11 Apr 2021 2:07 PM +00:00

Outriders And The Case For Limited-Scope Service Games

A few years ago, Electronic Arts famously proclaimed that single player games were “dead”. At the time, multiplayer titles, led by the likes of Call of Duty, were thriving.

In the years that followed, it felt like every game had a shoehorned-in multiplayer component, and while some were good (Mass Effect 3), many others ran the gamut from forgettable to, well, just bad.

While huge single-player games like God Of War, The Last of Us Part 2, and plenty more have shifted the mainstream consciousness back, developers are still chasing those “ongoing service” games.

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As someone that essentially made a career out of reporting on such titles, I’m naturally glad there’s room for both, but Outriders, the recent release from People Can Fly and Square Enix, is a curious example of a game with a sizeable campaign, a multiplayer focus, and undoubtedly some service elements. And you know what? It’s great.

Read More: Outriders Review

Outriders And The Case For Limited-Scope Service Games

In the run up to Outriders’ release, People Can Fly noted that the shooter was NOT a live service game, but that’s not entirely true.

There’s no requirement to grind, and the excellent World Tiers system allows for a flexible reward structure without gating content behind “power levels”. But, still, there are rotating vendor inventories, and constant balance patches alongside the expected bug fixes and the like.

That’s not to say the game as it is won’t grow over the coming months, but having finished Outriders’ campaign, it’s really nice not to feel like I need to go back.

Between the usual suspects of Destiny 2, The Division and Marvel’s Avengers, seasonal titles like Rainbow Six: Siege and Call of Duty, and FIFA Ultimate Team, many of which I write about for my job, it’s great to know that I can hop back into Outriders for the ultimate power fantasy, but not feel bad for not doing so.

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I mean, I also jumped into an MMO in the last few weeks, and all of the above have left me with an appreciation for the occasional co-op session with loot-driven elements that Outriders offers.

Given the duality between Outriders and Marvel’s Avengers, both Square Enix titles launching in the last few months, I hope this will cause publishers to take pause before injecting live service elements into titles.

EA has already acknowledged that single-player is back, removing online aspects of the forthcoming Dragon Age 4 - a tacit backtrack undeniably brought on by Anthem’s failures.

Outriders shows that a good game will get players to log in regardless of carrots on sticks, and I think that’s a very good lesson for the industry to learn.