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The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds hands-on

We hebben een paar uur doorgebracht in de nieuwe rpg van Obisidian, die ons in oktober naar Halcyon en verder brengt.

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Toen Obsidian Entertainment vorig jaar The Outer Worlds op The Game Awards onthulde, trok de aankondiging de aandacht van gamers over de hele wereld, vooral die van Fallout-fans. Fallout: New Vegas wordt immers door veteranen van de franchise gezien als een van de beste in de reeks en na de moeizame start van Fallout 76 zag The Outer Worlds er uit als iets dat bij fans in de smaak zou vallen. Daarmee keren we terug naar Obsidian's actie-rpg's, alleen dit keer in een volledig nieuwe wereld die ze zelf hebben bedacht.

In München hebben we ongeveer twee uur van de game gespeeld, nadat we de game eind vorig jaar al te zien kregen op het kantoor van Obsidian, en als echte Fallout-fans begonnen we daar met hoge verwachtingen aan. Na de controller weer neergelegd te hebben kunnen we echter melden dat dit beslist zijn eigen dingen is, in plaatst van iets dat in de buurt kom van een New Vegas 2. Zeker, qua opzet zijn sommige dingen die we ook bij de originele onthulling zagen - zoals het uitbeelden van de personages tijdens gesprekken en het dialoogsysteem zelf - vergelijkbaar met de rpg van Bethesda, maar Obisidian maakt hier een totaal nieuw universum, een die behoorlijk uitgebreid is.

De eerste 45 minuten van onze speelsessie liet ons het begin van de game spelen en introduceerde ons aan het verhaal. Phineas Welles, een wetenschapper op de vlucht voor de sterke arm der wet en die we eerder hebben gezien in voorgaande trailers, stapt aan boord van een schip vol met bevroren kolonisten die onderweg waren naar de Halcyon-kolonie, maar in de ruimte zijn achtergelaten omdat ze de reis niet haalden. De kosten om hun terug te halen was namelijk te hoog en daarom werden ze achtergelaten door de kolonie. Op het schip ontdooit Welles jou en stuurt je naar het oppervlakte van Halcyon om hem te helpen de anderen te ontdooien, en dit is hoe de game begint.

We verklappen niet meer, maar nu je ontdooit en vrij bent, kun je een personage maken en deze aanpassen zoals je wilt. Uitgever Private Division vroeg ons geen informatie te onthullen hoe dit er visueel uitziet, maar wat de rpg-elementen, zoals vaardigheden en attributen betreft, valt er genoeg om aan te sleutelen en om mee te spelen. Wat er uiteindelijk voor zorgt hoe bedreven je bent in specifieke speelstijlen, met je wapens en verschillende mechanismes, zoals 'Luck'.

The Outer WorldsThe Outer WorldsThe Outer WorldsThe Outer Worlds
The Outer WorldsThe Outer Worlds

It took mere steps after landing on this planet to find a wounded NPC, and we got to test out the dialogue system. As expected we could be nice or hostile, and everything in between, and after we convinced him to give us his pistol we went off into the big wide world. Later on in the game, we got to experience more dialogue options such as lying, luck, and intimidation, so there are plenty of ways to play your character when it comes to fraternising with others.

After emerging from the cave where our wounded friend was sitting, we spied some Marauders, which are The Outer Worlds' version of bandits and raiders, i.e. random grunts who mooch about the place being a nuisance. We popped one in the head and learned that each enemy has a weak spot, and it's worth exploiting them for maximum damage. To help with this there's a limited gauge to activate slow-motion, letting you target enemies easier, and you don't need us to tell you it's incredibly satisfying to hit a fatal headshot or land a killing blow with a melee weapon in slow-motion.

Yes, there aren't just handguns in this game, and there's variety when it comes to your arsenal, including two-handed and one-handed melee weapons; rifles; shotguns; grenade launches; pulse hammers; and more. These can all be tweaked at workbenches, which lets you add various mods, and they'll need repairing as well since weapon degradation will cause you real problems when you're out on your adventures.

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Once we'd sent the Marauders to meet their maker, we encountered the city of Edgewater, and here's where the game opened up dramatically. Of course, there's the central quest for Phineas Welles, but that soon includes a number of other missions as you look for the gear you need, and other side quests can be followed instead. It's a wide-open world with a lot of things to do and plenty of people to talk to, and speaking of which, the facial animations and mouth movements were superb. Admittedly people still looked a bit dead behind the eyes, but that's a small niggle.

Within minutes of entering Edgewater we had accidentally recruited our first companion, Parvati, who was later joined by another called Nyoka. You can decide which gear they use and carry (they're good pack mules), you can unlock new skills for them via the Inspiration skill, and they're very useful in combat - we lost count of the times we went into a fight we couldn't finish and Parvati brought the pain with her massive hammer. You can even command them directly, sending them to certain points or into a fight before you.

It's worth choosing wisely when it comes to the skills you invest in, since this can open a lot of doors, and we don't just mean your lockpicking skill. We mentioned that gear needs to be repaired on workbenches, but if you get your Engineering to a high enough point you can repair things on the go, and there are plenty of points to share around every time you level up.

Choice matters in terms of morality as well, as we found out. At one point we were charged with kicking a community out of an abandoned botanical plant so that we could get a resource, but they suggested instead getting it from elsewhere, leaving us with two choices. We don't know what the consequences of this are of course since we haven't played too much of the game, but Obsidian assured us that there certainly will be consequences.

The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds

We were also surprised on our journey to encounter Flaws. The one we found was called Raptiphobia, which meant that because of our increased exposure to creatures called raptidons out in the wild we developed a fear that lowered our Dexterity, Perception, and Temperament. These can be accepted or rejected, and the reason you might do the former is because accepting gives you one more perk point, so it's worth weighing up the risk and reward.

In terms of how each weapon handles, Obsidian has pretty much nailed this side of the game. All of the weapons feel satisfying to use, and as you develop your skills you can grow more proficient with them. Levelling up melee weapon skills, for example, lets you unlock heavy hits, and these are just as fun to use as the grenade launchers and machine guns. It depends on your style, and everyone from a Rambo gunfighter to a Dishonored-style assassin has toys to play with.

Of course there are other classic RPG elements we encountered during our various tasks and quests, including traders and vending machines to buy and sell gear, as well as plenty to loot in every nook and cranny of the world, and right now we're confident that The Outer Worlds can deliver a convincing RPG because of all these mechanics and solid gameplay.

What we wonder right now though is whether it can deliver a memorable RPG. We didn't get to see a whole lot, but what we did see didn't leave us bedazzled, and the personality wasn't quite there yet, and by that, we mean that we've not seen the same outstanding character, locations, and storylines just yet. The whole reason people are excited about the New Vegas developers doing this is because of the memorable nature of that game in all of these areas, so we just hope that The Outer Worlds can keep doing what it's doing, and leave us something to think about and savour after the credits have rolled.

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