I've never had the time to sink into looter shooters such as Destiny, nor do I have the friendship circle that wishes to play those sort of games. Yet I always find myself drawn to each new release in the genre, but ultimately fall off within a few weeks as the game opens up into more multiplayer focused events. Sure you can play these solo still, but the draw never feels the same without a group of buddies. Having jumped on Outriders this past week, those problems have been erased, as the game feels fully welcoming to a single player adventurer such as myself.
The closest I've ever become engaged in a looter shooter outside of games such as Destiny and The Division 2 is the Borderlands series. After the first entry, the series developed a more interesting narrative, mixed up the quest design, and added some great locales to explore. Despite all that, they still felt like experiences that were best serviced for a multiplayer audience. The worlds were huge, the difficulty often ramped up, and certain endgame challenges felt near impossible for a solo player. Outriders is already tackling those concerns.
One of the biggest reasons is the more story-driven aspect of Outriders. Okay, I'm not going to say it's ground-breaking by any means, and some of the story beats are a bit hit or miss, but it's enough to keep me moving forward. The prologue is a slow start, but the actual premise of it all is surprisingly effective, and gives you a good reason to fight in the early hours. As it ramps up and the story expands, gaining answers to questions from the beginning becomes really rewarding, and while the story isn't massively great, the lore is a real treat. I especially love the nods to franchises such as Alien and Predator.
Even simple details such as adding dialogue options has made me feel more involved in the world - especially when your character is voice acted. Each side quest tries hard to have a more involved reason to jump in outside of getting better loot. It's also great that the option to replay them is available, meaning if I ever wanted to take the fight online with friends, we have the choice to tackle some past missions at a higher difficulty. Going forward though, I hope they do make the game available to play offline for those of us who aren't massively into multiplayer. Constant disconnects can quickly become a pain!
The biggest difference between Outriders and games such as Destiny is how this is strictly co-op only for online play. It's not trying to give you huge hub spaces with tons of other players running around, or vast open landscapes to complete quests - Outriders is more funnelled and linear in its approach. While that may deter some away, as a single-player gamer who often found other looter shooters to have wide open areas with very little to do, this is perfect. You're never too far from the next mission and everything is so tightly constrained that it makes for some exhilarating combat encounters.
One of the greatest things about the combat is how it's easy to fine tune the experience for you. The game has something called World Tiers, which increase as you progress and level up through the game. Each World Tier increases the difficulty, but incorporates better loot to obtain. It's a great mechanic, and if things are getting too dicey for me, I can easily pop it back down a few tiers until I'm feeling stronger, then I can ramp it back up when I'm feeling dangerous. It means I can easily cater the game to my playstyle, and when I'm feeling a bit riskier or in need of better equipment, I have the means to do so.
It also helps that the main gameplay loop of gaining new gear comes with some visually striking appearances. Just last year, I blasted through Marvel's Avengers and opening loot boxes felt like a chore. Nothing gave my super hero team the gear that made me want more. Unlocking new fists for The Hulk would increase my stats, but they were still the same colossus green hands that were there at the beginning of the game. I love how my character feels like my own, and seeing everyone else's characters online on social media, no two are the same. It adds more to the personalised single player story I'm following, and I love it.
I think my main worry up until launch was that this was going to be another live service game, with a paper thin plot and an empty endgame. But it's proved to be the opposite. Outriders' main plot line may be a bit flimsy, but it's definitely one you can tell developer People Can Fly had a lot of fun with. It never feels as though the single-player experience is compromised for a constant online service, and no matter how you play the game, you'll get everything out of Outriders. Who knows, in the future the game could end up going down that path with it's huge popularity, but as it stands, it's proving to be an addictive gameplay loop for someone who has jumped off games in a similar vein very quickly.
Kudos, Outriders. Kudos!
Have you been enjoying Outriders as a single player game? Let us know in the comments below.