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Unless you’ve been buried under a bundle of rocks on Enoch, you’ll know the Outriders demo has had the gamer community hyped all week. After hours spent playing the first look at the outrageously fun co-op looter shooter from People Can Fly, I’m more than happy to say that you should believe the hype. In fact, this is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve had in quite some time and I’ve got the bags under my eyes to prove it.
Part of the reason for the enjoyment is the scope of the demo itself, with a full-length intro, a bunch of early missions, some side missions and a rather epic boss battle playable, the demo gives you an immersive look at many of the game’s more captivating features, including the chance to play as each of the four different character classes and to engage with the 3 player online co-op capabilities. This generous approach gives the Outriders demo a level of replayability that is pretty rare.
That generosity would swiftly be thrown back in People Can Fly’s face if the gameplay wasn’t so damn, well, good, and Outriders is VERY good. The decision to have the game feel more like a classic RPG than an open-world shooter will no-doubt bring some detractors but in a world oversupplied with games of that ilk, Outriders hybrid-RPG approach is genuinely refreshing. It also makes getting deeply invested in the post-apocalyptic apocalypse world (yes the game takes place in post-apocalyptic times for Earth, but also in near post-apocalyptic times for the repatriation colony of Enoch) much easier.
Taking on the role of humanity’s last hope is usually treated as an act of heroism in games such as this, but the role comes with an uncomfortable duality of knowing that the fight for the survival of humankind, has brought about the apocalypse for the native inhabitants of Enoch. We can only assume that the final version of the game will do some resolving of this internal conflict, but for now, it feels oddly familiar and realistic to live in that grey area.
It’s pretty heady stuff for a genre that is traditionally based on having fun with guns, yet it’s one of several points of difference offered by Outriders that has us enormously excited for the full-length game. Another of those is the depth of interactivity you can have with NPCs, with your actions having both immediate and on-going impact on narrative gameplay. Having access to all four character classes is also a bonus, with each offering a distinctly different feeling gameplay experience.
Make no mistake about it, for all the additional bells and whistles, this is still very much a shooter and whether playing single or co-op modes the shooter experience is first-class. Offering an array of weapons that you can craft and modify with items that you find while looting, the battle sequences are a frenzy of especially gory blood and guts that depict body destruction with a Mortal Kombat degree of detail. The control system is smooth and instinctive and the way cowering or taking cover is discouraged ensures plenty of opportunities for mutually assured destruction. The incorporation of supernatural elements that are unique to each character class adds additional fun to the fighting, and you could easily spend multiple hours on the demo alone trying to work out the best way to deploy each character class.