I like a good loot-based game; I liked Victor Vran, Grim of Dawn, Book of Demons, and other indie darlings of the genre, but also some of the more well-known games like the Borderlands series and Warframe. I am always on the lookout for a good loot game and Outriders seemed really promising; its made by People can Fly who made Bulletstorm – a game I really like – and it seems to be Gears but not needing to use cover and with loot, which sounds alright.
After around 8 hours with the demo and doing everything I could with two of the four classes, I intend to spend a few more hours to do the same with the 3rd class I care about. I say that upfront because this article will be both positive and negative, but regardless of any of that, I ended up spending a lot of time with the demo – and plan to spent some more – because I wanted to and I really liked what is there, and I plan to get it (eventually), but I’m not sure yet if it is worth the full 70 euro price tag; by the way, I caught myself writing in brackets “for the demo” throughout this article, several times, and I need to fix that, so everything I’ve written beyond this point refers to the demo only!
The reason for that being that I like loot games, but I don’t like the grind and farming associated with them. I don’t mind it and usually – in cases like Borderlands – that side of the game is something that I dip my toes in, only to realize very early on that I still don’t care about spending hours trying to get a legendary pistol; I still finish the campaign and screw around the world, but “end game” is not really something that engages me. In this regard, Outriders seemingly has an edge over the competition. It has a story, for starters, something that most looter games don’t seem to bother with; it is not only viable as a single-player game, but is really fun and engaging in a way that most other similar games are just not. It’s got the right amount of challenge, the gear and loot systems are already really engaging (to the point where several people, including myself, have been farming gear for the demo), and the gameplay is a nice twist to 3rd person shooters that demands hyper-aggression, smart use of abilities, and decisiveness to survive and thrive. So, why is it not a day-one buy from me? Well, there’s a couple of reasons for that…
First of all, the story is so bad (as of what I’ve seen from the demo) that I wish it went with everyone else’s plan and not deal with it; you are a rough and tough, constantly bantering, “bad-ass”, surrounded by rough and broken “bad-asses”, who absolutely take themselves dead seriously and make tough “bad-ass” decisions no one else is willing to take. Its Gears without any charm or self-awareness, and if that was just it, then not a big problem, right? But then you have the obnoxious shaky-cam, the tedious task of skipping all lines of dialogue when playing through segments you’ve played before, the bad VO and worse writing, and bizarre choices that most other games don’t succumb to; like, why set a game in an alien planet, only to turn it into post-apocalyptic earth? This makes me worried that, while the game seems to be going down a path that I like, in terms of gameplay and gear/loot systems, the story is going to actively annoy me and in a game like this (where replaying missions is pretty much mandatory) with an emphasis on the story, that story being so bad from the get go does not inspire too much confidence.
The second reason is that, while I had a blast playing single-player (especially with the tanky Devastator), I’m worried about the balancing of World Tiers (essentially difficulty levels that up the challenge and rewards) for single-player later on. There are examples of games handling this well (Borderlands and The Division 2 pop up in mind), but there are 15 WT in the final game and we only got 5 in the demo, so I’m worried about the game reserving decent gear behind later WT and those being not fun in single player; again, I’m not basing this on something that I’ve experienced in the demo, it’s just a worry I have after seeing how many more WT there are to unlock.
However, I would like to end on something positive, since I am ultimately positive on the game and plan on getting it (whether it’s on launch or later on a sale is the actual decision for me). The gear systems are actually engaging from the prologue in a way I’ve never really seen before; cosmetically, the weapons are really cool looking and the armor is mostly forgettable, but the stats/perks are really interesting. Just like most looter-shooters, the loot rarity has a hierarchy and the game-changing stuff (in other games) are usually reserved for legendary gear; in Outriders, you get “rare” gear that has mods/perks that actively change your strategy or power/usability of skills and other weapons, which means that even if you don’t grind and farm for legendary stuff, you will still find gear that will affect how you play the game, not just your efficiency against enemies. I was surprised to find myself holding on to a level 5 shotgun for both of the last levels of the prologue, just because the mod it had made my abilities that much better and the better stats of other weapons could not tempt me to change it. I also like the fact that a class like the Devastator has no real use for snipers or LMGs, but is devastating (wink) with shotguns and SMGs; its these details coming through from just the prologue that convinced me that I will buy this game. But the story, the world, and some general concerns about the balance and state of the game (you can never be too sure about the technical status of a game) make me question if this is going to be a day-one purchase. There are a ton of stuff I didn’t mention about the game, because I want to review it at some point and I’ll leave those for then; for now I played through the demo with the Pyromancer and the Devastator, and I will do so again with the Trickster.