Ever since Destiny released back in 2014 it seems like every major game publisher has been trying to make the next great looter shooter. While some have had success and carved out their own niches, such as The Division and Warframe, most have failed spectacularly like, Anthem and Marvel's Avengers. Unlike the latter two games Outriders is a looter shooter that ditches most of the multiplayer-focused hooks in favor of solid gameplay, a decent story, and most importantly, tries to do something a little different without pushing the envelope too far.
When I got the chance to preview Outriders at a press event last year, I’ve speculated on if this game could eventually become the “next big thing”. While my expectations have tempered a bit since release, I still think that Outriders definitely has what it takes to be the next major looter shooter alongside Destiny and Warframe. But unlike those two, Outriders is a bit more Diablo than Destiny.
Outriders Review | How’s It Play?
Combat in Outriders feels like you’re directing an action movie instead of just waiting for a cooldown to end so you can do another high DPS attack. It’s a looter shooter at its core, but unlike other titles in its genre, Outriders rewards you for playing aggressively and getting close to your enemies. As a long-time Destiny player, I’ve become used to standing behind rocks and slowly picking away at tougher enemies. So when I started playing Outriders like that I quickly learned that not only was it an easy way to die quickly, it was actually more fun to get into more risky situations and aggressively power through enemy hoards.
As the Trickster class, you quickly regain health and shields by killing enemies and have abilities that encourage you to get within striking distance of your enemies. While some enemy types (the ones with names) were a pain to fight within arms reach, it was extremely satisfying taking out an entire group of baddies with one slash of energy and a few shotgun blasts. The bigger enemies can be bullet sponges at times and with a lack of a respawn in single player it can be frustrating at first when your health bar gets melted by a few seconds by one guy. That being said after I lowered the world level a bit and figured out how to effectively chain my attacks and load-outs I found myself having a blast and not sweating the tougher segments.
For example, my pistols would heal me with each successful shot while my shotgun and lying rifle would do DPS damage and slow enemies down. The freedom to modify my weapons to suit my playstyle preferences really sets the game's looter gameplay loop apart from the standard RNG exotic weapon chase in other titles. This truly shines when you play the game cooperatively with others online and start chaining different class abilities together to cause maximum carnage. If you’re a fan of DOOM you’re probably going to enjoy this.
Online gameplay in Outriders is a bit hit or miss. While it's extremely fun to chain abilities with people playing other classes, the lows are just as impactful as the highs. I found myself having trouble connecting to any game online whatsoever outside of playing with people I know. The random team feature still needs a lot of work since I spent more time getting booted from games or spawning too far away from my teammates than I should have. It’s clear that Outriders is meant to be played solo or with people on your friends list instead of randoms online, but that still shouldn’t mean that it sometimes felt like pulling teeth when trying to connect and interact with a team of strangers. Looking at someone else’s loadout isn’t intuitive whatsoever and I’m still not sure if party chat is even a thing, which is a huge pain when you’re trying to play a cooperative game. But cross-play is in beta and I have had a bit more success there, and the games studio People Can Fly has been very transparent about the game's online flaws, so hopefully, this is something that gets fixed sooner than later.
Technicals aside though, the online play in Outriders is by far some of the most fun I’ve had in a looter shooter in quite some time. Enemies that were difficult solo are a breeze with teammates even with the world level raised. It’s very satisfying landing an asynchronous combination of class abilities and melting a boss's health bar in a few seconds and quite frankly, is worth the headache of getting into a proper multiplayer game in the first place.
Gear and load-outs are about what you would expect from a game like this. You have a wide range of shotguns, rifles, pistols, and the standard blue, green, purple, gold weapon tiers. What makes Outriders a bit more engaging than other similar titles is the ability to add a number of modifiers to any weapon in its ability slot. These range from DPS modifiers to de-buffs and even the ability to regenerate health worth each shot. You also level up as you go along and get the chance to level up a skill tree for your character class. This is the standard damage and health buffs you’ve seen a million times before, but it still gives Outriders just that much more of a personal feel to it, which ultimately not only makes the game more engaging to play but just plain fun.
Outriders Review | A B-Movie Plot In a AAA Wrapper
The story in Outriders isn’t going to win any awards for writing anytime soon but that not to say it doesn’t do a good job at keeping me engaged and interested in the world developer People Can Fly has crafted. You start out as the first group of humans to touch down on a new planet while helping humanity relocate from a ruined Earth. You’re known as an Outrider and quickly things go south and you end up in cryo sleep. Fast forward 30 years and you wake up in a world that feels like Mad Max in space. You also get superpowers from the “Anomaly” and then you go solve everyone’s problems one bullet at a time.
While the plot is still pretty early in its life, and it's not the most original premise, it's very much a “B-Movie” at its core. I did enjoy the story and found myself interested enough to care about what the characters on screen were saying. The cinematography in the game's cutscenes is pretty good and the acting never felt stiff or like anyone was just running their lines even if some of them were your standard sci-fi tropes. The game's music and sound design are excellent and composer Inon Zur deserves a lot of praise for Outriders' score. The music helped pick up the pace when the dialogue wasn’t doing it for me and it really helped me escape into the world of Outriders. Needless to say, the story in Outriders isn’t bad whatsoever, its just probably not going to stay with you that much longer after its over.
Outriders | Final Thoughts
It’s not often a game comes along that can not only live up to expectations but in many ways completely surpass them. While the game currently has some issues with online play, and the writing isn’t going to raise the bar in games storytelling anytime soon. Outriders' forward-thinking gameplay loop, deep level of customization, and general emphasis on fun combat really sets itself apart from everything else out right now in the looter shooter and action RPG genres. Outriders is a fun experience that you can easily sink hundreds of hours into without worrying about the bloat and un-intuitiveness of a live service. If this is just the start, I cant wait to see where it goes.
Techraptor reviewed Outriders on the Xbox Series X with a code provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox One.
- Fun and Intuitive Gameplay
- Lots of Customization
- Impressive Score and World Building
- Co-op Can be Extremely Satisfying
- Online Gameplay Can be a Hassle to get Working
- Story is a B-Movie at Best
- Can be Difficult at First
- Enemies Can be Bullet Sponges at Higher Difficulty