Outriders Full Game Review (PC Primarily) 2021
08 April, 2021...
Is Outriders, the full game, worth playing or buying in 2021?
I previously reviewed the Outriders Demo and much of it still holds true.
I've spent 87.4 hours playing this game, it's taken 20-30 hours to get my first character to level 30 including sidequests and to finish the main story.
In it's current state, it's entertaining if you don't care about spending money however for more cautious spenders, you're better off getting this game when it's on sale.
This all assumes that the devs don't push out updates that address some of the issues I mention below.
If they do, then this review and whether it's worth getting this game will change.
Generally speaking from my own personal playthrough, I enjoyed the game despite the hefty price tag.
This is probably the biggest maybe only thing that Outriders does right.
As a looter shooter the loot system has to hook you into hours of grinding for:
- the best gear
- the materials to create the best gear
for your character build...
In fact, other looter shooters or just looters like Path of Exile, Warframe and Destiny 2 could probably learn some things from the Outriders loot system.
Everything you grind for has a use and is not totally useless trash.
Sure in Path of Exile you can break down useless loot into the in game barter currency however it's really hard to get enough to truly upgrade your gear.
In Destiny 2, the infusion system lets you increase the power of your gear however you can't change the randomly generated stat rolls.
In Outriders, you get both Path of Exile and Destiny 2 kind of systems all in one.
You turn trash loot into upgrade materials.
You can use in game currency "scrap" to buy materials.
You can also upgrade pieces of gear that you want to keep for your build all the way up to your gear level cap - the one unlocked by advancing world tiers.
So nothing is wasted.
Though the cost of the upgrade gets higher as you advance levels, meaning more grinding for materials.
It's especially challenging to get enough titanium at low levels.
Along the lines of the loot system, every piece of trash gear you break down also provides anomaly shards and mods if rare.
Once broken down, extracted mods are added to your mod collection and can be installed into any gear.
However only a max of 1 mod slot in acquired gear can be changed.
This lets you customize your dream gear to fit your build or playstyle.
In addition, unlike in Destiny 2, wear stat rolls can't be changed after the item was acquired, here you can actually upgrade weapon and armor stats with anomaly shards you got from gear you broke down.
This lets you further enhance the power of gear you kept from past levels that fit your build.
Another plus is that you can see exactly how much extra effect or damage numbers there are with mods based on your current build unlike Destiny 2, where the mods tell you what it does but doesn't show any numbers.
Another small plus is that Outriders lets you repeat nearly all side quest missions and even main storyline missions that you want.
For main quest missions you have to select a different story line point to do it.
This lets you easily grind all that trash loot mentioned above for upgrade resources of leather, iron, titanium and anomaly shards.
It also makes the content stretch out longer if you don't feel like doing expeditions one day out of the blue.
Another kind of good part is the possible character builds you have.
You have 4 classes with 3 skill trees each and a lot of perk nodes among them.
Technically you have a lot of possible builds.
Right now I'm finishing the playthrough for my pyromancer.
He's following the Anomaly path or "Tempest" route of the class.
I selected high Anomaly Power, Status Power gear to make his Burn effects powerful enough to damage enemies over time and kill them while I take cover.
The graphics use Unreal Engine which results in very smooth game play for the most part.
Unfortunately due to anti-cheat systems this game uses (see below), RivaTuner can't show me gpu temperatures or the game's fps at all.
Even on Ultra settings the game generally ran fine.
To be safe I ran the game on Medium settings.
I made the changes through Nvidia's Geforce app.
Would I say the graphics are great?
Not by a long shot.
This isn't Black Desert Online.
This game reminds me of Mass Effect 3.
Still it's certainly better looking than games like Guild Wars 2 and possible Final Fantasy Online.
The game doesn't really have a great appearance customization system as far as I can tell.
You don't have many fine grained options like you have in other games to make your character look exactly the way you want.
You certainly can't make them look like Keanu Reaves or Liam Neeson.
You could do something like that in Mass Effect.
You can't do that here.
The story in looter shooters usually doesn't matter too much to most people and to me.
It would be nice, and would set it apart from the pack however I don't mind not having a great story as long as the loot grind/game play loop is entertaining and fun for many hours... and brings me back for more, to grind the most powerful gear.
The main story in Outriders is interesting enough to me 30 hours in however it's certainly not gripping or highly dramatic like Witcher, Game of Thrones or Mass Effect.
The story is no sweeping space epic or space opera.
It's more survival dystopia with super powered players.
There's no romance, no dialog options and choices are all made for you.
As I said, it's only good for loot grinding repetition.
Singleplayer Always Online and Server Issues
The number one annoyance similar to the issues with Diablo 3's past launch is that you have single player yet always have to be online in order to play the game.
This online server access issue was a huge launch problem for the game that even forced me to stop playing the game for about 3 - 4 days as they tried to fix it.
If their servers are down, you can't play.
If your internet is down, you can't play.
I'm assuming that you get automatic cloud saves to your Square Enix account however I'm not sure.
Yet this is a single player game, so do you really have to be online to play it?
Of course not.
This is definitely a consumer unfriendly move that doesn't sit right with me.
Also weirdly their initial outriders screen has no Exit button so if the servers aren't working, you have no way of leaving that screen unless you use
Alt + F4 on PC.
That's really stupid UI work if you think about it.
Update Apr 12, 2021: Anyhow currently for me, the servers haven't failed as of April 12, 2021 or the last 4 days previously so I'd say they've mostly settled the server connection issues.
Kernel Level Anti-Cheat
On top of the single player always online problem from before, PFF and Outriders uses kernel level anti-cheat which required me to fiddle with command line commands to make the game even run.
Not all players are going to have the patience to turn on device or kernell protection on Windows just to play a game.
Because of this anti-cheat system, I can't see my cpu or gpu stats or fps stats from Riva Tuner.
I can't use any overlay except for Steam.
This wasn't a deal breaker for me however it is annoying.
No Built In Chat
My game privacy is usually set to Open.
One night just before I wrote this review, a PC player popped into my game.
(Note: console crossplay was disabled in the game due to issues at the time of this writing)
I tried to communicate with the player, say hello, ask what they'd like to do and then realized that the game had absolutely no built in chat for multi-layer.
It only had emotes.
So I could wave to them or point or dance yet I couldn't communicate.
There was no way to give them a Discord invite so I could voice chat.
I couldn't even type a message.
Whoever thought up this user interface wasn't really sitting in the player's shoes.
I can only assume that they though you'd only be playing with your existing Steam or other IRL/online friends who you already have on Discord or Skype or something - and that you sent a code to, to access your game.
This was a very bad design choice for random players who drop into your open game.
According to Tyler Fischer at Comicbook.com, People Can Fly may add in voice chat at some later date.
No word on text chat if at all.
Steam Chat does work as an overlay however there's no guarantee other random players you play with are going to friend you on Steam Chat.
They didn't want to deal with moderation of swear words, hate speech, etc.
They didn't want to spend the resources if other Xbox console, PS console or Discord chat is available.
I can understand that.
If there was a way to somehow show your Twitter, Discord or some other chat handle in game after you fill in a field in the settings or something, this could help.
The other way is to build in Discord API or console chat functionality right into the game and make it cross-platform eventually.
Bugs and Glitches
I haven't encountered any game breaking bugs while playing that cause me to crash to desktop.
Well that isn't related to being connected to a server (see above).
I did have a lot of problems starting Outriders however.
I could not start Outriders if MSI Afterburner program was active even if I upgraded to the latest version.
This was weird to say the least.
Also Outriders asks you if you want to play Outriders using DirectX 11 or DirectX 12 every single time I start the game (couldn't they just remember my decision?).
If I start it with DirectX 12, the game seems more unstable and is likely to crash after an hour.
If I start it with DirectX 11, the game seems very stable and I never crash. I've went 6 hours easily with no crash to desktop issues.
There are definitely a few bugs and glitches during gameplay that are slightly annoying however.
There is a glitch with the Free Market quest where sometimes you can't proceed further without going back to the Forest Track and coming back.
At which point the quest automatically lifts the gate so you can proceed to the second room.
In another quest in the Forest Enclave, after I finished it, all the NPCs in the area turned invisible.
They only became visible after I went to the next area and they reloaded.
I haven't had too many crash bugs during playthroughs, maybe twice in the 12 days after launch.
Another example is a graphical bug/issue where your hair mesh or texture sticks out of your helmet while you walk around.
Won't show up in the inventory screen though.
Generally, bugs are annoying though not a deal breaker.
Some of the bugs I mentioned above may be fixed eventually, no clue when.
World Tiers and Balancing Issues
How bad this is depends on what kind of player you are.
What are world tiers?
It's game difficulty levels, all the way from 1 (super easy) to 15 (hell mode).
The higher the world tier the better loot that drops, possibly even those unique loot items.
Who wouldn't want that right?
Also later on, when you get to expeditions you have challenge tiers which work the same as world tiers.
If you keep the default setting of upgrading to the next world tier each time, the difficulty gets higher and higher to the point that your powers do almost nothing to enemies.
Enemies also become literal bullet sponges.
This makes the main story and unlocking zones ungodly hard.
That's because enemies might be like 8 levels higher than you on World Tier 8 let's say.
You earn the same experience as you if you were on World Tier 1.
By the time I hit World Tier 8 as a level 18 character, I literally couldn't kill anything.
It's best to stick to World Tier 1 or 2 to get through the story as fast as possible, get to level 30 and then go back and do higher world tiers for better loot.
The problem is that if you can going up World Tiers, you have to replace your gear constantly, almost like every few minutes.
That's because the gear you're currently wearing and that you may want to keep can't catch up.
You could upgrade it however the enemies are so hard to kill now leading to you being unable to get enough upgrade resources.
It's a catch 22.
Also because your gear is weaker, your Firepower (gun damage) and Anomaly Power (power/magic damage) is also lower.
It's a vicious cycle.
This makes levelling your character super hard if you keep advancing world tiers as you unlock them.
Because everything is so hard to kill, you eventually hit a wall unless you turn down world tiers.
Disable automatic advancement of world tiers in the Settings.
Get to level 30 as fast as possible and don't worry about gear as much.
The only way to level your character fast and at good pace is to keep the world tier lower than 6.
I chose 4 later on for my pyromancer even though I got to 8.
You earn the same experience no matter the world tier, so if you want to hit level 30 fast then don't make enemies into bullet sponges.
Level your character to level 30.
Get your gear to level 30.
Then work on upgrading World Tiers.
Use only blue rare gear until you hit level 30.
Break down everything else for anomaly shards and mods.
For casual players who don't care about getting the best loot possible, then staying on lower world tiers, like below 6, will be fine.
For the hardcore sorts who want the best gear, then this world tier thing when you're not at max level can be annoying.
This also relates back to balancing issues I mentioned above.
I did say that the variety of possible character builds (when combined with gear options) is massive before.
That's a plus.
The problem is that the way this game is designed, especially at higher world tier difficulties, most builds likely become useless except for builds using bullet anomaly powers.
Or builds based around using bullet anomaly powers.
Only the Trickster, Pyromancer and Technomancer have these bullet powers that make your gun's bullets ignore armour and apply some kind of DOT (damage over time effect) usually.
In the demo, the Devastator class (tank/close combat) seemed great, however at higher World Tiers/difficulty, the Devastator literally can't do any damage with its powers.
If you're a casual, non-power gamer this might not be a deal breaker.
If you are a power gamer, as most people who play looters are, then this is an issue.
Especially if you intend to solo the game content and never play with anyone else.
It's also an issue in games like Warframe, where enemies in Steel Path hard mode are so hard to kill that only certain builds of warframes and weapons will work.
Most of the "powers" of the Warframe, similar to Anomaly powers in Outriders often don't scale to higher difficulty levels and so do no damage and only tickle enemies.
You'd have to focus solely on Firepower in order to survive and get through World Tiers higher than 6.
Also from what I've heard, expeditions are timed so if you can't kill fast enough then you'll probably fail those endgame expeditions.
And the fastest, hardest hitting way to do damage is with a gun.
Anomaly Power just won't work well when it comes to speed killing.
So essentially you have maybe 3 or so builds that work for the highest World/Challenge Tier difficulty content, so you can grind out the best gear.
All of those builds use bullet Anomaly powers (Toxic Rounds, Volcano Rounds, Twisted Rounds) in some way.
Unless the devs can buff the power or lower the cooldown of Anomaly powers by a lot or create mods that do either of those maybe, then you really don't have any build diversity at all at higher than World Tier 6 difficulty levels.
Is Outriders, the full game, worth the full price to buy.
Was it worth the 79.99 Canadian dollars I paid for it on Steam?
It's definitely a 7 out of 10.
Even on Steam it has mixed reviews.
Nothing ground breaking yet it is a full package.
It's what games like Anthem or Marvel's Avengers should have been at the very least yet failed as live service disasters.
The bad however really kills a lot of the good in this game though it was still entertaining enough for me to finish the main story and grind for the best gear.
Your mileage will vary depending on the type of person you are.
I'm easily satisfied as long as it's not a buggy, constantly crashing mess and it has some kind of reasonably entertaining story (not stellar).
I'd probably recommend getting this game on sale at a later date if you have the option.
If you have the money to burn for a bunch of hours of amusement (and the hell of it) then do whatever you want and get this game.
Keep in mind however that given it's success, the devs might further improve and fix many of the game's issues in the future so it might be worth keeping an eye on developments even if you don't buy the game this month.
I've personally enjoyed the game even with the hours of grind it's given.
I do hope that more content will be available in the future for me to test out of course.