I couldn’t help but laugh at Obsidian’s less than discrete jabs at Bethesda during its trailer reveal of The Outer Worlds, a new action-RPG that looks like a wonderful blend of Fallout, Borderlands, and Mass Effect. Just as Iggy Pop’s The Passenger dropped (in very Fallout fashion, no less), copy flashed up on the screen reminding everyone who the “original creators of Fallout” were and that it was Obsidian who developed Fallout: New Vegas, arguably the best game in the series.
You don’t go and do something like that unless you’re in a confident mood, and it quickly became apparent why.
The Outer Worlds gave me more Fallout vibes in its two-minute trailer than I felt playing half a dozen hours of Fallout 76. Between its compelling world, whimsical overtones, and what appears to be a substantial story-driven experience, the New Vegas lineage was on full display, and it has me seriously excited.
When you think about it, there really isn’t another developer that has ever tried to take Bethesda on at its own game, to create huge open worlds glued together with interesting lore and a bold setting. Obsidian certainly make for a good candidate. They’ve got the experience working with Bethesda directly, of course, and when it comes to RPGs, a pool of talented developers that have been involved with the genre for practically their entire careers.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Obsidian is suddenly making a whole lot more sense; The Outer Worlds has serious potential. A subsequent gameplay reveal showcases a design that takes plenty of inspiration from first-person role-playing experiences similar to Fallout: branching dialog options, companion quests, and even the mention of a perk-like progression system.
Perhaps most importantly, The Outer Worlds’ gameplay actually looks smooth, modern, and exciting to control. There are absolutely no signs of jank or clunkiness, or any other word we’ve used to describe Bethesda games in recent memory. And so there shouldn’t be. This is 2018.
You can tell from the footage that although The Outer Worlds is undoubtedly a AAA production, it doesn’t quite boast the graphical fidelity of top-tier, mega-budget productions, and yet it looks more far more accomplished than Fallout 76. That’s rather telling of the state Bethesda is in right now.
Indeed, if you needed any more evidence to convince you that Bethesda’s graphical engine is totally outdated, The Outer Worlds, a game probably nowhere near a finished product, is the perfect case study.
The gameplay actually has some Mass Effect overtones, too, and not just because of the space setting. We’ll have to wait until we’ve got a better understanding of the sort of depth we can expect from combat, but already there’s a fluidity that reminds me of Andromeda.
I also like the option to slow-mo the action with an ability that’s definitely reminiscent of Fallout’s VATS. Except it looks less like a necessity to mitigate wonky gunplay and more like a cool option to enhance the experience.
If you’re reading this and thinking that The Outer Worlds is sounding more and more like the Fallout experience you’ve been yearning for, we’re on the same wavelength. And I don’t think we’ll be alone in that sentiment.
Could there have been a better time for Obsidian to showcase this game? After the disappointments of Mass Effect Andromeda and Fallout 76, there’s definitely a void in the market for this type of game.
Assuming it plays as well as it looks and delivers the scope of experience the developers are suggesting it will, The Outer Worlds has a big chance of success. There’s an audience ready and primed, chomping at the bit to get behind it.
Trust me when I say that I’d much rather be celebrating the prospect of The Outer Worlds alongside a successful Bethesda game. I don’t want the quality of developers to have to come in and prove what we’ve all been thinking, and I don’t necessarily like the notion of having to highlight their failures time and again.
But the reality is that Fallout 76’s dismal showing has made me seriously worry about the future of the franchise and the future of Bethesda’s other IPs. More than just the excitement I share for Obsidian’s upcoming title, I’m also hoping it hammers home the message to Bethesda that they need to seriously up their game.