The Outer Worlds is an action role playing games released back in 2019. We found the game to be a classic case of a product squandering its potential, and now the developer has now re-released the game for current gen consoles under the banner of The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition. This iteration of the game includes everything into one cohesive package souped up for the new generation of consoles and PC. And I’m using the term “souped up” in a very generous fashion, because my experience with The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice edition has been filled with all sorts of performance issues and crashes that result in an underwhelming experience.
The Outer Worlds begins with the player waking from a years’ long cryosleep by one wanted scientist named Dr. Phineas Welles. The game doesn’t waste much time with its exposition, and you are quickly thrust into the thick of it as you begin your adventure to free the remainder of Hope’s colonists which should theoretically solve all of Halcyon’s long standing problems – though the narrative quickly starts to branch into a ton of different tangents not too long after.
The developers have crafted a decent setting with this rather minimalistic setup, and it tends to give precedence to morally gray characters over the tried and tested formula of good versus bad. The main quest is punctuated with tasks that require you to engage with the personal matters of different factions throughout Halcyon, and each of these factions have their equal shares of good and bad while being clearly distinct from one another. Some quests require making a decision of siding with one faction over the other, but those decisions are few and far between to be considered the norm rather than the exception. Furthermore, you can also pursue certain faction quests after those decisions have been made to restore your reputation back to normal – which makes this particular mechanic feel a lot more unforgiving than it needs to.
" You can choose to be a morally upright person who tries to do everything right, or be a man with a silver tongue who uses the art of persuasion and dishonesty to achieve your goals, or become an opportunist who would give up everything and everyone for the right price. "
Your player character is mostly just a blank slate, and you get to define your personality through the many actions that you will be taking during your adventure. You can choose to be a morally upright person who tries to do everything right, or be a man with a silver tongue who uses the art of persuasion and dishonesty to achieve your goals, or become an opportunist who would give up everything and everyone for the right price. One thing I liked about the dialogue system is that the options locked behind player stats aren’t always the best of the bunch, which forces you to actually read through the conversations before going through with a choice.
Much like its many inspirations, companion characters also play an important role in this journey. They will aid you in combat, but you can also tackle specific companion quests to better understand their backstories or help them in pursuing certain interests. All in all, The Outer Worlds puts forth a story that might not be on the level of popular games in the genre – but it certainly has its charm that should keep you interested in what happens next.
The developer has done a decent job of crafting a vast world that you can explore at your own pace. It’s not a seamless open world, and different sections and settlements in each planet are punctuated by loading screens which happens at a much snappier pace than before thanks to PS5’s SSD technology. The planets are visually distinct from one another. The planet of Monarch feels a lot different than Terra 2 thanks to varied flora and fauna, and these two planets feel a lot different than Scylla which features a Moon like surface on account of it being an asteroid. While there’s no shortage of side quests to pursue within these spaces, the chances of coming across something interesting through exploration alone is pretty rare which disincentivizes it in some manner.
"While there’s no shortage of side quests to pursue within these spaces, the chances of coming across something interesting through exploration alone is pretty rare which disincentivizes it in some manner."
The Outer Worlds features a standard first person shooting system where your player stats and damage output are as crucial as your mechanical skills with a weapon of your choice. You have a time dilation ability which slows down time and allows you to target weak points on your enemies for extra damage. Your companions will also aid you in battle, and you can use their special abilities like a hammer smash or a dropkick for some serious damage. Furthermore, you are also given the option to alter their behavior to be as aggressive or passive on the battlefield as you want them to be – so you do get plenty of dials to fine tune the tactical aspect of the combat.
You also get plenty of weapons to collect during your adventure, but most of them are repeat variants of the same handful of weapon types with different stats or ammo types. Progression in The Outer Worlds is also pretty standard stuff with little in the name of distinguishing factors. Each skill point gives you 10 points to invest in stats like hacking, dialog, science, or defense. Perks allow you to equip permanent buffs like increased health or increased sprint speed through separate trees for you and your companions. There’s the signature Flaws system which gives you the option to trade a permanent debuff for an extra Perk point, but I never felt the need to engage with that system since I was always ahead of the power curve during my playthrough.
"Between the combat feeling too easy and the fact that there isn’t much of an endgame component in The Outer Worlds, there’s little reason to grind and reach the new level cap of 99."
And that results in combat feeling too easy, at least on the normal difficulty provided you spend a bit of your time to thoroughly collect resources and loot. Enemy AI hasn’t seen much of a difference from the launch version, so you can still easily hide behind cover and pick entire squads of enemies one by one from a safe distance. In addition to this, the enemy variety also feels lacking for an RPG of this scale, and the combat starts to run its due course as you reach the conclusion of the game. Between this and the fact that there isn’t much of an endgame component in The Outer Worlds, there’s little reason to grind and reach the new level cap of 99.
Thankfully, the DLCs don’t really focus much on the combat and instead shift the game’s focus on other aspects like investigating a mystery. But they still require you to get past a certain point in the main quest to access, and this feels like a missed opportunity. The developers could have implemented a system where players would have the option to start the DLCs with an appropriately leveled character from the get go instead of having to work through a sizable chunk of the campaign to be able to access this content. It’s not like the DLCs are connected to the main story in any meaningful way, which makes the absence of such an accessibility feature all the more egregious in this version.
"I mostly stuck on the 60fps performance mode on the PS5 version of the game, and I frequently saw slowdowns during intensive combat sequences and also while exploring the planet."
The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition does very little to entice returning players for another playthrough. There’s no extra content in this version to speak of, and the quality of life upgrades are also pretty shoddy. The texture quality seems almost identical to the original with muddy textures and inconsistently detailed character models, and the draw distance for the environments is still low which results in visible pop-ins in most open areas.
The performance in the PS5 version is all over the place. I mostly stuck on the 60fps performance mode, and I frequently saw slowdowns during intensive combat sequences and also while exploring the many planets. Furthermore, I also experienced multiple crashes during my time with the game – and this can add up to make for a pretty frustrating experience after a while.
In conclusion, The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice ends up being a half baked package that doesn’t really justify its price tag. Whatever miniscule upgrades have been done to the experience don’t really amount to much in the grand scheme of things, and with performance issues galore – Spacer’s Choice isn’t the definitive edition of the game that it clearly wanted to be. It’s an easy pass for those who have already played through the game and its DLCs. And those who haven’t played it, they might be better off sticking to other better games in the genre.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
A decent setting and progression system, standard first person shooting, loading times are faster thanks to SSD.
Performance issues resulting in major frame rate drops and plenty of crashes, minuscule visual upgrades, lack of accessibility features.