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TOW: My retrospective

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I wanted to take a moment to just summarise my thoughts on The Outer Worlds. As it stands, I last played the game in December as I played it with Gamepass and didn't feel a need to renew my subscription once I was finished with the game.

First off, as always, I would like to start out by saying that I did thoroughly enjoy the game and I will definitely pick it up when it releases on Steam later this year (Hopefully with some DLC to enhance the experience). However, overall I would say that the game was "good." What follows are a few points that in my eyes caused the overall experience fall just short of "incredible." I am aware that a lot of these elements are subject to time and budget constraints, but I will still mention them in spite of that as Obsidian will be heading into this potential franchise with a larger budget in future.

1. An overall lifeless feeling: The Outer Worlds does not feel like an RPG in the sense that I am used to. A lot of the mechanics made it feel more like an MMORPG without other players; It was as though I had stumbled upon an entire empty server that should host hundreds of other people.

The majority of human NPCs in the game act like noticeboards with personalities. They are always stood rooted to their position, ready to hand out and conclude quests. They make me think of the characters you would encounter in World of Warcraft and the like. The remainder of humans that mill about and at least  follow a very basic schedule are completely oblivious to the player.

This is all too apparent when the player makes choices. Edgewater for example, even though NPCs relocate over time based on your choices, it never feels like you've made an impact. You never stumble across a couple of plant workers trying to fight off creatures outside the town or anything like that.

The same applies to the enemies. They are rooted to their spawn locations along with other enemies of the same type. When attacked they will charge at you or engage from a distance. If you flee, they will eventually band back to their original location and regain their health. Again, identical to an MMORPG. You never see these NPCs clash with one another, there is no hunting behaviour and it feels incredibly artificial. Some of the best moments I've had in any genre of game are when something dynamic and unexpected happens.

For example, imagine scoping out a marauder blockade and planning your attack. Then, just as you're about to charge in, BAM. A couple of mantisaurs lumber into view and start attacking them. You can let the battle pan out and then take on the weakened victor, or go full bore and jump into the fray, starting a crazy three sided battle.

2. Corporations. A massive missed opportunity: Right from the first trailer, one thing I was really looking forward to was the faction reputation systems. I was looking forward to picking a side or playing them off against one another. However, when jumping into the game I was thoroughly disappointed to see that most factions are entirely separate from one another, occupying different world spaces.

I would have LOVED to see two or more corporations sharing the same space and having to get along, clashing over the slightest thing and coming to blows over products. Imagine a Spacer's Choice and Cleo worker getting into a brawl over skin cream or something equally trivial. The player could wade in and intervene, using their reputation with either corporation to resolve or escalate the situation.

3. At little more RP in my G: One thing that I really enjoyed was the stat checks in dialogue, allowing my character to make quips and offer solutions based on their strengths. That has been severely lacking in other franchises recently, which I won't name.

However, there are a couple things I would like to see to take this further. First of all, bring back the joke dialogue options for failed checks. A player with low charisma should be able to make inappropriate or cringe inducing comments when presented with a charm check. A weaker character should be able to draw attention to their noodle-like build when presented with a strength check and so on.. Yes, this means more dialogue, but the outcome could be hilarious.

I also don't recall many situations where stats could be used to find an alternate solution to a quest objective. More of that would be very nice indeed.

That's everything. I enjoyed the game immensely, but couldn't bring myself to play a second character beyond reaching Groundbreaker because it just felt so samey. The combat and characters doesn't really show significant  based on your build. Maybe some of these points will be addressed, even if only slightly in the upcoming DLC this year.

However, I am really excited to see what can be done with this universe in future instalments.

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Well said and I guess maybe why I always felt this game was made on the cheap.  I am not saying that individually the developers didn't do a ton of work but I have always gotten the feeling that they where given parameters of what could be developed without any chance for a hey this would be cool idea development.  Basically it seems they where given a time frame which was then used to decide what could be developed and the lengths that it could be developed then it was decide that it was good enough so they where told move on.

Maybe we all have just been spoiled in the past ten to fifteen years on how dynamic games can seem to be.  From things like actually seeing two guards from rival houses fight in a tavern you just happen to walk into or having a guard get of his horse in Oblivion (they really need to expand these guys training criteria) to fight a wisp which then attacks the horse which runs off somehow causing the wisp to get above the horse.  So I would randomly have this keystone cop episode pop up around the world of the guard chasing his horse who was running from the wisp.

It would of been great to see more mob interaction as it just didn't seem to happen in TOW.  I even managed to get the big gorilla looking things into a band of marauders after much bouncing between the two camps.  The result was they totally ignored each other while focusing on me, I was very disappointed with it as it took a good portion of time to make that situation happen with the reward being nothing happening.

While some of this might be adjusted in a DLC I think it might take a fundamental shift with a much bigger team involved to really make this universe come alive.  I have hopes that if we see a second iteration it will be improved on the magnitude of say comparing Wizardry 6 to Wizardry 8 or Fallout to Fallout 2.

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skyrim prove random npc dying randomly if player come too close in the wild was a bad idea

outer worlds bring its own frustration though

like the dialogue option that will convince doctor aton not go to byzantium

successes three times but doesn't even notice how the fourth time failed

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