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The Outer Worlds

#1
Obsidian have released the first official trailer for their next game, The Outer Worlds.

What do you think?

My initial reactions below:
Spoiler:      SHOW
Interestingly, this is a first-person, not isometric, RPG. There's not much in the way of game mechanics (including spaceflight) to see here, or world-dynamics. They're mostly showing off the aesthetics, which I'd describe as "id's Rage meets BioShock's Rapture." In fact, it sure looks to me like Obsidian licensed the id Tech 5 engine used to make Rage (and both Dishonored games).

Other than falling back on the "amoral corporations control everything" trope, which was tediously lazy writing 20 years ago, I like the look of this one. I'm eager to see more.
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Re: The Outer Worlds

#3
Unless they somehow manage to frak it up (doesn't seem likely given how forthcoming they currently are with information and footage), this will be Obsidian's breakout game. Odd to say that about a company whose output has ranged from decent (Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny) to excellent (Mask of the Betrayer, Fallout New Vegas), but they have never had a sizable mainstream exposure.

As for the game itself, it's basically a reimagined Fallout: New Vegas, but with Obsidian's own worldbuilding and spectacular timing (given Bethesda's and Fallout's current state). Which, if one knows one's Fallouts, is very much reason to get excited.

Hopefully it runs well (it's an Unreal Engine game) -- I was planning to upgrade my rig in 2020 for what I projected to be Cyberpunk 2077's release date, but I might have to move it to 2019 if this game warrants it.
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Re: The Outer Worlds

#7
It looks neat, but the combat seems pretty lackluster. I hope to be proven wrong once we've seen more of it. :) If presented differently I might be okay with that fact - if they'd put a minimal focus on fighting - but given that their entire "flaws" system at least is focused around combat, and it seems like your equipped weapon is "always out", I think it's worth saying that they focused on combat a fair deal. Lackluster combat is not a good thing in that case.
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Re: The Outer Worlds

#8
The combat in the linked video actually reminded me pretty strongly of that from Mass Effect. If you played any of those three games, what did you think of combat in them?

Also worth noting: this game is from Obsidian (KOTOR II, Fallout: New Vegas) and the creators of the first two Fallout games. I don't think I'm going out on too much of a limb when I guess that The Outer Worlds will have plenty of story to go along with its combat. ;)

I could be wrong about that, of course. The game is still somewhere in the middle of development; it's hard to get a read on its full feel just yet.
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Re: The Outer Worlds

#9
Flatfingers wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:32 pm
The combat in the linked video actually reminded me pretty strongly of that from Mass Effect. If you played any of those three games, what did you think of combat in them?
It doesn't remind me of Mass Effect in the slightest. The rest of the video did to some degree (although it reminded me more strongly of Fallout 3 and New Vegas).

And, because you asked my thoughts, I'll indulge a little:
Spoiler:      SHOW
As to what I thought of the combat in Mass Effect, I found the combat the least engaging in the first one. It gradually improved over the course of the series, but there always were, at least, abilities you could use to keep things interesting. The combat was the best (in my opinion) in #3, which had a cover system, lots of game-changing abilities, good balance and pacing, decent enemy AI, ally tactics, brutally fun melee, and plenty of pretty "lasers" flying everywhere. (Mass Effect 3 as a vanguard was one of the best combat gameplay experiences I've ever had.) Even in the first game of the three, there was enough in the way of tactics to keep things interesting.

In the gameplay video of The Outer Worlds there is nothing of the sort. :P You have a weapon, you walk at a normal pace in first person and shoot at enemies that walk towards you (if they do at all). No cover is used by any party. AI seems minimal. Melee seems clunky at best and tacked-on. Walking seems to be default, but it is also possible to walk quickly (note I don't say "run"), but not only does this not need to be used sparingly (as with a sprint meter), it also doesn't seem to be fast enough to offer that much of an advantage over walking. My at-a-glance guess is that it's 1.5x walking speed. But without any penalties, why would you ever want to move more slowly?

Without any dodge/roll/slide/cover systems, damage taken is frequent and unavoidable. You notice the guy constantly huffing something that looks vaguely like an oversized asthma inhaler. This seems to be intentionally included as a major gameplay element, given how frequently it's used. I'm guessing they want you to balance attacking, hiding, and healing. This by itself won't last very long until it turns into a case of "when do I push this button".

There was mention of a "time dilation" skill, but this is a fairly "flat" combat skill, as all it really does is enable the user to react a little bit faster. The only benefit to combat is another "when do I push this button" sort of benefit. It cannot be used in any clever sort of way, and it will lose its novelty quickly. Time dilation is just time dilation and doesn't really add much to the combat. Like huffing medkit syringes, it's just a question of "when do I use this". Combat becomes a question of "time your button mashes". And that's just not fun for very long either.

Finally, at roughly 12:15 in the video, there's an instance where they tear the camera and all control away from the viewer for 3 seconds to show the character's ally land the final killshot on an enemy robot. It's a strong throwback to the Fallout series in a way that is (in my opinion) rather dated and shows its age. To their credit, they kept it from dragging on for too long, but it merely showcased how mechanical everything looks. In Doom 2016 they do the same thing, but the key differences are that it 1. only lasts half as long, 2. it is triggered specifically by the player wanting to trigger it, and 3. it actually looks pretty awesome. It actually serves a lot of mechanical purposes as well: 1. it moves the player forwards and keeps them from playing in a turtle-and-hide manner. 2. it's a risk-reward mechanic that has the potential of giving more health, but also puts the person at risk of taking damage, 3. it encourages players not to overkill, which introduces a new skill element, 4. it gives the player a very brief pause in combat to help them get their bearings. The mechanic shown in the video here does none of that: it is purely a pause for show, and not much of a show at that. There is no real reason for it to exist.
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Re: The Outer Worlds

#10
Interesting! I'm glad I asked; you're obviously much more perceptive about nuances of gameplay combat than I am. Thanks for taking the time to spell out what you saw.

To me, it looks more like Mass Effect than other games because 1) around 2-5 enemies appear, which feels right for a shooter with a sidekick character, and 2) the enemies are tagged by the UI, which gives combat a futuristic feel.

Mass Effect, just as you describe it, was appealing in its use of character abilities that weren't directly related to pure gunplay. I'd honestly be very surprised if The Outer Worlds, said to offer six character attributes, didn't also give players a rich variety of skills/abilities to pick from and use -- some, presumably, with a combat application. Even if the shooting in TOW stays pretty vanilla, such skills could bring the semi-tactical variation closer to the richer experience you describe. (Side note: I'm still irritated at the way BioWare ruthlessly gutted ME1's RPG skills system when designing ME2. If the storytelling in the ME2 loyalty missions hadn't been so strong, I'm not sure I'd have risked playing ME3.)

I suspect Obsidian are only showing us a very early mission, before the player character has picked up many abilities. And again, the game's still in development. But certainly I don't hold it against anyone who's unimpressed with how it looks so far.

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