‘The Outer Worlds’ Is Basically ‘Fallout’ In Space And We Couldn’t Be Happier
Developed by legendary Role Playing Game makers of Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic fame, Obsidian Entertainment, The Outer Worlds might be the best new RPG not made by a Bethesda studio.
Boasting a world inspired by Futurama and Firefly, rich with whacky Non-Playable Characters, companions and truly meaningful choices, it’s the sci-fi anti-capitalist spiritual successor to the best Fallout game you’ve been searching for.
If ‘Fallout New Vegas’ Were Set In Space
As one of the first colonists who mysteriously disappeared 70 years ago, you awaken to Phineas Wells, a fumbling scientist in need of your help. A group of the solar system’s most powerful corporate leaders called the Board are fighting over control, terraforming planets without thinking of the consequences it has on the everyday people, flora and fauna just trying to stay alive in a vicious world. Here, you’re given the first big choice in The Outer Worlds: help rebel against the violent capitalists in charge of the world; join them and continue their agenda, living a bougie life as society crumbles; or say “fuck you” to both and make your own story.
While our leaders continue to ignore the effects of climate change and save their children’s future, Obsidian shares a powerful warning of where we’re headed, fleeing our own Earth and polluting other planets. It’s also, as an Obsidian developer playing our demo told Junkee, an excellent example of just how much of a footprint you can leave in these worlds.
Everything you do in The Outer Worlds has a reaction, and everyone is affected by your decisions. You can kill every NPC, even the ones that have substantial narrative importance; you can play it as a pacifist or, if you wanted to, become the game’s villain. This is a world created from a reaction to corporate greed and environmental pollution, but as narrative director Dan McPhee told Junkee, the story might start that way very strongly, but Obsidian wants to give you the ability to make your own voice in the world and come to your own decision about its ethics and laws.
“The story starts very strongly that way, but we very quickly try and introduce more viewpoints that are pro-corporate, pro-system, to try and give the player more of a nuanced choice,” McPhee explained. “Because you do get to choose between them. You get to choose to support them if you want to. We try and make sure that there are enough characters kind of extolling the values of that stuff to make that an actual decision.”
It’s hard not to see the parallels to Fallout: New Vegas here. In combat, you can slow down time in a system similar to VATS called the Tactical Time Dilation, targeting different parts of an enemy’s body to disarm or cripple them. Dialogue is framed almost identically to New Vegas’ options, defined by a set of stats similar to the perks and stats from Fallout’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. And, just like Boone, Rex and Raul, companions play an integral role in sharing lore about the world, provide buffs to certain perks, have unique abilities in combat, and are super memorable, realised and charming.
For McPhee and the team, these connections people are making online are nothing but “a good thing.” As their first independent project since parting ways with Bethesda, Obsidian took a lot of principles that people liked about Fallout New Vegas and used them as a foundation for designing The Outer Worlds.
High res Outer Worlds screenshots!
I was intrigued by this game, but after watching an extended gameplay demo, I'm completely sold. This is 100% the spiritual successor to Fallout: New Vegas that many of us have longed for.#TheOuterWorlds pic.twitter.com/rZZYSUnRUV
— Moe ☕🌱 (@MoeWanders) June 13, 2019
“The core of the game feels similar because of those things that we tried to preserve,” he explained. “We’re actually kind of glad when we hear people say that because that was our intent from the beginning. To try and capture what made people like games like Fallout: New Vegas and then bring in a whole bunch of cool new things, a cool new setting, unique options and unique stories, and cool abilities and modern gunplay, and all that stuff.”
Slaughterhouse Clive And The Cystypigs
Monarch was the first planet in the colony to terraform but horribly transformed after corporations forgot to evacuate the animals on the planet. Now, mutated creatures roam the lands and all but one of the multibillion-dollar companies with capital and control over Monarch have left and ignored the problem they created, leaving its residents in a state of anarchy. Under the thumb of Monarch Stellar Industries, the planet is inhabited by “savage, uncontrollable beasts, cannibals and the unemployed.”
In Junkee’s hands-off demo, we watched as an Obsidian developer explored the vast nasty wasteland of Monarch, accompanied by Nyoka, the monster hunter who loves a good fight and a pint, and Ellie, the fast-talking lying medic who boosts your medicine perks.
Looking for work, we walked through the streets of Fallbrook, a small town run by a scavenging and shipping company and home to scumbags and smugglers. Stepping into a little salon-looking shack called Malin’s Emporium of Hospitality, we spoke with the town’s leader Catherine Malin. As she explained, she needed us to take over C & P Boarst Factory, an artificially genetically engineered mutated meat processing factory nearby, on her behalf.
Run by Clive, a gross bloodthirsty creepazoid who self-describes himself as the “Boarst King of Monarch,” the facility processes meat from cystypigs, genetically engineered pigs with cysts of meat that fall of them, so they aren’t killed when harvested. Super fucking gross but for some reason, the people of Monarch eat that shit up, Malin needed it, and we were the only ones that could get it for her.
As Obsidian explained, here we were given a choice in how we made our way into the facility and to Clive. We could shoot our way past guards and robot drones guns-blazing; disguise ourselves as an employee and sneak in; talk our way in with enough charm and charisma, or sneak through the sewers to the control room. Following a failed attempt at convincing the factory workers to turn on Clive, we only have to sneak past robot security.
Nyoka frothed at an all-out assault while Ellie preferred the sneaky, deceptive option. We, of course, did the latter.
From there, we walked into a nasty messy abattoir that Clive called an office. Hunched over a cutting board station, a pile of dead cystypigs laid next to him as he eagerly spliced them up and frothed at the cysts of meat before him. Creeping up to him, we were then given another big choice. We could kill him mercilessly; get his attention and start a fight; turn on Malin and join him for a lifetime supply of delicious cystypig meat (oh boy!); or try to get the two leaders to agree with the added option of backstabbing them the moment things went south.
All of these decisions were determined by how we made our character. A character with high charisma and wisdom, specialising in bartering, deception and leadership could convince the two to work together, but an illiterate brute would be too dumb and socially unaware to have that option, opting out complex dialogue for the ability to thrash people around violently.
Compared to the other planets in the solar system, Monarch is a planet abandoned by corporations and overrun by nature, so we’re excited to see how its more people-centric metropolises look and play. The Outer Worlds feels in nearly all aspects like a spiritual successor to Fallout: New Vegas, with its intricately detailed gameplay, fully realised worlds and characters, hilariously immersion breaking bugs and all.
As Obsidian ended the demo there and wrapped up, we’ll be able to find out just how that quest and the vying factions of Monarch’s society unfolds when the game launches on October 25 on PS4, Xbox One and PC, exclusively launching on the Epic Game Store before a Steam release in the following year.
Julian Rizzo-Smith is a freelance games and pop culture writer. He wants you to know that he has no affiliation with the Rizzo corporation in the game whatsoever, but expects royalties from Obsidian soon. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster.