"The Outer Worlds": Game of the year contender

Obsidian Entertainment's latest title is a worthy spiritual successor to "Fallout: New Vegas."

Ever since “The Outer Worlds” released a couple of weeks ago, I have been positively enamored by it. 

This latest title from developer Obsidian Entertainment, creators of “Pillars of Eternity” and “Fallout: New Vegas,”easily stands as one of the best games released this year. Between the writing, the gameplay, the roleplaying mechanics, even the stability of the game’s programming, everything in “The Outer Worlds” shines with a quality that I haven’t seen in a long time.

Set in the far-flung future, players assume the role of a prospective colonist en-route to the Halcyon star system. After getting lost in space, however, you awaken 70 years late to find that Halcyon has become a deteriorating, economically stagnant hive of late-stage space capitalism. The Corporate Board controlling Halcyon is only driving it deeper into the dirt, and it’s up to you to save the system. Or not, depending on how you’re feeling.

The writing in “The Outer Worlds” is superb. While the main story is derivative of other similar space adventures, it still manages to put its own twist on the genre with quick-witted humor that surrounds a biting criticism of capitalism.

Better yet is the fact that the game lets you approach the story however you want with appropriate dialogue options and responses to match your particular character. Want to be the selfless hero of the Halcyon system? Go for it. Want to play the villain and blast anyone who gets in the way of your mission? You can do it. Want to be literally Han Solo by playing a rogue with a heart of gold? Nothing is stopping you. The roleplaying mechanics are perfectly integrated into the game, with full control over stat allocation and dialogue giving you all the tools to make any type of character imaginable.

Easily the biggest strength of “the Outer Worlds” is how accommodating the gameplay is to different playstyles. You can play it sly and slick by sneaking, lying, and stealing and accomplish your goals, fast and loose by shooting everything that moves, or anything in between.

The game plays very similarly to “Fallout: New Vegas” with its combination of exploration and first-person combat with a variety of unique and interesting weapons, all of which can be upgraded and modified to suit your needs. Gunplay is fast, smooth, and responsive while melee weapons pack a satisfying punch against anything that dares to get close to you.

On its own, the combat works perfectly, but it is augmented further by the Tactical Time Dilation system. This is a mechanic that allows players to slow down time in order to pull of precision shots on enemy weak points. This will deal additional damage and cripple targets in a variety of ways, such as temporarily blinding and enemy by shooting them in the head or slowing them down with a well-placed shot to the leg. This adds a welcome layer of strategy to the combat, where if you think carefully and place your attacks smartly, you can overcome stacked odds and succeed against foes that are ostensibly more powerful than you.

“The Outer Worlds” is a fantastic package, more than I could have ever hoped for a spiritual successor to “Fallout: New Vegas.” It is jam-packed with great gameplay, clever writing, and enough replay value to make your head spin. If you’re a fan of Obsidian’s previous games and want more of their brand of roleplaying, or if you’re just itching for a good old space adventure, I cannot recommend picking it up enough. Personally, I’ve already gotten my $60 worth out of this game multiple times over, and there is nothing I want more than for other people to experience it for themselves.

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