Initial impressions after the first few hours
Minor Spoilers below
Okay I’ve played a bit now – have passed the point of the first moral choice™ having been fairly completionist about that area, and a few side missions and what-not beyond that. So I think I’ve played enough to get a flavour for the game if lacking any sort of big-picture where the story is going stuff, and my first impressions are… well… kind of mixed to be honest.
The game is very pretty, in it’s own way. There’s been no holy cow, that’s awesome visuals! moments for me, but a lot of that is probably down to games, in general, looking pretty damn terrific nowadays so we’ve all been a little spoiled in that department. I really loved the tone of the game, right from the off – the general premise, the humour, voice-acting and animation totally nailed it, and my expectations were set pretty high. Combat was solid, everything was smooth and nice, and all I could think was how nice it was to be playing an Obsidian RPG in Unreal Engine rather than it be crammed into Bethesda’s creaking engine and tools.
The problems I’m having feel almost churlish to complain about but, well, I’m going to. I’m finding the premise, at this point at least, to be a little limiting. Giant corporations bad, I get it. I got it immediately, and I’m pining for something else rather than just variations of the flavour in which giant corporations bad. Perhaps that’s to come later, but at the moment I’m struggling to get too invested in things.
The moral choice you’re asked to make – again, it feels churlish to criticise when, what Obsidian have done (based only on the first of these) is fix the general issue with this kind of stuff in games. You know, when you have to pick an outcome and one is obviously better than the other. In The Outer Worlds that decision is two flavours of not ideal. The issue is, when the options are almost identical in moral implication I may as well just roll a die – at least with the crude good vs bad options, I can make that decision based on whether I’m role-playing a good or bad person. The other issue was, in that first decision, there was a fairly obvious compromise to the whole thing which was basically, “grow up, stop being idiots, and work together” but so far as I can tell, that was not a permitted option unless it was so buried under a particular combination of dialogue options that it’s more something to discover on GameFAQs than actually choose. Additionally, choosing where to divert the power is a little bit of a… well, let’s be generous and call it a reference… to Fallout New Vegas – except in New Vegas my choice was between more than two options, and the choice I made depended on a big picture decision in terms of which faction I was supporting overall. It had weight and impact even if it ultimately didn’t really change anything greatly in the world. It was a decision sizeable enough that you’d be minded to put off making it until later, until you’d gathered more information about the factions and people. It was a better realised moment in the game.
In terms of party members, I’ve got four now, and so far I’m not terribly invested in any of them which, frankly, surprises the hell out of me as a fan of Obsidian RPGs. They’re fine – they have some amusing dialogue, and I like the way they occasionally interject in conversations. They’re inoffensive, I guess, and I don’t dislike any of them – I’m just struggling to really care about them one way or the other.
So ultimately, so far, I can’t help but be a little disappointed overall. I’m feeling, right now, that I’m running the risk of putting the game down and then never being bothered to pick it up again. Particularly since I’ve also got Greedfall to finish – a game which, much like all Spiders games, is not without its quirks and jankiness, but is brimming with style and ambition.
Hopefully later on, I’ll be writing a follow-up post to this where I get to call myself an idiot for not having faith in Obsidian and gush enthusiastically about everything they accomplished. I’ll cross my fingers until then.