Every time a loot based shooter is announced, I am hopeful it will give Destiny a run for its money. This isn’t because I want Destiny to fail, even if we did give it the most disappointing game multiple years, but competition is great for any product. It forces developers to do better and try harder or, if nothing else, implement new ideas. Outriders have a lot of those, along with conventional wisdom, but is it enough to prove successful in this market?
Following issues elsewhere, humans traveled to the planet Enoch in hopes of creating a better life. Things were good until they ran into this unknown force known simply as the anomaly. Not only did the massive storm mess with electrical equipment, but it also leads to certain individuals gaining impressive powers.
At this point, the player character, who was among the remaining outriders, has joined the struggle on this hostile planet. From this point forward the story is kind of vague. Most of the time is clearing areas forward, typically met with some kind of threat, with optional missions adding insight to the world or the surroundings. Their journey will take them to the end and find out a number of massive secrets, though most of the payoff is in gameplay.
One thing that makes Outriders unique is the leveling system. Initially, there are two distinct types of levels. A traditional experience bar that grants additional perks, benefits, and class points, with a second tied to difficulty known as World Tier. The idea behind World Tier is pretty simple. Outriders scale literally everything to one’s level, with World Tier increasing that difficulty in exchange for a better drop rate and the ability to wear gear beyond your actual level. This is also a rather frustrating system that is kind of needless that bleeds into the third level system, Challenge Tier.
For the most part, both World and Challenge Tiers work like a revolving door. Players get a new level, enemies grow more powerful, players obtain better gear and enemies are not as fearsome, only for this to repeat when a new level is obtained. This can be fun, though dying causes World Tier progress to decrease (it isn’t possible to level down though), especially since every level makes build slightly more important. Gameplay changes are also arguably one of the most interesting changes through Outriders.
Initially, Outriders is a rather bland cover-based third-person shooter. There will be the occasional enemy that rushes, bombs or repeated fire will make some places of cover useless, forcing more tactics than look, peak, and shoot. As more skills are unlocked, it often becomes a more run-and-gun adventure. Enemies might hide, though powers and abilities make it easier to rush, push them out of cover, or abuse mechanics. When humans are not around, monsters are mostly about knowing their tricks and either using them to your adventure or ignoring them outright. In either case, the best course of action is maximizing damage with your build.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Outriders is its approach to gear. Once past common and unusual, gear will have a mod on it. Rare use tier one mods, epic has tier one and two, with legendary including a tier-three mod and one of the others. Anyone even vaguely familiar with a game like Destiny will see that alluring gold color and think amazing gear, but Outriders is very different.
At the time of this review, most legendary pieces have little value beyond dismantling. This is because, after dismantling any piece of equipment, players will unlock those perks. These do not need to be repeatedly done, as unlocking a tier-three mod will let you use it on every piece of gear if you want, though there are some conditions.
Only one of the two epic or legendary mods can be edited. This means legendary gear has the unique ability to have two-tier three mods, though the legendary gear is also predetermined. There aren’t multiple versions of, say, Rarog’s Gaze, there is one and it will always have the same perks and mods, though the stats of said perks might differ. This opens the door for a lot of combos, though how much mileage one gets will vary.
While time will ultimately tell, there are a lot of weapons and builds viewed as sub-optimal. This is largely due to a strong meta that requires very little build-up and certain play styles not being viable. Frequent uses of cover, snipers, and more have more disadvantages than positives, often leading to players doing other things. But, it is good to know the options exist and there is more to legendary gear than simply getting it, though this does mean a lot of truly unique and awesome-looking weapons go unused.
Much to Outriders credit, there are enemies that go beyond metas and force some level of skill or kill orders. Most large monsters and captains will force players to think about them and punish anyone who doesn’t pay attention to the world around them. A good number of skills are used both offensively and defensively, it just depends on the situation.
Where this all comes together is in postgame expeditions. These are based on Challenge Tiers, beating your highest will unlock the next one, which takes the core concept to another level. Unlike Destiny and their now infamous raids, Outriders opts for a hoard mode that feels more natural for a game that is largely about fighting hordes of enemies. These can be done solo, though they exist to push your game and build to another level. Multiple bosses, high-tier creatures, and more make problems that need to be dealt with or you can expect failure. They’re fun, though they also feed into the worst aspect of Outriders, servers.
Part of the reason our review is so delayed was to see how People Can Fly addressed the frequent server issues. Now, a week later, things are about the same with answers expected tomorrow. As a result, this review will reflect the current situation and might be changed to reflect a patch in the future, though no changes will be made to the score. That said, servers are really the main struggle in Outriders enjoyment.
Not only have there been frequent issues signing in, with no apparent issues with the number of people signed in, Outriders just struggles with them in general. One frequent problem is lag when there really shouldn’t be one. As someone who has a wired connection on my PlayStation 5, pays for 1gbps (I get over 150mbps according to the speed test), low ping, and still a 20mbps upload, I’ve never played around without some kind of lag unless I hosted. This is a widespread issue and even occurs without cross-play. And then there are the frustrating bugs. Earlier today I tried to host some expeditions and any time I selected a level, be it someone who joined me randomly or through code, their game would crash. I joined someone else and any time they started my game would crash. I lot out on a lot of potential loot over this, though, more importantly, it’s just a hassle. Any time we started a mission or restarted in the event of failure, my game would instantly crash. Then I’d need to sign back in, load into their game, and play. Eventually, I’d have issues signing in and now I am offline with nothing to do and my partner is ditched. It isn’t fun and one of the easiest ways to turn people off.
Outriders Review – Verdict
On paper, Outriders does a lot of things right. The crafting system is extremely rewarding and allows for diverse builds, even if right now the meta isn’t there. It is a fun experience, complete with thrilling battles and engaging fights, though it can be a little rough on less-skilled players. It all comes together in an exhilarating post-game, though server issues make it frustrating to deal with. As a result, Outriders is good, but the issues simply prevent it from being great.
[Editor’s Note: Outriders was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review.]
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