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Outriders Is A Looter Shooter That Follows The Script

outriders title screen
Courtesy of SQUARE ENIX


Developer: People Can Fly
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: April 1, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

It’s In Your ‘Destiny’ To Be An Outrider

The term “looter shooter” is a newer term for a genre of games, usually third person, that focuses on drops from various enemies to increase a player’s capabilities as the enemies increase in both level and damage. While games like Borderlands pioneered it, Destiny is one such series that cemented the term for years to come, with a fanbase reaching tens of thousands despite the game being around for half of a decade. Occasionally, there will be titles to capitalize on Destiny’s popularity, such as Anthem, failing horribly in the process. Outriders is thankfully not a failure.

Outriders was a game that takes the formula that made Destiny a name stay in the shooter genre while adding RPG elements, specifically the choice of dialogue and a focus on the story. One of the main things that I felt Destiny was missing was a story where I felt I was connected to the game itself. Don’t get me wrong, the game had its colorful cast of characters, but from the moment I loaded into the game it was mainly “go here, do this, talk to this NPC, do that.” While it’s somewhat of the same song and dance with Outriders, the characters interact with you and you feel as if you’re a part of a family who has all been displaced following a betrayal of one of their own.

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Outriders -- PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Outriders Is ‘Borderland’ Cliche (That was a bad pun sorry)

The story is never these games’ strong suit, so the next best thing to discuss is the graphics and I’ll compare to the PC version as I’ve briefly played the demo of the latter. There are things such as pop-in occasionally, but the world is very vibrant and vivid, at least in the prologue. When you land on the new planet, everything is lush and green, showing off the graphic engine and the solid framerate proper. 

When everything goes to Hell, the colors reflect this as well and at times I felt the game goes through “This is too dark but I feel it’s dark to show the fact that there’s chaos around me” syndrome. The storm effects are cool to watch though, but overall I would have liked to see more of nature and the environment aside from the wartorn state that the world becomes upon waking up after the prologue.

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Outriders -- PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Outrider’s Customizations Is One Of Its Few ‘Halos’

Gameplay is typical of other “looter shooters,” in that the gunplay feels more like an extension of your body rather than a mere tool. In the first take, I’ve sorta complained how none of the guns felt like they had recoil and at first, I felt I was being a bit harsh with the game. After all, maybe it was the assault rifle I was using that was designed this way and not the actual mechanic. Then I tried with the pistols and I felt “Maybe the pistols were designed this way too.”

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Outriders -- PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Outriders Pick Up Once The Story Reaches ‘Mass Effect’

It wasn’t until I used a sniper rifle and I was decapitating enemies with little to no kickback and aim as steady as an aimbot that I came to terms with the whole “no recoil” thing. It didn’t take away from the game it was amusing taking down a large brute with a flamethrower by just placing a few shots at his head while getting hit. As you could expect, there’s no flinching when you get hit and it doesn’t affect your aim in the slightest.

This was where I felt like the guns were an extension of me as the star of the show are the powers you gain shortly after you wake up from cryosleep. These powers range from summoning tech devices to fight alongside you, controlling fire, bending time, and commanding the earth turning you into a tank. These abilities, restricted by cooldown, are when the game begins to shine as you take down rows of enemies with ease, much like in Destiny.

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Outriders -- PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

I’ve Run Out Of Puns, Outriders Is Decent

I appreciate giving the character a voice, but, it felt like the same song and dance, a term I used earlier when compared to other similar protagonists. They are the gutsy brave hero who is obedient, follows orders, never turning back on their friends, and wake up to a world unfamiliar to their own. Again, piggybacking on my commends involving the story, these are things that take second place to the gameplay and the looting from enemies. At least an effort was made by the developers to give the main character some sort of personality.

Overall, Outrider is a slow burn, and even as I’ve gotten my first abilities as a Trickster, there was still more to learn about the game than a mere hour would not allow. You get to see the changes between your comrades and what differences 30 years can make, turning the kindest and sweetest people into hardened war veterans. Although players do not spend too much time in the past, due to plot reasons, the comparisons between how peaceful things were on the new planet vs how chaotic everything is now, serves as an anecdote to human nature and the supernatural affecting the environment surrounding them.

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Outriders -- PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Or, well, it could just be that the game needed an excuse to speed the plot up so that the Outrider could gain access to their cool new powers. Also understandable.

Outriders is available on the PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Stadia.

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