The Outer Worlds is a new RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity. From all the trailers and gameplay we've seen since its announcement early this year, we're expecting an RPG with plenty of surprises, inventive quests, and a killer wit.
Lead developers Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain created the original Fallout together in the 90s, along with other famous PC RPGs like Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. The Outer Worlds is their first game together in many years, and one of our most anticipated new games of 2019.
Here’s everything you need to know about The Outer Worlds before it releases later this month:
What is The Outer Worlds' release date?
At E3 2019, Obsidian announced that The Outer Worlds will release October 25, 2019.
What are the fast facts on The Outer Worlds?
- Length: Expect about 30-40 hours of play time.
- Open world? Not quite. You can choose your destination and pace but areas are split up by loading screens.
- Combat: It's in first-person.
- Who can I kill? Everyone, if you want. Nothing is sacred. There are no "essential" NPCs.
- Platform: Exclusive to Epic Games Store for one year.
E3 2019's trailer for The Outer Worlds
To highlight the idea that you'll be able to play as any kind of character you want, the trailer poses the question: will you be a hero, a villain, or a complete psychopath?
Here's an hour of gameplay including side-quests, combat, and dialogue
Chris and Phil both got hands-on time with The Outer Worlds in July, and above you can see edited footage of their experiences. They both completed a few side-quests, including tracking down a missing person, investigating a murder, and helping out (and then stealing from) a drug distributor.
If you enjoy stealth, The Outer Worlds has disguises
During some hands-on time with The Outer Worlds, Chris took on a quest to kill the owner of a factory. To get inside the factory, he wore a disguise: a holographic shroud that let him look like a common factory worker. You can watch that mission above (or here on YouTube).
It's not as simple as wearing some clothes and a false mustache, though—as you move the hologram's power drains, and when it fizzles out you'll be confronted with speech checks from other NPCs. You can read more about disguises here.
Will The Outer Worlds be sold on Steam?
Not at launch. Back in March, Epic Games announced that The Outer Worlds would be an Epic Games Store exclusive for the standard period of one year. It will also be playable through the Microsoft Store on PC, however.
What's the story premise of The Outer Worlds? The setting?
Your character was on a ship transporting humans to the newly-formed Halcyon colony, a duo of planets on the edge of the galaxy. The ship got lost on the way, which means you’ve been in cryosleep for 70 years. That should be too long for you to survive but somehow, a scientist has managed to awaken you, and he wants your help saving your fellow frozen travelers.
You can choose to help him or immediately turn him into the corporate authorities (the whole colony and everything in it is run and owned by various corporations) for a cash reward. You can even play both sides against each other. Or, you can just venture off and explore the world from the get-go. The main story is branching and will have multiple endings—the one you see will depend on the choices you make.
Most of the time, you’ll be on the two main planets. One has been better terraformed and is therefore more populated. The other is wilder, and home to more aggressive alien life. Both are vibrant and colourful, and Wes likened the aesthetic to No Man’s Sky after seeing the game in action. As well as the two planets, you’ll visit space stations and moons.
Do your choices matter?
You'll definitely have one big choice, as mentioned above, on whether to side with Phineas Wells, the scientist who rescues you from 70 years of cryo-sleep, or The Board. That main choice will dictate which ending of The Outer Worlds you see, similar to Fallout: New Vegas's big decision at the battle for Hoover Dam.
Other quest choices, co-director Leonard Boyarsky said in an interview with VGC, will be reflected in a series of slides showing how your choices and approach to various quests impacted the future of the colony.
It sounds like your choices will matter, but more on a minute-to-minute and quest-by-quest basis rather than as part of a grand web of permuted endings. Obsidian is known for its complex quests with various solutions and entry-points, which each have ways for the game to acknowledge your ingenuity (or lack of it), as Obsidian comically highlights in its announcement trailer from 2018.
How long is The Outer Worlds?
With any big RPG, fans want to know how much time they'll be able to spend before they've seen and done everything. Obsidian wants to set expectations for The Outer Worlds closer to an RPG like KOTOR 2 than, say, a Fallout or Skyrim.
Expect The Outer Worlds to be about 30-40 hours long. "We've decided to put our effort into the reactivity and replayability—because of our size and budget, those necessitate a smaller, more tightly-controlled game than a giant sandbox open world where you can run everywhere," said co-director Leonard Boyarsky.
The new "Come to Halcyon" recruitment video is still better than my first job
This clever trailer shows off a lot of The Outer Worlds' environments and opportunities in the form of a Halcyon recruitment video. If the game wasn't already incredibly Fallout-y, the blissful old world bluntness of the narrator and its cynical message surely fulfill the Fallout quota.
Is it an open world?
The Outer Worlds is not really a giant sandbox. You can’t freely roam around the planets—you’ll be exploring a section of each one at any time, but you’ll be able to go around them at your own pace, and they’ll all have plenty of sidequests to stumble across. You can travel directly between some areas without returning to your home base, a spaceship, but they’ll be split up by a loading screen.
You’ll return to the same areas throughout the game, and they may have changed depending on your previous actions.
To compare it to a past Obsidian game, the developer told Kotaku that "a good bit of context for the approach is to think of what we did in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, with potentially more ground to cover and explore in each area."
You’ll be able to visit a lot of the world from the very start, but to progress the story you’ll have visit specific locations, and there are also "points of no return," Boyarsky and Cain told Wes. Some areas will have much tougher enemies, and better loot, than others.
You can complete quests in multiple ways
In typical Obsidian fashion, you’ll be able to solve every quest in lots of different ways. In most, you’ll be able to fight, sneak or talk your way to the end. Main quests have multiple steps to them, allowing you to switch your approach on the fly.
If you want to be a smooth talker, it won’t just be as easy as picking the right stats and perks: you’ll often have to find a particular item in the world, or gather some intelligence about the person you’re trying to talk your way around.
Boyarsky and Cain told Wes that they "don’t know" yet whether you’ll be able to complete a purely pacifist run.
You customise your character with skills, perks and "flaws"
You have six main skills—strength, intelligence, etc—that you can dump points into, and each one goes up to 100. Those skills will directly affect what happens in the game. For example, melee weapons will have a damage range, and the higher your melee skill, the more damage you’ll deal. You’ll be able to distribute your points to create different character archetypes, such as one that is good at sneaking, or a firearms expert.
Your skills will also impact what dialogue options you’ll get to choose and, just like the creator’s previous games, you can choose a "dumb" dialogue option if you have the right stats, which should provide some comic relief.
For every 20 points you put into a skill, you get to pick a perk. Obsidian hasn’t yet detailed what any of the perks will do, but it should be a chance to further customise your character to fit your playstyle.
One of the more unique things about The Outer Worlds is that you can pick up optional negative traits, called "flaws," as you move about the world. These relate to specific events: if you’re burned in a fire, for example, you might be given the option of becoming afraid of flames. You’ll be limited in how many flaws you can pick up, but every time you choose one, you also get to pick a perk to balance it out.
You can customise your character’s appearance, too, though the game is played first-person (you'll see yourself in the menu and if you let the game idle).
Your character isn’t voiced, but dialogue is hugely important
The main character won’t have a voice, but in each conversation they’ll have multiple options to choose from. Some of those options will be locked behind particular skills. You’ll still see them as an option if you don’t have the required stats, but they’ll be greyed out, which might encourage you to change your build, or just to take some drugs to temporarily buff your character.
You can kill any NPC in the game
Unlike some RPGs, there aren't any 'essential' NPCs in The Outer Worlds. If you see someone, you can kill them, even if they're a quest-giver. There still be ways to acquire thier quest, even if the quest-giver is dead—maybe you can loot their body, or search their residence, or pick the lock of their safe.
How does combat work?
Combat is first-person, and weapons will include pistols, laser rifles and sci-fi scythes as well as other melee weapons. You’ll be able to modify your weapons, upgrading them and picking different ammo types, such as bullets that deal elemental damage. You’ll be able to find special "science weapons" with cool effects, such as a shrink ray.
The Outer Worlds will also have a VATS-style "tactical time dilation" mechanic that lets you slow time, and when you use it you’ll be able to see more information about an enemy, such as their remaining health. It’ll let you target individual body parts—although unlike VATS, you’ll always be aiming manually. Targeting individual body parts will trigger different effects on enemies. A headshot might trigger blindness and leg shots might slow them down.
Lastly, you’ll have companions to help you out in combat. They’ll each have different abilities, and you can issue them with basic instructions during firefights (think Mass Effect).
Your companions have unique missions—and can abandon you
You pick up companions on your travels, and they’ll all live on a spaceship that serves as your home base between missions. You can pick two to accompany you when you leave the ship. If you aren't into the whole companion thing, there will be perks to help you play solo.
They will all have different motivations, which you’ll be able to dig into during Mass Effect-style companion missions. If you do something they don’t like, they might abandon your cause entirely.
Each has a special ability and different expertise. As well as providing support during combat, they’ll interject in dialogue, and you can call on their skills when you’re backed into a corner. You might ask a companion that has a quick tongue to handle a tricky negotiation, for example.
If you want to make best use of your companions then instead of specialising your main character in stealth, combat or speech you can choose to be a "leader," which is essentially a jack-of-all-trades. Playing as a leader, you'll choose perks that enhance the abilities of your companions.
Here's more gameplay from Tokyo Game Show 2019
More folks were able to get hands-on with The Outer Worlds at Tokyo Game Show 2019. Here's another 20 minutes of gameplay with English dialogue.
Can you romance companions?
Nope. The developers considered it, but decided against it.
Will The Outer World have mods?
Possibly. Obsidian are open to the idea, but it partly depends on Epic Games, because The Outer Worlds uses Unreal Engine 4. The team is set to have "further discussions" with Epic in the future, they told Wes. They aren't planning to release a modkit at launch.