Republished on Wednesday, 15th February, 2023: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of February 2023's PS Plus Extra and Premium lineup. The original text follows.
You know what? Outriders is pretty good. Torn apart during our first impressions piece based on the demo, the final version proves developer People Can Fly hadn't put its best foot forward during those opening hours. It's still that same style of game, but the Polish studio cunningly saved a few tricks up its sleeve for the full experience. And while it's not without blemishes — uninteresting characters and the requirement of a constant Internet connection prove especially troublesome — Outriders provides an impressively tempting alternative to the looter shooters some have come to know and love.
At first glance, though, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's an otherworldly knock-off of The Division 2. Both are third-person, cover-based looter shooters. However, that cover isn’t for you. It's for the enemy. This fundamentally changes how Outriders plays, where cowering behind a piece of rubble is more likely to get you killed than anything else. The game thrives when you do the complete opposite and take the fight to the enemy with flamboyant abilities and feel-good gunplay — staying rooted to the spot is essentially a death wish. It's the power fantasy done right.
In fact, People Can Fly's follow-up to Bulletstorm (and the Save the World campaign for Fortnite, but we’ll forget about that) really is all about the feel. Four different classes feel distinct, each equipped with their own skills and roles during combat. The Trickster is all about getting up close and personal with the inhabitants of Enoch thanks to abilities based on speed and quick-fire attacks, while the Pyromancer uses fire to their advantage and operates slightly further back on the battlefield. The Devastator then plays the role of the tank and the Technomancer is designed as more of a support class at long range.
It's here where Outriders sets itself apart from other looter shooters, because Outriders is what Destiny 2 would feel like if you didn’t have to wait minutes for your super to charge. Oh, and you essentially have three of them equipped at once. With cooldowns in the mere seconds, all your abilities can be used liberally to take down enemies. It feels awesome, simply put. The Trickster class really puts that into perspective with a dash that teleports you behind an enemy, a time-limited bubble can then be activated to catch bullets, and an extremely stylish spin named Cyclone Slice that leaves weaker foes to waste. All of them can be activated within the space of a few seconds, and then you’ll have access to them all over again less than half a minute later. We return to the compliment once more: Outriders feels great to play.
The same can be said for gunplay, which is the other half of the equation once your abilities have been set in motion. The typical machine guns, shotguns, and rifles litter the loot pool, but they all pack a punch no matter whether they're common or the best of the best. What keeps combat fresh is a good amount of enemy variety, with new takes introduced at a rapid pace. Humans will constantly try to flank and overwhelm you with their sheer numbers while other species make a beeline for your position in an attempt to deal as much damage as quickly as possible. You never encounter too much of one enemy type before another changes up the approach, forcing you to stay on your toes.
Tying the two mechanics together is, perhaps surprisingly, your health meter. You'll never automatically regenerate HP during the 20 to 25-hour romp through the campaign, which in turn places a huge emphasis on each class' ability to get it back. You recover health by defeating enemies — the Trickster class does it by beating up foes at close range while the Pyromancer gets some back by killing those set on fire. It's why you're not going to get very far hiding behind cover. You need to be aggressive simply in order to stay alive, actively engaging the enemy at all times to get your health back. It sets up a bit of a give and take: you'll likely lose health by leaving cover, but the reward at the end of your risky venture trumps all. An intriguing mechanic that works well and further boosts Outriders' attempt to feel unique.
The game starts to slip, however, when its story and cast of characters come to the forefront. The narrative set-up is actually quite interesting: with Earth deemed uninhabitable far in the future, the human race finds a new home on another planet named Enoch. Dubbed a haven for life, it turns out to be anything but upon arrival. Fast forward 31 years after the player-created protagonist is awoken from cryo statis and it quickly becomes your job to find a way for the human race to survive in this alien world.
What follows is serviceable enough, but the characters fuelling the plot are awful. The protagonist is incredibly one-note and the supporting cast range from generic to putrid. Some pretty bad voice work probably doesn't help the matter, but then that can't even begin to accommodate for the wild mood swings of certain characters which don’t make a whole lot of sense. Other faces are all but forgotten about partway through the story while head honchos for the opposing forces aren't really built up at all. Its commitment to constantly introducing new and varied environments to explore is appreciated, but definitely don't play Outriders for its narrative.
We would prefer to experience it instead of not playing the game at all, however. People Can Fly has shipped its latest project with the requirement of a consistent Internet connection, which has led to many server outages in the handful of days since launch. We expect it to become less of a problem as time passes, but we simply cannot ignore the amount of frustration the prerequisite introduced during our time with the game. There were stretches when we simply could not play for hours on end — even when the US was asleep. Losing progress and loot in the process, it creates a situation where we can't fully trust we'll be able to see a mission through to its conclusion even outside of peak hours. You can't even play offline by yourself with a closed lobby, calling into question why the requirement exists at all. Again, we expect this situation to improve, but there's always going to be that niggling worry in the back of our minds. The problem reared its ugly head far too many times for us to disregard it.
But here's something you can ignore in a positive light: Outriders doesn't have microtransactions and it won't fall into the Games as a Service category according to People Can Fly. It's designed as a one and done experience that has an endgame for those who want more. You can play every single piece of content it has to offer on your own — matchmaking is never required to start a mission or harder activity. There is always the option of playing the entire game with up to two friends, however. It's honestly refreshing to play a game of this ilk in the knowledge that we won't have to commit the next five years of our life to it.
Those endgame quests are dubbed Expeditions, and after spending a few hours getting to grips with them, they prove enjoyable. Essentially a Time Attack mode, completing the 14 missions will net you better rewards should you beat certain parameters. And that's where legendary weapons and armour come into play. The endgame offering isn't on the same level as a Destiny 2, but they'll definitely have hardcore players coming back for second helpings. It's at least a lot more comprehensive than anything ANTHEM had to offer post-campaign, for example.
The visuals aren't really a big talking point for Outriders either — there are some nice skyboxes here and there but this isn't the next PlayStation 5 showpiece. The game doesn't take advantage of the DualSense controller whatsoever while bugs and glitches create further imperfections. Objectives don't always trigger correctly, meaning you'll have to quit out of the game and repeat combat sections. Quest markers then sometimes don't update or are unreliable while random crashes back to the PS5 home screen occurred when trying to team up with friends.
Outriders absolutely excels when it lets combat, solid gunplay, and supremely satisfying abilities do the talking. Its unique blend of aggression really is something to behold in action. Rubbish characters, the requirement to maintain an online connection and couple with servers, and various technical hitches hold it back from greatness, but they don't muddy the picture so much to dissuade a recommendation. Outriders is pretty class in motion.
Nice detailed review.
I will give this ago in a few weeks.
I can say with near absolute certainty that I will never, ever, ever play this game.
I'll get it when it drops to the sub $20 range. Should have some decent added content by then as well.
It sounds really good, thanks for the review. My biggest question is why does this have an online requirement? Why do you have to connect to a server at all? Especially if you just want to play single player. You guys are the game journalists, so instead of asking why, don't you have some way of finding it out?
I want to like this game, been following it for a long time. The one single thing that drives me away is the need for a server hook-up. And by the sound of it, they've screwed up that part of it pretty badly on release. I want to buy a game and not be dependent on anyone else to run their side of things properly.
N.i.c.e i enjoy the demo.but i will get this for my ps4 pro.pyromancer class was really fun.word up son
Seriously. Everything else doesn't matter nearly as much to me.
This is not my style of game, but I'm utterly addicted to it. More like diablo than any conventional looter shooter. Essentially a full mass effect 3 multiplayer experience expanded into a full game that you can play solo
This game to me so far is a 9/10. The graphics are good, but not wow like. the waiting to get in to play sucks. also i'm hitting a side mission bug where it freeze on me so i have to relog in and wait more, but this game wow has me hooked and wanting to come back for more.
i love the story, the moding of weapons, the cheese dialogue, the characters, combat, skills, skill tree, lore etc.
The demo is pretty good, the combat is great and the story and lore is pretty interesting. I'm interested but I'm not paying full price for always online games, so just like the divisions 2, I'll wait for a discount.
Once I finished the story and completed a couple of expeditions it had outstayed its welcome.
Definitely not one to keep my attention in any sort of endgame, it's far too linear and boring.
Also the loot just does not keep your interest any more past about 3/4 the way into the story, I was just auto-trashing everything by the end.
Deserving of a 7.
@Abarth_71 you’re judging that on the demo or the full game? Because after the demo, it convinced me not to play it, however, managed to get a cheap copy of this and it is infinitely better than the demo. Outriders has its hooks fully in now, addictive, tight gameplay and a solid reward loop. Probably rate it above a 7, more in the 8.5 range - and I’m not a looter shooter fan.
Demo was absolutely terrible. Did it improve since then?
As a collector of games i only have one rule and that is i will never buy an online only game.
@darksoul77 - I have the exact same rule, it also sucks that some games with a Single-Player component require Online, I'll never understand Developers that do this, if I want to play the Single-Player component, I should be able to play it offline, I shouldn't be forced to be Online to experience the Single-Player aspect..
Personally Outriders just looks like another generic Looter-Shooter, I really don't understand why it's receiving as much attention as it is.
Feels weird to list it not using the DualSense properly as a con considering it's multiplatform
I'm pretty sure very few multiplats on Switch really used HD Rumble for its intended haptic features for example. I'd expect more proper utilization of those features from stuff like first or second party games or timed exclusives at the very least
agree with the review enjoyed it. yes its not the greatest game ever but its far from bad. I enjoyed the campaign solo and with randoms and friends.
7/10 from me as well a pleasant surprise
I love this game it’s easily a 9 with some of the best combat out there. I feel like the review went way too hard on the story and characters to justify their scathing hot take on the demo because I would never call the characters putrid or the story horrible matter of fact they are both enjoyable in a sci fi B movie way especially if you read all the codex entries. The voice acting is another critique I dont understand it’s no tlou or rdr 2 but few games are and it’s def above average with a couple of really good performances here and there.
and as for being online its a mutiplayer game that can be played solo if you dont want anyone to join. its not a solo game with multiplayer
@TheFrenchiestFry there are multiplatform games that make good use of the DualSense though. Control, Call of Duty, Borderlands 3, WRC 9, Dirt 5... these are all on Xbox and I'm sure I could name more.
The insistence of forcing multiplayer in puts me off this so much. I really enjoyed BulletStorm, but the second I read it was an online game I lost interest.
@Voltan I can understand a few of those considering they came out pretty close to launch and those developers probably wanted to incorporate those in as technical showpieces for the console, especially in Call of Duty's case since I'm pretty sure this was a launch title
But it's not like EVERY multiplatform game on PS5 is going to use those features. The only safe bets especially down the line are probably going to be first/second party games or games that are timed exclusives
@TheFrenchiestFry It's true, most of those came out near the console launch. However, I hope you're wrong and we'll see it a standard rather than a rarity. Even Ubisoft games use it to some extent, even if it's a little awkward at times
But yeah, I fully expect exclusive games, especially those published by Sony, to use the features best.
It's definitely a super fun game with some drawbacks of course. I think they made a great looter shooter considering their budget was between AA and AAA. Once they sort out the bugs and server issues, I'll be happy to buy it.
With these types of games it always seems best to give them a couple months to patch whatever is necessary and by then it’s already cheaper.
GamePass being 10 a month and it going to it day one also made me decide to wait for a sale. I’m not going to give you full price for an item you are offering to someone else for 10 dollars.
Just started playing Division 2 (trial) on PS5. Is it worth me continuing or trying Outriders?
It is tons of fun as an online Co-op game.
If looking for something to play with friends at night (after Work/Family responsabilities) pick it up.
It is always online just like Destiny, The Division and Genshin Impact are "Online". I still put tons of "Solo" time in those games also if nobody I know is around.
You couldn’t pay me to play this drivel
Lacks enemy variety and level design is uninspired and staged. Gunplay is fun though. 5/10 maybe 6 if they sort the awful cutscenes.
The always online and servers issues aside i'm really enjoying the game, the loot is great and the combat is fantastic with a pure focus on all out aggression over cover.
Glad i have Xbox Gamepass for this But always online for single player is stupid period
Liked the demo a lot and i'll buy this as soon as i've finished fenyx and a couple of others that need clearing up..maybe by then the servers may be more reliable..oh and a fair review liam as i honestly expected you to rip this a new hole..
@Adge You can play solo through everything and game doesn't match you to other people unless you initiate matchmaking on your own.
I'm playing solo and enjoying it thanks to nice difficulty (it gets hard, but not overwhelmingly so)
@2cents You must have a limit? I'd probably eat excrement if the money was enough. I'd play the worst game in the world for less money than that. This is not the worst game in the world.
@God_of_War_ division 2 is worth sticking with..i am still playing it although i got side tracked by a couple of other games but i'll be back at it soon..
You should take another point off for no Duelsense support. We can't be having that.
Unfortunately there's no way I'm paying full price for something on Gamepass, especially when I have PC Gamepass, I'm willing to wait 6 months lol, most people probably don't take notice to these kinda things, and I hope it does well but I can't pay full price for something others get for free, just not in my nature
Unfortunately it's developed by a great team but they are making a loot progression shooter, service game..... seen it all before. Next
I've been watching streams of people trying to play this but struggling with constant disconnections. If you have an always online requirement then you should make sure your servers work first. As it is literally unplayable for hours at a time this is an easy pass for me.
I really liked the demo, but I feel like it would become super boring after few days like division and some other games...
@TheFrenchiestFry Well because its multiplatform it cant be a thing? There are quite a few games that priced for this great addition. So why cant it be a negative. There are more then enough thirdparty games that add it and show that it is a great addition.
@Subsided I agree its a great way too tank your own sales. For me it was yes you can play alone but its still always online anyway. And why that awfull shaky camera who thought that was a good idea.
I’ve put in thousands of hours into Destiny 1 and 2 and the Gears of War series, which this seems like a mashup of. Then there’s the time spent with the first Division to consider.
The demo for this felt stale and dated and I think I’ve put too much time into past similar games for me to ever care about this one. It feels extremely played out and only some of that is personal.
Been playing the demo, and while is "ok" I wouldn't buy it. A typical loot and shoot type gameplay, feels very much the same as the division in how weighty everything is. I'm sure this will have an audience as all games do, but not for me.
@Abarth_71 yeah a tough one. Strongly recommend trying it once it’s on sale though, everything is better. 100 per cent agree this is more Diablo than Division.
I like it its not one of those never ending games
Theres a few reasons single player games have to connect to a server.
The devs want to know how you play the game. This can allow them to know what areas of the game people spent more time on so they know what areas to expand on in DLC
They can record bugs if the game crashes so they can figure out what happened better to replicate the bug
I'm sure there are other reasons, but it is still an annoying thing to experience in single-player games. The least they could do is give the player the option. I know Doom and Dark Souls try to keep the player online. You can still play the game if you disconnect from the wifi.
@TheFrenchiestFry Siege uses it, COD uses, Hitman 3 uses it. It's a normal feature to use the trigger resistance with guns. I expect it personally. This also lightly uses haptic feedback, but may as well not. It's disappointing and I turned off the demo the moment the triggers didn't use the dualsense. It's fast becoming standard and this game doesn't meet that standard.
I think the voice acting is pretty good and story you could spend hours looking into. (If you like golden age style SF)
I can't help smiling at the superficial feelings the game went through on PushSquare from the reveal. Hate it, love it, hate it, oh but yea it's good actually.
You're right, I'm sure they have their reasons. It's just that most of those reasons seem to benefit them more than me, the end consumer. I'm all for the model that lets you connect online with friends, but also lets you play single player on your own. Forcing one to connect for singleplayer feels like a small invasion of privacy, and just adds one more link to the chain of things that can go wrong, imo.
Bulletstorm was enough for me I think and this just looks more of the same. Terribly voiced, macho "gun-bro" games are not my idea of fun, perhaps I'm getting too old or I just prefer something more cerebral and taxing for the brain. The combat system sounds like it's hardly unique either - Bloodborne had outright up-close offensive combat with a mechanic to gain health from slain enemies (albeit within a limited time frame)...
Hi there fellow gamers.
I´m enjoying the game a lot, even there are somethings not so appealling, like always online connection on a sigleplayer game, even if there is co-op.
Since i´m a fan of sci-fi setting and having powers to use as the player see fit is always a big plus for me.
It reminds me of the gameplay of Mass Effect, in that aspect.
Interesting that in this review, there was no mention of the World Tiers and how they work as well as the possibility to replay any main missions of the game as much as you want, in any order you want.
The World Tiers are the difficulty of the game, in wich the enemy level and loot level increases and decreases.
Higher WT, higher loot level.
Ex: WT8 means Enemy level: +5 and dropped Item Level: +5 of your character level at the time as well as the loot rarity modifier is now 200%.
But now you can wear equipment of level cap: +5 Permanently.
But raising WT might not be the best idea if you dont have good or high enough gear.
And that is why replaying some sections of particular main missions or fighting Bosses, can be a really good way to not only get xp to level your character, but also getting proper loot and more resources in order to face the higher Tiers.
There´s probably a better explanation on the internet, but I tried my best 😜
And yes, Outriders feels great to play if you enjoy these kind of looter shooters with abilities.
Cheers, stay safe good people and happy gaming to us all
Oh damn! I didn't realize these guys sold out to Epic. Oh well, scratch another Tencent game off my wantlist.
I was tempted to play even with the online only requirement, but after reading this review and some of the comments, think I will be passing on this game sadly.
Will wait for Plus.
They will add it when player count has dropped and DLC is ready.
Always online killed it for me on day one make it a optional online and i would have bought it on day one.
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