 

If you haven't played Tyranny yet, I highly recommend it.  I wish that it hadn't been marketed as "grim dark" and "evil has won, be as evil as you want to be".  I don't play evil, ever.  I don't like to.  I can maybe get by with some lawful evil or neutral evil, but I want to play as a paladin, or desert ranger.  I want to be the hero and to help people.  That is why it took me 2 years to play Tyranny.  But, it is completely possible to play a "good" character and still enjoy the game.  I essentially played as "lawful good" and "chaotic good" and it was incredibly interesting and rewarding.

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