• Aaron Adlem

Review: Delving into the complicated yet compelling world of Outriders

Updated: Apr 10

This 1-3 player co-op RPG shooter looked like it could be one of the most promising releases of 2021. Following its April 1st release from Square Enix and developers People Can Fly, we delved in to find out whether or not Outriders has been worth the wait...

Outriders Review image
Picture Credit: Square Enix

What happened here?

Outriders takes place in the midst of a galactic expedition that’s hoping to find a new home after Earth becomes uninhabitable, following aggressive seismic activity caused either by testing of targetable weapons of mass destruction that can cause Earthquakes from anywhere in the world, or some other manipulative gravitational device. Either way - we f*cked it.

The game puts you in the shoes of an Outrider; a trained soldier instructed to protect and ensure the safety of those who look to colonise the game’s setting, Planet Enoch. At first glance, Enoch seems to be a luscious paradise filled with beautiful flora and landscapes; however you shortly discover that looks can be deceiving…

As the narrative progresses, we find our character stuck in cryostasis before being reawakened 30 years later, in the middle of combating factions. Whoops, we f*cked it again!

Unfortunately for you, you are instantly sentenced to execution; for some reason people hate Outriders now. On the other hand, this results in your character being stuck in what is called an anomaly, an electromagnetic storm which conveniently gives us godlike powers, perfect for executing a swift spanking of vengeance and justice in an effort to restore whatever is left of civilisation.

Watch me jump over this bridge well quick

Whilst the game’s combat and systems are fluid and enjoyable, there are several design choices which I cannot help but scratch my head at and ask, ‘why?’ Every time you go to a new area you are shown a cutscene. Now at first you would think, sure, you are going to a new area, right? Well… no. This happens when you open doors, jump over a log, climb a wall and any other silly obstacle you might encounter in your play time followed by another load screen.

Outriders Ruins
Picture Credit: Square Enix

Now I am sure there was some sort of technical justification as to why it has to be this way but in this day and age, it feels dated to have so many loading screens and to break the immersion so frequently can become frustrating especially when the world and environments themselves are so beautiful and eye catching.

On top of this, Outriders sports many navigational issues, making getting from point A to B in some cases an astronomical task; even the in-game GPS doesn’t know what the hell is going on and in a lot of cases will send you to a dead end. Both the mini map and world map are basically useless and provide no visible information that can be used to distinguish where you are or even the direction you are facing; seriously can someone please tell me which way is North?

That was… easy?

Outriders does little to distinguish itself apart from other looter-shooters and generally follows the same formula you would expect. However, what it does do is deliver systems which feel intuitive and satisfying.

As you progress you unlock new skills and gear which offer endless amounts of customisation and diversity with little resistance. Everything you are able to do is cheap and easy as the game looks to give you the freedom to craft and be creative without having to jump through game padding techniques that we have come to expect over the years.

Example of skill tree
Picture Credit: Square Enix

You are able to respec at any time with no consequence or cost; mods for your gear are obtained via dismantling acquired loot and stored in a permanent library allowing to freely customise each piece at the cost of materials which are available in abundance.

Glass cannon is the way forward

There are currently four classes available to play. In simple terms: Pyromancer – burn stuff; Technomancer – shoot stuff; Trickster – stab stuff; and Devastator – smash stuff.

These classes loosely fall into your Tank, Support, and DPS categories but allow you to express and utilise different abilities and tools that allow you to distinguish yourself appropriately. You can have up to three abilities at any given time out of a selection of eight, which means you need to select abilities that compliment any given scenario or build you have created.

Picture Credit: Square Enix

Each class does well to distinguish itself from the other, my personal favourites being Technomancer and Trickster, as I found whilst playing both the play-styles of each require vastly different tactics to succeed. As is tradition I pump absolutely everything possible in to doing as much damage as humanly possible, often neglecting any sort of defensives or resistances, which this game allows me to do perfectly and affectively. Keep them off my while I shoot stuff!

Give me that loot baby

Loot is available in the expected white, green, blue, purple and yellow/gold variety we are all used to by now signifying its rarity. As you progress through the game you will unlock new world tiers which influence the drop rates of each rarity whilst also increasing the difficulty.

Example of World Tier's
Picture Credit: Square Enix

World tiers can be adjusted at any time if you feel as if you are not quite prepared, and you can return to higher world tiers later on should your gear be appropriately tuned. Legendary armours and weapons are acquired through end game expeditions which are timed challenges following completion of the story.

Final verdict

Overall, Outriders is a welcome addition to the looter-shooter genre, and I look forward to playing more of it. Yes, we know there are several annoying design choices and technical issues with servers and crossplay, yadda yadda put your pitchforks away! These are all fixable issues and Enoch is full of nice surprises.

However, whilst claiming the game is not ‘Games as Service’, solo play is not available to those who want to play offline and People Can Fly’s first balance patch raise questions in the integrity of this statement, following an immediate nerf to some of the stronger builds in the game right now.

Understandably, these builds were vastly superior and quite clearly ‘meta’ but after all, considering this is not a live service game, let people play the game how they want to play it.

In the absence of any offline play, we basically have a live service game, without the service. Hopefully, future updates can rectify any doubts surrounding this, as the initial foundation for Outriders is an absolute blast.

Developers People Can Fly have stated they are happy to consider expansions in the future with their own self-contained storylines and as such I look forward to the future of Outriders, and where our next adventure could take us!

You can also check out our newest article with 5 additional tips and tricks to help you on your journey in Enoch.

Outriders is available now on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Stadia.