‘Outriders’ offers promising experience with rough edges | Styles

People Can Fly’s “Outriders” combines the best of third-person shooters with “Diablo” to create a game that’s frustrating as much as it’s fun.

At first glance, the newest title from the “Bulletstorm” developer looks like a generic product of focus testing and trend chasing aimed at the lowest common denominator of gamer. Its aesthetics fall in line with the bland colors and over-designed mess of science-fiction apocalypse fiction from the late seventh generation and early eighth generation of consoles. The characters are underdeveloped and rely on abrasive personalities filled with one-liners and jokes that sound like they’re written by junior high school students. And yet, despite all of this, “Outriders” is a great way to put those new next-generation consoles to use, or to get one last bit of juice out of those old 8 year-old plastic boxes.

The storyline is fairly mundane, aside from a few nice twists later into the experience. Far into the future, humanity has nearly destroyed the Earth. An interstellar ship lands on a mysterious planet, Enoch, with a group of Outriders assigned to search for a colony site. They quickly discover that Enoch is not the perfect planet the colonists were led to believe, as a strange anomaly overtakes the expedition and kills — or mutates — almost everyone.

Your created character serves as an Outrider who is corrupted by the storm and put into cryo sleep for 30 years before he or she is reawakened to a world at war. The survivors cannot escape the valley in which they landed due to the anomaly, so they spend their days fighting against each other in one massive war — bringing the conflict that destroyed Earth to this new planet.

But the Outrider is now part of the altered, individuals who developed powers from the anomaly. These altered individuals pop up from time to time, often with unique abilities that can make for a bad time for the enemy. But each named altered is underdeveloped. Bosses come and go, altered individuals are introduced and killed with relative ease and none of it is very developed. The game doesn’t offer much time for the story to breathe before it pushes you forward into the next mystery or conflict to solve. It is, however, enjoyable to hear just how little the playable character truly cares about everything happening, as they are just trying to survive.

“Outriders” incorporates People Can Fly’s smooth third-person shooter gameplay with RPG elements similar to “Diablo” or Bungie’s “Destiny.” While it never lives up to either of those titles, it still feels somewhat unique in its own right — if a bit unpolished and unrefined. There’s a good framework underneath a mess of unbalanced classes, overly-complicated systems and obtuse tutorials that make the game as much of a trial-and-error experience as it is a fun exploration of shooter and RPG elements.

Players can choose between four classes: Devastator, Pyromancer, Technomancer and Trickster. Each class is fairly unique — much more unique than anything from the early years of “Destiny.” The skill tree for each class is relatively diverse, offering three sub-playstyles within each class. The Devastator is much more focused on up-close tank combat, but can still be refined to be much more hit-and-run based on pilfering life from enemies while racking up status effects. The Technomancer can be a mid-distanced class, based around constructing weapons and turrets, or it can be much more of a damage-dealer with heavy weaponry specialities. They’re all unique and offer varying ways to play — as long as you don’t crank the difficulty too high and expect to run through higher levels without a specialty build.

Like its inspiration, “Diablo,” “Outriders” is designed around acquiring loot in the form of armor pieces and weapons — each with mods and abilities that, when combined with the right skill tree selection, can become unstoppable killing machines. But whereas “Diablo” has a huge array of freedom in crafting its classes, “Outriders” is much more focused on a limited number of builds that can push far into higher levels. Others will simply stall out quickly and will leave players in a frustrating grind of constant death and little progress. It’s irritating for the game to offer so much customization and gameplay variation — only to restrict it for endgame content.

While the campaign is an enjoyable 20-hour romp, the real meat of the game comes at the end, when your leveled character will push through challenge tiers and expeditions. Players build up their character’s abilities and gear while trying to push higher through challenge tiers to add more loot. It’s straight from the “Diablo” design, and can work if the balance would be adjusted. Right now, there’s too many random difficulty spikes due to the obtuse nature of the gear system that makes it complicated and frustrating to adapt to.

“Outriders” is extremely rough around the edges from a systems standpoint. It feels like someone attempted to make a “Destiny” type game before “Destiny” was ever released. There are just certain things that it does wrong that were perfected by other games in this ever-growing co-op loot shooter grind genre. There’s a lot of potential here, and it really has room to grow. Technical issues related the online-only nature of the game (a strange decision, since the game is fully playable solo and doesn’t have any of “Destiny’s” MMO elements) continue to plague many co-op players. But someone playing entirely solo will still enjoy a fun game.

There’s enough meat on these bones for even a 20-hour third-person shooter campaign, if you never want to touch the endgame product. It’s certainly more amenable to solo play than “Marvel’s Avengers,” which features a similar game design. Hopefully, People Can Fly will expand on the systems and help refine some of the more complicated issues. There’s a lot to like in this universe and game, and one can hope to see more in the future — just with a little more polish and a little more thought out design philosophy that spends less time chasing trends, and more time establishing its own. Thankfully, Xbox players can enjoy it right now for free as part of the Xbox Game Pass.

“Outriders” is rated M for Mature by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, and is available on the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One and PC. Xbox Game Pass subscribers can download and enjoy the game for no extra charge.

Josh Rouse lives in Lawton and writes a weekly gaming column for The Lawton Constitution.

This news is republished from another source. You can check the original article here

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