With the Earth deemed unsalvageable and with mounting natural disasters, humanity plans to send colony ships to the distant planet of Enoch in an effort to save humanity. After 86 years in space, an elite unit known as Outriders land to pave the way and soon finds themselves under attack by rival security forces and a bizarre, deadly storm that has decimated the Outriders.
Seriously injured, the player character is put in stasis and is awakened 31 years later to find what is left of humanity engaged in a violent Civil War with the player being their best chance for survival.
Thus begins Outriders, an ambitious game from People Can Fly and Square Enix which looks to combine action, combat, loot, and science fiction into a bold gaming experience.
Players can customize the look of their characters and must select a class such as Trickster, Pyromancer, Devastator, and Technomancer. The classes have specific abilities which as players gain experience, unlocks and allows them to select and use devastating powers as it seems the exposure to the storm has given the player character God-like abilities and has earned them the title of “Altered”. I selected the Devastator class and enjoyed being able to suspend and reflect incoming fire, add a protective barrier, produce spikes to impale enemies, crush enemies with a gravity-based attack, dash and smash, and my favorite; a propelled leap that reduced all in my landing area to a pulp. Each power has a cool-down timer after use but as the game is very customizable; players can unlock and assign new perks which can increase damage, duration, and more for their powers, weapons, and such.
The game had an extensive demo available pre-launch and this allowed me to get to know the screens to equip, modify, swap, or deconstruct gear as there is a huge variety of armor and weapons for players to use and modify.
While the menu system at times was confusing at first in terms of what the main mission was and what were numerous side missions and such; I was able to get things up to speed and with strategic capture points; players can always jump back to various locales.
Since the early missions involved being around the main base filled with trade and other options; I had figured it would play into the game going forward. However, as I went deeper into the game I found it easier to simply deconstruct or not gather loot that I did not want and simply equip better gear and weapons as they came my way.
The progress I had made in the demo also carried over onto the main game so long as you use the same platform for release that you did in the demo. This was great to experience as I did not have to replay the lengthy intro and setup nor the early missions.
With a crew of NPC characters along for the mission, the player will journey into dangerous zones each with their own unique biosphere and dangerous creatures and enemies who come at you in waves and can be overwhelming even with the ability to set the game difficulty.
Outriders is setup to be played with a party of characters and much has been made of the rough launch for the game which included server issues, cross-play problems, missing HUD Displays, and such hampered gamers. I was able to connect with a player I found in the forums for the game and he helped me through some battles that I could not figure out how anyone could be expected to complete on their own at the skill level they originated at.
Players can randomly join a party but did not have a clue where they would be in the story progress or how many were in a party, but it was very easy to resume a campaign where I left off should the party I joined be further ahead of or back of where I wished to be.
I did jump into a game that is done randomly and was able to get some higher-level gear and weapons which helped when I returned to my campaign, but in time I again found myself in need of help. One player had issues with getting in my game and then being booted as an example. The HUD display would vanish often which required a return to the lobby, sometimes multiple trips; to get it back. While it seems like no big deal and I worked my way through at times without it; not being able to see a mini-map, health, and if your powers were recharged does make it difficult.
The game offers lavish locales from snow-covered mountains to a jungle, desert, temples, and more. The enemies can be very challenging as I found the ones with guns to be easier at times than the wildlife which came in waves and could take all I had to bring down.
The graphics of the game are solid and the combat mechanics reminded me of a mix of Gears of War and The Division series as from a third-person perspective; players could take cover and shoot from a shelter, or wade on into the oncoming enemies and use the vast arsenal of pistols, machine guns, shotguns, and sniper rifles to win the day.
The numerous cut scenes dive the story forward and upon completion of the story; there is a mode where players can work to retrieve items. It was humbling to have weapons that reduced powerful enemies to mush do little more than annoy the enemies I encountered as it was clear that this mode was best suited for advanced gamers in a party.
A new patch arrived yesterday which seemed to resolve the issues I had with matchmaking, server connections, and the missing heads-up display. I was able to match up with another player where I was in the game and the two of us powered through the main missions as well as some side missions to complete the game. We did not have any in-game chat/communication but we were able to work well as a team. I would suggest using Discord or a similar service if you are looking to play with friends on PC or chat with console users.
While the launch was rough due to the numerous issues; they were addressed and the final result once patched is a deeply enjoyable action game that provides plenty of fun and challenges. Some may say waves of wildlife and enemies may become repetitive but the vast array of them as well as the varied locales, weapons, and powers had me hooked from start to finish.
I was a big fan of People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm game and have longed for a sequel ever since that game arrived. Here is hoping that Outriders will become a new franchise and we will see more content in the not too distant future.
4 stars out of 5
Gareth is the mastermind behind the popular pop media site Skewed and Reviewed. He lives in Arizona with his wife Em McBride.