We recently played the demo for Square Enix’s upcoming cooperative role-playing third-person game, Outriders, and, let’s just say, we were quite pleasantly surprised by both the gameplay and the story.
Will it be better than Anthem?
In recent years, uttering the words “looter shooter”, “games as a service” and “online” have become akin to dropping an F-bomb in front of your parents when you were in primary school. These words have gained infamy thanks to a slew of recent titles, such as the recently cancelled Anthem and even The Avengers game.
But even though both these games have failed to reach the heights of Bungie’s Destiny, there are some, like The Division and Ghost Recon Wildlands/Breakpoint, that have seen quite a bit of success.
Now Square Enix and developer People Can Fly have stepped into the ring with their upcoming title, Outriders.
What is Outriders about?
Without spoiling too much, or getting bogged down in the game’s plot, gameplay in Outriders sees you stepping into the well-worn boots of the titular Outrider. With Earth in ruins, you have been tasked with helping the last vestiges of humanity find a new home. Of course, this sees you venturing off to a strange new planet called Enoch.
After scouting the planet, a series of events causes most of the Outriders to be eliminated and you being stuck in cryo-sleep due to some deadly injuries.
Waking up many years after the cataclysmic event, you find the planet in turmoil. The last remaining humans fight it out for the planet’s few resources as a strange and deadly storm prevents them from exploring the planet any father. Those that are found outside when the storm hits, are either outright killed or changed into something more than human — powerful beings called the Altered.
Basically, everything has gone down the crapper.
Uniquely, for an online looter-shooter, I found myself quite intrigued by the game’s narrative and lore. The demo, of course, only reveals tidbits of the game’s story.
Classes & powers in Outriders
As the Altered, you gain access to four classes:
1. The Devastator – the tank class.
2. The Trickster – which lets you sneak up for close deadly damage.
3. The Pyromancer – which, as the name eludes to, lets you wield fire.
4. The Technomancer – the long-range specialist.
Each of the classes has an ability tree, which lets you upgrade your health, damage, etc. using skill points and unique abilities that unlock as you level up.
Three of these abilities can be equipped at any time. Letting you change your playstyle on the fly.
Having dabbled in the classes, I have to say that I enjoyed the Trickster the most. Most of the abilities of the Trickster lets you get up close quickly and then get out before your opponent can return fire.
What about the gameplay in Outriders?
While playing the Outriders demo, I quickly realised that standing still in most cases can be a death sentence. This is intentional. The game employs the mantra of: be aggressive.
What this means is that, in the case of the Pyromancer, dealing damage at mid-range automatically heals your character. For the Trickster, this happens when dealing damage at a short-range.
This mechanic meant that I found myself continually being forced to be on the offensive. This is refreshing, considering most games encourage you to take cover.
Go there, do this
Although we did find some decent loot playing the Outriders demo, the main draw and the reason I kept on playing the same missions over and over was because of how well the abilities of each class felt and how they could be chained together for some devastating combos — even when playing as a solo player.
The Outriders demo also includes some side missions, which I have to mention feels like they flow seamlessly out from the main campaign. What I mean by this is that you’ll be following the main mission and, on your way to the mission marker, you might encounter someone with a side mission for you. You can then decide to follow the side mission or continue the main one.
These side missions feel a lot more integrated in a similar way to RPG games than side-missions we’ve seen in some of than other online looter shooters.
There are a few issues with the Outriders demo
First off, environments in the demo come across as mostly bland and samey. Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautiful backdrops here, but the game will definitely benefit from more variety and colour.
The game’s cut-scenes also incorporate shaky cam, which is very distracting for the viewer.
Based on the demo, should you purchase Outriders?
The short answer: yes. We were quite surprised by the gameplay and story in the Outriders demo. Even though this is just a small slice of the game, what is here shows promise.
Now, of course, these types of games live or die by how long they can keep a player’s attention, which is something we’ll only see when the full game launches.
But for a game that flew under the radar for most of us, we thoroughly enjoyed playing the demo and are excited to see the final version of Outriders.