The Outer Worlds, the latest game from RPG masters Obsidian Entertainment – the original creators of the Fallout series – is already kicking up quite a storm, garnering rave reviews across the board. So you’d be forgiven for wanting to shoot off into space to see all the Halcyon colony has to offer.
But hold on there, space cowboy, as the eponymous planets of The Outer Worlds can be a shock to the system if you don’t know what to expect – so before you run off into the world, a bit of extra knowhow can’t go amiss.
That’s where we come in. To fully prepare you for journey through The Outer Worlds, we’ve put together five handy tips to help you navigate the land of space-capitalism the best way you can.
1. Explore everywhere (within reason)
The open world maps of the Outer Worlds might be a far cry from the huge expansive wastelands of Fallout: New Vegas, or other similar modern RPGs, but the landscape here is still as rich with unique locales, a plethora of gun-fodder enemies, and lots of colourful (and hostile) wildlife. Obsidian’s decision to opt for several smaller maps rather than one big one means each location feels packed with just enough to explore.
That said, if you’re thinking of running off, arms waving, into the wilderness as soon as you can, you might want to check your enthusiasm. Even on Normal difficulty, the first map, the Emerald Vale can throw up some enemies likely to knock you down in just a couple of hits.
After we spoke to the first few NPCs and checked out our ship, we wandered over to a wreckage site a few metres from the landing site, only to be mauled almost immediately by a pack of Primals (read: Giant Rock-Throwing Purple Space Gorillas). We unloaded our pistol into them but simply didn’t have the firepower to contend. You might want to hold off going native until you’ve levelled a little and picked up another weapon from town, or at least until you’ve looted one from an unsuspecting Marauder.
2. Find a companion to share your journey
Related to that last point, we know it’s tempting to wander off into the wilds to check out the Emerald Vale as soon as the option is presented to you, but if you stay on track and follow the main quest for a short while after you’re let loose to roam, you’ll quickly be introduced to the first companion available to you – Parvati.
In our first playthrough, we cleared our quest log of side quests before we ever set foot in the Edgewater Cannery, but once we picked up Parvati, we realised the mistake we’d made. Your companions react not only to your choices, but remark on the world around you and engage in your conversations with other NPCs. As an Edgewater resident, Parvati can also give you a little extra lore-filled insight into the town and its surroundings. You’re free to wander on your own of course, but the Outer Worlds places a huge emphasis on the characters with which you share your journey.
Beyond the extra dialogue and world-building, these companions have a more tangible gameplay benefit. They all feature their own (sometimes overpowered!) special attacks, and come with their own set of perks to encourage you having them around. There’s a whole leadership skill to level up that focuses on having them around, so don’t neglect what is definitely a core part of the game.
3. Go easy on those level ups
After questing a little, exploring the alien landscape and gunning down the local fauna, you’re sure to start garnering your first few level ups. But rather than putting points willy-nilly into anything that strikes your fancy, you might want to hold off a little at first.
The Outer Worlds boasts the ability to play your character in a number of different roles, so you might want to try out a few different weapon types before you commit your points. On top of that, there are loads of different dialogue options you can pick in conversations around town and out in the world that will be locked to you if you don’t reach the prerequisite skill level. These span beyond the ‘speech’ skills, with engineering, medicine and others also opening up new conversational choices.
Despite Edgewater and the Emerald Vale being the first areas for you to explore, there are still a couple of high-level locks to pick and dialogue choices to opt for if you have the required skill points in place. You have to decide whether or not to invest heavily in one area to see that unique conversational option, or potentially miss out by making a more rounded out character.
It’s also worth noting that there is a respec machine available on your spaceship, but it costs 500 bits, which is the kind of cash you probably won’t have lying around when you first land on Terra 2.
4. Be conservative with mag-picks and bypass shunts
Opening locked containers in the Outer Worlds doesn’t work the same way as in Fallout or Skyrim: there’s no minigame requiring you to waggle a pick or bobby pin, instead using the mag-picks (magnetic lockpicks) from your inventory.
This becomes a little more trivial if you’ve invested a few points into your lockpicking skill, but right at the start of the game mag-picks are a little sparse, and you might not want to waste them opening a random bin in the wilds of the planet when you could be jimmying open a locked door with much more valuable loot or quest significance behind it. Once you level a little, locks requiring one pick reduce to requiring zero, which can be a big help, but if you’re not specced for a bit of burglary, it can be a lot to invest from your early levels just to loot a couple more containers holding basic Spacer’s Choice pistols.
The same can be said of hacking, which often requires a bypass shunt to access the tougher terminals. We found these even rarer than mag-picks early on, though admittedly we didn’t run into anywhere near as many locked terminals as we did chests and bins.
5. Read it all
This might seem like an obvious one, but be sure to read everything you come across in every terminal, and speak to every character you can. It can pay off in the form of unique conversation choices, tips on item and quest locations, and a better understanding of the world. But honestly, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t take the time out of your play to drink it all in.
The text logs hidden away in terminals often hide some of the wittiest writing and interesting facts about the world. Case in point: you can easily head right off to complete the bounty quest in Edgewater to kill the local doctor who became a Marauder, but it’s much more fun reading up on her file and discovering she’s wanted for three counts of larceny – two for theft and one for depriving the company of their registered physician. And that’s just one in The Outer Worlds many branching stories.
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