'Outer Worlds' vs. 'Fallout': Why Obsidian's game is better in one big way
One word: Charm.
Sorry, Fallout : New Vegas fans: Outer Worlds feels nothing like a Fallout game. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing. Within the first five minutes of Outer Worlds, you’re told by a mad scientist with Rick Sanchez vibes to meet up with someone on a nearby planet. Your escape pods lands on the guy’s head, leaving you alone on a colorful alien world while the scientist chatters on the radio, berating the poor dead guy for being an idiot. Outer Worlds has a dark, nihilistic charm that will resonate with anyone who appreciates the tone and humor of a show like Rick and Morty. Removed from the dreary backdrop of nuclear war annihilating human society (every Fallout game ever), Outer Worlds instead presents a bright, chaotic, and often hilarious adventure set in space.
Nothing matters existentially speaking, but the tone is amusing and the setting so vibrant that Outer Worlds winds up feeling like the perfect marriage of Fallout with No Man’s Sky that removes the inherent flaws of both.
The central plot of Outer Worlds does feel a bit generic, at least in its initial narrative momentum. Even the opening scenes are reminiscent of Fallout 4 with your character waking up from an extended period of cryogenic sleep.
Your character is one of many colonists frozen aboard the Hope, shot out into space to colonize a distant world in the Halcyon system. What was supposed to be a 10-year journey became 60 after the ship’s engines fail,, leaving it hurdling through space at sub-light speeds. The major corporations who control human society across the galaxy in the year 2355 abandoned the vessel. Phineas Vernon Welles, labeled something of a terrorist by those same corporations, plucks you from among the many sleeping passengers to roam the planets of the Halcyon system to wreak havoc.
Like most games of its ilk, Outer Worlds has enough side quests and enticing wildlands to explore that the central narrative only matters as much as you want it to. The many characters you meet are weird and surprising, ranging from religious zealots who want you to hunt down sacrilegious texts to old fashioned racists who hate robots for no other reason than their being robots. Yet there’s also nuance that shines between somewhat typical character tropes, like a bartender who once dreamed of being a scientist whom you can subtly urge to pursue her dreams.
No Fallout game has ever felt this human, meaningful, or dynamic. They often feel overly serious and dour, as if the fate of the world rests in your hands even though the world has already been destroyed. Outer Worlds, on the other hand, is brimming with a sense of hope and wonder that easily sweeps the player up into a chaotic, delightful adventure unlike anything else out there.
It’s for that reason that Outer Worlds might be better than Fallout or even most of the Elder Scrolls games. In 2019, maybe we’re all ready for something a little less serious.
Outer Worlds is now available for PS4, Xbox One and PC.