The Outer Worlds - From Obsidian


It’s a very old choice for RPGs of all mediums yeah.

Here’s this, got that out of the way.

I am personally kinda more excited for whenever Sawyer wrangles together enough people to do Not Darklands 2: Holy Roman Boogaloo.


I honestly prefer voice-acted player characters and that was one of the things I liked most about FO4, perhaps primarily because it was Courtenay Taylor who I really like from ME2/3. I can’t speak for the other character’s performance.

The silent protagonist is one of the things I find a bit jarring going back to New Vegas, though not nearly enough to make me not enjoy it. Similarly I doubt I’ll have too much trouble in Outer Worlds. It’s a small preference for me but not enough to ruin things.


The hate for it isn’t innate to the idea, it’s just that it introduces barriers both for devs and players who want that freeform roleplaying. You can’t really insert your own voice for different characters, you can only ever sound one way. On the dev side it makes writing dialogue for the PC more expensive and more difficult to implement and edit.


I’m pretty sure the ‘Dumb’ options are the equivalent of the low-INT options in New Vegas and the first two Fallouts–as in, they’re stat based, so depending on your character build, you might not have them at all. That doesn’t do anything to excuse the use of ‘Dumb’, but it does at least establish that they’re not really equivalent to Fallout 4’s [Sarcastic] options.

I’m very excited for the game based on what we’ve seen so far, but then, I am one of those people who can just, like, bathe in this style of RPG–give me stat-driven dialogue options, companion characters, and a bunch of different resolutions for various situations, and I’ll give you tens-to-hundreds of hours of my life. 'Specially if you combine all that stuff with something other than an isometric perspective*. Plus, uh, you set something in space and you’re already a good 50% of the way towards having my attention.

Anyways, Game Informer just put out a 15 minute gameplay video, in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet?

*Don’t get me wrong, I love loads of CRPGs, new and old - like, Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Hong Kong are up there with my all-time favourite games, and I only played them this year - but it’s suuuuuper rare to find these kinds of RPG systems in any other kind of game, so I’m always excited when something like this or New Vegas pops up.


I get the why, I just prefer hearing a voice performance. I find having voiced NPCs and a silent protagonist to be just a little jarring. I don’t mind it in something where everything’s text. Like I said it’s not a huge deal and I’m still very enthused about Outer Worlds.


I’m intensely interested in his proposed Bike Shop Sim game, even though it would probably be depressing as you are inevitably crushed under the weight of Nashbar and other online retailers


Ah yeah I can see that disconnect being an issue.


If it was stat based then, it would probably say [Intelligence X] and also not let you give the serious answer. Like this article
describes how the companion will just move the quest along as usual. So currently it looks to be nothing more than optional flavor text like the sarcasm option, unless you can provide any other interviews that go into more detail.


I checked the PC Gamer article I thought said that it was stat-based but that doesn’t clarify either. I’d just assumed it was based on precedent and the fact that an Intelligence stat exists. TBH that stuff was always crass and ableist either way, labeling it “dumb” doesn’t help either. Gotta be a better way to add reactivity for low Int character, maybe calls into question whether there should even be an “Intelligence” stat and what that means.


Yeah I got the idea from that same article/the precedent, and the way that the dialogue options in question don’t really read as ‘sarcastic/witty’ to me. The IGN piece also talks about them as ‘stupid’ options, that companions will react to as such–a little like how Arcade’ll join up with you in New Vegas if you’re playing a low intelligence character, because he thinks you need the help.

I agree that the whole, ‘me so stupid’ style of dialogue just doesn’t come across well, and it does cast the whole idea of having an ‘intelligence’ stat into question–when you try to quantify ‘smarts’ as a simple number, that a game can read and react to, you open up the potential for blundering into all sorts of really unfortunate reads on what, exactly, it is to be ‘unintelligent’. Some RPG systems handle this better than others, but… Well, it’s of a kind with the whole Shadowrun, ‘trolls have this cap on INT, elves have this cap on STR…’ style of, ‘hey, maybe we didn’t quite think the full implications of this through’ systems.


If you ever seen Tim Cain talk about design, his mistakes and what he’s in to, he’s someone who thinks about this sort of thing all the time. Obsidian may blunder things every now and then but I think they at least earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the system design and the thought put into it.

I also think Pillars 2 is one of the best RTwP isometric RPGs that has ever been developed. Game’s really damn good.


I don’t think I’ve played any game from Obsidian but this looks exactly like a game from Bethesda and I like those. However I don’t like how it looks, the art style, the colours (someone’s been playing NMS), the fashion, and I don’t like the humour. But it might be fun, I hope it turns out good.


Here’s a couple good articles from the RPGSite, their write up on the game is more in depth and there’s an interview with a Senior Narrative Designer on the project, Kathryn Megan Starks.

From the first article:

“Everything in The Outer Worlds is branded by a different company, ranging from gear to weapons to food to the areas people live and work in. Each company in the game essentially has carte blanche to run people’s lives. This future society no longer witnesses any degrees of racism or sexism, instead focusing entirely on which company’s sphere each person ends up associating with. Halcyon itself is comprised of two Earth-like worlds, aptly named Terra 1 and Terra 2, with the former becoming something of a den of monsters, bandits, and anarchists while the later acted a planet-sized slab of real estate to be bought and companies such as Spacer’s Choice and Auntie Cleo’s.”

“In order to drive home the message that companions were set out as a design focal point upon The Outer World’s inception, Tim elaborated on a unique playstyle titled “Leader” to accompany the more standard trio of “Combat”, “Stealth”, and “Dialogue”. A Leader character is one that’s clearly differentiated based on the companions he chooses to bring with them but makes concessions to their own individual abilities. Whichever team members they decide to ally with can support and the player’s skill levels with their own, and do such to a greater extent depending on how good a Leader the player is.”


A Venn diagram of the majority of Bioware or/and Obsidian fans and people who still want a second season of Firefly is basically a circle so for better or for worse a sarcastic response option is here to stay in this kind of game.


Space westerns are by far my least favorite scifi aesthetic and Bethesda style open worlds are my least favorite type of RPG. Plus this really feels like some rick and morty shit, and not just because of the rick cosplayer lookalike scientist guy either. Not feelin super into this one.

On the other hand, Obsidian making a bigger budget non-isometric RPG again makes me WANT to be interested in it. I’ve only barely played obsidian’s past games but I watched friends play them in college and they were pretty memorable! And some of the gameplay details coming out seem like interesting departures from the bethesda formula. But man I dunno I am really not vibing with the aesthetic and tone of it all.


I was thinking about this while watching the Game Informer Quick Look-esque video, especially with their comments on how Obsidian are “front-loading the humour with these [Dumb] dialogue options” and I was having a real yikes about it.

I get the Low INT dialogue choice heritage from Fallout, all the way back to tabletop RPGs, and watching it in practice here made me feel like they could maybe make it workable if it were based around Wisdom, rather than Intelligence? Which is to say like, naivety or a lack of understanding about how the world works (especially with the distress signal example in that demo footage), rather than a quote unquote neanderthal brain.

I think I’d be more receptive to them trying to inject humour with a character who has no street smarts than one who feels like some Incredible Hulk comic dialogue, y’know?


My thoughts are identical.

The logo and everything, like it just isn’t visually interesting to me. It will do well though for probably being the second or third game with this look though (depending on when Far Cry and RAGE 2 happen).

I doubt it will be an Ubisoft style open world though. Probably more along the lines of New Vegas or even Deus Ex with bigger more zones (I can hope)

I hope the presentation gets a little more ambitious though, even if it just apes Mass Effect that’d be better than just a static shot of a talking head. That owned in Fallout and Fallout 2 because of the rendering of the time and it was reserved for just a few big deal NPCs. Like if it’s just going to follow the trends aesthetically that’s the least they could do.


Hearing these Game Informer dudes slowly explain “your options are melee and ranged… so like two options, and there’s another route you can also go which is… stealth” like it’s a rare and fragile concept while staring at stodgy FPS melee combat that looks a generation out of date with an especially crummy Borderlands-ass sPaCe WeStErN aesthetic is goddamn surreal.

Hopefully the lighter tone means Obsidian will (maybe by MS mandate, even) lay off rape bullshit for bits of their 2real worldbuilding, at least.

the implicitly ableist jokey joke thruline sounds pretty shit, Obsidian’s actually good jokes are almost never their teehee dumdum shit, even OWB was only funny when it was super smart people being self-absorbed weirdos, or subverting the expectation of teehee dumdum shit. I guess No Mutants Allowed’s been loudly mourning the loss of low INT for a decade now though, so we were gonna get this eventually.

hilariously this might end up being the Obsidian game i’m most okay with if it’s as uninterested in edgy shit as it seems to be, cos fuck man even in Prey I could feel the Avellone influence when the prisoner you could kill/spare had “solicitation of a minor” on his rap sheet to make the choice more fuckin nuanced or whatever. I’ll take “[Dumb] Haha I don’t understand things” over that or VtMB or Caesar’s Legion or Tyranny any day.


A better and funnier choice would be to have the low charisma speech checks just be jock-y dipshit responses if your INT is low, or smug asshole uncalled-for witticisms if your INT is high.

Being a walking stereotype of a disabled person is leaning hard into the worst trappings of Obsidian’s writing. It’s not creative or interesting.


The space frontier setting taps into the same colonial settler bullshit that Fallout has been dipping into for me. Writing that kind of setting as a wild, untamed place devoid of intelligent life (that we know of anyway) is a deliberate choice in the same way as Fallout 76 engineers a reason for there to be no established communities or society to get in the way of the player.

I can’t help compare it to how China Mieville tackled the idea of the space frontier in Embassytown. In that book, the frontier is already populated by intelligent societies with rich cultures and languages completely inscrutable to humans, and the frontier city of Embassytown is a place of considered, respectful diplomacy where the incumbent society absolutely has the upper hand in negotiations. It presents non-violent aftermath of a successful first-contact between equal players AND gets to have its gory laser fun too.

Having another western-tinged Mad Max wasteland full of raiders and weird animals, even with the corporate angle, seems lazy in comparison.