For those of you who happen to be American history buffs, answer me this: Who was the U.S. President in 1901? Go ahead, Google it... I'll wait..... So, the question isn't quite a trick question, but if you answered William McKinley, you're right. But if you also answered Theodore Roosevelt, you're also right!! Wait, two presidents in a non-election year? How is that possible? Well, my friends, President William McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Immediately following his death, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was "promoted" to President of the United States.
Gee, thanks for the history lesson, but what does that have to do with The Outer Worlds? Well, my friends... President Theodore Roosevelt was a big defender of the working class. He openly supported labor unions, constantly attacked big business, and loathed the idea of monopolies. Again, good for President Roosevelt, but what does that have to do with The Outer Worlds? Well, my impatient friends... imagine an America where President McKinley doesn't get assassinated, where he is able to finish out his second term as president, where it's entirely possible that Vice President Theodore Roosevelt actually loses his election to become president, where a different man ascends to the presidency after McKinley. Perhaps this man hates labor unions, hates the environment (Roosevelt is often credited with keeping the environmental conservation movement alive and strong; he expanded the national parks and national forests), loves big businesses and promotes megacorporations. Perhaps this man takes America in a completely different direction than what actually happened in the early 20th century. The entire course of American history was changed by one shot, one assassin, one president.
Imagine that world... imagine monopolies that have grown so powerful, the federal government can't do anything anymore to control them... imagine a world where you have to answer to the big businesses and not the government... imagine a world where your employer truly owns your life, body, and mind (even more than they do already)... imagine a world where the outer reaches of the known galaxy is at your fingertips...
The Outer Worlds is the latest creation by developer Obsidian Entertainment. Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky both served as directors for The Outer Worlds and if those names sound familiar, then you must be a big fan of the Fallout series (The Outer Worlds has been said to be eerily similar to Fallout).
I started with the history lesson above because The Outer Worlds is set in an alternate world where President McKinley is not assassinated and continues with his presidency. Big businesses aren't regulated (as President Roosevelt did). Monopolies are created not only on Earth, but throughout the entire galaxy. Corporations are thriving and are constantly threatening to take over more than commerce and trade.
Space exploration technology is at its peak. You have vehicles that can travel faster than light-speed (which even in today's reality, light-speed is the fastest speed known to science). You have settlements on the outskirts of space and on different planets. You have the choice to be put under cryosleep, a long-term, cold, hibernation [essentially having your entire body and mind frozen until you're scheduled to be woken back up].
Speaking of cryosleep, The Outer Worlds starts as you wake up from your own cryosleep. Aboard the ship Hope, which was bound for Halcyon [a colony on the very edge of the known galaxy], you are awoken by Phineas Welles, a mad scientist in his own right. For the last 50 years, while you were sleeping, big corporations have essentially taken over the world and the galaxy. Corporations have control over trade, commerce, rules, and most importantly, people. As with the plot of other post-apocalyptic type games and movies, the workers are the lifeline of and are the reason these corporations are so powerful. But of course, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Again, this is where you come in. Phineas Welles has decided to take matters into his own hands. Having access to the hibernation pods, he chose you for a reason. Now you have to get to the bottom of an ever growing conspiracy theory that threatens to destroy the Halcyon colony.
As you start your adventure, you can actually create your own character. According to a review by Alice Bell of rockpapershotgun.com:
"You decide your rough focus by setting Body (punching, dodging), Mind (thinking, noticing) and Personality (talking, leading) attributes — which do not change as you progress — and then fine tuning by distributing skill points, which you get more of as you level up. Skills include your different combat abilities: hacking, sneaking, persuasion, all that kind of stuff. You can level them up to 100 points, with milestones granting new buffs and debuffs every 20."
This allows you to literally play and save the world as yourself. Not many other games out there allow you to create a character to begin; you normally have to choose between a number of pre-determined characters. As you continue to level up, the points you earn can be put towards upgrading your skills, weapons, and armor. Customization doesn't just stop there though, you can upgrade the skills, weapons, and armor of your companions. The Outer Worlds allows you to recruit 6 companions in total, however, only 2 can accompany you at any one time. Having companions only adds another layer to your ability to fight and survive successfully. These aren't just any free floating companions though. Each companion has their own personality, storyline, and backstory. They are helping you just as much as you are helping them.
The Outer Worlds was released to mostly favorable reviews. The good folks over at Gamespot.com scored it a 9/10 (Superb). Some of the good things about the game they mentioned included: "excellent writing through and through; strong, multi-dimensional characters are well-portrayed; consistently interesting and layered quest design; strong world-building enhanced by a pleasing audiovisual direction; and combat is punchy and satisfying." Some of the bad things include: "enemy encounters are a cakewalk on regular difficulty, and won't push you to make the most of the games various systems; inventory menus can be difficult to parse."
The fine folks over at IGN.com rated The Outer Worlds an 8.5 (Great), stating: "With The Outer Worlds, Obsidian has found its own path in the space between Bethesda and BioWare's RPGs, and it's a great one."
Between the PC version, PlayStation 4 version, and the Xbox One version, Metacritic.com rated the game an average of 84 (PC=82, PS4=86, XB=85). According to them, an 84 is still pretty good ("generally favorable reviews").