06 Apr 2021 4:12 PM +00:00

Outriders Review: Great Loot-Shooter Fun That Doesn’t Move the Needle

Outriders takes People Can Fly’s extensive history of shooting things in over-the-top and gory ways, and melds it with a fun progression system. Its story is just light-hearted enough, but the lure of ever-better gear is what will really keep players invested in their adventures on Enoch.

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Home From Home

Enoch isn't the most exciting of settings
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Enoch isn't the most exciting of settings

Outriders is set on the planet of Enoch, a vaguely Earth-like world with plenty of familiar biomes. Players will find snowy peaks, volcanoes, rivers, and plenty more. As Earth died, mankind looked for a new start on Enoch, and after being double-crossed by the colonisation attempt, your character is left for dead before being frozen for 31 years.

Outriders’ plot is often too generic to truly invest in, or too po-faced to derive too much enjoyment from, but it’s not without its moments. Occasionally, your deadpan protagonist will crack wise in a way that feels like a tonal shift, but when the base tone is so sci-fi 101, it’s nice to have it split off into occasional B-movie territory.

In a world of games looking to be the next Star Wars, Outriders is resolute in its occasionally irreverent but predominantly over-the-top stoic tone, and that actually made it more endearing for me.

Class Warfare

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Which will you pick?
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Which will you pick?

What’s more successful, though, is the way Outriders plays. While it doesn’t get off to the best start when your character is limited to only using weapons, the four classes are Outriders’ lifeblood - often literally.

Players can pick a Trickster, Pyromancer, Devastator or Technomancer, and each is great fun to play as while also offering unique mechanics. The Devastator, for example, is a powerhouse capable of essentially acting as a walking earthquake, receiving health buffs for getting in close-range skirmishes with enemies.

Conversely, the Pyromancer is all about triggering a burning status effect on enemies. Once triggered, all defeated enemies help restore health. It takes some time to get your head around being in cover and being pushed backwards, only to trigger an effect to be back on the front foot again, but in co-op it means gameplay can be chaotic.

Teleporting behind an enemy as the Trickster, or setting up a turret capable of autonomous fire as the Technomancer is great, and constantly feeding into your abilities with a team is among Outriders’ best aspects.

As you’d imagine, these abilities are supplemented by a lengthy skill tree, as well as gear bonuses and the allure of legendary weapons, and can be switched out on the fly. It makes everything in Outriders feel wonderfully flexible.

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Pick Your Poison

The Pyromancer is great for ranged, crowd-control abilities
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The Pyromancer is great for ranged, crowd-control abilities

That flexibility extends to the game’s difficulty setting, too. Taking The Division’s World Tiers to a new level, the system essentially levels up as you do. Once you hit the XP requirement for your current level, you can instantly bump up the difficulty to earn better loot.

The same also applies to encounters you may be struggling with, meaning you can drop it back down a tier or two if you want to push through a bottleneck. It’s a smart system which doesn’t punish players that simply want to progress, but still incentivises players to push for better loot if they’re comfortable doing so.

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Flat Earth…Uh… Enoch

In fact, the only downside to having superpowers and a whole truckload of devastating weaponry is that there’s just not really anywhere interesting to go with them. Enoch’s biomes are overly familiar, but every level is structured as a semi-open shooting gallery, with waist-high cover everywhere. While Outriders does try to make things more interesting with some added verticality in some areas, the overarching level design is flat.

Thankfully the enemies you use those abilities on are far more interesting. While boss fights are a little dated (shoot the thing, dodge the thing, repeat), general encounter variety is great as enemies push you from cover and then retreat once you find your feet.

The Verdict

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Outriders is the tonic to loot-driven games that demand players log in every day. It’s also not gating content behind DLC, seasonal updates, or just pushing for players to grind to an endgame to grind some more.

It’s a shooter for those that love blowing enemies to bits, and it’s an RPG for those that want to feel powerful. There’s plenty of fun to be had on Enoch, but for maximum effect, we’d suggest bringing some friends.

4/5

Reviewed on PC

Review copy provided by the publisher

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