In this article we talk about our first impressions of Outriders, the next title of People Can Fly and Square Enix, with a preview based on the demo made available a few days ago
Outriders is not a Game as a Service. This is what the people of People Can Fly have repeated over and over again, underlining how important and central the narration of events is in their new effort. Statements that rather than reassure the public seem to be aimed at reassuring the developers themselves, considering how many games have failed to pursue a model that is now stale and that requires constantly updated, new and interesting content to keep a project alive. See the recent cancellation of Anthem Next by a now resigned Electronic Arts. In short, Outriders is not a Game as a Service, but what is it then?
The title is out next ironic April 1, after a long series of postponements, on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC and Google Staff. Developed by People Can Fly and published by Square Enix, the game is one third person shooter with strong role-playing influences, sci-fi tints and a planet to explore after the destruction of the earth, with a looming alien threat and the usual social problems humanity faces over time. Recently, Square Enix released an Open Demo which allowed us to test the game for a few hours, and after having thoroughly explored the first chapter we are here to write this article. Welcome to our Outriders preview!
Planet Earth, as we have already said, has been totally destroyed. The reasons are still unknown, not much is revealed to us over the course of the trial, but the fact remains that the few hundred thousand surviving humans had to flee. Places in cryosleep for more than eighty years inside a spaceship, they then arrived on the unfortunate planet of Enoch. This time, we are the alien threat. Enoch is a lush planet, with an atmosphere very similar to that of Earth before the arrival of pollution, local fauna that seems to be tameable and… something obscure.
Our avatar, created with a quick character editor, is one of the Outriders, soldiers designated to explore the planet prior to humanity’s descent from the spacecraft. The rest is intuitive: something will go wrong, we will find ourselves back in cryosleep after sustaining fatal wounds and we will wake up thirty years later, with Enoch destroyed and plagued by an eternal war between two factions. All due to an anomaly, which destroys everything it touches, except a select few who instead begin to develop unimaginable powers. And guess who will be one of these chosen ones?
In short, Outriders certainly does not shine for originality in the setting and in the premises, but we reserve the right to further investigate the plot in a possible review. The facts narrated so far were all rather predictable, in fact, but the title of People Can Fly also has some interesting ideas, especially as regards the relationship between the two factions and the social apparatus that has been forming in Enoch. The settings and the design of weapons and armor refer a lot to Mad Max in a more technological sauce and this is absolutely not bad. In short, from this point of view the Outriders demo has amply satisfied us, although it is certainly not such a revolution.
Trivially, Outriders is a TPS with a strong RPG component. The weapons and armor of the game will all be obtainable both from specialized merchants, and by defeating enemies (loot!) And from the crates that we will find scattered in the game maps, all quite small in size. Obviously, each piece of equipment will have its specific rarity and effectiveness, with secondary effects to be taken into account in the development of a build.
What we have been able to notice from these first hours of play, is the lack of feedback in firing weapons. No recoil, no palpable difference between one assault rifle and another, nothing at all. A real shame, considering that the shooting is a practically fundamental part of the gaming experience. We then add an AI of the enemies in the average of the genre, therefore practically absent, and a rather sloppy level design at least in this first area to the list of doubts.
The second half of the experience is given by the powers that our protagonist will develop once the Anomaly is absorbed. Four different classes will be available in Outriders (Technomancer, Pyromancer, Mysterizer and Destroyer) and, for our test, we tried that of the Pyromancer. Each of the four classes has a separate development from the others and the choice will therefore be decisive in terms of gameplay.
The protagonist, by leveling up, will gradually obtain more powerful skills that can have numerous effects, both offensive and defensive. There is also a very extensive skill tree that does not concern the class, but the basic characteristics of the character, which can be enhanced through the use of the skill points obtained with the experience. Obviously, since this is a simple demo lasting a few hours, it is impossible to try to further investigate the character advancement system or the management of equipment, but in general, from this point of view, we were satisfied.
A rather interesting mechanic is that of the Game World Level, which will rise with that of the character by killing enemies and completing quests and subquests. This level will affect the increasing rarity of the rewards we will get, but it will inevitably also raise the general difficulty of the game. Furthermore, with the unlocking of the World Levels, we will get numerous rewards for customizing our banner and, probably, more in the final version of the game.
This preview of Outriders was written after trying the demo on a PlayStation 4 Pro. So we are definitely not on the best possible configuration, but we can honestly admit that we were expecting something more. From the mere technical side, the title runs at 30 fps in the cutscenes and also in the gameplay, if we are not in very excited situations that slow down its fluidity even markedly. There are also small graphical glitches, especially in the lighting effects, nothing particularly disabling and that will definitely be patched before the game is released.
We played the demo with the Italian dubbing, of a good level if compared to other similar productions, but it has many problems in cuts and rather marked inaccuracies, especially in movies. If we add a less than exciting and unnecessarily epic soundtrack, you’ll understand why, at the end of the first hour, we decided to take off our headphones and play the Outriders demo without it.
In short, concluding this preview, Outriders one month after the release still seems to have several problems to solve. In general, we can say that we are genuinely fascinated by the role-playing and skill development component of the People Can Fly title, which from this first glance seems pretty deep and interesting. On the other hand, however, the unresponsive shooting system, a not very inspired level design and a basic banality as regards setting and narration (from what we can guess from these first hours) make us doubt a little what will actually be the title at launch. We hope we can change our minds!
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