The Outer Worlds might not have had the biggest environments to explore on PlayStation 4, with the likes of Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt dwarfing it, but at least those locations were fairly detailed. However, it could have been so much better. In a new interview with Danny O'Dwyer as part of No Clip, developer Obsidian reveals how the RPG experience was held back by the memory constraints of current-gen consoles.
While discussing the Groundbreaker, the second location in the game that you explore, senior game designer Brian Heins explains how the setting was originally split between three separate levels each featuring a load screen. This was too much for the team and so it decided to create a single cohesive environment, which brought about its own problems. Areas such as the medical bay had to be tweaked in order to work on the station's main promenade as well as a few other locations as the single setting now blew past the memory constraints of the PS4 and Xbox One. As such, an entire section of the Groundbreaker, dubbed "the Bridge" was cut simply to fit on consoles.
Elsewhere, Heins discusses another drawback to this. Obsidian had created too many NPCs for the game to handle on current-gen hardware, meaning that a certain number was cut completely from the experience. "It kind of breaks my heart a little bit, there's not a lot of people moving around on Groundbreaker. And that was basically because when we got the art pass done and the lighting pass, we had to actually pull back on the number of actual characters on the Groundbreaker to fit on consoles because we just didn't have the memory budget."
Of course, these sorts of issues should be a thing of the past when the next-generation arrives at the end of this year. It's clear that teams around the world are pushing the PS4 to its absolute limit, and the PS5 will offer so much more freedom in terms of development. Unfortunately, we'll probably never get to see Obsidian fully stretch its wings on a Sony platform after Microsoft purchased the studio. The Outer Worlds 2 is more than likely launching on PC and Xbox Series X alone.
Nevertheless, it's always interesting to hear how teams are working within the parameters of the current generation hardware. Would you like to have experienced what Obsidian had in mind for The Outer Worlds? Let us know in the comments below.