The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition - A Problematic Upgrade
The Outer Worlds was, in a lot of ways, Obsidian’s love letter to the type of games they did so well during the PS2/3 era. You could almost feel the DNA of Fallout New Vegas, KoToR2 and even Alpha Protocol when playing. It was a game that took that format, the format that entertained so many, for so long and polished it to a shine. It was the best version of a game we had all played before, wrapped in the dark and delicious humour that has always been something of an Obsidian trademark. So it feels like such a disappointment when this, the supposedly best version of a game that prides itself in being the best version of a type of game, is in fact, a little bit broken.
The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition promised souped-up 4K graphics, improved load times and a host of other quality-of-life improvements that use the added power of modern systems to make it a better overall game. However, those improvements have seemingly come at a cost, at least on the PC version that I played, and that cost is performance. There is a host of stuttering, framerate and graphical drop-in issues that are immediately apparent and are immensely distracting. At the stage of writing, approximately a week after it hit stores, things haven’t been fixed. Private Division have promised a patch soon though so hopefully it turns this game into the release it should have been. Perhaps the most telling thing about the whole saga is that Obsidian were forced to bump the problems off to the publisher Private Division, which leads me to believe that this release, in a lot of ways, is about Private Division getting one last bite of the cherry before the franchise becomes wholly an Xbox property. I can’t say that I blame them for that, but it does feel like it has been rushed as a result.
All that being said, it is still a great game and once the problems have been fixed this will undoubtedly be the best version of it. Graphically, on a high-end PC, it looks stunning. This game still has the best sky in the business and it is even more better now. There has been a noticeable jump in the detail of both the worlds and the characters and everything feels more vivid and enticing. The propaganda seems to pop off the screen, the forests and wastelands are more alive. It is an impressive boost to the visuals that will be appreciated by old and new fans alike. Even on my Steam Deck it looked great at the necessarily lower graphical settings, easily comparable to the original release in most areas.
The other major improvement from a tech side of things is the load screens. One of my biggest issues with the original release of the game was the sheer amount of load screens that the game has, a legacy of that older style of RPG design and probably an indication of Obsidian’s budget at the time of development. Now, in this version, the load screens are still there but thanks to the magic of SSD tech and some tweaks under the hood, things load much faster, significantly reducing load frustration. It might not seem like much, but over a 30-50 hour game, those load times add up to a whole pile of wasted minutes and these improvements are very much welcome.
The Spacer’s Choice edition also includes both of The Outer World’s quite hefty expansion packs. These extra story additions aren’t anything groundbreaking in the way say Blood and Wine was for the Witcher 3, but they do add a nice chunk of extra content. The stories for both of these expansions are fun diversions from the main tale and there are a host of wacky and wild new armour sets and weapons to play with, so their inclusion is certainly welcome. The Level cap for players has also been raised to Level 99 for those that are super fans. To put that in perspective, I was level 41 when I finished the game so there is a lot of growth still there for those that don’t want to put it down.
The rest of the game is much how you remember it. An RPG about corporate greed taking over a whole solar system, destroying the working class and enriching the privileged, this could have easily been a bit of a dark and dreary experience, but the writing and humour of the team at Obsidian is just so good that no matter how many parallels you can draw to the real world, you still can’t help but laugh (even if you should probably be crying.) The combat is tight, without ever being amazing, the worlds are all stunning and a blast to explore and the player’s companions are some of the sweetest (Pavarti,) funniest (Ellie) and painful (Max) in gaming. It is, in short, a wonderful game to simply spend time in.
Until The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice addition gets a patch or two, the performance problems make this feel like a rushed cash-in by a publisher that is trying to end its involvement with the franchise by cashing in. That being said, this is still such a fun game to play with that it is hard to stay mad at them for wanting to get a little bonus in their coffers. The upgrades are all very welcome and the fact that all of the Outer Worlds content has been bundled into one package is also appealing. Once the performance issues have been sorted (hopefully soon) I have no doubt that this will be the best version of a game that is the best version of a particular game style. Until then though I have to say, buyer beware.
The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by the publisher.