Let’s be real here: Outriders isn’t exactly a benchmark in originality. Developer People Can Fly have gone about cherry-picking what it wants from the last decade of games, resulting in a project that mixes the dirty aesthetics of Gears of War with the power fantasy of Destiny, the loot-driven experience of Borderlands, and the hostile alien landscape of Anthem minus the two years of failure.
And hot damn, does it at least feel great.
I’ll give credit to PCF, as the developer knew exactly what kind of game it wanted to make and then went all in on that project. The end result from its recent demo is a surprisingly meaty shooter that rewards aggressive behavior with a surprisingly potent set of powers and a world that always challenges you to stay on your toes.
Outriders of course has that unique Eastern-European charm to it: Everything in its world is screwed over seven ways from Sunday, Armageddon is around the corner, and the fate of humanity rests in the hands of a single badass who happens to have been gifted with wild powers, uncanny gun skills, and a penchant for wry one-liners.
And that’s fine! Sometimes you don’t need the rulebook to be rewritten and PCF’s honesty about what kind of game players are in for, is refreshingly honest in an industry that is notorious for double-speak and pulling the wool over the eyes of gamers. Outriders excels at being a junk food game, similar to how Call of Duty is always great for a weekend of mindless action or how you can switch your brain off in Dirt 5 and spend an hour getting your tires dirty.
What Outriders does excel at, is how it makes its classes feel like the next step in human evolution. Well, 50% of them anyway. With four specific classes on offer, players may feel spoiled for choice depending on their selection. That all depends of course on how you tackle the game. Lone wolves will do best as the agile Trickster or walking tank that is the Devastator, while players looking to be invaluable teammates will want to choose the Technomancer and Pyromancer skills.
For the Trickster and Devastator, you have a style of play that rewards gung-ho attitude with unrelenting offense over defense. Why hunker behind a bunker, when your powers and bullets will allow you to close a gap and heal you when you get into some goon’s personal space? You’ve also got access to skills that turn you into a human wrecking ball, slash enemies into old age with a chronal blade, and pop a bubble that lets you laugh off any hail of bullets fired in your general vicinity.
With the Pyromancer and Technomancer, you have classes who work best from a safe distance, pushing enemies out of cover and setting them up for killing blows. It makes from some nice variety, and with a hefty skill-tree attached to each class, there’s a ton of options to explore beyond what was available in the demo.
I can dig that. If this is Outrider’s first impression, it’s a positive one that I’m looking forward to spending another 30-odd hours inside of. There are some gripes mind you, such as menu system being a pain, lip-synching in cinematics being atrocious, and the character creation options being the most generic dudebro cosmetics on offer, but Outriders gets a lot more right than it does wrong.
Come April 1, I’m going to be eager to take this sci-fi western out for a spin and see what the Trickster class can really do when the odds are stacked against me.
Last Updated: March 1, 2021