Outriders – a satisfying dystopian mystery

Outriders is a 3rd person shooter and a cooperative video game developed by People Can Fly and released by Square Enix in 2021. The game is set in the late 21st century after a climate disaster caused devastation that forced humans to create the Enoch Colonization Authority (ECA) and go to an Earth-like planet called Enoch

Outriders’ development started six years before being published, but it gained the long-needed momentum after Square Enix joined the journey and agreed to release it. At that point, People Can Fly expanded their team and the overall idea, growing from 40 to over 200 members.

After its plot was revealed, people compared Outriders to Tom Clancy’s The Division and Destiny, but the main difference is this one has a start and finish. Overall, the game had a favorable reception with largely positive reviews.

However, the critics did describe writing as sometimes cliche and dialogues dull, but despite everything, Outriders ranked high in worldwide charts in its release week.

Despite being beyond fresh, we finally got our chance to play and review this gritty and mildly flawed game. Although there is a chance we’ll replay and re-evaluate it a few years down the road, our first insights are here, and we are happy to share them with you!

Mysterious and dark

Outriders had a long development stage, but it still had server crashes and connection disruptions after it was launched. For many players, that was enough to discard the game and deprive it of another chance even though People Can Fly gifted us with the unforgettable Painkiller 17 years ago.

Indeed, the Outriders was an ambitious undertaking, and people had high expectations that the developers didn’t fully meet, at least not initially. But the game does deliver a unique take on a worldwide catastrophe, and it provides a story that has a beginning, middle, and ending.

People Can Fly incorporated role-playing elements in this release, allowing players to customize their characters and select between four categories. Thanks to this variety, you can choose between Tricksters, Pyromancers, Devastators, and Technomancers. Each of them can manipulate different elements, such as time and turrets.

You can use these abilities in combination with other available skills to enhance your performance. Moreover, there is a skill tree, and you can use it to unlock additional capabilities or improve the existing ones.

Outriders also offer a variety of weapons to leverage while battling against the enemies. Hence, you can choose shotguns or even assault rifles and tailor them to your needs through customization. There are various ways one can defend from the enemy, such as hiding under a cover and using it as a shield.

On the other side, once you are hurt, you can only heal your health by inflicting damage to your opponents or eliminating them. Your rivals include humans and beasts, and as you move through the game, the world will expand, and you’ll level up. But after you reach more challenging stages, you will also get access to much better loot from the enemies you defeated.

The Outriders world is impressive, dark, and full of opportunities. For instance, you can explore various areas, interact with NPCs, and participate in side quests. Even though you can impact the dialogue flow to some extent, that doesn’t affect the main gameplay. Also, you can embark on this adventure on your own or with up to two friends.

The story itself promises a gritty journey intertwined with plot twists that keep you addicted to the game and demanding to go until the end. After a climate catastrophe caught the Earth in its clutches, the politicians had to unite and find a way to persevere the human race. It is how the Enoch Colonization Authority (ECA) was formed. They have built two colossal ships, the Flores and the Caravel, with the capacity of hosting up to 500 colonists.

Although the latter didn’t make it, the Flores found their way to the last hope of humanity, Enoch. The elite Outriders team represents the first humans who will visit the new Eart-like planet and prepare it for the final colonization. It is where they discover an inexplicable anomaly, a destructive energy storm.

The team warns the ECA, but instead of sending help and aborting colonization, they dispatch a deadly force to kill the Outriders and ensure their silence. One of the members survived, but Shira, a scientist who collaborates with the ECA, put them into a cryogenic coma.

After the last Outriders wakes up 30 years later, they discover a different world than the one they remember. The only constant on Enoch is the chaos as various factions fight for control, and people try to survive the deadly devastation the anomaly has caused. The main character, the last Outrider, is the only one free of war paranoia. It is what inspires them to help the remaining rational humans.

It is what makes the story compelling and mysterious. Thus, it explains why there is an emphasis on feelings and how people react when they find themselves in unprecedented circumstances. Even though the visuals are impressive, they can’t compare to how much the developers have invested in character development. They are nuanced and make sense, which is, perhaps, the best element of the game.

Delivers, but doesn’t revolutionize the genre, nor it tries

Despite all its perks and compelling narrative, Outriders doesn’t offer anything revolutionary. However, the good thing is that it appears the developers didn’t even have this intention. Instead, they created an entertaining game that hits all the right spots and provides stellar characters, visuals, and animations.

But there is nothing groundbreaking per se. That isn’t to say that Outriders is a disappointing entry. The game manages to compel the player, but it stays at the level of pleasant due to its occasional repetitiveness.

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