Outriders is a competent third person shooter with solid gunplay and a surprisingly developed story. This makes it a great game for any player on the hunt for a compelling third person shooter.
- Lengthy story to play through
- Solid gunplay and character development
- Fun coop opportunities with friends
- Matchmaking is broken
- Some balancing issues between classes
Outriders is the latest live service looter-shooter to hit the scene. Since being unveiled it has often been described as a third person Destiny 2, and at first glance there’s a lot to support that description.
The game sees you take the role of a super powered space soldier, known as an Outrider, as they try to navigate a hostile new world, called Enoch. Along the way you’ll be tasked to blast your way through hordes of hostile enemies, picking up new weapons and armor as you go.
But, having finally completed the lengthy campaign’s story and delved into its end game, I can confirm Outriders is a fairly different beast to Destiny with the bare bones to be a great game. And for die hard shooter fans looking for quick and easy fun, it will rank among the best PC games, best PS5 games and Best Xbox Series X/S games to arrive recently. But there are few key issues that need to be fixed for it have any long term appeal.
It has a surprisingly focussed story
- Outriders story is fairly by the numbers, but it’s a lot more compelling than most looter-shooters’
- The story campaign takes around 20-30 hours to complete
Starting with the story. The game’s premise is a pretty standard one in the world of Sci-Fi. Humanity has fled the Earth in search of a new home after making its home planet uninhabitable.
You take the role of an Outrider, an elite team of soldiers, tasked with checking out potential new planets to confirm their viability for colonisation.
The game starts with you landing on Enoch, a huge Earth-like planet full of giant alien creatures and lush valleys ripe to explore.
Not giving any spoilers away, but as expected the colonisation doesn’t go smoothly and you rapidly find yourself in a hostile landscape making full use of the over-the-top space weapons you landed with.
The plot isn’t terribly original but, it’s surprisingly developed, especially when compared to Destiny’s story missions. This is helped by the fact the game wants to tell your Outrider’s story in a fairly focussed way.
Though you get to pick their face and hair, the Outrider is a fully scripted character. There are no dialogue choices. Outriders is much more like Gears of War in this sense, it wants to tell a story and while you can come along for the ride, you can’t get off the rails and change it.
This makes it feel much more developed and focussed than competing looter shooters, which tend to use story campaigns as over-fluffed tutorials designed to prepare you for the end game, which houses the majority of the content.
The only downside is that, on occasion, the dialogue and over the top villains can get a little close to 90s cartoon levels of cringe. One, in particular, sounds like and acts like an R-Rated version of He-Man’s Skeletor. For a game all about moral greys my biggest issue is that a lot of the characters feel fairly one-sided.
It’s more like Remnant: From the Ashes than Destiny gameplay-wise
- Outriders features Gears / Remnant: From the Ashes-like cover mechanics
- There are 4 different classes of Outrider to choose from at launch
- It supports PvE (player vs enemy) coop
It’s this focus that makes Outriders stand out, with it feeling like one of the only looter shooters around to house a proper full fat story campaign that is the primary focus of the game.
This is also reflected in its gameplay, which reminded me more of Gears or Remnant: From the Ashes than Destiny.
For starters, the game isn’t an open world. It takes a hub approach, tasking you to work your way through self contained areas/maps, each of which is filled with optional side missions and hidden collectables to find. You unlock new hubs to explore in a linear fashion after completing core story missions.
These in general follow a pretty standard format, tasking you to fight your way through a series of hostile enemies before killing a main boss.
Gameplay mechanics are also closer to Remnant than Destiny. It has similar cover mechanics that let you hide behind debris and walls while sporadically popping up to shoot incoming enemies.
Though this is a risky tactic for two reasons. First because enemies are very aggressive. Rifleman will lob grenades repeatedly to coax you out of your fox hole and most encounters have hordes of berserker-style foes that will swamp any defensive position fairly fast.
The second is the game’s almost Bloodborne-like health recovery system. In Outriders, despite looking like a heavily armoured space marine, your character is surprisingly easy to kill, even in lower difficulties. To make matters work, even with higher level characters, health regeneration is very slow and you’ll always be one mob, or boss’ power attack away from death.
To get round this, each class has unique ways to collect health. In the game, like most looter shooters, you get to choose from four classes. These include Technomancer (long range sniper), Pyromancer (mid range jack of all traits), Trickster (close range assassin) and Devastator (close-range tank).
Each class comes with a variety of super attacks and defensive skills, plus a robust skill tree you can use to boost certain stats and abilities as your character levels up.
But more crucially, they inform how you collect health/survive Outriders’ frantic firefights. Devastators, for example, collect health with each close range kill, while Pyromancers get it every time an enemy marked with its skills are killed.
This gives you not just an incentive, but an urgent need to be aggressive and continuously push forward in each firefight, to the point at times it feels like the game added cover mechanics to troll, rather than help, players.
Creating a decent build to match your playstyle is also made super easy thanks to the game’s intuitive skill tree and super abilities. Each class is divided into three distinct paths tailored to specific playstyles. For more adventurous players they also have parts that intersect, making it quick and easy to combine parts of each tree, if you so desire.
Early on, the game also does a good job incentivising you to attempt bad ass moves using each class’ super abilities. Each class has a variety of super abilities to choose from, three of which can be activated at one time. Devastators, for example, can create rock armour around themselves, diminishing incoming damage, and feature various earth themed attacks, which focus on obliterating enemies using gravity based powers.
For the first 5-10 hours my personal favorite was Gravity Rush, an ability that lets you fly into the sky and ground pound enemies upon your return.
As you would expect from the developer of BulletStorm, the combat feels meaty and there’s a strange thrill about watching scores of enemies explode into piles of red goo at the end of each attack.
The gunplay, for the most part, also feels satisfying for the opening hours. Pump action shotguns proved a personal favourite during my first playthrough thanks to their ability to one-shot weaker enemies, with each shot feeling wonderfully weighty and impactful.
But there are some flaws in its mechanics
- Throughout our review the game was plagued by matchmaking issues and regularly crashed on PC
- The game has some balancing issues between classes
- The end game is very coop focussed
This is important as, while the gunplay is fun, the looting and match making mechanics are a little hit and miss.
Like most looter shooters, new armour and weapons are color coded. Green items are common, blue’s mid-tier, purple’s rare and orange/yellows are unique. The issue is, while there’s a decent number of weapons to choose from including staples like shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, light machine guns and SMGs, they all start feeling a little samey fairly fast. The only difference you get comes down to little things, like if it’s auto fire or semi-automatic.
The only thing making it a little entertaining is the armour, with Outriders having added some pretty “out there” almost Warhammer like designs to the mix.
Outside of this guns really only get interesting in the Outriders endgame, where unique weapons start appearing. Each of these come with more entertaining, atypical shooting mechanics that breath new life into any load out.
This is sad as the longer I played the game the more I realised some of the classes aren’t balanced terribly well. My early love of Gravity Rush quickly turned sour when more difficult firefights started and it became the only reliable means for me to avoid being mobbed by the sea of smaller enemies flooding the may. This quickly turned it from a fun ability to use strategically to a crutch I required to succeed.
During my second playthrough of the game I also noticed some balancing issues between the classes. Specifically, I discovered quite how underpowered the Devastator. Playing solo the defensive build I created felt completely underpowered compared to the Technomancer, which long range sniping and robust turret summoning abilities let me blitz through sections I repeatedly struggled at during my first playthrough as a demolitionist.
This isn’t as big of an issue as it would be on a game like Destiny, which has player vs player modes, but it is a minor annoyance nonetheless for players that tend to favour tank builds.
There are also issues with the endgame, which twists Outrider’s mechanics on their head. Though the story mode supports coop and there are some encounters that are best tackled with human teammates, the nature of the narrative makes it feel like it’s designed to be primarily enjoyed solo.
However, getting to the endgame when “expeditions” become available this quickly flips. Expeditions are super hard missions that task you to fight waves of enemies before taking on a super hard boss at the end. They also present a huge spike in difficulty on the story missions, to the point you really need a squad of human players working together to succeed.
This would be fine were it not for the fact that, at the time of publishing, Outrider’s matchmaking mechanics were fairly broken (tested on PC). During my entire time with the game I’ve successfully managed to matchmake with a random team once, and even then the game crashed within 10 minutes of me joining the game.
The only way I’ve been able to successfully create a squad is by manually creating a squad with people I know and inviting them to my game. Even then the game has been rife with stability issues and I’ve experienced frequent crashes. One particularly well timed crash occurred just before we took down a boss, forcing us to start the entire endeavour from scratch.
Outriders does a decent job outgrowing its reputation as a third person Destiny clone. Offering solid shooting mechanics, a surprisingly meaty story campaign and fun and intuitive character development system it earns a place as one of the best third person shooters to arrive this year. The only downside is that technical issues hinder a lot of the endgame’s funnest parts.
You should buy Outriders if:
- You like third person shooters:
If you’re on the hunt for a fun, zero fuss, third person shooter then Outriders ticks all the right boxes, offering fun combat and a surprisingly lengthy story campaign to blast your way through.
- You like coop games:
Outriders is a great choice for any gaming group looking for a new cooperative shooter to tackle. The only downside is that it’s matchmaking dynamics are pretty broken, so you’ll likely need to manually make your fireteam if you hope to tackle colonising Enoch as a squad.
You Shouldn’t buy Outriders if:
- You want a third person Destiny:
Despite pre-release buzz, Outriders is a very different game to Destiny. It’s primary focus is on creating a great story and universe for players to blast through, rather than a new live service for gamers to grind.