It’s been nearly two weeks since People Can Fly and Square Enix released the demo for their newest co-op shooter Outriders. Many of us here at Out of Lives have put in some time with the title, with some of us actually playing together to varying success. With the game set to launch on the 1st of April what are our thoughts on this first portion of the game? Myself, Adam, Gary and Aadil discuss these below. You can also see me in action with the Devastator class on YouTube.
Outriders is a co-op looter shooter with some light RPG elements. You can play solo but grouping with another 2 people is the real pull of this game. It’s a little Gears of War, a little The Division, some Borderlands, a touch of Destiny and a smattering of Anthem all rolled into a more aggressive game.
First and foremost I’ve really enjoyed Outriders. I’ve played a few sessions and felt the loop hold me, even calling me back, wanting to play more after my first experience. I spent that first session as a Devastator, a close combat tank. It’s not my usual play style, I often opt for ranged DPS. The Devastator feels good though. The up close firing of a shotgun, hitting the ground to send a wave of earth crashing into enemies and then popping a barrier to collect enemy bullets and fire back at them is super satisfying. It’s visceral too. The animations of the abilities feel solid, you really impact the ground with a slight camera shake, and the explosion of an enemy from a final shotgun blast is pure carnage. It’s a delight to fight. With the Devastator I felt this aggressive nature changes the cover based format, something I enjoyed in The Division, for the better. In my second play I tried the Technomancer, and whilst it was fun I want to go back to the Devastator. That is the selling point of the game for me currently, that class.
At this point I feel I could take or leave the game based on what I’ve seen from the story and the visual experience. The lush forests and landscapes are replaced with the browns and greys of war. Tunnels, rocky demolished landscapes and industrial areas mark the extent of the experienced world in the demo and it was a little disappointing switching to that pallet. That is especially after the beautiful opening scene and the scene when you’ve finished the demo showing the variety of environments and creatures the game has to offer. I’d much rather have been presented with a beautiful environment showcasing what this game can do. I understand from a story point where you start, the position the character is placed into, I just wanted more from it. As this is the first section of the game rather than a ‘demo’ the story elements feel disjointed. There is about an hour of prologue before choosing a class and getting into the game properly. Luckily this can be skipped when starting a new character because it’s both boring and the story is too all over the place. Introductions to important characters only for them to be removed, or forgettable characters are not successful at tying together the arrival to the world and the war-torn hellscape it has become.
Technically Outriders has performed OK. My first play was with Aadil and we both played via PC. The connection was stable, the load times swift and apart from a few textures, we didn’t encounter any problems. This experience, playing as the Devastator with a stable connection sold me on it. Some trepidation snuck in on my second session. This experience was completely different. I played with Gary who was on the PS4. There were notable longer load times and our connection issues ranged from my game crashing, having to do a full PC restart, to Gary being booted and not able to connect again. It was a mess and after about an hour and a half, we’d only actually played 30 minutes. I really want this to be sorted before launch so I have the opportunity to play with various friends across platforms.
I’ll try and get some more time in before the full release, going back to the Devastator class which was so enjoyable.
Technical issues ruined my experience of the demo. Bugs and crashes can be fixed, though it isn’t a good sign for the launch which is coming up fast. What can’t really be fixed is the fact that the story is garbage. If the demo is indeed the “Full Prologue”, as they claimed it was; then it’s a disjointed, half-cooked mess. What works (technical issues aside) is the fact it’s a co-op game, playing with friends can turn a dull experience into a good time. I like the twist they’ve tried to put on the cover based shooting with the abilities and by incentivising aggression in combat. Something a lot of cover shooters don’t do. There are some good things going on here but the overall package doesn’t stack up, so I wouldn’t recommend it really. If my friends want to keep playing it because it’s something new for us to enjoy together. I’m happy to do so, I’ll even enjoy it. However, that alone does not make a good game.
The new demo for Square Enix’s Outriders has plenty to say for itself as well as from our point of view. Firstly, if you have not already done so I would highly recommend downloading the fairly lengthy demo for yourself to see what your own opinions are of the mechanics, graphics and feel of the game. My telling of events spans from what would be around one and a half full playthroughs of the demo. In my first playthrough I experienced the full story, character arcs included. From the title screen alone Square Enix, in traditional fashion, set a scape of the land, with a marvelously detailed flying beast zooming across the sky which the camera follows until a new goliath point of interest comes along with huge beings walking on these skinny legs absolutely dwarfing the city below, appealing to my interests straight from the get-go. The scene continues with tasters and plays through until the opening title screen which we proceeded through.
It opens with a cutscene explaining the situation and what the Outriders are doing coming down to this planet and why the Earth is an uninhabitable planet not worth staying on. The beginning tutorial is slightly tedious but is filled with background into the characters’ history as well as the surroundings and what previously happened to Earth. Slightly distracted about the characters being cut off in dialogue options sometimes – we press on anyway. Events happen within the story that bring a slightly overused cliché of being the sole survivor. Though in this tale as usual you are awoken by a resistance member, the cliché may have looked like it was rearing its head but it does take a sudden turn which caught me off guard. I won’t say too much in regards for spoiler reasons but I applaud the turn they took and I hope they continue to look away from cliché’s that happen too often.
Looking around the cutscenes I can tell it’s going to be a beautiful game but I expect no less from one of my favourite franchise providers, with the job they did on the Final Fantasy VII Remake. I wouldn’t expect the same quality as FF7R simply for the fact that this was not a previous game of the generation remastered, the overall feel I get from the demo is something along the lines of Gears of War, The Division and the inventory UI of Destiny. All games which I admire though I’ve not played some as thoroughly as others. The pacing in the game seems about right. The World Tier system is extremely interesting, that you can set the difficulty and get rewarded with stronger gear and weapons in accordance to that, it is brave and well made (at least from what I’ve seen). I imagine this game will have a similar fanbase to Bungee’s Destiny franchise. The combat is fun and rewarding, with some enemies being harder to kill and the bosses being challenging but not so much to a point which would have rage inducing sessions which people would want to put down the game. The potential of PvP elements are there and would be easily implemented if Square Enix were so inclined. Whether or not they implement this I suppose would bank on the success of the full release. Already Pre-Ordered myself I do heavily look forward to the game and the next chapters of the story, personally, I’m excited to continue the story and see where it leads.
The things I hope they look at are mainly the cutscenes. The out-of-sync subtitles are slightly distracting which I imagine can’t be that hard of a fix, but maybe this has already been patched in the full game. Fading in and out before the end of someone’s dialogue in a cutscene takes you out of the immersion and although in my first playthrough I was on the Playstation 4 as well as a co-op partner on the Playstation 5, the only problem seemed to be the cutscenes. However, when playing cross platform (in this case with two PC players) there seemed to be a few more issues in regards to running and progressing the actual game. We had a couple of disconnection issues that would crash the game not only on my side but on the others’ side too. Whilst Ben and I were halfway through a level there was a glitch which we couldn’t progress. A marker to remove the debris, as previously done many times throughout the game, was there but the option to use it was nowhere to be seen. Although after a few minutes we managed to get past this by the host reloading the level and the debris had already been cleared without our need to interact. Not game-breaking but more effort than it should have been.
Overall, I am excited to jump into the world of Outriders, I’m thrilled to be able to cross platform co-op which is becoming slightly more and more common which is a definite upside to the current generation of gaming as well as for the industry. The story hopefully will continue on the wild ride it currently has been but most of all I’m intrigued about the large beasts seen in the opening cutscene as well in one of the last side missions you will be able to play in the demo. For now, however, I may have to get started on the grind for some legendary items that I keep seeing pop up all over Twitter and other social media.
Outriders is a looter-schlooter that aspires to be not much else. And that is both a good and a bad thing. The basic mechanics are totally unsurprising for any familar with the genre. Though the gunplay will not win any awards when we’ve got things like Destiny knocking that out of the park, we do find a gem in the powers your character gets due to your exposure to ‘the anomaly’. Right out of the gate the powers *feel* impressive, and more importantly *fucking cool*. I played as a trickster and your first move is a short range slash that pretty much disintegrates all but the toughest foes on impact. Even at the end of the ‘demo’ I was still revelling in how great that move worked and felt. The approach of being powerful is supported by the gear actually mattering and affecting those powers from very early on in the game. A few missions in and I picked up some gloves that vastly improved a power that I wasn’t really using. I swapped it in and my approach to groups of mobs, and bosses, shifted. This is a breath of fresh air in a genre plagued by a ‘grind to the real game’ mentality. The lack of forced slow down due to avoiding the games-as-a-service model really shines, letting the devs focus and polish other parts of the genre.
Having said all that, the plot is so generic it might as well be parody. And knowing the previous work of People Can Fly, you get the idea that there is some knowing use and abuse of tropes going on, but so far it feels like it could just be stumbling through them, rather than making ironic commentary. This would be OK if it weren’t for how often you get sucked into janky overly-directed cutscenes reminding you just how overwrought the non gameplay parts of Outriders can be.
I’m cautiously optimistic for Outriders; I was lucky enough to not hit a crash or major bug, but clearly I was in the minority. Ultimately this is a game I want to play with my friends, so if my usual few fellow gamers(TM) are into going through this shorter schlooter together then I’m game.
What do you think of Outriders so far? Have you played the demo, or would you like to play along with us? Let us know your thoughts.