Outriders is the most divisive game of 2021 so far

Outriders legendary weapons armor
(Image credit: People Can Fly)

Outriders: Is it great or is it terrible? Depends who you ask. The loot shooter launched last week and immediately divided the internet like Moses and the Red Sea. On one side are players—including a significant number of Twitch streamers and YouTubers—praising Outriders for offering meaningful loot, frantic combat, and satisfying RPG progression. On the other side, others are lambasting it as boring and derivative. Hell, it's even divided us at PC Gamer. In our review-in-progress Morgan says he'd already have uninstalled it if he wasn't reviewing it, but I'm having a great time with it.

Looking at Steam, Outriders players seem just as conflicted. It's currently sitting at a "mixed" rating with just 61 percent of its 15,000 reviews recommending it. Not exactly what you'd consider a home run—and yet Outriders is also one of Steam's top games with over 100,000 concurrent players right now. It's been a long time since I can remember a game that was this contentious. 

"broken much ? managed to log into multiplayer 1 time out of 50 and got it to work , dont get me started on the micro studders ....... anthem 2.0 so far ....."

(Image credit: People Can Fly)

Shoot out 

It's hard to talk broadly about Outriders because many players are unable to play due to issues that have persisted since launch. While it does feature co-op, Outriders still requires you to connect to its servers when you're playing alone. If that connection drops, you're booted out to the main menu. And for thousands of players—especially on PC—Outriders' servers keep buckling, making it impossible to play.

Developer People Can Fly has acknowledged the issues and is working on a solution, but it's still upsetting to people who shelled out $60 for a game they can't reliably play. Even if you can log in for a while, there's a laundry list of common complaints about performance issues and other stuff. "The amount of glaring bugs, frustrations, server issues and the sheer inability to enjoy the content with someone else is definitely not worth the price," reads one of the most popular Steam reviews. "It needs a lot of fixing."

(Image credit: People Can Fly)

Outriders is definitely having an ugly launch, but it's also pretty rare for online games to launch without issues. Most prove to be temporary, and that leaves the ultimate question: Launch woes aside, is Outriders any good?

Some of Destiny 2's biggest streamers seem to think so. On Twitter, streamer Gladd wrote, "Outriders is very addicting once you start juicing up in end-game. I've made my way through most of the end-game now [and] I must say the end-game progression is quite a ride."

Other big streamers and YouTubers have been echoing that sentiment, including Broman, Gigz, and SkillUp. A lot of these tweets focus on Outriders' endgame and combat and how it lets players mod their gear to make their abilities even more powerful.

(Image credit: People Can Fly)

But sift through the reviews on Steam, the Outriders subreddit, and social media and there's plenty who disagree. "The gunplay is just so boring," argues one of Steam's top negative reviews. "Every encounter runs exactly the same, hit spacebar, left click on guys, maybe use 1,2,3 once in a while. All the enemies are reskins with an occasional telegraphed grenade."

What's interesting about Outriders is the extent of the disagreement you'll see about these systems. "The abilities and classes have such an amazing power fantasy to them, and they just feel so damn good to use," says a different redditor. "I currently play the Trickster, and every single one of the abilities has a use and it’s so refreshing swapping them in and out for whatever scenario I’m in."

(Image credit: People Can Fly)

Some people think the story sucks: "The story early on feels pretty interesting and introduces some interesting characters, but as it goes on it quickly starts devolving into what feels like a generic B movie that really fails at utilizing the premise and characters."

Some think it's incredible: "It's dark, it's funny, it's tongue in cheek, I didn't expect a soap opera, so I'm good to go. Where the devs exceeded expectations imo is the Lore and overall world building, but the story is just some grumpy dude acting badass. And you know what? I dig that."

(Image credit: People Can Fly)

And some think it's so bad that it's actually great: "Outriders voice acting, cutscenes, and story are like a B-rated straight to DVD movie. It’s so bad that it’s actually good."

Aside from the crappy launch issues, it seems like there's nothing that players universally agree on. I point this out not to discredit any one opinion, but to highlight how remarkable and rare it is for a game to divide players so evenly. Reviews from other gaming outlets oscillate between praise and condemnation and, hell, even the Metacritic user score is split almost 50-50 between positive and negative.

(Image credit: People Can Fly)

Ignoring its launch issues entirely, these conflicting opinions make Outriders feel like a  risky game to buy if you're on the fence. There's just such a wide variety of opinions on it that it's hard to predict whether you'll like it without first playing it. It's free on Xbox through Game Pass, but us PC folks will have to shell out $60 to play. There is a demo you can try that's effectively just the prologue, but I didn't start having fun with Outriders until a few hours in, after the intro is over. 

For now, though, Outriders feels like it will be one of 2021's most contentious games.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.