The best Space RPG to play while waiting for Starfield

Starfield is among the most anticipated upcoming titles due to its promise to offer a galaxy-wide RPG experience that’ll engross you in its myriad plotlines, excellent characters, and enough equipment variety to satisfy any hardcore horder.

However, the next big Bethesda title is still some time away, even when not considering the chance of more delays, so here’s an alternative.

The Outer Worlds has been sitting unplayed in my Steam library for a while now after I picked it up in a bulk purchase during a sale – as is the standard for most gamers.

But in a nice pause between major releases and having wrapped up Elden Ring (at least until its DLC comes out), I thought it an excellent time to give the Space RPG from Obsidian a chance.

I’m rather glad I did.

The premise

The Outer Worlds takes place in a distant future of the world where humanity has expanded across the stars, and massive corporations and organisations hold the greatest power in producing resources and managing colonies.

It’s a cruel, often satirical world whose characters have that iconic Fallout: New Vegas half-serious, half comedic tilt to their dialogue and motives. What’s not to love?

At the beginning of the game, the player character is thawed out from cryostasis aboard a colony ship that had been believed to be lost.

Your defrosting is courtesy of a rebel scientist intent on overthrowing the corrupt corporate government and saving the thousands of people-popsicles still aboard the drifting ship.

He tasks you with aiding you in this endeavour, and so your gory adventure begins.


Character creation and gameplay

As this is an RPG, there is of course character creation, and you can create whatever sort of person your heart desires.

This extends beyond physical appearance as you also choose your distribution of stats and skills, allowing you to shape the way you’d prefer to play.

In terms of gameplay, The Outer Worlds doesn’t do anything revolutionary but what it does is solid and enjoyable.

You’re able to switch between four different weapons of your choice, which range from assault rifles and pistols to hammers and scythes (if you’re more melee motivated) and bring two NPC companions along with you who, while useful in providing passive skill bonuses, are otherwise rarely more than just bullet-sponges.

So like Fallout and Skyrim, its combat isn’t Souls level challenge, but that’s alright since the combat merely serves as a means of facilitating its wonderful quests and characters.


Quests and world design

The Outer World has what I’d call a segmented open-world – several different large zones you can travel between and unlock as you progress through quests – similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition.

This is to its benefit as it allows each area to have a high level of detail and have interesting quests without risking overwhelming the player or swamping them in dull filler quests.

As you progress, you’ll move from zone to zone, often back and forth as quests take you between these locations.

This makes the game world feel alive and large despite not being an especially huge gameplay area such as the sort offered by Skyrim or Breath of the Wild.

This progression is facilitated by the game’s quests, which are divided among the main, faction, side, task, and companion quests. Most are of an agreeable length offering enough engagement to keep you interested but not so long-winded that they begin to feel tedious.

Aiding this is the excellent writing of the majority of the quests and the main NPCs, as well as the engaging way in which choices are made to matter.

Yes – unlike Skyrim which is a linear storyline with character RPG gameplay, The Outer World’s has complex branching story progression where you can choose how to interact with the world as you see fit.

You don’t have to be the good guy if you don’t want to, nor do you have to be the bad guy – you can approach each problem as you’d prefer.

This freedom of choice offers great replayability, and one playthrough won’t give you even half of all the potential dialogue and interactions the game has – including its several varying endings.


Drawbacks

The Outer Worlds is a great game but, like everything, it isn’t perfect.

My chief issue was the companions, most of whom were rather forgettable for me. I only did the companion quests out of a sense of completionism and for the experience the quests offer – not because I cared about the companions.

Indeed, the most entertaining characters you’ll meet are the ones who offer quests and hang around the world – including your ship’s snarky AI who never fails to offer a droll comment on your actions.

But this isn’t a major issue and hardly a reason not to play it – just take along the companions who match your skill requirements and use them as distractions.


Verdict

The Outer Worlds is, like Fallout New Vegas before it, a masterpiece of excellent writing and great design, and is therefore something not to be missed.

Even if you couldn’t care less about Starfield – if you enjoy satirical stories and space adventure games then it is very much worth a try.

It also had a recent sequel announcement that could potentially come out before Starfield, so there’s that to keep in mind.


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The best Space RPG to play while waiting for Starfield

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