While they’re certainly aiming to up the ante on all game design fronts, arguably one of their largest improvements seems to be that of the companion system.
In The Outer Worlds, companions seem to come to life much more than in previous Obsidian titles. While your total party size has been reduced to just three (two companions plus your own character), the ways in which you can interact with them in the game have increased significantly.
“We wanted to integrate companions quite a bit more, so each of the companions has a backstory and companion quest,” Lead Designer Chris Staples told GameSpot recently. “Talking to them along the way opens up those companion quests and you can do things for them. But also, how those companion quests play out influences what they think of you. Your decisions and how you treat various factions plays into that.”
This trait, of course, can be seen in past Obsidian games, such as Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire and Tyranny, which in turn took the RPG blueprints from the likes of Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age. The Outer Worlds expands on this by increasing the types of responses one can get from a companion character depending on how you behave. As Staples would explain later on, they would “react” if they didn’t like any action you took, and may even threaten to leave the party entirely.
Besides that, their presence in combat is more than just serving as meat shields for player characters. They will call out if they need some assistance or healing, or hurl verbal insults at enemies as you encounter them. But perhaps what’s most interesting is the various squad commands you can assign to the group.
You can order companions to attack specific enemies, or avoid them, or even have them divide and conquer by focusing on their own mobs. Again, this takes cue from the likes of Mass Effect and even the classic Fallout games of old, which adds a nuanced tactical element to combat.
The flexibility of the companion system in The Outer Worlds seems to be Obsidian’s most comprehensive one so far. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most highly-anticipated games of the year.
The Outer Worlds launches on October 25 on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch (at a later unannounced date).
Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witcher’s body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as “Mind Flayer” and “Magic Missile”, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.