Congratulations! In Outriders, we finally managed to kill Earth for good. Fortunately, a bunch of bright minds quickly found a new habitable planet: Enoch. A fresh start for humanity? Of course not! In about thirty years, everyone will be killing each other again. So for you as an Outrider there is plenty of cannon fodder.

Outriders is mainly about shooting, shooting and shooting again. Shooting gives you new weapons and equipment so that you can, well, shoot better. We are indeed dealing with a purebred looter shooter here. The big advantage is that you not only have shooting irons, but also supernatural super powers.

At the start of the game, as Outrider exploring this new planet, you will be exposed to The Anomaly. Most people who come into contact with this die a gruesome death, but you turn into an Altered. Depending on which class you choose, you can suddenly summon fire, teleport, or conjure up turrets and other weaponry out of nowhere. For this review I mainly played as a Pyromancer.

A whole range of skills can be unlocked for each class, of which you always have three under the buttons at the same time. Nice is that Outriders really encourages you to use your skills frequently, instead of keeping them on hand for a dire situation. For example, for damage you cause with your skills, you get health points back. So it is not the intention to stay behind carefully, but rather to throw in the beech.

In addition, you can add mods to your weapons and equipment. For example, such a mod allows you to use a certain skill multiple times, do extra damage when an enemy is frozen, or let lightning strike when you fire a weapon. Once you get a feel for this system, you can create great combinations. For example, at one point I had a weapon that set enemies on fire, while another mod allowed me to deal extra damage to enemies on fire. As a result, that weapon automatically caused excessive damage from that combination.

To make it even more fun, co-op lets you tune your classes, weapons, skills, and mods a little bit together. If your buddy can freeze enemies, you can use another mod that deals extra damage against frozen enemies, or specialize in a different element for more variety on the screen. Fire, ice and a vomit-like substance that causes rotting quickly fly harmoniously across the screen, complementing each other in spectacular fashion.

Outriders creates his own graceful dance of shooting and using super powers, but certain enemies form an interlude. Captains and other prominent enemies are temporarily immune after a number of attacks and also sprinkle super powers themselves. In the beginning these kinds of enemies force you to improvise in an interesting way, but when the end of the story is in sight there are also some frustratingly difficult bullet sponges in between. Fortunately, you can lower the difficulty of the game world at any time – and up again after defeating a tough enemy. That way you can continue with the story.

That story isn’t going to win a Pulitzer Prize, by the way. A search for a mysterious signal leads the Outrider through muddy war zones where various human factions are engaged in trench warfare, as well as untouched alien jungles and desolate wasteland. Along the way, pick up a Mass Effect-esque ensemble of characters to experience a deliciously bad B-movie, full of cliché plot twists and ditto dialogues.

The story knows how to offer sufficient red thread between the blasts. Around three-quarters of the game, it falls a bit too much into an Avatar decoction, but the game recovers well towards the end as long as you expect pulp. The game rarely takes itself seriously and it is precisely that lightness that looks good. Plus, developer People Can Fly manages to do something BioWare couldn’t do with Anthem or even Bungie with Destiny: deliver a complete game. Outriders have a distinct head and tail. Even the endgame is building to an end. Outriders is not a promise to the future, with loose threads that have to be filled in in an expansion: it is a game that delivers now and is fun now.

At least in multiplayer mode. Outriders was really made as a co-op game. In co-op, you can resuscitate yourself once per confrontation (after that you need the help of friends), while you are dead on your own. It makes the game exponentially more difficult. That can be compensated by playing at lower World Tiers (read: difficulty levels), but then you earn less cool weapons and equipment while that is a bit of the whole goal. You also have to be online to play, even on your own. So if the servers have a breakdown, as was often the case during the first days after launch, you’re out of luck.

Outriders got off to a rough start to say the least, leaving servers unreachable in the first days since launch. This has been largely resolved, but not quite yet. There is still regular disconnection, after which the game on Xbox immediately shuts down completely. You will never be able to join again, so all players have to restart the game. But even after a (re) startup, it is anything but obvious that you can easily start a party. Invites don’t arrive, connections fail… playing together takes more effort and patience than it should. That is more than a week and a half after launch – and certainly with a game that relies so much on the cooperative element – very bad.

In addition, Outriders has the necessary bugs. Graphic oddities, such as spastic facial movements, inadvertently add hilarity, while asynchronous audio spoils some cutscenes a bit. More problematic is a certain bug that causes some players to lose their entire inventory. Worryingly, People Can Fly still hasn’t fixed this bug. The developer is aware of it, so it may be resolved by the time you read this, but it may not be. Fortunately, it has not yet happened to us.

Such a technical mistake is striking, because Outriders scores more than satisfactory otherwise. Especially on the new generation of game consoles Outriders runs pleasantly, even when we deploy all kinds of super powers with several players at the same time. The high frame rate and resolution (locked 60 frames per second with dynamic 4k) really benefit the fast action, and the virtually absent loading times keep the pace nice. Outriders is not particularly beautiful, but graphically above all functional: in this case we prefer a high and especially stable frame rate over realistic details.

The result is unadulterated action that you can easily get addicted to. Always being able to squeeze the most out of your weapons and powers with the best mods, and then unlock even better weapons, powers and mods, and then always look for new ways to make life miserable for the enemy.



+ Fully adaptable to your playing style
+ High framerate benefits the game
+ Skills make you feel powerful
+ Flexible difficulty

– Technically fickle with even potential gamebreaking bugs
– Unstable servers at moment of release