Looking to join the ranks of other looter-shooters is developer People Can Fly’s Outriders. A demo is currently available to download for free on consoles and PC and give you a good look at the first chapter of the game.
So how does this third-person looter-shooter compare to others? And what games is it most similar too? Outriders is most comparable to The Division and Mass Effect as it’s a third-person cover-based shooter with abilities. However, the aggressiveness of both enemies and how the game asks you to play rings back to People Can Fly’s time co-developing Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment.
On a surface level, this is a very straightforward third-person shooter and the first thirty minutes of the demo wasn’t all that exciting. After a lengthy prologue section with zero shooting — and an insane amount of lore dump (I’ll come back to the story) — you’re finally given the choice of choosing the class of your character and jumping into the action. The Devastator is the tank that works in close range; the Pyromancer is best as medium range and can conjure fire; the Technomancer is long-range support with gadgets like a turrent; the Trickster class is about getting in close for big damage before retreating with spacetime abilities.
All four classes play very differently, and on the battlefield, it’s easy to differentiate whose abilities and skills are doing what to the enemies around you. I chose to play as the Pyromancer, and conjuring up walls of fire and causing enemies to levitate before combusting is pretty bad-ass. Each class has three ability slots, and all of your skills are on relatively short cooldowns for this sort of game, which encourages you to use your abilities at all times.
Each enemy encounter in the Outriders demo was quite challenging, with two boss fights being quite punishing. Enemies certainly hit hard, but the game encourages you early to be aggressive to recover HP, and in that regard, it reminds me of Bloodborne. You can’t retreat to cover and wait for your HP to refill; instead, you must get into the action and hit enemies with your skills and weapons to trigger HP recovery. This leads to many times when it looks like you’re about to die, but keeps you on your toes throughout each encounter.
By the end of the demo, I’d picked up several different pieces of gear. A shotgun that increased the time one of my fire abilities lasted, and a cool looking coat. I’d also sold about twenty or more pieces of gear to a vendor in the HUB world (which weirdly looks like Anthems HUB to me, RIP), so there’s plenty of equipment to go around. I could already see chances for building character-specific builds with the right gear to heighten the abilities you use.
Visually there’s nothing particularly exciting about Outriders. I’m aware it’s not a AAA blockbuster, but the art design is very lacklustre. A barren planet brings lots of browns and not much else. That might change later in the game, but I wasn’t interested in the world design at all from what I’d played in the demo.
There are signs of something more interesting to come as the Prologue I had mentioned earlier does feature wildlife and more green scenery.
Let’s get into the Prologue quickly. The story in Outriders has you playing as a group of humans, called Outriders, who have been sent to discover a new planet for humans following dying Earth. In these opening minutes, you land on the planet you think will be perfect only for it all to go to crap pretty quickly as you discover a strange anomaly that kills half your team. You enter cryo-sleep for thirty years and wake up to learn the rest of Earth’s remaining humans had landed on the planet none-the-less and are now trapped and going mad. There’s a war. You’ve got superpowers. There are other enemies with powers, too; I think some are bad, some maybe aren’t?
Look, it was a lot for a fifteen-minute introduction. I wouldn’t say I’m not interested in the story and lore of Outriders, but what’s given to you in the demo is just a lot to handle.
I enjoyed my time with the demo, and I’m keen to play more Outriders. The powers are easily the most exciting part of the games combat so far, and I enjoy how it encourages you to play so aggressively as that helps separate it from other, similar games. When you’re playing with a full squad of three players and blasting your abilities in succession at a group of enemies, it’s a beautiful sight. However, I’m hoping for some more mission variety in the full game as the first couple of missions are very linear and could get boring quickly.
Outriders releases on PS5/PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC on April 1st.