The Borderlands, Fallout, and Mass Effect series have left their mark in the community as highly-popular titles with well-crafted narratives, so when a recently-announced project appeared to be the lovechild of the trio, interest levels naturally rose.
First unveiled at The Game Awards 2018, The Outer Worlds is positioned as a single-player, story-driven RPG-shooter hybrid from the makers of Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian Entertainment. But while its first trailer showed off an expectedly generic sizzle reel, an interview between RPGSite and Senior Narrative Megan Starks reveals that more is at play, with some twists in tow.
Self-thinking NPCs and AI companions have long become part of the game formula; their presence is most felt in an RPG setting, however. Where the player goes, these faithful individuals follow, and the extra aid is more than well-appreciated during quests or missions. Depending on the player’s in-game behaviour, the option to romance or antagonise them is also possible, with The Outer Worlds set to continue the tradition. There’s a catch to this, though: the player’s companions will ask for help as well, and Starks confirms that “they’ll speak out against you if they don’t support what you’re doing.”
She explains the rationale behind the move, stating that the team wants “their [the NPCs’] motivations and goals to always be at the centre of their character.” This would especially come into play where allegiances are concerned, with many of the in-game companions swearing loyalty to various factions. As such, they are liable to leave the player should they express displeasure or disagreement over the latter’s choices as a space pirate.
In fact, the decision-making process serves as an important element in the game. Staying true to the spirit of choice-based games, The Outer Games offers different endings for a more “focused single-player story experience” while granting freedom to explore the various environments built around the solar system. What this also means is that gamers will have the option to kill almost every NPC they come across – including those who play a significant role in the narrative – and Starks elaborates:
“As a designer, I’m always tempted to just gave it made so that you can’t kill this person or that person! But we have a philosophy where we feel like it makes for a better gameplay experience to allow the player to do these sorts of things. You can even kill the scientist [from the trailer] if you want.”
While killable NPCs are hardly a new concept, the fact that critical ones can be eliminated as well is quite the interesting development. It’s bound to excite the bloodthirsty, and serves as a way out of irritating companions – y’know, like Claptrap from the Borderlands series. 2019 is the date to bid these suckers goodbye.