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Obsidian Entertainment | Official Site
RPG | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 10/25/19)  | Pub:Private Division
Distribution:Download | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Buy to Play | Monthly Fee:n/a
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The Outer Worlds PC Port Impressions

By Poorna Shankar on October 25, 2019 | Editorials | Comments

The Outer Worlds PC Port Impressions

The Outer Worlds is finally here. This is a game I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was first announced. To me, it looked like a game in the vein of classic Fallout with a splash of Mass Effect. Of course, I’ve been playing on PC and here are my (very early) impressions of the PC port.

       

Let me be perfectly clear: these are early impressions. I’ve played a couple of hours of The Outer Worlds on Xbox Games Pass PC, so please do not take this as a full complete technical analysis. It is absolutely not. Oh and be sure to check out our review.

On to the technical. Here are my PC specs:

  • CPU: Intel i7 8700k (OC’d)
  • GPU: RTX 2080 Ti (OC’d)
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4 @ 3200 MHz
  • Resolution: 3440 x 1440p (Gsync)
  • Nvidia Driver: 440.97 (game-ready drivers for The Outer Worlds)

Graphics Options, Mouse, and More

First off, The Outer Worlds has limited support for ultrawide. The only way I can play this game in ultrawide is to set it to Windowed Fullscreen. Setting the game to Fullscreen results in my native resolution failing to even show up in the resolution selection in the video settings. That’s a major omission, and is baffling for a game in 2019.

Next, while the actual gameplay like shooting and looting is presented in ultrawide, conversations are 16:9 pillar boxed. Additionally, any pre-rendered cutscenes are stretched to fit the ultrawide resolution. This haphazard ultrawide implementation is a complete disappointment, and is especially damning for a PC developer like Obisidian.

The graphics options are disappointing as well, with sliders for only screen effects, view distance, shadows, textures, and visual effects. Clearly, multiple additional effects are bundled into these vague categories. Screen effects, for example, includes blood splatter, light flares, chromatic aberration, “and more.” Why aren’t these options broken out? And where are the antialiasing options? It’s maddening to continue to see multiple options bundled together in PC games in 2019. There isn’t an excuse for this.

Fortunately, you can disable things like chromatic aberration (picture above) by following this guide on the ever-handy PC Gaming Wiki.

  1. Go to the configuration file(s) location.
  2. Open Engine.ini with a text editor.
  3. Add [SystemSettings] to the bottom of the file, if that section doesn't already exist.
  4. Inside that section, add r.SceneColorFringeQuality=0.
  5. Save the file.

I did this and immediately saw a huge difference. The image was immediately cleaned up and looked much crisper and detailed. I strongly recommend you do this. It’s absolutely worth doing as chromatic aberration is garbage and shouldn’t exist in any game ever. Just stop. Thanks.

Rounding out graphics options, the ability to toggle vsync exists, along with a motion blur slider, and gamma slider. Additionally, you can completely uncap your framerate, which is to be expected of a modern PC game.

The Outer Worlds features primary and secondary key bindings, which is to be expected. It even recognized my extra mouse buttons, which was a nice touch. Speaking of the mouse, oh boy. While you can adjust the sensitivity, you cannot adjust X and Y axis independently of each other.

Additionally, there is are no options to disable mouse smoothing and mouse acceleration. In my gameplay, it felt like these two were disabled outright, but without actual toggles in-game, I can’t say for certain. Finally, you simply cannot adjust the sensitivity of ADS (aim down sights) like you can in virtually every other shooter.

This means you’re stuck with one sensitivity setting for your entire play. This is just a poor effort, as gunplay, arguably the key gameplay pillar, feels uncomfortable every time you want to aim down sights. You’re left with overly sensitive ADS, which does not fill one with confidence when trying to take down enemies.

The Outer Worlds features an FOV slider. But once again, you can adjust this further according to PC Games Wiki:

  1. Go to the configuration file(s) location.
  2. Open Engine.ini.
  3. At the bottom of the file, add [/Script/Engine.LocalPlayer].
  4. Below that line, add AspectRatioAxisConstraint=AspectRatio_MaintainYFOV.

Fortunately, audio options make a better show featuring sliders for master, effects, music, menu, and voice. You can even adjust subtitles during conversations and ambient dialogue, which is nice.

Performance and Visuals

Performance is a bit odd, but I suspect it’s because I’m forced to play it in Windowed Fullscreen to take advantage of my ultrawide. It’s mostly smooth, but I noticed that when I went into my ship, or whenever I would tab into my character menu, I would experience stuttering. Framertimes would spike momentarily, causing this stutter. It makes for an uncomfortable experience.

During overworld gameplay, my framerate stays relatively high with the lowest number I’ve seen around 75fps. Most of the time, it’s closer to 95-100fps. Indoors, this climbs to my monitor refresh rate cap of 120fps.

Textures, even when maxed out, are rather odd. They’re mostly high resolution, but some instances like the image above showcase an inconsistency resulting in low resolution textures. It’s jarring when these low res textures are adjacent to relatively high resolution ones.

LOD pop-in is noticeable, even on the highest setting. I’m not sure why the LOD is so aggressive in The Outer Worlds, but one would imagine us PC users would be able to really push that out.

During conversations, the camera zooms into your conversing NPC and blurs out the background. The effect, which looks to be a bokeh implementation, is rather high quality with no real artefacting. This is also a good example of the antialiasing, which looks to be TAA (temporal antialiasing) and does a good job with coverage.

Closing Thoughts

I’ll once again remind folks that this is not meant to be taken as a final and thorough analysis of The Outer Worlds. These are my impressions after a few hours of play.

The options in The Outer Worlds for graphics, mouse, and audio are below what I consider to be standard in 2019. The half-baked ultrawide implementation is a poor effort indeed, along with subpar mouse options. Obsidian could have and should have done better.

Performance could be better, especially given the hardware on hand. Again, I wonder how much of this is down to the fact that I am forced to play in Windows Fullscreen because of the half-baked ultrawide implementation. Visually, the game is clean but only after you disable chromatic aberration. There are inconsistencies with texture resolution which I find disappointing.

Overall, I’m honestly disappointed with the PC port of The Outer Worlds. It’s far from the worst port I’ve seen. It’s certainly playable. But playable isn’t the same thing as meeting standards. And it simply doesn’t meet my standards for what a PC game should be in 2019. When compared with the recent outstanding PC version of Gears 5, it’s easy to see just how underwhelming the PC version of The Outer Worlds fares.

Half-baked ultrawide, a criminal lack of mouse options, and multiple bundled graphics options all combine to create a subpar PC port for The Outer Worlds. As an RPG, it’s amazing thus far. But as a PC game in 2019, it’s just disappointing. Here’s hoping Obsidian can issue patches, and quickly.

Poorna Shankar / A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.
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