In more ways than one Outriders both stands on the shoulders of similar games that came before it, and stands clearly in their past. It takes no time at all to see the obvious inspirations the game draws from Destiny, Gears of War, and more. The latter should come as no surprise given People Can Fly’s work on Gears of War: Judgment, and even their earlier game Bulletstorm still felt like a title channeling the Unreal styles.
It should come as no real shock, then, that Outriders fits a similar mold. Immediately players will notice the cartoon-like character models and bulky, unrealistic machinery of games gone by. The dated stylings have not slowed Outriders from becoming a top game on Steam, however, and that’s due to one simple fact; Outriders is just a fun video game.
From the moment the player loads into the game, it’s like stepping back in time. Outriders players are treated to a quick rundown of a familiar story about humans fleeing a dying Earth to find a new home before being dropped into a tutorial level that feels as out of place as one might expect. The Outrider proceeds to have a conversation that feels like it should have taken place well before the events of the tutorial while they learn how to move, look, and mantle before planting a literal flag to let the convoy know it can move up. As the best video game openings over the years have worked to immerse players in the world or story and make them forget they’re playing a game, it can be a bit jarring loading into a game as unsubtle as Outriders, but it can also be very refreshing.
By the end of quick prologue players will have picked their class and will be well on their way to melting, warping, and exploding enemies. This is where Outriders truly shines. The HUD may have more things on it that players can process at once, and the dialogue may border on laughable at times, but dashing into a time bubble and bursting an enemy head like a melon feels as epic as it sounds, delivering on Outriders’ promises of brutal combat.
Players will, of course, recognize the cover system championed by the Gears series, and it works fluidly in Outriders while still blending with its more chaotic gameplay. In Outriders players won’t find themselves waiting in cover endlessly for enemies to poke their heads out, but instead they’ll be dancing in and out of cover as they mix quick shots with devastating abilities to pick apart swaths of enemies. This can have a bit of a learning curve, as it’s very easy to fall into familiar patterns of playing stop-and-pop or constantly racing into the chaos getting caught up in the brawl. Once players learn to balance their gameplay in Outriders, however, they are in for hours of fun.
Players will have plenty of time to find their balance thanks to the incredibly expansive Outriders demo, and they should also use that time to get acclimated with the dated, somewhat goofy world. While other games are going for minimalistic interfaces, hyper-realistic design, and gripping, immersive narratives, Outriders is far more concerned with how enemies can be melted within a spacetime anomaly, and that is perfectly OK. Not every game has to shatter records; some games are perfectly fine just shattering enemies to pieces.