I personally didn’t have a good first impression of Outriders when I played it back during its Demo period, but the more I jumped in and spent more time with the different classes, I managed to find some semblance of fun due to its crazy progression that almost immediately puts the power in the hands of the players.
The story, while nothing new, seems to have something interesting within, especially in conjunction with its lore. The last of the human race are thrown into a hostile planet that chooses among their populace to turn into demigods known as the Altered, and with the protagonist becoming one of these enhanced beings, must lead the rest of the population to survival as the last of an elite exploration team known as Outriders.
It’s also funny how the game also attempts to veer away from being referred to as a live service game when the whole game screams live service–the campaign, even when solo, is always online. There’s a loot system, and the general gameplay loop recommends playing with a party of at least another person or optimally two extra people. They’ve even started nerfing some of the classes already!
The question that we have to ask ourselves is, is it a fun game or a hasty rebrand to veer away from the terrible aftertaste that is live service?
Let’s talk about network issues for a bit…
As a game that’s mostly online, even on a solo campaign, we really have to address the Day One network issues. I had a pretty good long Easter weekend break and I looked forward to actually making a dent with the game, but I was only able to log in a few times in the span of five days from launch.
At first I thought it was my internet connection, as I was playing through a PS5 using wifi. Yet, I was able to download games and play a few rounds of Hitman 3 free weekend, which was mostly another online affair. Once I was able to log on, there were no latency issues, but that’s because I was playing on solo.
The devs have done good work seeing to it that the servers are up, running, and improving over the past few days, but for an online game, leaving a first impression like this leads to frustration and loss of confidence for a promising title. The fact that there’s no offline mode to play solo with this game already turns me off as a player who’s mostly in it for the single player mode. There aren’t many of us, but we exist.
A punishing campaign for solo players
Outriders is a game that can be completed solo, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend the feat, especially later in the endgame. As a player who’s after the story first and loot next, I’ll admit that playing with friends or randoms really bring out the potential of the game.
After the prologue and the first chapter, Outriders will progressively get more difficult especially if you’re matching with the World Tier progression. Enemies will level up at least three levels higher than you and keeping up with the World Tier allows you to equip gear higher in level than you and be rewarded with better loot the better you progress.
That being said, I played through the game on solo because I like taking my time and going through things on my own pace. Even at World Tier 6, enemy swarms will keep coming and even a group of Riflemen could prove quite challenging even for the hardiest of Devastators, so as a solo player, sometimes you’ll find yourself switching between World Tiers a lot just to make the progression a bit more manageable by giving up better loot.
A whole planet to explore
The main campaign is 20-30 hours long and there could be more to be had if you peruse the many side missions in the game as well as the historian quests. It’s almost recommended to find more loot or extra gear to dismantle for parts, so the side activities are very much welcome.
One thing that was teased during the demo and I was able to appreciate was the inclusion of local wildlife and challenge hunts with elite creatures affected by the Anomaly. In a way, fighting hordes of creatures feel good after endless hordes of insurgent attacks. It mixes it up in a bit.
Probably one of my favorite maps are the Eagle Peaks where you have introduced to a diverse set of creatures to fight. Besides the typical perforo swarms, you’re introduced to screechers and anomalous spiders. Midway through the map, you’re treated to an epic fight against the mother spider–the Molten Acari. It’s easily one of the highlights of the game.
Sadly, after a while, even the side quests becomes endless rounds of clearing the area of enemies and picking up a key once in a while. You do end up going on some big game hunts later in the game and just like the Molten Acari fight, that switches it up for something different besides the typical enemy scattered throughout the game.
While terrain changes vary depending the on the map, they’re most relegated to being cosmetic. The ground that you fight in pretty much stays the same whether it is a snow-filled mountain or a marsh. Besides the obvious stepping on water, which affects your movement slightly, there’s not much variation on movement either, making the game a pretty uniform experience.
In terms of exploration, Outriders doesn’t really add anything new besides following the set path to get to the next location. It’s largely a linear affair that doesn’t switch it up. As for the lore, you either pick it up during your side quests or to read the dossiers on file that you probably won’t. While the backstory is really rich in content, it’s not something that will be automatically handed to you, but it keeps the game interesting.
That being said, I do recommend doing the side missions to get the most of the experience. Some of it really delves into the new culture that is being an Altered and some of it explore the social structure humans have built upon being stranded on Enoch. It saves reading time, plus some of the side stories supplement the main story, uplifting its basic narrative in interesting ways.
It’s all about the gear
If you’re not in it for the loot, my friend you are playing the wrong game. Loot is the lifeblood of the game and the rarer your loot gets, the more it highlights the progress your character makes from being an enhanced human to an Altered god.
The keys to your victory really depend on the mods you have on your weapons and gear. Mods enhance your skillset allowing multiple skills with little cooldown, changing the variation of your skill affecting your overall strategy.
For example, I’m using a Devastator main and I have a mod that increases the number of times I can use Earthquake and another mod that auto-reflects bullets when I use Bullet Reflect. While I personally feel the damage output of the Reflect Bullet skill is more effective on manual, having it on auto-mode allows me to change my Devastator into a long range user.
Crafting, while I feel is more effective during the endgame, is good as a supplement to change up the mods and the loadout of the weapons that you pick up along the way. Loot is randomized and you’ll be dismantling a lot more than keeping. So having a way to carry over your useful mods is critical especially during the mid-game.
This is the endgame
At the end of it all, you’re treated to Bounties, Big Game Hunts and Expedition Missions, where you take on more difficult enemies (more HP and damage) for better gear and rare materials. This way, you can craft or improve Legendary Gear that’s optimized to your level. You can also gift unused Epic or Legendary gear to your new characters that you build as you have a shared crate.
You can get more of from the game by trying out different classes once you’ve finished with one campaign. I feel that the real fun to be had in Outriders is the repeat experience. Knowing where to go and what to expect makes the experience better in the long run. As a pioneer though, there’s a lot of growing pains. We do have a guide to help you out in choosing your class if you need it. Then you can improve all your gear to Legendary, collect all the Accolades to decorate your truck and banner, and all the other things gamers like to do with looter shooters.
That being said, if you’re in this game for the long run, there’s a lot of fun to be had. However, if you’re here to check it out and explore, it really doesn’t have much to impress you with. There’s nothing really new being introduced and the story is no Mass Effect, so you’re here for the loot and the grind, and if that’s your thing, you’re gonna love this game.
What we liked:
- The lore of the game is interesting, it’s the only thing motivating me to continue when the going gets tough.
- Dynamic classes that could work as a team, but limited in solo runs.
- Epic boss fights to punctuate some campaign missions.
- Side mission stories are actually interesting, it shows more of the world unfold.
- Character progression supplemented with the right gear is an addicting mechanic.
What we didn’t like:
- Repetitive main campaign gameplay loop that only gets varied by its side missions.
- Not advisable to play solo if you’re looking to progress to a viable endgame level.
- Strange cut scene choices that’s just as jarring in the final build, as seen in the demo.
- Crafting isn’t all that interesting.
- No offline gameplay would subject players to put up with network issues especially during the launch when crossplay matchmaking interfered with access.
Verdict: Wait for it… (until the server issues are fixed)
If you’re looking for a new multiplayer experience, Outriders is definitely something to consider. If and when it works, Outriders is a fun romp with friends or randoms but ever since launch, its been unfortunately plagued with connection / disconnection issues that make the experience less than ideal.
There’s fun to be had with this game due to its rich lore, dynamic character classes, and of course the loot. However, the repetitive gameplay loop that doesn’t switch it up too much may not be something a soloist would enjoy as you repeat the same cycle on every map. The World Tier and the quality of loot may be something you’re looking forward to, especially in a group, but as a solo player who’ll look forward to the next story beat may not have much to motivate them especially when the game’s difficulty starts to be overwhelming.
I would say, if you have access to the Xbox Game Pass, try the game out and see if it’s for you. For Playstation users, I’d say let the early adopters be your real life Outriders for this game and have them pave the way for the rest of you to bring about an improved gameplay loop, more interesting side quests and hunts, and possibly some DLC content.
*Outriders was reviewed on a PS5 via a review code provided by the publisher.