Outriders is set on a fictional planet called Enoch, which is primed to be colonised, but an unexpected event known as The Anomaly messes all that up and instead grants people supernatural abilities. Basically, a Mad Max-type scenario plays out, a wasteland civil war becomes the norm, and you step into the shoes of an Outrider who is trying to make a home out of Enoch while driving back the hostile forces.
It’s an interesting set-up and there are some great character-to-character moments throughout the story, despite some shaky voice acting. The real problem here though is not the story itself, but how it’s presented. The cutscenes don’t look great and feel almost like online RPG interactions between characters, rather than truly immersive narrative moments. Despite the developer’s promise, it’s hard not to feel like the campaign is there as set-dressing for the multiplayer aspect, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you’re searching for a gripping single-player experience, it may not tickle your fancy.
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If you want to team up with some friends, you can play through the game (and its eventual updates) with up to three other players. Regardless of whether a gamer is playing alone or with friends, players need to be online to access the content, something that has proven frustrating as Outriders has suffered significant server issues during its launch weekend. That said, when it is working, there is some fun to be had, but it’s not going to set the world alight.
The combat in Outriders is being compared to Gears of War, and that’s apt, but of course, lining it up to arguably the industry’s genre-standard setting third-person shooter is a stretch. You get a snappy, adaptive cover system, along with over the shoulder gunplay, and it all does feel pretty good. Alternating from firing your weapon to utilising your class’ special abilities (which range from long-range attacks and powerful mêlée combat to teleportation and buffed-up armour) is fun and adds some variety to how to tackle charging and camping enemies.
The gunfights and combat scenarios do look good too, as there are a lot of particle effects and traces of bullets flying around, and the level and enemy design are really interesting too. Unfortunately, as is the case with games like Outriders and Anthem, you will be moving back and forth between the same areas a lot of the time, so while they do look impressive, you’ll see most of the areas again and again throughout the experience.
Of course, the loot and gear is another element of the game, and you’ll be swapping and upgrading your weapons relatively frequently in the game. Most of the guns don’t have unique signifiers or the variety that they do in something like Borderlands, but there is some fun to be had to fine-tune your loadout and find the best weapons that work with your playstyle.
Outriders is a good game, but it struggles to be a great game due to it trying to do everything, rather than a few things really well. It does present some interesting ideas, unique creature designs, and some pretty visual moments, but what you see is what you get, and there’s not much that’ll surprise you after hours into the campaign. The reality is, there are better games in the third-person RPG/shooter genre out there, such as Revenant: From the Ashes, but if you love these types of games and happy to dive into something similar, it’s worth a try.
Outriders is available on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC.
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