The Outer Worlds: Complete

So it wasn’t something I was expecting to do so soon, but The Outer Worlds was good enough to get its hooks into me so I played it through before I realized it. I didn’t really read reviews about the game so after completing it I had some questions. I should mention that there will be spoilers in this post, including my personal epilogue which vary from your own. With that said, I’ll continue with some generic screens from the end of my playthrough.

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So one of the screenshots in the above gallery shows the system map, which contains a cluster of planets and some other points of interest, and you’ll notice that there are some planets that appear with a lock over them. These never became accessible during my game, and that seemed curious. Why include planets you can’t eventually visit? I understand level gating or time gating things for the sake of story and wanting particular events to occur in a certain order. But having worlds that cannot be accessed, and then not having any sort of time table on DLC that might allow for visiting said planets is a bad look. Why wouldn’t you just leave those off, and instead add them to that map when said DLC released? Is this perhaps the sign of a rushed game? It’s clear that The Outer Worlds took inspiration from the Bethesda formula, but they instead made a fairly linear game with only a small amount of side quests. The story was engaging and I had fun playing it, and I can see the ability to play again in a different way in order to get different story bits but I don’t see how that would much change the overall narrative. As such, the 25 hour mostly complete time combined with places on the map you can’t visit screams to me that the game was pushed out before it was fully done. Or a DLC plan went awry, because you’d think you wouldn’t be able to go back and do the DLC if you already completed the game, as there is a point in the narrative where you can only move forward and aren’t able to do anything else after the epilogue screens. I’ll share my personal epilogue with you now.

Epilogue:

I think I missed a screen or two but you get the gist. I appreciated the fact that the game wasn’t overly open-world, with planets having smaller maps that encompassed some larger areas and smaller ones too, with instanced dungeons and such. I feel like they still could have added a ton of quests and things to do though, that would have given the game more life. I suppose if you’re the completionist type you’ll go for all the trophies which will result in additional playthroughs, plus there are other difficulty levels that could make for more of a challenge (though there were some tricky parts here and there anyway). For me personally, I’m shelving it and will perhaps come back to it given DLC or sufficient passing of time to want to experience a different story in the same world. I’ve already picked Borderlands 3 back up and am trying to push through that one to the end, which will definitely take more time.

With all that said, I still recommend the game. It was a fun tale in an alternate universe and I enjoyed my time with it. It does have the flaws I’ve mentioned but I’d still say it’s worth the price of entry. It’s currently set to release later this year on PC if you’ve already waited this long, and would prefer that version.

Journey to The Outer Worlds

So Fallout is a thing. If we go back in time a bit, the third game in the series made the jump to the 3D space and turned the series into a first person affair, much like The Elder Scrolls series. This is partially due to the fact that at this time Bethesda bought the IP from Interplay, so it was their first game and they obviously used the TES architecture to design it. I played Fallout 3 but didn’t really enjoy the fact that you relied heavily on the VATS system to do well in combat so the game couldn’t be played in a fast paced style. Stealth didn’t make as much sense to me then either, though these issues were rectified for me come the fourth game in the series. Somewhere in between there, another Fallout game was made, but by a different company. This game was Fallout: New Vegas, and though it appeared at the time to be using the same engine as Fallout 3, it’s almost fair to say that Fallout: New Vegas was the “real” Fallout 3. 

Long ago a company named Black Isle Studios made some amazing cRPGs that I played and enjoyed. These games were distributed by Interplay, who would later go under and sell off IPs, hence the tidbit above. The studio itself would close down but was famous for developing the first two Fallout games along with Planescape: Torment. Later, a new company would emerge from the ashes, and Obsidian Entertainment would go on to work on similar titles like Neverwinter Nights 2, and Knights of the Old Republic 2. They came back around to Fallout with New Vegas and then I assume that they were no longer allowed (or interested) in pursuing more games in that world. Instead, we’ve gotten The Outer Worlds, which in itself is much like a Fallout game, but is set in its own world. I should also note that Obsidian went back to their roots for a few years developing the Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny games.

The Outer Worlds was on my radar early on, but I was skeptical after buying Fallout 76 on day one and being mostly disappointed with it. I wanted another Fallout experience but that wasn’t it, and I wasn’t sure that Obsidian would deliver something I wanted. The other issue was that while it was releasing on consoles and PC on day one, the PC version could only be picked up on the Epic Games store and I have whole-heartedly boycotted that platform. Later it was said that the release would come to Steam, but that it would be one year later. The Outer Worlds has been out since October of 2019, and here were are smack dab in the middle of that year. I saw the game on sale on the Playstation Store and decided I didn’t want to wait until October 2020 to pay full price for a year old game. That might not be the case, but I simply didn’t want to wait. So I picked it up, downloaded and started playing last night.

As much as I want to compare The Outer Worlds to Fallout, I’m going to try and leave the comparisons behind outside of those I’ve already mentioned. Yes, they are both first person RPGs that take place in the future, and have plenty of retro and futuristic elements but that’s about where it stops. Here, the story revolves around corporations that serve as factions throughout the universe. There’s also much more than just one world to explore, so I imagine if you put all of the maps together you’d get a similarly sized world. Travel on foot takes some time but there is a lot of detail put into each point of interest and the world feels alive.

As with most RPGs, you’ll start out by creating your character, which seemed pretty straight forward. I’m not sure how well I chose to spend my skill and attribute points, but I pulled from my knowledge of these style of games and assumed that dialog options along with hacking/lockpicking skills would be a good way to go. I’ve also focused on being able to use long guns so that I can take enemies out before they get to me. Overall it feels pretty much the same as most RPGs, but I see some little nuances that were interesting.

The story goes that you were frozen on a ship that was bound for a corporate owned colony somewhere in space, but something on the ship failed and so you (along with others) were frozen for 70 years. Apparently a lot has happened since then, but it seems that corporations control various parts of space and your faction standings will fluctuate as you participate in the story. A fugitive helps you escape, but then his ship is damaged so he sends you planet side to meet with a smuggler who is going to help you help the guy who saved you but then he gets squashed by your landing pod and you’re sort of on your own. I’ve only played through the first area and just got access to a ship, so now I’m able to travel the stars. But just the first portion of the game successfully introduces you to a number of characters, gets you some gear and experience (I believe I’m level 7 already) and even gets you your first companion. Apparently you can have up to two companions at a time in this game, so that’s something new.

Like most of these types of RPGs, you have an overarching story line and then a bunch of little side quests. At this point I believe my priority is to help get the rest of the frozen colonists free, but first I have to help the fugitive that freed me. From there I assume more will happen, but along the way a bunch of little stories will unfold. I love this style of game so I know that I’m going to have fun with this one, I just don’t really know what to expect.

Finally seeing the ship’s navigation makes the game appear that it will be huge. There are a lot of planets there to explore, however we didn’t do a whole lot on Terra 2, so I’m not sure that each place we visit will be that expansive. Whatever the case, I’m anxious to get back to it, so I’m gonna hit publish and play some more!

The Pit: Infinity

If you haven’t heard of The Pit: Infinity, I wouldn’t blame you. Perhaps you’ve heard of the series of games that spawned this, which despite using the same series name they aren’t really all that related. Sword of the Stars was a mid-2000s space strategy game that was compared to Homeworld. It spawned a sequel several years later, and then a game called Sword of the Stars: The Pit, which I ended up buying back in the day off of GOG.com. As I had a DRM free copy, it ended up never making it to my new PC and eventually the game made its way to Steam where I picked it up again. It’s a traditional style rogue-like game with turn based movement and a variety of systems that made it a rather fun title, which is also why I wanted a copy on Steam. With that said, the day that I saw it on the marketplace and decided to buy it, there was also a new game of theirs in production and there was a sale for buying both at the same time. I ended up buying the bundle but The Pit: Infinity was still in early access. I tinkered with it a little bit but decided I would come back to it after release.

Well, I’m here to tell you that early access has come and gone. The game officially released on Steam back in November of last year, which I mentally noted at some point but it took quarantine to have the time to start playing some games I’ve neglected for far too long from the backlog. I’m here to give some impressions after playing a few sessions yesterday. The Pit: Infinity is essentially Sword of the Stars: The Pit but in full 3D first person shooter mode. It’s literally the same style of game, though it feels a little more forgiving than the original. I should also notate that it appears they have dropped the Sword of the Stars moniker from the 2013 game, and it’s now just called The Pit. Whatever the case, they are the two ends of the same coin. Both have rogue-like mechanics and account progression systems. Both use melee and ranged weapons along with a slew of skills that affect how you approach each run. Your goal is to get to the bottom of the pit, which is something I’ve never done in either game. Regardless, they’re both a spot of fun, particularly if you enjoy one or both of genres, also if you prefer a slower and more methodical shooter.

There have been some changes from what I can recall from trying this game about a year ago. The textures and atmospheric effects are definitely improved, but it still feels a little janky. The developers, Kerberos Productions, have made it their mission to produce A+ quality games with minimal overhead according to their website, so you can see where there ambition meets the budget and concessions are made. It’s not a bad looking game by any means, but the animations aren’t the best and the environments aren’t very inspired. It does produce a sort of charm though, and because I enjoyed the source material, I still managed to find the fun in it despite it’s technological shortcomings. It’s just sort of hard to go from playing Doom Eternal to this and not notice the drop in quality.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. The first screen shot depicted the new character select at the beginning of the game, and that was a nice addition. I also enjoyed the fact that the put in a section at the start where you exit your space ship and actually have to fight some enemies before even entering the dungeon, which was a tribute to the original game. I also feel like the added animations for opening containers were a nice touch, though it doesn’t always seem to line up with how it would in real life. For example, when you’re repairing a broken cooker or other such crafting station, you kneel down and “do repairs” but the camera locks in a position where you are essentially staring at your knees while repairing delicate equipment. I don’t expect you to show exactly how I repair the machine but I should at least be looking at it to do said repairs.

Another low point for me is the UI overall. It’s pretty ugly. I appreciate my health/food/stamina bars being visible, along with ammo counts and my equipped items as well for quick reference, but it didn’t have to be so ugly. Parts of it seem like they’re trying to emulate The Elder Scrolls or Fallout with some of the menus, but it just doesn’t come across the same and I would have liked something a little better but it is what it is. I’ve played worse indie games. The gunplay isn’t fantastic, the movement is stuck between full FPS and the turn-based move-one-square-at-a-time gameplay of the orignal, and that feels weird, but after a floor or two it becomes less noticeable.

Eventually, you’ll go down floors, get new goods crafted and kill a ton of creeps. Some of these are obviously harder than others, and sometimes it’s a better idea to just jump down a floor rather than fight the thing that’s going to kill you, but you might miss out on needed supplies as well. I suppose it has all of the trappings of any rogue-like game you’ve played, but I applaud their dedication to moving their own game into a different space. Fans of the original will feel at home fast enough, but I’m not sure I’d tell you to start here, the original game might actually be a better place to start.

I managed to make it 6 floors deep on my best run, but ran into a little robot that did a fuckton of damage and I couldn’t seem to kill it despite using all of my remaining ammo. The rest of the run would have been difficult because ammo doesn’t come all that often, so it’s probably better I just died there. One comparison I have to make that is unfortunate is to the game Void Bastards which I wrote about last year. It does the same sort of thing, mixing elements from various successful rogue-like formulas from other games and puts its own spin on it, and I actually think it was a much better and more polished experience. I’d recommend it over this one, outside of die hard fans of The Pit.

On Fallout 76

I started on a draft about Fallout 76 back when it released in 2018 right around my birthday. It was actually a gift from my lady, who already knew how obsessed I was with the prior game, Fallout 4. The initial draft was intended to capture my first impressions of the game, which turned out to be less exciting than I had expected. Firstly, I wasn’t into the idea of having to download yet another launcher to play, but Bethesda released theirs alongside this game, also pulling many of their newer titles from Steam in order to support their lineup of games. It didn’t take long for Epic Games to also release their own store, and actually gain some ground on Steam with exclusivity deals. The community divided, Bethesda decided to return their titles along with future developed games to Steam, while also running their own launcher if you prefer. So one of the ticks on the box was checked for me there.

I didn’t end up releasing the draft I had been working on because I literally spent a handful of hours with the game before getting bored and running off to do something else. It looks and feels like a Fallout Game in the sense of environment and guns and NPCs, but that was probably the main issue, that there weren’t really NPCs aside from enemies. There was a sort of breadcrumb story trail that I followed around the map for a bit, and I also witnesses a nuclear bomb going off, as that was part of the packed in pvp experience. To be honest, there were so many more things I was finding wrong with the game than what I found right. Despite destroying the draft, I did upload some of those first screenshots so I’ll share them here and try to job my memory a bit.

The character creation was similar enough to Fallout 4, and honestly you could say it’s just the next iteration of the same game. I suppose that makes sense, but with the inclusion of other players, there’s other considerations that didn’t seem to be made. I understand its hard to shape a story around one person when there are others playing, but Borderlands has been doing this for years so it shouldn’t have been that difficult. The constantly open mics was a terrible decision, but it was nice that they added an option to turn them off. PvP sounds like it would be fun, but with the VATS system severely gimped, you wouldn’t be able to truly have epic fire fights with others. So then that leaves co-op, which sounds like where the core of the fun would be at, but it was distinctly lonely feeling while I was playing. I did see other people wandering around, but I didn’t group up or go on adventures, I mostly skulked around thinking they might try to fight. Whatever the case, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the game, but decided I would keep up on it regardless, because maybe one day it might morph into something more enjoyable.

Sometime after the release of the game, Bethesda released a roadmap of where they wanted to go with the title. The latest of these updates was slated to release in the fall of last year, but was delayed until this month. Wastelanders is the name of the update, and it promised to bring NPCs back to the game, which is ultimately what most Fallout fans wanted. If I can play the game solo but there are other people running around, that’s cool, but give me things to do. Also, make these things more fun to do with other people so we’re encouraged to group up and get things done together. Apparently Survival mode was added, and something called Nuclear Winter as well, but I don’t know exactly what those added to the game. As of yet, I haven’t played again, but I thought I should get some opinions down about my initial experience with the game before I do try it again so I have more comparison points. As a bonus, the game did release on Steam and owners got a free copy so I’m pretty stoked about not having to pay for it again and being able to play on Steam.

So with that, I’m going to try and dive into the game sometime in the near future and give it a fair shake again. I’m hoping that this ends up being another No Man’s Sky where it was a cool concept that under delivered at launch but redeems itself down the line.

Valorant: Closed Beta Part 2

I just wrote about my experience with trying to get into the Valorant closed beta a couple of days ago. As I still had yet to gain access to the game, I decided to push out a post with thoughts about the streamed gameplay I had watched. Due to having only watched the game I couldn’t comment on certain parts of the experience, and like most things first-had experience makes a difference. Much of what I said still rings true, but having actually played the game now I can offer a few more thoughts.

Yesterday I received an email notification while I wasn’t even watching a stream. Logging onto Twitch from there, I saw my flagged status and was directed to a page where I was able to download the client. The patcher looks much like the League of Legends launcher so I would hope that eventually these are all unified into one for Riot as a whole. Anyway, the game wasn’t too large and downloaded quickly. I managed to get in a couple of rounds last night before bed and I have to say I like it.

That isn’t to say it isn’t without flaws. It does look pretty. It ran smoothly and I didn’t notice any lag, though I did have a ping sitting around 30ms the entire time which is pretty good. I’m not sure if that was due to time frame or smaller servers, but perhaps the server is in California like the old LoL servers used to be, as that was my ping then as opposed to the ~100ish ping I get sometimes now that the servers are in the middle of the country. Whatever the case, these were good conditions to test the game. There isn’t a whole lot to the menu system just yet, but you can look at the collection of weapons that will eventually all have a ton of skins, along with looking at characters and their abilities. There’s a store and all that jazz.

Getting into a live match didn’t take long either. The game loads considerably faster than LoL, that’s for sure. I ended up playing my games as the archer character, though I can’t remember names at this juncture. He had the ability to send out an “owl drone,” shoot shock bolts and recon bolts, and his ultimate allows you to shoot energy beams through walls. I managed a couple of kills with that, and the recon bolt definitely came in handy while I had them, but I learned through playing that you have to purchase your ability charges, though they don’t cost much and some rounds you won’t use any of them. Your ultimate charges over time, but can be sped up with orb drops on the map.

There are two maps currently, and both seem okay. I don’t know them like the back of my hand just yet, so figuring out blind corners and where people will hide will take a little bit. The game mode is always on attack/defend, in that one team goes a certain number of rounds being attackers before swapping sides. As attackers you plant the spike, and as defenders you either kill the attackers or defuse the bomb or both if it happens to get planted and everyone is dead. In my rounds it was mostly just deathmatch, with the spike only detonating once and being diffused once. In most rounds it was pretty even, and though I was not on the first team to reach 13 round wins, we were only behind by 1 and 2 in the games I played. I think with practice it will be more fun, and I also think it would be better with friends. Voice chat is built in, but of course you can always coordinate on Discord.

One thing I would like to see is a push mode, where an objective needs to be moved from point A to point B ala Paladins. I think these characters are set up to do this, and more characters can always be added to make for more diversity. I’m sure Riot already has plans to build upon the game once they go live and get it all stable. Hey, CSGO made a battle royale mode based off of their engine, why couldn’t Riot? I guess we’ll see what happens. Whatever the case, if you manage to get into the beta and want to get some games in, drop me a line!