Outriders likely won’t win any awards for its looter-shooter gameplay, but it is a hell of a good time with friends. The drop-in drop-out co-op is a great addition to the huge library of multiplayer games available for gamers.
Outriders is the latest in a long line of looter-shooters that made their way to retail over the last generation of consoles. Following in the footsteps of The Division and Destiny, Outriders is a very competent combination of those two titles, with additional abilities that add a lot of flash to combat encounters.
It doesn’t break much (if any) new ground, but it still manages to create a solid footing for itself in the genre, especially in the endgame when players get to undertake expeditions. Outriders admittedly gets a little stale, but that final push to the endgame content comes with a great reward.
Welcome to Enoch
Players take control of one of the last Outriders, powerful soldiers that were initially sent to a new planet to pave the way for colonization. Earth is on its last legs, and of course the new planet Enoch has its own dangers for the Outriders to take on before colonization can occur.
The story is fairly generic and falls pretty flat throughout. The dialogue is weak, the performances are bad, and NPC animations are often atrocious. Most players won’t come for the story though, as the moment-to-moment gameplay and combat loop stays strong and consistent throughout.
After the opening tutorial, players will pick one of four classes: Pyromancer, Technomancer, Devastator, and Trickster. Each comes with its own unique abilities, like the Technomancer’s ability to summon a turret to attack enemies, or the Devastator’s high jump that lets him lunge on enemies to deal massive damage. I’ve only messed around with three of the four characters, but each feels unique enough to make a difference, especially the Trickster that lets players move around battlefields with a little more agility.
It’s nice too, because the main objective of Outriders during combat is to be aggressive. The Devastator class complements this really well by filling that tank role and taking massive damage while dishing out plenty. Granted, it isn’t the best class in the game by any means, but it does fill that role well.
A weird note about Outriders is that only three players can party up together. With four classes, there is always a missing role here. It’s a weird design choice, especially when you have friends to play with and either everyone fills a different role or you have four people online who all want to play.
Combat can often get fairly frenetic in Outriders, with lots of enemies on screen, bullets flying everywhere, and teammates trying to get into position for a proper attack. I was fairly surprised with how intense a lot of the bigger encounters were too, especially during boss fights.
I went through the majority of the game with one friend. We found ourselves getting downed by bosses and then waiting for a good time to have one of us revive the other. With enemies spawning throughout the fight, it quickly turned into a battle of attrition as we whittled down their health bars. The boss fights themselves weren’t always the most exciting, but some of the actual enemies and their abilities remained interesting throughout.
Outriders does a cool thing with its difficulty though. Instead of picking through the standard “easy, normal, hard” options, as players get stronger and earn experience, they’ll unlock world tiers. There are fifteen of them, and each gets progressively more difficult. Enemies will have more health, do more damage, and you’ll find yourself sinking tons of bullets into one enemy. The rewards are also greater, and you’ll earn higher-tier loot easier than you would have on lower world tiers.
One fight that took place in a smaller arena against one of the bosses found me and my friend dying over and over. We ended up dropping the world tier by one level so we could get through that fight and then bumped it back up. Players will find a versatile environment within those tiers. Outriders is better for it, providing players with a more catered experience, depending on how you want to go about your journey.
The loot system isn’t as grindy as other titles like Destiny. You’ll find yourself regularly picking up new gear or breaking down the items in your inventory for materials to craft new mods or other items. I found myself taking on some of the hunt missions, which put players up against a strong creature for rewards from a hunter NPC. These items were generally the ones I stuck with and upgraded throughout the story. I’m not much of a tinkerer when it comes to weapons, so I didn’t do too much of the crafting here.
Once players finish the story, you’ll find Expeditions to complete. These are arguably the best part of Outriders. With fourteen of them to complete, there’s plenty to do once you’ve finished the campaign, and it also provides the best loot in the game. Challenge Tiers replace the World Tiers in Expeditions. The quicker you complete these challenging missions, the better the rewards. You likely won’t want to go into these solo, but these can be played by yourself or with friends. In the beginning, you’ll only have a few Expeditions to undertake, but as you earn experience towards these challenge tiers, you’ll unlock more that you can play.
Outriders isn’t the best game or even the most fun game I’ve ever played, but it is a damn good time. In a world where looter-shooters are often incredibly grindy, Outriders never quite made it feel like it was a grind. It’s a competent, flashy shooter whose campaign overstays its welcome near the end, but it’s a blast to play with friends, who can drop in and out of games at any time. It’s built for friends, but you likely won’t have much fun with it alone.
Game Freaks 365 received a review copy.