Friday, April 9, 2021

Outriders in-progress

Review information

Platform: Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S

Time played: 12 hours

This is an in-progress review. Due to server issues, we haven't been able to spend as much time with Outriders as we'd like to experience everything it has to offer. This review will be updated in due course with our final verdict, and is subject to change.

Outriders doesn’t make the best first impression, partly because we couldn’t play it for the first couple of days after its release. We’ve seen it happen time and time again with online-only games, but a litany of server issues, game-breaking bugs and glitches were all present during Outriders’ turbulent launch, and it’s still in a fairly rough state at the time of writing.

We’ve encountered all sorts of anomalies during our time with the game such as audio issues, a possessed controller that wouldn’t stop vibrating, disconnects during missions, and the inability to test cross-play to its full potential (though it did work admirably during the Outriders demo).

While these problems will undoubtedly be ironed out in due course, it’s yet another example of a game that seems to have been rushed out before it’s ready. And because of the game’s always-online nature, there’s a real possibility that more frustrations could arise in the future, which is worth bearing in mind.

Questionable quality control aside, though, what does developer People Can Fly’s more chaotic take on the looter shooter genre have to offer? And does it do enough to stand out against the likes of more established peers such as Destiny 2 and The Division 2?

Outriders price and release date 

  • What is it? A looter shooter developed by Bulletstorm creators People Can Fly
  • Release date? April 1, 2021
  • What can I play it on? PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC
  • Price? $59.99 / £49.99 / AU$99.95

Rough ride 

Outriders Devastator guide

(Image credit: Square Enix)
  • Draws inspiration heavily from others
  • Mish mash of old ideas

In a nutshell, not really. It’s immediately obvious from the outset that Outriders unashamedly borrows elements from both of the aforementioned games, which only leads to comparisons that it would do well to avoid. I tend to loathe pitting ‘Game A against Game B’, but Outriders inspirations are so obvious that it’s impossible to ignore. 

There are countless bits of cover to huddle behind during firefights and various guns to collect with different rarity values, power and stat-boosting bonuses, just like in The Division 2; and the familiar cursor that’s used to navigate most of the menus has been plucked straight out of Destiny, along with the sci-fi setting. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Outriders was nothing more than a poor tribute act, then, particularly as the game’s outlandish characters and fairly forgettable story do little to help its plight. But underneath the cringe-worthy dialogue and often downright ugly visuals is a game that’s fundamentally fun, but one that takes too many liberties with players’ time and patience.

Rough ride

  • Unlikeable characters
  • Bad voice acting
  • Forgettable story

Outriders’ story does little to draw you in. Earth is deemed inhabitable due to one too many wars and natural disasters, so the human race sets forth to find a new home on a planet called Enoch. What was supposed to be a paradise soon turns into a deadly hellscape, and your player-created character, known as an Outrider, is plunged into cryosleep after barely surviving the catastrophic events that transpire. You awake over 30 years later, only to discover that the human race is still battling to survive, and its fate rests largely in your hands. 

The less said about the dialog and the cast of characters the better. All the usual tropes are here, with corny one-liners, frequent f-bombs and truly awful facial animations that make the cutscenes feel like a chore to sit through, rather than serving as a pleasant break from the action.

Bow down 

Outriders craftiing guide

(Image credit: Square Enix)
  • Playing aggressively is key
  • Outriders makes you feel incredibly powerful
  • Four classes to choose from

While you’ll be wielding various weapons in Outriders like shotguns, SMGs and high-powered pistols, one key philosophy that Outriders brings to the table is aggressive play. Your character is blessed with incredibly destructive supernatural powers, which you’ll need to utilize to their fullest if you’re to overcome the many threats that are found on planet Enoch. Essentially you’re akin to a God, and it’s this element where Outriders excels the most.

Even though cover is plentiful across Outriders’ various biomes, you won’t be cowering behind it very often. Instead, you’ll need to take the fight to your enemies as vanquishing foes actually heals your character. Outriders' powers and gunplay are thankfully compelling enough to make combat enjoyable, though the enemy types you’ll encounter are, once again, more of what we’ve already seen before. 

There’s an undeniable sense of satisfaction when you pop an enemy's cranium with a well-aimed sniper rifle, then, but it’s your character's unique powers that will ultimately dictate whether you live or die. With rapid cooldowns and various abilities to unlock, Outriders doesn’t force you to wait an age to unleash a super like in Destiny 2 – you’re encouraged to use them as much as possible for crowd control, interrupting more powerful enemy attacks and essentially obliterate anything that gets in your way.

It’s a careful balancing act, though, as you’ll be peppered with bullets whenever you leave cover, meaning that you can’t just run in with reckless abandon. Outriders’ difficulty level, which is dictated by world tiers, also ensures you’ll have to fight tooth and nail to survive some of the more testing encounters, but you can lower this should you desire a more relaxing experience. 

With four classes to choose from – Devastator, Technomancer, Trickster and Pyromancer – there’s plenty of replayability on offer. You can create multiple characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and create a build that suits you. Whether you want to act as a bullet sponge as the Devastator, pick off enemies from afar as the Technomancer, or debilitate the enemy with multiple time-shifting abilities as the Trickster, Outriders’ four classes should suit every type of playstyle.

Outriders class guide

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Again, when you’re engulfing enemies in a sea of flames, shattering frozen creatures into tiny little pieces or watching a hapless foe suspended in motion as you riddle them with bullets, Outriders can be a really good time. But then you’re tasked with doing it again, and again, all with the focus on grinding better loot as you go.

If that’s something that appeals to you, then Outriders has hours of entertainment on offer, including a meaty end game known as Expeditions - something which we're yet to experience and have high hopes for. But there are other games that not only deliver a steady drip of endorphin-raising loot, but offer a more refined, engaging and technically accomplished experience overall. 

Early verdict


(Image credit: Square Enix)

As it stands, we don't think Outriders will change your opinion of the looter shooter genre as a whole, as the criticisms that many have still ring true here: the quests you embark on all revolve around ‘go here, kill that’ with very little variation in between. Everything ultimately revolves around collecting more powerful loot and leveling up to help you destroy whatever stands.

That might be enough to put some players off entirely, but there’s no denying that Outriders has made us smile with its over-the-top abilities and gore-laden explosions. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and honestly, neither should you. We just wished People Can Fly leaned more into its own ideas, instead of them acting as the icing on a familiar cake we’ve gorged on countless times before. 


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