A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Outer Worlds is a science fiction themed first-person action/role-playing game, available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. Players take on the role of a colonist that's been trapped in hibernation for seventy years before being freed by a scientist and enlisted to find a way to revive your fellow stranded colonists. It has a dark sense of humor that also parodies the power and influence that corporations have on our daily lives. Profanity is used frequently in the dialogue, primarily "s--t" and "f--k." The game's graphically violent, with lots of blood and gore shown onscreen. Player choice is key, with decisions directing the path the story takes, as well as how other characters react to your presence. It's also possible to visit one of many bars across the story, and drink alcoholic beverages that provide positive and negative effects to characters.
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What's it about?
THE OUTER WORLDS introduces players to a time in the far distant future and a place on the edge of the galaxy. Welcome to Halcyon, the greatest corporate sponsored colony in the universe. Don't believe it? Just check out all the great product placement and marketing materials that clearly state otherwise. You were originally meant to be a cog in this corporate machine until a malfunction aboard the transport ship Hope left you and hundreds of other colonists stuck in stasis, then shipped off and stranded in the far reaches of space, covered up rather than bring the board of directors any undue embarrassment. Now, seventy years later, you've been revived and sent on a mission to Halcyon to recover the materials needed to rescue the rest of Hope's cargo. You've been given a second chance, but what you choose to do with it is up to you. Will you save the Hope's colonists and lead a revolution against corporate rule? Will you join with The Board and devote yourself to its marketing and propaganda? Or maybe you'll just ignore it all, leaving a path of murder and mayhem in your wake. Just remember that on Halcyon, as advertised, satisfaction is always guaranteed.
Is it any good?
There are a lot of games that offer player the freedom to "play the way you want," but very few deliver on that promise as well as this RPG (role-playing game). There's not really a "wrong" way to play The Outer Worlds. You want to save the world and bring your people home? Go be the hero. You want to join the corporate machine and keep the people under the sway of its propaganda? Sure, why not? Pacifist, serial killer, thief, con man … it's all up to you and the choices you make. And if you don't like how things turned out one way, start a brand-new run or re-work your abilities, try a new path, and change your fate on the fly. This is your story, and the game encourages you to write it any way you see fit.
Gameplay in The Outer Worlds is a blend of first-person shooter and classic role-playing. The combat is fluid and responsive, and the "Tactical Time Dilation" feature opens up some unique options. You COULD just shoot an attacking Marauder in the head and be done with it, but it's much more satisfying to shoot him in the leg so he can't run, then antagonize a nearby creature into finishing him off. Add your party members into the mix, bolstering any stat or ability shortcomings your character may have, and you've got all the makings of a nearly unstoppable force. In fact, that's one of the game's few shortcomings. It's almost too easy on the main difficulty levels, and yet switching to highest "Super Nova" difficulty adds in things like party perma-death which makes the experience much more punishing. Its sudden, steep curve may be off-putting to all but the most hardcore RPG fans. Still, like nearly every other aspect of the game, it's your choice to play how you want. And while there are only a handful of distinctly different conclusions to the story, The Outer Worlds is never really about how the game ends, but rather the journey you take to get there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about choice and consequence. What are some of the ways that decisions we make now can affect the circumstances we will face in the future? When given a range of choices in a game, do you prefer to act more like your true self, or do you make choices that go against your grain?
How does the corporate ruled setting of The Outer Worlds parody how corporations influence our daily lives today? What are some of the ways, positive and negative, that corporate actions impact the world?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Private Division
- Release date: October 25, 2019
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: May 4, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.