Elder Scrolls - like Zelda, but an RPG! Fallout - Like Elder Scrolls, with guns! Outer Worlds - like Fallout, in space! I like Skyrim. I really like Fallout (even 4!), and I thought New Vegas was one of the best. I didn’t care for Outer Worlds, which kind of stinks.
Let’s start at the beginning - the difficulty curve on this game is wack, at least for my build. Health can regenerate, but I decided I wanted to spec into a build that didn’t do that because I didn’t fully understand the consequences of my actions. That’s on me. Then you start with the world’s worst pistol, and quickly find a mission to kill 3 bandits. Each of them is in a camp of about 5 or 6 enemies, all of which can gib you in about 3-5 seconds. In theory, you can heal yourself with stimpacks, but they are slim pickings. So it was quicksave, kill a bandit from stealth, see if anyone noticed, rinse repeat. I built my character for long range, so when I found a scoped gun I was pretty happy, but it only dropped with about 30 bullets, so I had to make each one count in every fight. The bullets are ‘heavy ammo’ so while I had pistol ammo dropping from every enemy, my heavy bullets were dwindling. Fast forward an hour and I had 30 stimpacks and 200 bullets for my sniper rifle, which now shot fiery bullets. That’s how quickly the game escalates you from peasant to god. Most of the game I was just plain bored with the combat system.
One of the mechanical draws of the game is VATS. Press Q and you can get 2 or 3 shots exactly where you want them. As a sniper, this is perfect. There is almost 0 percent chance to miss by user error, and every shot is a headshot unless you decide otherwise (which, kudos, I found kneecapping enemies to be very effective in the beginning of the game so I could blast them while they stumbled). This means as I sneak from bandit to bandit, I can clear them with a sneak attack, hide from their friends, and reset the encounter to do it all over again. One of the first mid level skills you can get makes it so your meter fills up by 25% whenever you kill an enemy. So now, I see a camp, mentally tag all the enemies, and then pick them all off in a ‘high noon’ style QTE. I can take off 5 bandits before my squadmates even notice we are in combat. This is often the whole ‘pack’. Now, the concept behind this of me just rolling up and aim botting enemies is sweet, but the story doesn’t really have its claws in me, so having the gameplay reduced to slow mo annihilation of all who oppose me is a little off putting.
So let’s take a step back, and look at my resources again: 1 enemy is 1 bullet, and about halfway through I have literally 1,000 bullets. My allies are firing off two full auto machine guns at anything I don’t mop up. I rarely am put in a situation where I could take damage, but even if I did, I have a perk that heals me 15% for every enemy I kill. I don’t even have to manage my health anymore. There was a point in the game where I was selling chaff out of my inventory to clear up weight to carry stuff (of which I never reached the limit so far, thanks perks). I accidentally sold my stack of 95 stimpacks, and there is no buyback option. Turns out, though, it doesn’t matter. I bought another 5, then an hour later was back up to 30 and decided not to worry about more than that because it was wasted weight.
In addition to stimpacks, there are about five hundred different food and drink items. Some boost your passive health regen (which I don’t have), some increase your base health (which I don’t need), and honestly, I don’t know what most of them do because I haven’t ever needed to use a single one. But they are all over the place, and I’m a pretty big klepto, so I figured I would take it just in case I needed it down the road. I’ve seen drinks that raise your base stats - there’s your stats which govern how well you shoot your gun, and then there’s your other stats that increase those first stats. Its...convoluted, and frankly taking the time to go through my inventory to figure out if I need to eat the meat to give me more temporary health is not worth the effort. There are more drugs than you can staple onto your stimpack every time you use it but I either didn’t want to consistently have an effect tied on, or guess what? It wasn’t worth it. I could do more damage, but I am already doing 200% enemy health in a single shot.
Finally, you get 4 slots for guns. I have used 1.5 slots so far. You can have different elemental weapons, so being able to slot in an electric weapon for robots is fine and dandy, but often not often important. Also, there are melee weapons which are laughably useless for my character. I could swap out to something that does less damage while getting mauled, or I could shoot at point blank with my murder stick. Hard choice. I will concede, almost all of these could probably be ‘solved’ by me raising the difficulty, especially to the hardcore mode where you have to eat and drink or whatever. I could also not use perks, spec a melee build, or other similar ideas, but I am not going to nuzlocke myself if I don’t enjoy the loop, and spoilers: I don’t. On to the world building and logic section!
You have to constantly repair your gear, which while it isn’t a ‘feel good’ mechanic, it does fit in place nicely into a Fallout style world, I guess? Do the corporations suck so bad they can’t make a gun that works for than a few clips? Is space dust getting into my gun? Are my rounds too spicy, so they corrode the barrel? You can break down any gun or armor to get parts to fix your other stuff, and enemies gun’s are plentiful. But if your pistol is broken, you can take parts from a flamethrower to fix it. That might make sense, but then you can fix a shrink ray with an assault rifle. You can fix a hammer with a flamethrower, or vice versa. And breaking down a pair of scissors for parts gets the same amount of parts as breaking down an LMG. I was yelling at my screen when I noticed this inconsistency, because it is so wildly out of place. Make a broom 1 part and a pistol worth 10. Have pistols give springs, hammers give slabs, and science guns give flux capacitors! It doesn’t have to be assembling a gun in a menu to fix it, but give me some idea of how my actions are working logically.
Another step was when I got onto the world full of pools of acid, praying mantises (Mantii?), hellhounds, and bandits. There are nice walled settlements where the city folk make canned fish (it’s all the rage) with security guards keeping the bandits and fauna at bay. But here’s my question: what is in it for the bandits? They are literally surrounded by death on every front, with people going mad from eating local animals, or slaving away in indentured servitude to be able to afford a can of tuna. How are they surviving? Surely the lootings of the homes has already been done by the townsfolk or heartless corporations? Do enough people venture out from their walled, armed town to go gather acid from the eldritch horrors that lurk outside? And to what end do the bandits do this? To get money...to spend in the company store? To get better gear so they can finally defend themselves from the dogs? Where did they even come from, for that matter? Everyone else is a cog in the machine, born into inescapable corporate servitude - we learned that on tutorial planet. So did these people desert to make a life out in the vast nothingness? Because we saw people who did that, but they figured out how to cultivate plants, and had the benefits of electricity (which once they were stripped of it, was a death sentence). And why are they coordinated across the galaxy? The same armor, the same colors, it just boggles the mind. What they needed was a cohesive guild with a stated purpose, goals, and reasons to exist on every planet.
So, full disclosure, this blog was written in the middle of my heated playthrough, and the ending didn’t inspire me to finish this up, so I have a list of grievances that I want to expound upon here. First off, when I made my character, I just hit random until I had someone that I liked well enough, and wound up with a sweet mustache and goatee. I was curious about my choice of voice a little bit in, and sure enough, oops, I was randomly a girl. It didn’t affect anything, but kind of a strange interaction with the randomizer. Next, the UI - it constantly displays teammate abilities that you can use, even if you can’t use them. I was so confused as to how to use them, or why I couldn’t use them until I realized I had to spec leadership in order to be able to use them. It makes ‘sense’, but hiding the ability and key prompt until you unlock it would be much more intuitive. You can quick disassemble items by holding down a key, and it tells you how many parts you get. Great! Except that prompt overlaps the UI element that shows how much damage/armor things have, so while in looting sprees I had to wait five seconds while turning trash into marginally different trash to see if I needed to scrap the thing I was looking at. This was infuriating several times during the playthrough, as the elements just needed to be slightly higher, or on the other side of the screen. How this passed any kind of QA is beyond me.
The perks, while existent, just aren’t fun because they don’t force a build or alter your playstyle. Instead, they feel like you are just trying to pick whatever makes you the most overpowered in general - more health, more damage, just bread and butter stats. Last on the rant list is just how empty the worlds are. There are no other ships, no cars, no landers, no shuttles, no other visitors. And yet there are so many roads, and allusions to other ships and people passing through. Most of the time you land somewhere, you only see one dock, so it seems as though most of the reason that they are doing so poorly is that your mall of a planet only has a single parking space.
To close out, I just really hated one little vignette they presented and I feel its representative of the game as a whole. An abandoned outskirt. “People who live out here shoot on sight”, my companion chimes in. One house is a named area that I load into. I walk in, and lo and behold, they don’t shoot on sight! They do give off a ‘creepy vibe’ according to my crew, and offer me to stay for dinner. “Oh, they’re cannibals”, I immediately declare. I get a quest to investigate the house, and my god, at the top of the stairs, there is a man with his leg butchered off. They are eating him! And then they are going to eat me! Oh my gooooooooood. It was so annoyingly, obnoxiously, painfully done to go beyond the realm of homage or parody and venture straight into ‘trite’. There are moments, mostly throwaway dialogue, that has made me laugh, but on the whole, the game has more easily recognizable cannibals, Sixteen Tons lyrics, and hamfisted allegorical corporations who have somehow managed to indoctrinate the galaxy. I replayed all the 3d Fallouts multiple times, having a wonderful time. This, I can’t see getting back into without getting angry, or drunk.