Just over a year ago, Outriders charged onto the scene. A looter-shooter by People Can Fly, Outriders tries to straddle the line between an always-online non-live-service title and a traditional multiplayer shooter. With Worldslayer, Outriders brings more loot, new story content, and more. But the question remains: is it worth your money?
New Campaign Impressions
While Worldslayer adds a laundry list of great new features to Outriders, the campaign was not only short, but the last hour or so felt less like a story and more like a tutorial for end game content. Without spoiling the story, there is a point towards the end that feels like the true end of the story, but it’s not. With only sparce comments from the characters throughout the campaign, the story turns 180 in a different direction.
This quick turnabout in the story only appears to be used as a reason to throw you back into the fight to explore and learn the end game. The last portion of the story left me more frustrated than intrigued. I did not mind the story campaign being approximately five hours, I minded how forced the last chapter felt. Before the last chapter, I enjoyed the story. I kept playing just to find out what was going to happen next. It had me invested in the fight against Ereshkigal. More of her in the story would have strengthened the lore.
With the story structure aside, a big difference between the Worldslayer campaign and the base games campaign was the lack of side quests, as well as a lack of additional areas. Worldslayer’s missions felt very linear, unlike the base game’s story which has side activities and more for you to take part. There is none of that in Worldslayer. When I played the base game at release, I did a few of the side quests and beast hunts. After doing a handful, I got bored of doing the same things over and over. The side quest were just fluff and felt more like the game was trying to be mmorpg and less like a co-op looter shooter. I was glad when I didn’t have to walk around towns collecting quests and talking to pointless side characters. It felt good to keep my boots in the battle field moving the story along. I am guessing People Can Fly noticed this too and went with a straight story only campaign without the time fillers.
The new Worldslayer’s combat areas are pretty amazing. Each new zone felt distinct, especially the mood set by the visuals. My favorite area was the docks because it was raining and muddy. They nailed the atmosphere in each new zone. The mini boss fights felt more dynamic and less closed off from the rest of the world. A lot of the time I was plowing through enemies until a hulking mini boss started ripping through me. This was a better approach to mini bosses than in the base game’s side quests. Unfortunately, there were not very many new zones and before I knew it, I was fighting Ereshkigal.
The story itself was good to the point I mentioned above. It wasn’t great, but it did leave me wanting more. It actually made me wish the game was a live service game, so I could plunk down $10 more for a season pass of story content. I understand the importance of having cliffhangers just in case they want to have another DLC, but waiting another year for that story is off putting. I expect this from a game with a season pass or more frequent updates, but not a yearly $40 DLC. Aside from the last chapter of the story, the rest was top-notch. Unfortunately it was shorter than I would have hoped.
Trials of Tarya Gratar
End game is what it is all about with a looter shooter. The rush to get to the end so you can get gear to get stronger to get more gear to get stronger to get more gear to… You get the point. Worldslayer delivers you to the end game as fast as it can. Trials of Tarya Gratar is the new repeatable end game area. It is where you run a gauntlet of encounters without trying to die. It is a rouge-like mode. You start at the gates of Tarya Gratar and fight up to 12 encounters to gain loot. Unlike the rest of the game, Trials of Tarya Gratar can have random enemies or random boss mechanics. There are a total of three bosses you have to beat to progress through Tarya Gratar. If you die three times the area will rest for you to do it again. The dozen times I ran Trials of Tarya Gratar I got so much loot I had to dismantle some gear to free up space in my inventory. Even in the Worldslayer campaign, I felt I was getting more loot than I did in the base game. Before I started playing the press review copy, I played a few days of the base game. The loot definitely flowed more in Worldslayer.
Unlike the campaign, Trials of Tarya Gratar only has loot drops at the end of each encounter in chests you open, much like drop pods in expeditions. Trials consist of three different modes: Troves, which are like arenas with focused loot, while the second mode sees you taking on waves of enemies for a smaller chest full of gear. The loot is good, but not focused like Troves. The last type of encounter is boss fights that you have to do to progress to the end of your Trials run. In the review copy I only encountered two different looking bosses out of three fights. I was expecting each boss fight to have a unique boss, but one of the bosses was repeated with slightly different fight mechanics. Out of the three bosses, I only found the second boss to have a challenging mechanic. The first and last boss were easy enough to DPS down without thinking too much. I enjoyed the Troves and wave of enemy fights with mini bosses, but the main bosses could use a little more diversity in mechanics and looks. It would have been nice more bosses or see bosses randomized from the world pool. The normal enemies being randomized is good, but if there was random bosses, Trials would be excellent.
In the Outriders Broadcast the developers mentioned Trials will have day, night, and weather cycles. Sadly, it appears the weather and time of day cycles are only cosmetic candy as you walk around in the lifeless crossroad areas. They also mentioned in the Broadcast that enemies in Trials can possibly change and bosses can get new attacks. In the dozen or so runs I did in Trials, each encounter stayed the same layout (granted they never said the areas were going to be procedurally generated. I wish they were.). However, thankfully some of the Troves the enemies changed. The areas you just fight enemies and the bosses did not change. This could have been only for my runs, but like I said, out of 12 runs this only happened for me in Troves. Like I said previously, there was a boss repeated in Trials, which was a big letdown. The boss mechanics were slightly different, but he was basically a beefed up first boss. I am hoping the randomly generated stuff would be a bit more frequent and exciting.
I can’t see myself spending hours grinding and farming loot in Trials. Within five runs, I knew where the enemies are coming from and I knew what to do with the bosses. At some point, the whole affair felt pretty predictable. Maybe at Apocalypse tier 20 or 40 things change more. I might make it to 20, but not 40. I did play co-op with a friend, but we never reached a high enough Apocalypse tier in Trials that would require a full group. As mentioned in the developer Broadcast, there is going to be a point in apocalypse tiers where co-op is almost required.
The crossroads give you some pretty scenery, but it feels like a waste of time running to each of the 12 encounters. Nothing changes except the weather or time of day. I wish the crossroads had randomized portals or anomaly rips that I could go in to replay random story missions, expeditions, or side quests (that I got bored with in the first place. They wouldn’t be as boring if they were a surprise and were part of the end game experience.). Instead of going in my menu to pick a story starting point or expedition, the crossroads could have these rips pop up. When you step into the rip you would be sent to a random location. Possibly randomize the enemies in these rips too? Sounds like a lot of work to implement, but it would add a ton of replayability to the game.
Gameplay and Technical Aspects
Coming back to Outriders, I hadn’t realized how much I forgot how fun the combat was. That stellar combat is turned up a hundred notches in Worldslayer, Well, l at least 40 apocalyptic notches. The moment-to-moment gunplay is great in this game. It makes me wish it was a live service game, had quarterly season passes and/or community live events. The gameplay is overall fun and exciting. People Can Fly made a great game that I’m invested in when they drop new content.
Unfortunately, some familiar technical bugs reared its ugly head with Worldslayer. Just like the initial release of Outriders, the cut scenes are riddled with hitching and dropping in and out of them. One cut scene I was talking to someone and in a flash my character was on a beach ready to fight, then it flashed me back in the cut scene. This detracted from my immersion in the story. I was more focused on the bugs than I was on the story.
The only other major bug I encountered and reported, was when I pressed Y to claim my tier rewards. Without fail, the second I hit Y to claim my reward, the game crashed to desktop. Hopefully it is fixed before launch. If not, don’t press Y! The only other crash to desktop I had was my first encounter in Trials. This crash made me sad. I cleared the whole encounter and was walking to open the loot chest and it crashed. When the game rebooted, I was at the doors of Trials with the run reset.
Among the sea of live service looter shooters, Outriders Worldslayer sticks to its guns by keeping away from the live service model. I am not a fan of being nickeled and dimed from live service games, but I am a fan of the content flow they provide. I wish there was a happy middle that Outriders could perch on. The gunplay and environments are great. The story has its moments, then it flounders in trying to keep relevant without being a live service game.
Outriders shines with its loot and mods. The loot is extremely fun to play with. Every piece of loot I obtained made me feel like there truly was a possibility to get stronger. The synergy between everything: mods, skills and abilities really drive this feeling home for me. And thankfully, the fear of dismantling gear is short-lived thanks to the fact that when I would do so, I knew I had a handy mod I could use later on. All this lent itself to the feeling that the sheer volume of loot and synergizing gear combinations could leave me playing for hours. Worldslayer brings up the looting and shooting to the next tier.
Unfortunately, while I do think much of the story is good, it does fall flat towards the end as it feels more like a tutorial for Trials of Tarya Gratar rather than building upon the main focus of the campaign. This left me feeling a bit unsatisfied and annoyed when the credits rolled. With only a total of 12 new encounters in Trials that can take anywhere from 30 min to two hours to complete, depending on Apocalypse tier level, the end game appears to be just as lifeless as expeditions.
The bones of Worldslayer are excellent, but the story and end game content are greatly lacking. I would love to see a hybrid system that comes in smaller chunks of content at a faster pace, such as in the form of a season passes. Leave out the microtransactions and add $10 clips of content quarterly, that way players can feel like the story is still alive. As it stands, the story abruptly ended in a frustrating way. I am rooting for Outriders to succeed as one of the best looter shooters, but right now the end game is going to get just as tedious as the previous end game content.