REVIEW – Outriders, a new video game from the Polish team People Can Fly, is a “looter-shooter” in which you take on the role of a mutant with special abilities and save what’s left of humanity on a distant planet. On Xbox Series X and Google Stadia, we’ve wiped out renegade, savage human gangs and bloodthirsty alien creatures like there’s no tomorrow.
The video game from People Can Fly (Painkiller, Bulletstorm): Outriders may not revolutionise the gaming industry to say the least, nor will its story win the Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction, but once you get used to its somewhat ‘raw’ gameplay at first, it’s easy to get hooked on its fast-paced action and relatively well-developed role-playing elements – especially when played in three-player co-op mode. If we had to mention previous games, we could list titles such as Destiny, Gears of War or various instalments of Mass Effect as inspiration.
Looter-shooter: I shoot, I loot, therefore I am
Outriders is an action role-playing game with classic looter-shooter elements; a serious, but not really serious, dark sci-fi adventure with some very silly (but somehow forgivable) story elements and more or less funny jokes.
The term ‘looter shooter pretty much covers the basic mechanics of the game: the basic gameplay is hard-core action, where the ‘point’ is the ‘loot’ you get and put on yourself: weapons, helmets, armour and other valuable or worthless combat items. I used the quotation marks because, of course, learning the story, using the right tactics, getting to know the environment or defeating bosses are also important elements of the game, but the constant reward during the action is still the loot we can pick up after enemies – human or alien – fall.
It’s a bit like a gambling addiction because you get them randomly. Obviously, you don’t have to pay for it, so at this point the analogy is flawed.
Full speed cover-shooter
To immediately bombard the reader with another alien term, Outriders is also a “cover-shooter”, where finding, actively using and tactically fighting from cover is the difference between life and death for our hero.
In that respect, the Polish game is very reminiscent of the Gears of War titles – except that the gameplay is much faster and more intense than in the classic Microsoft game series, and you don’t get to spend as much time in cover. We should also quickly add that Outriders is also a little less polished than the legendary Gears of War series – whether it’s the track design, the proper use of the external camera following your hero, or the less precise controls.
At the same time, the Polish game goes beyond Gears of Wart, as the character you control is a “superbeing” with special abilities that you can use constantly thanks to his mutation. It’s not all that revolutionary, either, as we’ve seen this in countless action games with an external view – including Control and (speaking of superpowers) Marvel’s Avengers.
Also worth mentioning is the fair but not mind-blowingly exciting RPG system, with three different skill trees and tons of unique abilities and spells to learn.
The last chance for the human race – what else?
The game takes place on the planet Enoch, where humanity has migrated after “screwing up” on Earth. The story is a bit confusing in places, a bit clichéd in others, but overall it seems that the Polish developers have at least tried to bring some quality to the table – even if it didn’t work everywhere.
Considering that we are basically dealing with a looter-shooter, there is a remarkable amount of tutorials and dialogue, and the Outriders’ universe is also well developed, with various descriptions and found documents. All in all, it is far from epic science fiction, but the story is fair.
An “unreal” sight?
The game uses the Unreal engine, but it’s not really the game we’re going to show others what the new generation graphics engine can do. The graphics are fair, as in the rest of the game, but not overwhelmingly beautiful. There’s no ray tracing and the slightly clumsy use of HDR means that lighting is a little off in places, as is the quality of the textures. Water elaboration is also pretty trite, I’ve seen better in PS3/Xbox 360 games. Google Stadia has slightly nicer graphics than Xbox Series, but sometimes it’s a bit more stuttery and even with 1Gb net, the streamed image is sometimes a bit pixelated.
Elsewhere, however, I’ve seen some pretty impressive visuals and effects, and some sufficiently awesome monsters. All in all, the graphics of Gears of War 5 with ray tracing won’t leave you tossing and turning by the non-existent visual orgy of a rival game.
More fun in multiplayer
Outriders is a thrilling, fast-paced, often highly entertaining game that, while not groundbreaking by any means, has cleverly mixed old recipes. The solo experience is a little less meaningful, but the well-designed team-finding system makes it easy to find other players if your mates are playing with someone else or are unavailable.
With four skill classes to choose from (Devastator, Trickster, Pyromancer or Technomancer) at the start of your adventure, you can experiment with them or start from scratch in a game that can take around 30-40 hours to play.
+ Genuinely enjoyable superpowers
+ Cross-play support
+ Excellent waypoint system and intuitive menus
– Rough around the edges
– Repetitive by design
– Lacks originality
Publisher: Square Enyx
Developer: People Can Fly
Genre: Third-person looter-shooter
Release date: April 1, 2021