I’m gonna be honest, my first impressions of Outriders weren’t the greatest. It just seemed like another generic, gruff-looking looter-shooter that you’d randomly find searching the PlayStation Store on a Sunday. Though my initial thoughts weren’t far off the mark, surprisingly enough. If there’s one thing Outriders knocks out of the park, it’s that pure rush of exciting combat.
The Thrill of The Fight
Gunfights are fast and energetic, hardly ever giving you room to breathe. And the game actively rewards you for directly charging into battle. Since each player character’s abilities can wreck shop faster than the standard, look for cover and shoot. As well as the fact that more efficient kills, equals more health restoration overall. This incentivises the player to attack more aggressively.
When the player takes advantage of the skill moves each of the 4 classes has to offer in battle, this is where the game truly shines brightest. Every class, or ‘path’ as the game calls it has their own distinct set of skills that all compliment each other extremely well. With each skillset basically enforcing which role you’ll act out on the battlefield.
“You can literally line up and obliterate an entire wave of enemies in one fell swoop.”
Long-range, mid, tank, you know how it is. Though I must say my absolute favourite path was the Trickster. One ability, in particular, lets you horizontally slice enemies at close range for devastating damage. And when you combine it with the AOE, slow down time ability, you can literally line up and obliterate an entire wave of enemies in one fell swoop. Now that’s how you hype up the audience!
Outriders Is Conflicted
That being said, the actual gunplay itself seems secondary in the grand scheme of things. They do cause a lot of damage of course, and the aiming is tight, responsive and generally does feel good to shoot. Though the player is almost always encouraged to use skills first and foremost because of their overwhelmingly high damage output on the battlefield. In using these powers, however, I did encounter a few glitches here and there. Like the warp ability would just plonk me over to some random spot in the arena, or sandwich me between a target and a piece of geometry that was kinda awkward to recover from. But I can’t complain too much, because it did help me reset my cooldowns with little trade-off.
Now one thing I find super odd about this game is the cover system… Or should I say, lack thereof? I remember one of the trailers for Outriders was like “Cover’s for cowards, you can use it, but don’t” and I’m sitting there going
“Well, why did the devs implement a cover system to begin with? Isn’t that going hard against what this game’s about in the first place?” And it is! It became abundantly clear that the enemies need protection far more than the player does. So in essence, the cover system just comes across as more of an afterthought than anything else. It honestly feels super jank and unnecessary, and it’ll sometimes even flat-out ignore your inputs when you seriously need them in a pinch…
Yeah, probably needed more time in the oven.
The cover system just comes across as more of an afterthought than anything else.
Now on a different note, let’s go through some other gameplay aspects that I found interesting. Hallways. Yes, hallways. This game is the definition of linear. Each zone contains a bunch of different areas which essentially involve a gauntlet of enemies, that basically lead to a mini-boss or sub-boss at the end. Take em’ down, get the loot and get outta there! Thought this was an open-world game? Think again!
Finding Value In Outriders
However, the enemy variety is pretty decent in terms of design and gameplay functionality. The bosses themselves having different phases and movesets which definitely force you to stay on your toes, and the enemies will steadily coordinate to flush the player out if they remain behind cover for too long.
Enemies will steadily coordinate to flush the player out if they remain behind cover for too long.
In addition, I also really liked how the difficulty would scale depending on how many members were fighting in your party, and the fact that you could manually adjust the difficulty at any time. Not only making the encounters harder for you and your team but even increasing the drop rate of rarer loot in the process. Mind you, I kept the difficulty on the lowest possible setting because I suck at these types of games, but that’s beside the point.
The loot aspect of this game is handled really well too. What I find with other loot-based games, is that you’ll normally just go with the equipment that has the highest number. Then quickly get rid of your old gear and repeat this process until the end-game, where you can really synergize the best equipment. Makes sense, right? But in this case, Outriders has learned a crucial lesson from its obnoxious neighbour, Cyberpunk and made weapons and armour that are actually worth holding onto!… Say what? No way!
Yes, the perks themselves turn the standard weapons and armour into a bit of commodity, would you believe? And to make things even better, there are no micro-transactions to be found here either! Much win!
So You Think You’re Cool, Ey?
In terms of story and characters, this is where I had a few issues. Even though it does go against the grain of the looter-shooter genre and strives to present a fully fleshed-out story – it just didn’t hit the mark. This is generic, sci-fi fodder at its best. What’s also super annoying is that almost every character tries to come across as super cool and aloof, but it just gets so old really fast! The main character has some sassy lines here and there, which certainly helps lighten the tone, though even the narration at the start can’t help but fall victim to the edgy, gritty overtones of Outriders.
If you’re not into cinematics, then oh boy! This game is not for you. I must say, I love me some good cutscenes in video games… But if they’re not interesting to watch, then why am I gonna force myself to sit through 2-3 minute cutscenes at every corner? Especially when the voice acting sounds pretty meh overall.
Outriders’ Performance on PS4
How does Outriders run on PS4 at launch, you ask? Well, not too bad. I didn’t notice any significant improvements from the demo in terms of frame rate, specifically in the main city area, which dipped pretty low. Good thing is that the game didn’t crash once on my end, and you can even turn off the motion blur from the options menu. Though it didn’t bother me too much either way. According to Square Enix, the cover system has been improved somewhat, but I didn’t really notice a difference from the demo.
Should Outriders be in your shopping cart? I’d have to say yes, but slap a huge asterisk next to it. The skills and gunplay are really fun, although the level designs and general structure of the game can feel a bit uninspired at times. The same goes for the story and characters trying to be a lot more serious than they actually are. Outriders has a few issues in all departments but ultimately presents a 35+ hour RPG package that’s worth a shot, even if you’re not necessarily a fan of the looter-shooter genre.
Outriders contains some super exciting gunplay and skills that can wreak absolute havoc on the battlefield, equating to all sorts of co-op fun throughout the campaign. That being said, the story alone isn’t worth the price of investment and the collective amount of in-game jank is a little ridiculous. Although, if you proceed with a positive outlook, there’s plenty to enjoy here.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Square Enix. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.