What is Outriders

Who I am
Carlos Laforet Coll
Source: My PlayStation

It's really, really hard to figure out what Outriders is in the early hours. A slow, lost world-style opening introduces you to the planet Enoch, humanity's second chance after environmental collapse to claim Earth, but after a devastating natural disaster you find yourself flung forward in time, filled with superpowers and plunged into in a brutal civil war.

Yes, humanity flew halfway across the universe to start from scratch and managed to transform into a Mad Max-like dystopia in less than a century. 

As humanity's last remaining enclaves fight over resources, it's up to you and a sprawling camp of allies to travel across Enoch and uncover the cause of the natural disaster that sent the colonization effort spiraling out of control in the first place.

I didn't expect the main story to hold my attention for long, but Outriders hooked me during their 15-hour campaign. 

Your group's search for answers on the war-torn surface of Enoch is fraught with misery and suffering, both in your traveling camp and in the places you visit. 

Moments of levity keep everything from becoming unbearably dark, and the humor is generally very well measured, rarely straying into Edgelord territory.

Source: Outriders Youtube

Despite being a cover-based marksman, you can totally ignore cover once you've honed your skills a bit with skills and armor mods. 

You see, each class of Outriders has a bespoke health regeneration mechanic that is tied to combat, so sitting behind a shelter just doesn't work. 

For example, the Outriders' raw melee archetype, the Ravager recovers health from dead enemies at close range, so the only way to stay in the fight is to take down as many opponents as possible.

At the same time, you will be absolutely annihilated if you face too many enemies at the same time, so it's up to you to manage the arena so that you're always facing the right enemies at the right time. 

This gives every battle a sense of dynamism and keeps you constantly juggling, assessing arena hot spots, and switching between passive and aggressive playstyles.

Every now and then a fight feels unfair against you, but Outriders lets you switch between world levels to explore any spikes in difficulty. 

For most of the campaign I had no problem playing the harder tiers, but it was refreshing to have a temporary way to lower the difficulty for the few moments I just wanted to progress. 

On that note, it's worth pointing out that while Outriders is fully manageable as a solo player, boss fights present severe difficulty spikes in a way that feels like a poor balance rather than a genuine challenge, and if your class depends on killing to regain health then you may find yourself on the brink of death during a battle.

Source: Outriders

In addition to the main campaign, there are side quests, hunting quests, and bounties to complete.

Mix them together with the main campaign, and they increase the time you spend in each area and add some variety to the gameplay as well. However, returning after the credits have rolled to clean up any leftovers exposes just how repetitive they are.

Hunting missions are effectively identical, except in one you're hunting human enemies and in the other you're fighting alien beasts. In both, you have to clear some small areas of enemies before the boss appears. That's it. 

Side quests have a story to follow, some small new areas to explore and NPCs to find, but they also follow the standard format of traveling to a new area, talking to someone, fighting some bad guys, and returning to whoever has the quest. in.

They aren't standouts among the side quests, and surprisingly (for a loot shooter) they're found in cutscene interactions and snippets of lore. In one of the longer missions, I travel far and wide collecting keys to open a huge Outrider vault, partly to learn what happened to the other Outriders, partly in search of loot. 

– When I finally open the door, perhaps anxious to open a treasure chest, I am surprised by a huge nuclear bomb that, when I open the door, it explodes. 

Source: Outriders Youtube

Unfortunately, none of the content on this side comes with the promise of standout loot. 

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Each time you turn in a quest, you can choose one of three randomly generated rewards, but I can't remember a single time the reward was unique or worth including in my loadout. 

This sense of disappointment is exacerbated by the amount of fast travel you have to do for each mission.

 There are several fast travel points in each region of Enoch, but they only allow for local travel, so if you need to hop between regions for a side quest, you should use two different means of fast travel, which age very quickly. 

For some side quests, I spent more time jumping between fast travel points than fighting through the quest area. Doing all that for a randomly generated rare or epic reward is no fun.

Loot quality is one of Outriders' most persistent issues. In 25 hours of gameplay, I picked up four legendary weapons and only one was good enough to keep me going for more than a few minutes.

 There's little difference from the legendary weapons to the other weapons, other than impressive bodywork and the mod each weapon comes with. The result is that while his legendary assault rifle can shoot lightning at any enemy you shoot, it still looks just like any other assault rifle in the game.

Outriders also allows you to separate weapon mods by recycling them including the legendary ones, so as soon as a better weapon came along, I recycled the legendary to get your stormy mod and put it in the new weapon. 

This flexibility makes it easier to stay at the peak of the Outriders' difficulty, but prevents high-level items from feeling truly special.

Source: Outriders Youtube

But the root of the Outriders' loot problem is that all of their weapons look homogeneous. Aside from obvious differences like rate of fire, there's very little in the feel of a firearm to distinguish one weapon from another.

When you connect to a target and recoil is virtually non-existent. Despite all of Anthem's problems, its weapons contained a lot of strength and personality. The same goes for those of other genre rivals such as Destiny 2 or The Division 2. 

But those qualities are absent wherever you look in the Outriders arsenal.

Good thing there's more to Outriders combat than shooting, because luckily attacking enemies with your superpowers is a lot of fun. 

I've tried every class now, but the Devastator is my favorite class thanks to an ability that allows you to raise an earth sword to kill enemies. 

Add some gear mods to get more spikes and you can form neat rows of spiked henchmen in the middle of the firefight – it's beautiful.

Grav Leap, in turn, allows you to hover above the arena, select a target, then hurl at it like a comet, turning anyone near the impact zone into a pink mist. These abilities more than make up for the visual feedback that is missing from the Outriders' weapon usage.

Brief forays into online co-op show more potential, with a class like the Trickster capable of creating time warps, slowing enemies into tiny bubbles of punishment while I go to work hurling rocks at them from afar.

Source: Outriders Youtube

Once the credits roll into the campaign, you unlock Expeditions, the Outriders' end game. 

These are small, custom quests where you play against the clock, with faster completion times granting you rarer items. 

Much like Outriders' side content, there's a distinct lack of variety when it comes to the structure of each expedition, each one is basically a desperate race to kill everything in sight. 

Winning expeditions on the highest difficulty unlocks even greater difficulties and new expeditions, which eventually lead you to the real endgame fight. 

I'm halfway there at the time of publication, but I'm enjoying the routine, especially as certain expeditions wrap up some of the campaign's outstanding plots.

Outriders hits a lot of things, but it has to hit a lot, the gunfights are far from the best the genre has to offer. Fortunately, Outriders makes up for that in other areas, with superpowers that put Marvel's recent Avengers to shame and a successful narrative backed by smart world-building. 

It's far from what I expected after playing the demo, but overall I had a great time. And God only knows that this genre is littered with far less successful releases than this one.

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