Outriders review – The looter shooter 2021 needed

outriders review imageSquare Enix

Square Enix’s newest endeavour, Outriders, is a shoot and loot experience with its very own unique twist. Set in a neo-dystopian world where chaos rules supreme, the game is a breath of fresh air.

The loot and shooter genre certainly has a pretty extensive history. From Gears of War to Destiny we’ve seen similar gameplay repackaged in a different style and churned out year upon year and, to be honest, it’s a guilty pleasure.

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Square Enix’s Outriders, though, is an innovative take on this age old style. Developed by Polish studio People Can Fly, the brainchild behind “Painkiller,” the team’s wealth of experience clearly shows.

Does experience equal a fun game though? Sure all of this is great on paper, but does it translate onto our screens? The answer is: absolutely.

Outriders – Key Details

  • Price: $59.99 / £49.99
  • Developer: SQUARE ENIX
  • Release date: April 1, 2021
  • Platforms: PC (Steam, Epic Store and GeForce NOW), Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Google Stadia

Outriders Launch Trailer

Enoch truly is the Eden of gaming

It is made pretty clear from the onset that Enoch isn’t quite the Eden that Earth’s remaining population was promised, but it’s certainly a beautifully crafted environment that offers a whole host of little nooks and crannies to discover.

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What makes the environments so interesting is the fact that they are all different. Your journey begins in the infamous forest, then takes you everywhere from your hotchpotch Rift Town base to the peaks of the local volcanic mountain range. Every area is stunning, and the graphics are so buttery smooth that you really do feel immersed.

The only issue is the linearity of each stage in the solo player experience. Despite looking somewhat open world, there is a designated path to follow and the surrounding areas are built around this. You can’t go too far off of the beaten path throughout the story, which confines players to seeing similar places over and over again.

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That said, it’s a joy to uncover the secrets of Enoch and it will be very interesting to see how the planet continues to expand.

outriders eagle peaksSquare Enix
The snowy vista of Eagle Peaks is a graphical triumph.

Outriders classes are awesome

No doubt you’ve selected a class a thousand and one times in a video game and felt like it has very little impact on the actual gameplay, but Outriders isn’t one of those. Whichever class you choose really does alter how you play, and the trio of branches within each lets you customize your experience even further.

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Take the Technomancer for example. As a sniper it sometimes feels like you either have to have amazing mechanics or insane reactions, otherwise the class is useless. With Outriders’ system, the ability to harness an arsenal of gadgets, coupled with being able to use your skill tree to enhance your sniper damage brings you as close as possible to the front lines.

The three different specializations are also interesting, because within your class you can either play a more DPS orientated style or supportive role. You don’t exactly imagine being a supportive sniper, but this setup makes that a viable option.

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Sure sometimes there’s clunky mechanics, but it’s a very different take on what it means to be a long range attacker. It really forces you to think. The game isn’t a mindless shooter – far from it. It’s a tactical masterpiece.

Technomancer turret OutridersSquare Enix
Your Cryo Turret might be small, but it’s deadly.

Being selfish gets you nowhere

As someone who enjoys a good story, Outriders really has a pertinent message: humanity’s survival depends on us sticking together. In a world where fake news reigns supreme, it can be difficult to keep our priorities straight. Square Enix’s dystopian future landscape reminds us why we need to keep our heads screwed on tight.

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Our journey through the game’s narrative is pretty wild. You will be filled with hope as you take your first steps on Enoch’s surface, but as you progress it becomes abundantly clear that humanity is pretty corrupt. From fighting through the ECA devised slums of First City to uncovering the brutal experiments they undertook on the planet’s native species (the Pax) in the wreckage of the Caravel, the story really hammers home how selfish people can be.

We see this in all aspects of the story. The scramble for resources leads to the war between the ECA and the Insurgents, which is in turn a product of the Anomaly that the Caravel colonizers caused. As you peruse the relics of past Earth on display at Madame Beauvoir’s historical menagerie, you realize just how easily the story of Outriders could translate into real life.

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As she says “without memory of the past, the future means so little.” It’s a pretty hard hitting statement that brings us crashing right back down to Earth. So yeah, don’t be selfish. We don’t want to end up on Enoch.

Madame beauvoir's store outridersSquare Enix
While only a little museum, it carries with it a huge message.

Servers and customization

The game has been plagued by tech issues since it’s release. Servers have crashed, kicked us out of games and crossplay between PC and console has been disabled. Props to People Can Fly for their transparency in admitting that these problems exist, but it’s slowed down progression for a lot of people so far.

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The console version especially seemed to be riddled on launch. People were randomly being able to join your game and no clear way to eject them, not to mention painfully slow cursor movement. At times, it has felt more like a straight port than a fully realized version in itself – but fingers crossed, that will be smoothened out shortly.

The other gripe for many players is the lack of customization. Your appearance can be edited at any time during your playthrough which is great, but there’s not a lot of options to deck out your character with. Despite the Cyberpunk 2077 vibes there’s no neon hairstyles, gender neutrality or guyliner. In short, you look kind of basic.

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And no one wants to look basic.

Outriders Review character creationSquare Enix
Morri would look a lot cooler with a bright pink mohawk.

Rating – 7/10

There is a lot to like in Outriders. It’s new, it’s different, it’s bold, and it’s a fresh take on an iconic genre. In many ways, it’s the game 2021 needed.

With an interesting story, innovative new class system and stunning visuals, the world of Enoch is a joy to play through. However, it wouldn’t be right to ignore the issues that players have been experiencing since launch.

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Reviewed on PC

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