Shooting games are considered a cornerstone of the video game industry. From single-player playthroughs to esports events, shooting games have seen their fair share of the spotlight. However, one of the sub-genres that has dominated video games is the looter shooter category. Some have succeeded while others failed miserably. One title under the sub-genre that hopes to carve a niche in the market is Outriders.
Is Outriders a refreshing take or is it just too similar to most looter shooters that people have already tried and forgotten? Let’s find out and see if this game is worth getting hyped for.
What Is Outriders?
Outriders is an upcoming co-op third-person RPG published by Square Enix and created by People Can Fly. The game is set to be released on the 1st of April this year for PC, the PS 4 & 5, and the Xbox One Series X and S. The game is also stated to have a live demo version releasing for free on February 25th, in addition to a Stadia release later in 2021.
The developers on People Can Fly have a ton of experience creating shooters. They have a lot to take inspiration from due to their experience with Gears of War, Fortnite: Save the World, and Bulletstorm. The developers stated from the outset that Outriders is a passion project they’ve worked on for a long time.
Thanks to additional help from Square Enix, they believe that they’ve managed to make something for everyone. The game now looks pretty similar to other looter-shooters released recently. However, there are a few things that you need to take into account before dismissing Outriders outright.
In Outriders, you can go solo or join up with your friends in a trio to destroy your enemies. It’s through this destruction that you can obtain better gear as well as level up. Other than that is the game’s RPG system that you’ll have to take into account. The gunplay seems solid, the characters are believable from what’s been shown with their unique motivations and personalities. The devs even stated that the bonds and friendships you create or break with characters in the game may have various effects on the world. However, we’ll have to wait and see if these claims are true.
Let’s now take a look at it from another point of view. We already talked about Outriders being a co-op shooter for 1-3 players. This has a heavy emphasis on the game’s story and gameplay, which we’ll talk more about below. Outriders has three of the four character classes available on the pre-release this February, and we’ll be discussing it below.
Let’s talk about the classes that Outriders have currently shall we?
The first thing that you have to keep in mind is that each class in Outriders feels unique in the early stages of the game. Currently, we know that there are four available classes on release, with three available on the beta release this February. These initial classes are the Pyromancer, which uses fire magic to burn enemies to a crisp; the Devastator who’s a regenerating tank that can also deal great harm to his enemies using geo-based attacks; lastly, the Trickster who’s the game’s version of a rogue class that uses time/space manipulation and hit-and-run techniques to destroy foes.
In addition to this, each of the classes in the game their version of a healing mechanic. This means that players don’t need to have a dedicated healer to win battles or to use a healer-DPS-tank team comp to survive. In addition to this, this design choice also allows the developers to create longer and more exciting boss fights.
Due to this, the skill combos that each class has been pretty bonkers. There’s a lot of skills in each class that they go from one side of the screen to the other, and all of them are viable. You can indeed turn a Devastator into a juggernaut of HP, defense, and regeneration. You can also turn him into a bruiser that uses the earth and gravity to its utmost advantage.
Next on that list is the fact that each of the classes has skill trees for players to explore. However, we don’t know what these skill trees look like to form a proper conclusion. It’s best to shelve that discussion for later when the beta is released.
Weapon Looting and Class Skills
We’ve already said that Outriders draws from its RPG and looter-shooter inspirations when talking about loot distribution. And to be fair, we’ll be good so long as they don’t go the Auction House of Diablo III or the sheer broken mess that Anthem’s loot system became. Thankfully, there seems to be hope in this regard on Outriders.
The game has a loot rarity system that’s working behind the scenes that are tied to a player’s World Level. It works similar to Genshin Impact’s system where the higher the world level is, the better loot you get on the various farming domains you can tackle. People Can Fly stated that this system takes the place of any kind of traditional difficulty. As you progress through the game and level your Outrider, the game’s World Level also increases.
This means the game will now throw harder and stronger enemies at you in exchange for better and rarer loot drops. What’s different from Genshin, though, is that you have a choice on decreasing your World Level if you feel you’re not strong enough or you want to just experience the story. However, the developers encourage players to level up alongside the world for a better, more immersive experience.
For what it’s worth, Outriders’ combat is a mix of three games: the cover-based shooting of Gears of War, the skills of Destiny, and the spectacle of Anthem. Quite honestly, the bombastic presentation is the only thing that Anthem got right. Both Destiny and Anthem incorporate powers and guns with their combat, with one game favoring the other. Outriders, on the other hand, seem to seamlessly balance both of these aspects together.
As mentioned in the classes section, each of the classes has its unique abilities and can equip up to three to use in combat. Each of these abilities come with their effects and their cooldowns. Due to the low cooldowns, you’re encouraged to use your abilities often. However, these cooldowns also encourage you to sharpen your gunplay. Both can be used to tackle situations that you can’t win with just either of the two skills.
Combat Skills Usage
The complexity that comes with using skills and gunplay to tackle obstacles already comes naturally for people. Just take a look at Destiny or Genshin impact, if you’re stretching it. Combine that with ability stacking on enemies from player skills makes the game a lot more visceral and explosive. You can main a Trickster and use some time/space shenanigans to lock enemies in place for your other teammates to blast with their own skills. Perhaps the Pyromancer wants to turn the area into a blasted hellscape? The Devastator can also throw rocks at them to concuss them to death. Either way, the skill effects that these attacks have are then stacked on each other and make for a cool particle effect bonanza that is positive encouragement for experimentation. If you can do THAT with just the starting abilities, imagine how the late-game abilities will look like?
Guns and Gunplay
Outside of the abilities that you can get, the game’s core gunplay looks incredibly solid and hearkens from the Gears franchise. Cover shooting in the game is as effective as it is in Gears and is pretty fun and a bit OP, depending on your kit. You can also go for an in-your-face approach, fighting enemies up close and shooting them in the face with a shotgun that melts their body instantly. In addition to this, aggression is rewarded on Outriders as you can heal if you keep on killing people with your guns and powers.
Combining the gunplay is the ability to use skills a la Destiny. Each class in the game has its own unique ability sets for players to tinker with. With enough time and skill, you can use these abilities to turn the tides of battle in your favor. Outnumbered by huge groups of enemies? Use the Pyromancer abilities to level the playing field by burning them to a crisp. Need a tanky and destructive asset? Go for the Devastator. Want to sneak around and put down stuff? Pick up the Trickster.
Due to the intensity of the battles in Outriders, the controls have to be top-notch. Anyone that has a modicum of experience on third-person shooters would have a good feel of Outrider’s basic control schemes. In addition to having a great deal of freedom of movement all over the game world, you can also take cover on walls and other inanimate objects. From there, you can simply pop out to fire some shots with your gun or use an ability. Unfortunately, there’s not much that we know of on the game’s controls yet, as the game’s demo will release on the 25th of February.
Story-wise, Outriders is stated to take some inspiration from Bulletstorm. It is very cheesy yet incredibly hilarious with its own share of serious moments. The story takes place in a far-off future where Earth, due to climate change and constant war, was made uninhabitable for human civilization. The human race, knowing they can’t stay here anymore, decides collectively to do a last-ditch attempt at their species’ survival in 2159.
They did this by putting any remnants of humanity on two colony ships to be sent on a new planet named Enoch. After putting all of the crew on cryosleep and an 80-year journey, only one of the two colony ships, The Flores, successfully makes its way into Enoch.
You play as an Outrider, an elite group of explorers and pioneers that are the front lines for the colonization of Enoch. After getting there, you and your fellows eventually find a signal that’s being transmitted from the planet. However, after an unnatural storm that’s eventually called the Anomaly spawns itself upon you and your other Outriders, causing all hell to break loose.
Due to the Anomaly, a long-lasting effect that gradually becomes more and more apparent begins to appear. This, of course, helps to contribute to the fall of early human colonization efforts shortly after. In particular, you and your fellow Outriders are affected uniquely. After yet another cryosleep powernap, you and your fellows wake up 30 years later to a different Enoch. One that’s rife with conflict, dangerous flora and fauna, and others that were affected by the Anomaly called the Altered.
In terms of its environment, Outriders is decidedly sci-fi with some mystical elements added in with the whole powers thing. The entire game’s split up into various explorable environs and hub areas, with each area having its self-contained quests and side quests. The game also has fast travel, which is activated through interacting with flags located all around the world. As mentioned before, the world is affected by your World Level. The higher it is, the more enemies you encounter, and the more difficult the battles will be.
There are 15 World Levels that we know of in total, and each tier affects a lot of areas of the game. These range from the drop rates of high-tier and legendary items to the toughness of enemies. However, the bigger the challenge, the greater the reward, and Outriders rewards those that take risks handsomely.
Graphics and Sounds
Graphics-wise, you can see a few comparisons to other looter shooters like Destiny as well as Gears of War’s later installments. You can see a lot of People Can Fly’s design choices there, from the Gears-style cover shooting to the various graphical similarities both games have. However, Outriders is a bit more diverse and colorful as the game takes advantage of the new specs that newer PCs and consoles have.
We must remember that we won’t know exactly how the game would look graphically as it’s not been released yet. So it’s best to take all the footage we’ve seen at this point with a grain of salt. We don’t want to be led on like Watch Dogs, now.
Compare Outriders to Similar Titles
Now that we’ve talked about the game, let’s talk about the similarities and differences it has with other games of its genre, shall we? In particular, we’ll compare it to the Gears of War franchise and both Destiny games.
Gears of War Franchise
It’s no wonder that some of the stuff inherent from Gears of War will make it to the new IP because the Gears franchise and Outriders share the same developers. It’s no surprise that the cover mechanic, among other things, was carried into the game. This feature allows the player to take cover in various walls and other environments on the map and then fire out from them. It’s a pretty cool mechanic that was used effectively by Gears players all over.
Other than some graphical stuff and some additional tweaks to the gunplay, there’s not much that’s added in to Outriders that was carried over from the Gears franchise. Most of the stuff that you’d find familiar would be on other games like Destiny, which we’ll talk about below.
Destiny I & II
Now, the Destiny franchise has a lot of similarities to Outriders, from the looter shooter gameplay to the abilities. However, Outriders has them beat in terms of how flashy the abilities are. Outriders also seems to follow the roadmap that Destiny II has right now, with new gear and expansions being sold as DLC. However, as mentioned before, a lot of this is speculation for now; we shouldn’t talk definitively until the game’s available to everyone.
Should You Be Excited for Outriders?
If you’re looking for a good looter-shooter multiplayer to occupy your time this 2021, and if Anthem hasn’t drained your soul out for this genre, then Outriders might be a good pick. The game has some pretty solid credentials to its name with the developers of the Gears franchise on board, so it’s not bad to have high hopes for this game. For now, we’ll have to see if they can manage to deliver on the promise of this shooter, which seems to be the case at this point.