OUTRIDERS REVIEW FOR PC, PS5, PS4, XBOX SERIES X|S, XBOX ONE, AND GOOGLE STADIA.
It’s been a rocky launch for Outriders, with server issues preventing players from progressing during most of the release weekend. Even when playing solo, this always-online experience has kicked me from missions and forced me to restart lengthy boss fights. And yet, I’ve come out on the other side with a smile on my face and an overall feeling of satisfaction. While Outriders may look like the mirror-world clone of Destiny or The Division or Anthem, it does just enough to set itself apart and come out with a win.
The apocalypse follows me
Let’s get the bad out of the way with first: the story. What starts as an interesting tale of humans fleeing Earth to settle on a new planet almost immediately turns into the usual post-apocalyptic nightmare scenario. We’ve seen it all before and, aside from a few story beats that could have developed into something unique, I quickly became bored and reached for the “Skip” button.
The characters can’t save it, either. They move the story along well enough, though I’ve already forgotten their names. The acting is fine, but nothing exceptional. The protagonist is annoying, regardless of which gender players choose. If playing with friends — which you should — keep the banter volume high and the cutscene volume low.
A smooth stunner
One redeeming quality of the story is that it sends the player all over the planet of Enoch. Environments are vibrant and regularly shift from desert to snow, to caves to forests. This extends to the level design and combinations of areas offering cover or no cover at all. This directly affects gameplay and how players set themselves up for the next encounter.
When I wasn’t staring at the vistas, I was admiring the blood and guts. There’s a good amount of gore and dismemberment in Outriders. It makes weapons feel powerful and abilities truly lethal. Wielding a shotgun gave me instant Gears of War vibes, only my pellet-blasts were fuelled by lightning, and I was following up with an energy-sword slash. Combat looks fantastic and reaches its peak when three players are all slaying away in an aggressive push for victory.
Despite 60 FPS being prioritized for next-gen consoles, Outriders still impresses with its graphic fidelity. It appears well-optimized and PC players (with an Nvidia GPU) will love to hear that DLSS is supported. Also, the HUD can be customized to make it as minimal or info-dense as possible.
It’s not enough for a game to look great, as it’s got to play great, too. Thankfully, this is where Outriders delivers its killer blow. While it’s certainly not unique, this game brings so many different mechanics together in a way that makes killing countless enemies damn good fun.
The short ability cooldowns were immediately noticeable to me. They keep you feeling superpowered and help make the combat 50% ability deployment and 50% gunplay. The generous skill trees allow each of the three classes to experiment with three subclasses, with the opportunity to respec for free at any time. Then there are weapon and armor mods that can be swapped in and out at very little expense, further enhancing abilities and weapons.
There are a lot of different ways to give enemies a headache, but tougher enemies will often fight back with some Altered abilities of their own. To prevent them from casting moves, players can use Interrupt skills to stop the attack. If an enemy does manage to land a big hit, players heal by dealing damage. Rather than resorting to a cowardly retreat, players are encouraged to battle on and be more aggressive.
Keeping the fights tough are the World Tiers. Outriders has 15 difficulty options. Players start on World Tier 1 “Story” and work their way up. World Tiers can be changed at any time during a mission, so it’s easy to quickly drop down a Tier or two if the fight is too tough. Playing on higher World Tiers increases the chance of getting better loot. It’s a genius system and the ease of quickly switching mid-mission encourages experimentation and a potentially satisfying victory.
The beginning of the endgame
Outriders’ endgame is here at launch and there’s a good chunk of stuff to do. Expeditions are where the main grind is at, with Challenge Tiers (separate from World Tiers) that gradually increase the difficulty. Higher difficulties grant better rewards. There are 14 missions available, with the final mission being unlocked at the highest Challenge Tier. Players fight against the usual enemies but also time, as medals are awarded based on the speed of completion. Better loot awaits those who finish quickly.
The Challenge Tiers push beyond the difficulty of World Tier 15 and will require careful consideration of abilities, skill trees, and mods. While matchmaking is enabled for Expeditions, the most successful players will be in a party of three with communication being key to surviving some of the hardest-hitting bosses.
Progress through the Tiers has been relatively speedy when compared to similar games that demand hundreds of hours of grinding. For me, every mission playthrough resulted in an exciting piece of loot that I could immediately use. Failing that, I’d get enough resources to bump up my favorite gun to the next level.
There’s no artificial progression either, as players can’t boost their experience or drop rates through microtransactions. Aside from a minor pre-order bonus, everything is earned in-game through actually playing the game.
Outriders Review: The final verdict
Outriders delivers satisfying combat but suffers from a lackluster story. For co-op players, there’s a lot to entertain you here and the banter will help fill in the duller moments. The grind is also less intense than in similar experiences. What’s more, a bonus nod has to be given for this title’s completeness at launch.
This game has no roadmap to wait on or microtransactions to dodge, as People Can Fly has focused solely on making a damn good third-person co-op shooter with a huge variety of weapon and ability combos that keep the action aggressive and satisfying. Sure, it doesn’t innovate in any huge way and its many flaws are tough to ignore, but Outriders is a blast from a simpler past and I love that.
Game Revolution reviewed Outriders on PS5. Code provided by the publisher.