Looter shooters… the only two words that wakes me up on an early Sunday morning aside from the smell of pancakes and hot chocolate. It’s the kind of video game genre that not only brings the epic and varied loots in its equipment but also the addictive gameplay elements of a shooter and an RPG altogether. And Outriders, the latest sci-fi looter shooter from People Can Fly definitely gives all that and more. From the colourful and stunning world design to its impressive yet often chaotic itemization. It delivers a kind of charm that not only gives you a certain sense of excitement as you open each piece of legendary gear with its eye-catching looks and flashy effects but also the stunning and beautiful world and gameplay elements that complete the entire package.
And I really do love the looter shooter formula so, despite its rocky launch week, it’s a game that I still find it hard to put down despite the countless crashes and long sign-in process involved. We’re talking about constant game crashes on the console which for any sane person, would definitely think twice before clicking on that start game button one more frickin’ time. This is a bit frustrating because, beyond its issues, the game is a pretty solid shooter that only brings an immersive experience to its player base.
Its adventure while a bit slow to take momentum, offers a dark narrative centred on humanity’s survival after fleeing its dying home planet. Here, they arrive in hopes of salvation and to finally start a new life for humankind. But despite their initial preparations, life makes a complete 360 every now and then and sadly this is one of those times which throws the narrative into a loop from your character getting hooked up into the cryopod after being severely injured only to wake up years later to the post-apocalyptic life they wouldn’t have ever imagined. From this point onward the rich storyline takes shape giving the game and its people an added layer of depth and dimension as you venture the land to save its people or at least what’s left of them from starvation and extinction.
But as far as looter shooters go, the gameplay and itemization is pretty much the king here and People Can Fly has that covered. Giving you the addictive gameplay that revolves around four varying character types like the Pyromancer or Devastator that not only brings you their base classes but also a bit of freedom to switch around with each of their three archetypes and playstyles. Whether it’s the Pyromancer’s Tempest tree that revolves around explosive skills to devastate its foes with AoE attacks or the Ash Breaker with its more gun-focused playstyle using volcanic-infused rounds and immobilizing abilities. Each playstyle has its own sense of diversity that not only makes it more enjoyable to try each one but also makes it more engaging to learn and master as you try to mix and match what skills work well with each other. A Thermal Bomb for example works really well with the Pyromancer’s Overheat skill while also being viable to run an Ash Blast and Overheat combo with enough mods to make it a map cleaner for lower tiers.
Its level progression is often straight forward and satisfying at the same time as each area has a specific set of mobs that spawns as you reach a certain point filling in that urge to massacre anything that moves which is something that I can bloody sign up for any time of the day. While it does get pretty old really quick with its constant need to throw enemies at you at specific points in the game, the weapons and armours along with their modifications make up for it to keep it from being boring and repetitive which does become an issue for its end-game and its lack of diverse builds for clearing high-level content. But for anything other than the hardest of content currently available, the game provides you with a lot of fun as you mix and match weapons and armour modifications that are anything but normal. From the wacky Body Snatcher with its ability to teleport a random enemy to the location where you killed a previous enemy to the downright busted skills from the High Roller gun that makes all your shots critical hits after a kill. There’s easily some really nasty combo plays to be made here which really makes it all the more exciting to start grinding for those sweet shinies.
And speaking of shinies, its Legendaries all feel very different with their unique aesthetics and design while also offering the unique modifications that are often only available from that specific gear aside from a couple that does share a mod like the Bolt & Thunder and the Disintegrator pistols with their same mod type. You can really tell that there’s a lot of effort put into its designs to make them really stand out from the rest of the pack with each of their own unique themes. The Acari Set being my favourite one for its lava golem-like aesthetics which is very fitting for its burn status-based ability modifiers. But more than that, what differentiates Outriders as a looter shooter is its infinite amount of possibilities for its massive pool of modifications of every tier that can also be extracted and attached to any piece of equipment to make certain builds work better or just straight-up wreck shit up. You can also level each gear up to the highest possible level cap or upgrade its rarity until Epic (a grade below Legendary) which not a lot of games give you that much freedom.
There’s some solid gameplay that I easily found myself getting addicted to and this is something that does follow through to its world design despite its smaller scale. Unlike massive open worlds you can freely walk around, Outriders took smaller bite-sized areas linked together with loading screens and mini cutscenes. Nothing too grand but what it does is it makes up for a wider range of diversity in its world-building from the lush forests, snowy mountainous ranges to the hot piping sands of desert wastelands and it worked really well for what it’s trying to do.
Its accessibility and quality of life does have their shortcomings. It’s not a complete deal-breaker however but it does hurt itself quite a bit considering it gave quite a few things that are very useful such as auto-looting and being able to teleport your friends to enter a different area from wherever they are on the map. One of the more annoying things that definitely hurts the looter shooter formula though is its lack of lock or marking functions to avoid having to mistakenly dismantle or sell your gear. Its lack of a loadout feature is also something that would’ve made a lot of sense considering you can respec your class skills at any time. And for a game that mostly revolves around multiplayer, the invite options are often incomplete which makes sending an invite to a friend a real hassle to do when they don’t even show up in the friend list.
Outriders is easily one of the more exciting looter shooters in recent years hands down if not for its server issues and the constant game crashes that leaves players frustrated including me. It’s an enjoyable game that definitely supports playing with friends but doesn’t particularly try to force you into it. This game takes the RPG elements and mix it with engaging gunplay and magic to create a fun and chaotic mess in a good way. It’s definitely not a revolutionary game by any means but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth a shot… if you don’t mind having server issues.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Google Stadia, and PC.
Developers: People Can Fly, Square Enix
Grab your copy of Outriders here.
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