Outriders - Review
Outriders began its journey in 2015, when the well-known Polish studio People Can Fly, which has such games as Painkiller, Bulletstorm and Gears of War: Judgment, decided to go beyond the traditional linear shooters and bring to life a larger project.
After years of development and several postponements of the release date, the game appeared before the public and instantly became a significant information guide in the news feeds of major gaming publications. On the one hand, Outriders sank under a barrage of criticism of the unsatisfactory technical condition, on the other – in the Steam charts, it is still on the top lines, showing excellent statistics on the interest of gamers. Is the game really a kind of rough diamond, or is the reason for its popularity the banal poverty of 2021 for fresh releases? We will talk about this in our review.
The game meets us with a brief exposition: in the future, the Earth, after numerous wars and environmental disasters, turned out to be absolutely unsuitable for further habitation. In a hurry, the best minds of mankind have found a planet in the vast expanses of the boundless cosmos that can become a new home for earthlings-Enoch. Two giant carrier ships were built and sent on their way for the long 80 years for colonization. Unfortunately, one of the ships was lost even before departure, and it is even more offensive from the fact that it was on it that the entire elite of humanity (scientists, managers, and so on), as well as the entire database of humanity, were located. The second ship was manned on a residual basis by mercenaries, military and workers, and upon arrival on Enoch, it is these wonderful people who will become the basis for the further development of humanity. However, everything is not going according to plan quickly – as it turned out, anomalies and natural disasters are raging on the planet, which immediately mow down almost to zero the squad of pioneer scouts, which includes our protagonist. But even here the game does not yet begin. The main character, like his comrades, is infected with a deadly black slime (this is not my idea now – it's true black slime, which the writers do not explain in any way during the game), but unlike our colleagues, we manage to delay the death by rattling in the cryocamber for another 30 years. After awakening, the protagonist is first captured by some anarchists, and then completely dies, being in an anomaly. But that's not all. The character immediately comes to life and thanks to the same anomaly gets superpowers.
The introductory description of the plot may seem confusing to you, but believe me, this is how the events are presented on the screen. After what he saw in the first 30 minutes of the game, it seems that the screenwriter did not sleep for three days in a row, coming up with a suitable plot plot, but in the end he did not find anything better than to cross the intro of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem. Then the plot goes into a more measured direction – now we, together with a team of like-minded people, will have to go on a journey, regain control of the carrier ship in orbit, and then, finally, the player himself gets a more active role.
After the anomaly thoroughly battered our hero and transferred him to the status of a superman – Alium (here and further I will use the official terminology from the localization, although I do not understand why the word "Altered" is translated as "Alium"), we are allowed to choose one of four classes: A Technomancer who specializes in ranged weapons and the use of turrets and grenades, a Pyromancer who deals fire damage on the area, a Trickster – dodger who can impose negative effects on enemies and teleport at the right moment they are behind them, and the Destroyer is a tank that specializes in defense. Each class has its own abilities – active and passive, as well as development features. In addition to the three branches of leveling skills and characteristics, looking for a slope, for example, in defense, attack power or resistance to elemental damage, each class has another important feature – the mechanics of health regeneration. The fact is that there are no traditional first-aid kits in Outriders, although the health bar is automatically restored by only a third. The mechanics of further treatment for each class is different. For example, one gets health for killing an opponent in close proximity, the other is treated only after killing previously marked opponents with special skills, and so on. And here lies a rather noticeable hole in the balance of complexity. Yes, most of the time the game will dump on you a crowd of enemies who die quite quickly, respectively, the hero will not feel the lack of opportunities to improve their health. The situation changes dramatically when Outriders puts you one - on-one against bosses who are able to withstand a huge number of hits, while dealing impressive damage. And in such a situation, what should the same Trickster do, who is treated only after killing an enemy in close combat? At the same time, the Technomancer feels quite comfortable in such conditions, just shooting at the target. The possibility of additional treatment due to various weapon perks saves the situation a little, but at high difficulty levels this is not enough.
By the way, it is the recovery mechanics that make the system of using shelters present in the game in the manner of the Gears series almost useless. First, you will simply be smoked out of your place with grenades and squads of melee fighters. So it makes sense to hide behind cover except for the time of reloading.
The game offers a fairly flexible difficulty setting. Along with the level of the protagonist, the so-called world level also increases, which in turn determines the level of enemies in relation to the level of the player, the chance of dropping more valuable loot and the very opportunity to put on clothes of a higher level. At the same time, the player is free to lower the level of the world at any time, if at some point the game becomes too difficult, and after passing the problem stage, return everything back. This approach really helps different categories of gamers to play the way they want: hard-core munchkins will be able to sweat a lot, while receiving a valuable reward for their efforts, and more casual players will be able to run through the story without stumbling through difficult stages, even if they lose as loot.
The latter is another positive aspect of the game. There is a lot of loot, it is diverse and in general is the main driving force of the passage. Outriders allows you to change both armor elements (helmet, jacket, pants, gloves and boots), and use three types of weapons at the same time. At the same time, two slots are designed for full-size barrels, including automatic and semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, machine guns, sniper automatic and self-loading rifles and submachine guns. The third slot is reserved for pistols and revolvers. At the same time, each gun, depending on the degree of its rarity, has not only a set of basic characteristics, such as range, damage, accuracy and rate of fire, but also additional perks and modifications. The latter can both affect the gameplay independently (for example, hitting enemies slows them down) and enhance the passive or active abilities of the hero. Add here your own set of characteristics and modifications for armor, an interesting system for crafting equipment, in which you can independently change one mod to choose from (the stock of mods available for installation is replenished after analyzing the equipment), as well as a very branching tree of character development and as a result you will get a complex and very interesting system for building builds, which
Unfortunately, outside of collecting and character development, the variety ends and the monotonous routine begins. It does not matter what you are doing – passing the main quest or a side task, in any of the cases, the gameplay will develop according to the same scheme "jog-fight in the arena with a crowd of enemies-cutscene". Yes, skirmishes, given that you will always be interested in trying a new build or weapon in action, are fascinating at first, but sooner or later the banal change of scenery and the composition of enemies will begin to tire. Moreover, the game is far from short – it will take 20-30 hours out of your life.
Even the cutscenes mentioned do not paint the picture much. Outriders is not strong with its characters. In most cases, you won't even remember their names. The only exception was the truck driver Yakub, and then only because he is able to start a de-energized car with just a cry of "Kurwa!". As a result, there is no question of any interesting relationships between the characters. Moreover, the screenwriters even manage to get confused in their own entourage. For example, in one of the additional tasks, the main character without a second thought, playing Russian roulette, shoots himself in the head and immediately comes to life – after all, he is an Alias. At the same time, during the game, we will repeatedly have to engage in battle with the same Aliums, and if you shoot them, it is already irreversible. Why? No one knows or tries to explain.
Being a loot shooter, Outriders did not forget about such an important component for such games as the activities available after passing the main plot. After the final, you will have access to the expeditions – fifteen unique tasks, for which completely new locations and boss battles are prepared. It is in the expeditions that the scope for cooperative play opens up, because by the time they open, you and your friends will already be sufficiently pumped, which means that you will have more options for interaction through the active and passive abilities of your characters. Well, thanks to the variable levels of complexity of the expeditions, these opportunities will be where to implement.
And now we're getting close to what makes Outriders so common in the news about the gaming industry – its technical condition. The fact is that the long-term construction from People Can Fly, even despite repeated postponements, faced serious technical problems at the launch. For the first few days, it was not possible to play at all due to the inability to connect to the servers, which is very strange, because all the network functionality of Outriders ends with the possibility of joining in the cooperative game mode via a peer-to-peer connection of two more players. Why you need a permanent connection to the servers here is a huge mystery. Moreover, PC players report poor optimization – Outriders runs erratically even on powerful PC configurations. There are also numerous bugs, such as a missing interface or regular crashes on the desktop. Patches that developers prepare in a hurry make the situation even more disastrous. The latest update, for example, completely removed the inventory from a huge number of players.
These problems, however, mostly concern personal computers. On consoles, Outriders feels somewhat better. We should also talk about the possibilities of cross-platform games. Yes, this is certainly good, but the implementation, as it often happens, failed. The fact is that if you suddenly decide to play with a friend on another platform, then you should be prepared for a number of inconveniences, starting from a strange system in which the password for connecting is valid only as long as the host keeps the co-op game menu open, and ending with a missing voice chat. So if you are playing, say, on the Xbox, you want to invite a friend from the PlayStation, then you will only have to call on the phone if you want to communicate somehow during the passage.
As for such aspects as graphics and sound, everything is as impersonal as possible. Running on the Unreal Engine 4 engine, Outriders looks pretty sterile, losing out to many third-person shooters even from the last generation of platforms. Yes, every now and then there are cute backdrops, but this does not cover the poverty of the environment and not the most detailed textures.
The sound is also without frills. You will not hear juicy and powerful shots – all the weapons sound somehow muffled and flat, and the music is extremely inexpressive and will be forgotten as soon as you turn off the game.
The conclusion about the reasons for the increased attention to the game suggests itself: on bezrybye, as they say, and Outriders – an exciting project. But if you dig deeper, then we have a typical representative of such a forgotten phenomenon as the "Polish shooter".
Outriders has a whole bunch of problems both from the gameplay and in the technical implementation. Nevertheless, the project is able to captivate a fairly deep system of character development. Perhaps, fans of looter shooters should still wait for the next sale or try the shooter in the Xbox Game Pass (fortunately, it appeared there simultaneously with the release). For the rest, I will not recommend the brainchild of People Can Fly.
The game is passed on the Xbox Series X, tested on PS4 and PC.