I've been looking forward to Obsidians new game for a while one of the splinter factions that spun out of the death of Black Isle who made some classic RPG's (Baldurs gate, Fallout) Obsidian have been making interesting if sometimes flawed games for a while with the great but unfinished KOTOR 2, Neverwinter Nights 2 which had alot of promise but was hamstrung by the engine. Things like Alpha protocol the slightly shonky Spy RPG game the third dungeon seige game and then the excellent but buggy Fallout New Vegas.
In recent years they worked on some really interesting kickstarted RPG's Pillars of Eternity and the sequel Pillars 2
Piller harder Deadfire both of which were pretty good they also did the south park game stick of truth.
So when they announced a new IP from some of the original Fallout team I was pretty interested. As details came out about the sort of game they were making and the current license holder of the Fallout brand, Bethesda, increasingly shit the bed with things like Fallout 76 (which now has a 100 dollar subscription for some of its features most of which don't currently work and were originally promised as free as well as some pay to win stuff they said they would never do) it seemed like Obsidian might produce something worthy of the Fallout Legacy a spiritual successor of sorts.
And long story short The Outer Wilds pretty much is that a new system and engine with modern graphics and set in space rather than a post apocalyptic wasteland but there are a lot of similar elements to the Fallout games.
It's the more modern take on things with an FPS experience but it has plenty of ways to approach it's missions and various playstyles with you various skills often allowing you unique ways to progress the story.
The shooting aspect feels good with several weapon types (pistols rifles machine guns grenade launchers shotguns flamethrowers) which can be modified to suit your preferences (adding various elemental damage changing stats adding scopes etc as well as melee weapons (hammers, mace, swords, scythes, spades, sports equipment) which can also be modified and then a special class of unique science weapons that have their own odd effects (like mind control shrink ray or special damage types).
Rather than Fallouts VATS system we get the Tactical Time Dilation it's functionally similar except rather than stopping time it greatly slows it and instead of locking on to specific body parts it requires you to aim but then will apply debuf effects like blindness, maim, stagger and others depending where you target even going right to instant kill execute in the right circumstances.
As the game progresses you can recruit companion characters and you can have 2 of them with you at any one time. They assist in the killing and have their own little missions to play through their own special attacks you can unlock a series of perks as well as adding bonuses to specific skills.
They've implemented their own leveling and stat system with your character having a set of base stats that pick at the start and you can't permanently change (Intelligence, Strength, dexterity, charm, perception a few others I forget) these can be set to a few levels from below average to very high and they effect how your starting skills come out. Each skill has a number from 0 to 100 and they are grouped into classes of skills 3 at a time. So ranged includes handguns long guns, and heavy guns or social skills having persuade lie and intimidate and stealth having lockpick, stealth, and hack. Every 20 points you go up category adding new additional effects to that skill like better criticals or boosted damage or other interesting effects (the social skills though not used directly in combat at higher levels have a chance to cause enemies to flee or cower in fear)
Every time you level up you gain 10 skill points and initially you put it into a group of skills and every one of those gets a point added until a skill reaches 50. So you put one point into social/dialog skills and every skill in that group (lie,persuade, and intimidate) that is below 50 points gets one added. Once they get to 50 you have to individually add points.
One whole line of skills is associated with companions determination boosts their hit points maybe damage I forget and leadership unlocks their special skills and makes them more effective at higher levels also boosting their skill point additions.
In addition to skills there are perks which add specific bonuses to certain things like you can carry more or you do more critical damage or you can fast travel when encumbered things like that you get perk points every other level.
Skills have active effects in combat but also often come up in speech checks. The obvious use of this is social skills like persuade but it comes up for other skills too a particularly intelligent character might get an option to solve some issue using that skill or an engineering character could point out some issue with a machine or a perceptive character might point out some underlying issue or something a character isn't saying. There is a whole separate set of dialogue options for very low intelligence characters where you just give dumb responses. And naturally those different dialogue choices lead to different potential outcomes you might talk you way out of a fight or learn some useful information that allows you to sneak in somewhere and so on. Nearly every conversation has some of these options with skill check specific dialogue options.
You can boost your skills a variety of ways certain clothing and armor offer boosts to different skills, food drink and various other consumables can boost or negate some of the skills (ie booze makes your personality skills better but negatively affects your mental skills), and then each companion bumps up a certain skill type. This means you can have a skill you put no points into say hack and then through certain clothes and consumables you can boost your skill up to meet some skill check. Or you can take the companion that boosts that skill Vicar Max along and you basically borrow his hacking skill if you need it. The only downside to companion skills is they are not affected by other stats boosts (clothing and consumables as they apply to your own skills) so if you are a bit short you can't bump it up a little to make the check.
Another feature is negative traits you can pick up, at various points when you get hit by certain enemies a lot or use a lot of drugs or get exposed to certain elemental attacks a lot you get a popup that offers the option to take a negative trait like a increased vulnerability to certain enemies or an addiction that means you take a penalty if you don't keep using certain consumables. The trade off is you get an extra perk point in exchange which depending on your build might be much more advantageous than the small penalty.
Some thoughts on the story the game is set in the Halcyon colonies which are a set of planets owned by a consortium of companies who set off from earth a few hundred years ago in two ships the ground breaker and the hope with colonists kept in cryo. The ground breaker reached the colonies and disgorged its stock of colonists, The hope suffered some sort of malfunction to its slip drive so arrived in the system hundreds of years late and there is some issue with defrosting people in cryo that long (the phrase used is explosively liquify) and so the corporate owners (the collective board governing all the companies in Halcyon) has decided to just leave the hope alone.
You are a colonist from the Hope revived by a mad scientist revolutionary who has perfected a technique that fixes the defrosting issue but he only had enough chemical to defrost you now he wants you to save the other colonists on the hope. So off you go into the colonies free to pursue whatever goal you want join the scientist in saving the hope sell out to the board or just run around murdering people. The setting is basically space capitalism gone wrong everything is company owned including the colonists the companies have incredible power the board even more. It's full of satirical digs at that idea with various missions that involve these companies running roughshod over people and common sense for financial gain. Things like suicide being illegal because it's destruction of company property and if it happens everyone in the area gets punished, A scientist inventing a toothpaste that is also a appetite suppressant but it also causes blindness but corporate thinks that's not a big deal, various foodstuffs being prepared using weird modified animals like cystypigs, nearly everyone being required to spout the company approved lines when talking to you. And most of the time you have the option to fight against things, go with the flow, or participate for the money, or join up with the board, or just watch the world burn.
I enjoyed it quite a bit it was dark humorous and satirical in just the sort of way that I appreciate. It looks great with each planet being different and then the various areas all having different feel to them.
Each individual faction has their own loyalty level this changes what merchants and vending machines will sell to you and if it gets really low their guards will attack you on sight. It hasn't really influenced the story much so far and it seems like it's relatively easy to just keep everyone happy there hasn't been a if you help A then B will hate you sort of choice it seems fairly forgiving you can take a few hits here and there and it will be canceled out by doing some missions for that faction.
So a fun game with some reasonable first person combat, extensive options for play types, a dark sense of humor in the game and the story and an all round pretty fun and polished game. Not much in the way of bugs or things that felt unfinished (something Obsidian were notorious for in the past). Available on consoles PS4 XBOX1. For PC it is currently on Epic store (and humble store although that's just an epic code) which I know will be an issue for some but since its owned now by microsoft it's also on their store and part of their game pass subscription service.
I've been having a lot of fun with it so far and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys the modern Fallout sort of games.