Outer Worlds - Massive Disappointment

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by Atomic Postman, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    Late to the party here in both playing this game and I'm sure in posting this opinion, but whatever.

    I just uninstalled the Outer Worlds, and as much as it's a shame to say I literally had to force myself to beat it out of a sense of obligation rather than actual enjoyment, which had rotted away by the time I finished Monarch.

    As someone who lists Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas amongst my favourite games of all time and in the realm of tabletop adores games like Stars Without Number, The Outer Worlds seemed like a match-made in heaven, so what went wrong?

    The setting flags up to me the most, in that it feels like a middling episode of Futurama. It is farcicial to the point where it blasts beyond satire and just goes into cartoonish parody. Which is fine for a few chuckles but it also makes it really fucking hard for me to give a shit about a world that seems like the venue for tired jokes rather than an actual setting. I don't care about the world of Futurama or a sardonic webcomic, and I don't care about the Halcyon Colony, all for the same reasons. Fallout was innately satirical of a specific Cold War zeitgeist but it used that primarily as aesthetic direction and a jumping board for layers of severity and serious worldbuilding that pulled you in as a player. The Outer Worlds is closer to Bethesda Fallout's idea of satire and to be honest at many points I found Todd Howard's version to be marginally more digestible than that of the Outer Worlds.

    The only part that approached feeling Fallout-ish was the stuff regarding the SubLight Salvagers and Groundbreaker, not-so coincidentally this was also the parts of the game that had the 'scathing political satire' layered on the thinnest and actually came close to making me feel like a hardy space adventurer exploring a rustic cosmic frontier.

    The character development and RPG elements were horrifically dry. The skill system didn't know whether it wanted to go for modern oversimplification or classic style and just ended up going down the middle, and the perks were literally worse than Fallout 4. Just terrible.

    The narrative was stupidly repetitive, I enjoyed the first region of Edgewater even though I found the decision to be a little bit shallow and unsatisfactory, only to discover that they literally copy and pasted the narrative premise for Edgewater onto basically every area of the game. Choice A incompetent stupid corporation, Choice B useless trapped deserters, Choice C milquetoast middle-ground presented as the golden third option and clearly the ones the Dev want you to pick. Even though I liked Phineas Welles, the main-story was also yawn worthy and had the same structure of "Go here and do X, oh wait there's been an interruption, now do Y and Z so that you can actually do X" again repeating the basic framework of the Edgewater arc.

    Quests in the Outer Worlds feel like MMO chores rather than actual adventurers. There's nothing here that feels like penetrating the defensive perimiter of Nellis in order to court the Boomers tribe, or travelling to Hidden Valley to decide the fate of the BoS. Just dry, irritating fetch-quests blocked up with bland MMO tier mobs.

    The companions are cool - on the surface level. They feel like mid-development versions of actually good characters. They're 2nd or 3rd drafts of characters that aren't ready for publish until their 8th. The strongest point of this game was companion interaction with the world however, influencing your skills and participating in dialogue. I just about had a wet-dream picturing a New Vegas where Veronica or Arcade Gannon participate in your dialogue with you.

    Just a real shame all around. In another universe there's an Outer Worlds that went through a serious edit, where the satire and saccharine steampunk aesthetic are toned down a number of notches, and the Devs didn't get bored in their quest design after Edgewater. I just wish we lived in that universe, and not our current one where this game is sub-par slop.

    Anyway, what did other NMAers think of TOW?
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 6
  2. FDO

    FDO Still Mildly Glowing

    Jul 4, 2018
    Didn't this game release at the end of last year or so? Just asking because it sound like it's been out for years when you say late to the party. So it doesn't please that much from the few comments I read by accident here and there?

    I have no idea if I will like the game, but I am not in hurry to find out, I might if it was available on a store worthy of my wallet, but it seem Obsidian and whoever own them will have to wait a while to see the color of my money, just like with NV.
    Anyway, I am almost tempted to, borrow it, just to see if this vague of apparent general disappointment is justified. But it will wait, my calendar is full these days.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  3. Proletären

    Proletären A Smooth-Skin

    Mar 15, 2012
    Would you like to review it for NMA from the angle of a Fallout fan?
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  4. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    I can not say much about the game as I have not played it yet but from what I heard the content of the game such as the lore and the design are rather... hmm well don't expect the level of writing and world design of FNV.

    I know I should rate the game on its own but even then from what I heard it comes a bit short as an action-RPG, sort of like what you are already describing in your thoughts after you went through the game once.

    One of my major disappointments with this game is that it doesn't really have a "hook", a plot twist or plot development that really throws your earlier assumptions out of the window.
    "Phineas really is a mad scientist and what he plans will destroy the Halycon colony and kill everyone on it." or "The Board is not as incompetent as it comes over initially."
    But basically you are given all the details from the start.

    Sure Phineas is responsible for the deaths of several of the hibernating colonists, something he should be held account for, but so far he and everyone who is rebelling against the Board and the corporations are still saner than the corporate entities whose incompetence will eventually lead to the fall of the colony.
    There is no nuance, not deeper ideas.

    Gameplay is apparently also not that deep, even the negative traits or qualities do not change that much and I understand you can breeze through the game at some point.
    Even a lot of the solutions to quests are quickly given or hinted at, eliminating a lot of exploration on the side of the player.

    I think that the consensus that this is an average-okay game is right. Perhaps fun to go through once but not worth playing again afterwards or only if you really have not played it for a long time.

    I am going to wait until it is on Steam/GoG, all possible DLCs are released, and it is on sale.

    It is rather disappointing that the game turned out this way as I would really have liked to have seen any successor to Fallout New Vegas as Bethesda has been screwing the pooch and will continue to do so in many years to come.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  5. Mr Fish

    Mr Fish ...The pain of being dead...

    Sep 11, 2010
    That's not an actual part of the storyline, right?


    Also, I have no idea why it has taken this long to begin with, why doesn't Obsidian just create a spiritual successor to Fallout already? Not a spiritual successor to FNV and not changing the setting completely. Just a post-apocalyptic cRPG with schmouls and super schmutants and schmimpaks. Doesn't make any sense to me.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  6. Black Angel

    Black Angel Grand Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus

    Mar 21, 2016
    I thought OW was meant to be exactly that in some roundabout way to avoid Beth's lawsuits, but since I haven't played it I wouldn't know for sure.
  7. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    I don't agree with the comments about the setting. Specially in light of current events, the people of Halcyon are just the logical extreme of the prevailing Corporativist capitalism mentality being taught under corporate private interests. It's specially interesting how the "MacGuffin" isn't some magical subtances that will solve everything but rather just waking up people with knowledge and experience outside the for profit grooming the entire Halcyon colony has been subject to for generations, and that even waking them up is not an insta solution as it takes decades for the damage to be repaired.

    I will agree on the criticisms of the rpg systems, specially the perks, the "Phobias system" is interesting on paper, but considering how the tradeback for some really crippling permanent debuffs is just a perk with a generic effect it makes them not that interesting as a gameplay element, specially for diplomatic characters as it seems all phobias affect mental skills and no perk actually improves your diplomatic skills, the only thing they are good for is as a sort of challenge handicap in Supernova mode were you aren't given a choice to acquire phobias, you just get them.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  8. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    Sure thing, sounds fun to me.

    I'd say two things to this. The first is that the type of corporatism that the Outer Worlds is parodying is Gilded Era/1800s and pretty much entirely alien from the modern day. It harks back to an era where corporate advertising was laughably shallow and hyperbolic, you know "Coca-Cola! If you drink this and it doesn't grow your hair back and save your marriage, your money back guranteed!" rather than the much more insidious and wickedly intelligent ways corporations market and enter the subconcious in the 21st century. Secondly, I don't think there is anything wrong with parodying the Victorian workshop era of capitalism and it's an inventive retro-aesthetic (even if I find steampunk to be repugnant) but I absolutely disagree that the corporatism in the Outer Worlds is somehow a vision of our future, it is far too blatant and obvious compared to the depressingly sinister reality that corporations will utilize psychology and modern cultural trends to chameleon themselves far better than the top-hat wearing factory owners of 1880 ever could have.

    Personally, I also don't think a game, particularly an RPG is a good venue to explore such narrow-focused satire. It becomes too tiresome and shallow after you spend upwards of 25+ hours in that world. Perfect for a book or a film, but in an RPG where you have to immerse yourself as a character, pure satire is a directional misfire IMO.

    This was another thing that I really liked and daydreamed about being in a Fallout game alongside the companion interaction. Conceptually it is a very fun evolution of the Traits idea from Fallout (Traits are one of my favourite aspects of the series) and the idea of it organically developing through play is ingenious. However in execution it is disappointingly shit. The negatives it provided to you were either uninteresting or too bad, and the trade off was for a single perk point in a system where the perks are yawn-worthy and completely useless tripe.

    In a Fallout game where Perks are much more interesting, character defining and sought after, being able to accept a mid-game fault in order to gain an entirely free perk is a great idea. Tie it in with more interesting RP behavior that you might have to keep up - Addiction to alcohol or gambling etc, and you have yourself a way of implementing actual active RP in a videogame setting
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 6
  9. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    Nope, just an example of any kind of plot twist that could have grabbed my attention.
    Most of the plot line is pretty much given at the start of the game and there are no unexpected developments.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  10. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign No Original Thought Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    I don't think Obsidian will be going back to isometric RPG's anytime soon. I think Outer Worlds was their spiritual successor to Fallout. Problem is they used the FPS Bethesda DNA of Fallout instead of the good one.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 5
  11. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    The only hope, to my mind, is that the Outer Worlds 1 is the Red Dead Revolver to Outer Worlds 2's Red Dead Redemption. Or perhaps a less drastic example of Assassin's Creed 1 to Assassin's Creed 2
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  12. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    There are people protesting about being allowed to go back to work in the middle of a Pandemia and entire political groups talking about how "The economy" is more important than people's lives, along with the rampant and out of control exploitation of natural resources and the degradation of the education system to serve more towards "what the market wants". The people of Halcyon are exploited non stop, over worked and thaught that time off is a sin, hile getting sold back the product of their hard work as gracious gifts from their overlords and they don't know any better. The primary religion of the setting is even about conforming to what the corporate overlords chose for you. The true satire of the setting is not on the retro posters but on the extreme and gross systemation of human misery that everything in the system is, with the promise of economic mobility being a complete lie, people who retire are just sent to be killed in a basement.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  13. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    That is the broadstroke of the anti-corporate satire, yes. My original point was not that the anti-corporate satire as a core was bad or somehow totally unapplicable (Though I still stand by if you want to make political criticism of a very serious issue your main goal rather than just as a backdrop doing something less anarchonistic ) is that it is layered on too thick to be enjoyable. I'll pit to you the classic, ever repeated NMA argument of which I am sure you're deeply familiar. Fallout inherently satirizes the "Duck and Cover" "Fear the A bomb" cultural zeitgeist, that does not mean you need to slap it in the player's face, make every song on the radio about nuclear bombs, have every character be an absurd caricature or treat the subject matter as satirical to the point of parody and then beyond even that into outright comedic farce.

    The idea of having a Fallout style RPG using the satirization of unrestrained capitalism using the veneer of retrofuturism harking back to 1800s sweatshops as the backdrop to the setting is good. The way the game actually does it is not, it has the subtlety of a super-sledge. It's disappointing because the presentation of these themes feel less like the product of Tim Cain and more like the product of Emil Pagliarulo.

    Take for example one of the game's most absurd stories, the toothpaste arc in Roseway. On a conceptual level, what a novel idea it would be to explore in the game the evil of corporations doing horrific acts and exploiting people in far-away developing nations, testing on both people and animals alike, for the ultimate end of comparatively benign household products used in "first world" countries. In the Outer Worlds, conceptually this manifests as a corporation with a secret research team experimenting and expoiting the remote colonists of Halcyon for something ultimately benign, "Diet Toothpaste." Good idea, right? Well except that the entire colony is a Futurama episode with fittingly cartoonish, incompetent characters, no characterization of victimhood or the actual severity of this idea, a really basic quest of "do u sell the formula to outlaws or to incompetent buffoon corporate man, again". The idea of the secret lab is made fun of so many times even in its visual design that it exists as a joke, the characters involve have absolutely no severity or place in the world and literally feel like characters from a four panel webcomic. I had to pull the conceptual praise/comparison to something very serious out of the depths of my ass because of how shitty of a joke that entire questline actually is in execution.

    Fallout's satirical blend of Cold War government paranoia with 50's pulp-science beautifully culminated in the horrors of human FEV experimentation at Mariposa, or exploring the charred atomic crater of the West-Tek Research Facility, or with the remnnant Enclave of the pre-war government, insane in their paranoia and isolation and wishing to genocide the population of the Wasteland. It would be insulting to say that anything even approaches that in the Outer Worlds. It seeks to be critical about serious issues, but it gives no weight or thought at all to them even though as Fallout itself shows, doing so is not mutually exclusive to retrofuturistic dark comedy.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 5
  14. Mr Fish

    Mr Fish ...The pain of being dead...

    Sep 11, 2010
    Then the spiritual successor is shit and they should just do something post-apocalyptic already.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  15. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    I don't know, I think most of the people capable of that have already left.

    Anyway I will probably try out TOW because there is barely anything else in that genre and I absolutely hate Bethesda's Fallout games.
    I should probably play an old school RPG instead but I hate fantasy and Atom doesn't want to run properly on my old shit computer.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  16. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign No Original Thought Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    I agree but the problem is Obsidian is also shit.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 4
  17. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Half-way Through My Half-life

    Nov 26, 2007
    I hope they take this to heart, and figure out exactly why that is, where they made their misstep(s), and what to do about it.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  18. Bootoo

    Bootoo First time out of the vault

    Apr 15, 2020
    For a game that represented such an anti-capitalist bent, most of the "good" solutions were mired in a weird facile centrism that really put me off enjoying any kind of narrative or satire they were going for.

    I have nothing against a game having a different political perspective than me but when it spends it's entire world building process showing how ridiculously stupid and conniving the corporations were and then to turn around and essentially make the best options in a quest resolution a weird "Let's maintain the corporations but change who controls them!" thing, it feels completely contradictory to what it seemingly set out to do and almost actively dismantles any sense of satire it's trying to portray.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 4
  19. Dragula

    Dragula Stormtrooper oTO Orderite

    Nov 6, 2008
    I liked it. The setting was great. The game felt way too short though, like some things were not properly fleshed out and certain areas felt rushed.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  20. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    I would!


    I quit after Fallout 76!

    "Too late!"


    They did.

    The Outer Worlds is a post-apocalypse setting, it's just the apocalypse is due to corporate malfeasance and a catastrophic failure of colony design [missing 1/2 of the people needed for the colony] rather than from nukes. Hence why half of the setting is abandoned ruins, people are starving, and there's roving gangs of bandits.

    Probably because Wasteland 1 and 2 exists. Not exactly a need for a Fallout clone in that situation. Also, what you're describing is a FPS means that The Outer Worlds is a successor to Fallout: New Vegas. Which is perfectly fine.

    A short summary of Outer Worlds

    Honestly, the problem with this game is not the tone or the satire but the fact that it's a AA game and not a AAA game. Every problem with this game can be summarized as the fact that it doesn't have the budget to be larger and they had to stretch things to the obvious limits. The game really should have been a 1/3rd bigger at the very least but they didn't have the money for it because this was meant to be a very mid-tier project that unfortunately/fortunately landed when Fallout 76 destroyed any remaining hopes that Bethesda wasn't a complete joke.

    Yes, the tone is all over the place but it pretty much is Borderlands, Firefly, and Fallout combined and that's not a bad thing. My favorite Fallout has always been Fallout 2 so any complaints about being too silly aren't really going to jive with me anyway. Yes, "corporations=evil and stupid", "plucky science heroes=good" isn't a deep or interesting nuanced conflict but it was never the corporations you were siding with but the people on the ground who did have more nuanced conflicts.

    It's a solid B+ game if I'm being generous and B- game if I'm being more honest. I love Firefly and this is the Firefly game for all intents and purposes. It's just that the setting doesn't have room to breathe but that's on budget, IMHO.

    I'd argue that the game suffers from the fact FALLOUT IN SPACE has already been done by Gearbox. Borderlands was an homage to Fallout 1 and 2 IN SPACE with all the wacky humor that makes this feel....familiar rather than innovative.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020