Game Review – I played the Outriders “Prologue” so you don’t have to

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Believe me, you don’t have to.

I’m at the point where I’m starting to feel like I want those two hours of my life back, and that’s the second time in a row Square-Enix has elicited that reaction from me.

Everything about OUTRIDERS just screams all of problems I had when I played Marvel’s Avengers last year, and maybe a few more. It was nice of Steam to keep a record of my feelings for me:

I do miss Marvel Heroes.

So how does OUTRIDERS expand upon my general disappointment? Well the cutscenes, for one. There are way too many of them. They constantly interject and interrupt any fun you might be having, and they run at a bizarrely low 30fps on my 3080. Gameplay, I average around 150fps on ultra settings, but as soon as we cut to cinematics, which is frequent, we go back to 30fps. Sometimes they even have you take control of the camera in 30fps. What year is this? What hardware restricts this low of frames during cinematics, especially when gameplay seems so well optimized by comparison? I also can’t turn off motion blur, which is appalling in a modern game.

The first hour of this prologue is spectacularly boring, as well. There is virtually no gameplay at all, and the few minutes there is, has you walking or running on rails and learning nothing about what’s actually happening in the game you end up in. It’s a lot of confusing conjecture that is ultimately very little help in understanding what the hell is going on around you. This leads to a full hour of non-gameplay before you actually get to gameplay.

Gameplay that is… clunky. Attacks don’t feel very weighted, nothing is particularly new or interesting, and the loot already feels exhausting. It feels like a game that is going to want me to grind for weapons, and that I’m lamenting the fact in the first 2 hours of gameplay is not good. Especially since the gameplay itself isn’t all that interesting. It’s generic shooting with some okish looking magic abilities that are honestly better executed in isometric ARPGs like Path of Exile or Grim Dawn.

Plus, the entire concept of cover is flawed. They set it up to be an important mechanic… right up until the point you want to engage any of your class abilities, which require you to play aggressively, as the game even tells you. If you want to heal as a melee class, you need to be close to enemies, and with ranged classes you need to be doing damage. So cover becomes a pointless mechanic the more you level up. It can’t decide between shooting and class abilities, and that’s not a good look for a looter-shooter.

You want a game that has a mix of shooting and powers? Go play Warframe or Destiny 2. They’re free and won’t waste your time. Or Vermantide 2, a great looter-shooter in the Warhammer universe. Or Deep Rock Galactic, a game about deep core mining space dwarfs, from the same publisher as Valheim. Looter shooters are a dime a dozen these days.

OUTRIDERS just feels like yet another blatant “AAA” attempt to tap into a market they don’t understand. Shades of Anthem and Avengers. Square-Enix needs to go back to making Final Fantasy games before they bankrupt themselves on “games-as-a-service.” This game just feels behind the curve, while even EA can see the writing on the wall about shoehorning multiplayer online services. When you look clueless next to EA, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

/gameon

And then I weep for the industry as thousands… maybe millions of people waste their money.

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