Outriders: Worldslayer - Welcome Refinement
I liked Outriders. I think in many ways it was a victim of a marketing team that didn’t know how to sell it and a lot of that game’s negative press came about because of a misconception as to what it actually was. The reality of it is, Outriders is much closer to Gears of War than it is Destiny and those looking for the latter based on PR promises were obviously disappointed. Add to that a giant freaking game-breaking bug at launch and Outriders, as a new IP had a rocky start. This is where Worldslayer comes in. While in theory, it is simply an expansion pack for the main game, it is a chance for the team at People Can Fly to essentially get a launch do-over. I am happy to report that the developers have taken that chance with both hands and improved on just about every aspect of the game in the process.
For those not exactly sure what Outriders is you might want to go back and visit my review or my recent revisit to the game. For this piece, I am going to assume you have a basic idea of what to expect in the base game. The Worldslayer portion of the game kicks off where the first game ended. You have collected all the drop pods and are trying to make a red hot go of it on Enoch. But the anomaly is getting worse, with more and more storms ripping through, destroying any hope of survival. Things are looking pretty dire, so as a badass altered it is up to you to delve into the planet’s past, learn from the Pax (the planet’s previous inhabitants) and discover just how they were able to live on this messed-up planet.
As far as the story goes, I enjoyed this more than the base game. It delves into the much more interesting world of Enoch and, for the most part, avoids the human vs human story that the original release spent so much time on. People Can Fly have created a fascinating world, with deep lore and a tragic backstory, so I was very pleased to find myself exploring that in great detail. I always thought it was such as shame that the developers had created this world and instead of exploring it, we spent the majority of the first game going toe-to-toe with humans. Here we get a deep look at what makes the world tick and just how much more is left to discover.
Gameplay-wise things are much the same here, only more refined. A lot of the original release’s niggles and rough edges have been buffed out and the difficulty balance has been given a much-needed once over. The base game was plagued with difficulty spikes that brought frustration and anger whereas in Worldslayer everything seems to be on a fair slope. There are no sudden difficulty walls to deal with, just a controlled ramping of the challenge. The game still includes the unique “world tier” system that allows players to adjust the difficulty and increase the chance of rare loot. It has been adjusted (and renamed to Apocalyptic Tiers) to take into account people that have finished the game and adds more variables to the equation. It is a nice feature for those looking to push themselves though the higher world tiers are crushing for single players. I found a comfortable spot at world tier 7 where I was being offered a good, satisfying challenge without feeling like I was bashing my head against an unstoppable horde of enemies.
One thing Worldslayer does really well is boss battles. Every boss battle here is balanced, challenging and satisfying, all in a fair way. These battles feel like a true test of skill and easily surpass the boss battles in the base game. The final boss battle was so much fun I immediately replayed it at a higher tier and that is such a rare thing for boss battles in any game, let alone something like this and it is clear that People Can Fly thought long and hard about just how to make these encounters rewarding and balanced.
Once the story has been completed, players are then given access to a rouge-like portion of the game, which seems to be a trend for these sort of AAA releases these days. In this instance, however, it is something a bit more than normal. This part of the game has players exploring the ruins of the Pax civilisation, discovering more and more about the world, the anomaly and just how things came to be as they are. In my mind, it is just as essential to the story of the game as the main campaign and is absolutely worth your time. When this mode has been completed (it took me about 5 attempts at world tier 10) the game leaves you with a huge story tease as to where the game may go in future releases and while I won’t reveal what that is, just know it was something I didn’t see coming yet totally appropriate to the franchise.
Perhaps the thing I am disappointed about the most is there is no new Outrider class to play with. I think it is a missed opportunity to introduce a new type of Outrider to complement the existing four classes. Giving players a new skill set to explore would have been a nice cherry on top of what is a great extension of the series. The other thing I am a little disappointed in is the new enemy types. Apart from the bosses (which are all excellent), there are only a couple of new run-of-the-mill enemy types that add little in the way of variety. They all seem to be simply variations on existing enemies, even if they look significantly different. A new enemy type that mixed up the combat a little would have been welcome because as good as the combat is (and it is a lot of fun) it is repetitive so some more variety would have been nice.
That said, those are some very minor issues in what is a great expansion to a game that has had a rough start to life. I really hope this is the fresh start that Outriders needs to become a legitimate, ongoing franchise. I love the deeper look at Enoch and what makes it tick, the boss battles were exceptional and the difficulty of the game felt balanced and fair. Yes, it is just more “Outriders” but it is also a more refined, more balanced, more polished Outriders that really shows the potential this franchise has. From the ending, It is clear the developers have big plans for the series and I sincerely hope that this sells enough for them to see those plans to the end. Outriders Worldslayer is a fantastic addition to a somewhat underappreciated title that has the potential to win over new fans and I strongly recommend people check it out.
Outriders Worldslayer was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by Square Enix Australia.