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Outriders review in progress: This could be a brilliant game, but it’s too soon to tell

Outriders could be a truly terrific game, but only time will tell if it lives up to its potential...

Here's our day-one review of Outriders.

The Polish developers from People Can Fly, with support from their publishers at Square Enix, are launching a big new sci-fi game called Outriders into the world this week. And RadioTimes.com has tried out the game early to bring you this day one review.

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The story starts off with mankind on its last legs as a colony ship lands on a newly discovered world called Enoch, having already abandoned an apocalyptic Earth. Things only get worse from there, with mysterious storms soon revealing that Enoch isn’t really fit for purpose as a brave new world.

As one of the ‘outriders’ whose job is to explore this planet, the player-character is soon on the receiving end of a powerful blast from those storms, which endows you with incredible abilities. You’ll get to pick from four different character classes: the fiery Pyromancer, the zap-happy Technomancer, the tank-like Devastator or the sneaky Trickster. Each one has its own unique strengths, which are explained to you when the choice is presented.

Jump forward a few years and things have really gone to hell on Enoch. You’re not the only person to be ‘altered’ by the unique local weather patterns, but lots of your powerful peers have veered off onto villainous paths. The game takes the shape of a shooter, albeit with some super-powered perks, as you’re sent off on missions to battle various foes.

But is Outriders good? That’s a tricky question to answer fully, at least for now, because the full game was only made available to press two hours before the review embargo lifted at 2pm on 31st March. Combine those two hours with the time we spent playing the pre-release Outriders demo content, and we’ve got around five hours of total playtime under our belt. That’s enough for us to generate some opinions and first impressions but, considering that the main story is said to be 30 hours long, and there’s also talk of meaningful Outriders endgame content, we can’t really give you a fully-fledged review of the whole experience just yet.

That being said, our early impressions of Outriders are very positive, and there’s definitely a sense that this game could earn legions of fans if it lives up to its potential. And given that you can play it either single-player or multiplayer (in online co-op, groups of three can team up to tackle missions), Outriders will certainly pique the interest of a lot of people.

Outriders offers a lot of customisation.
Outriders offers a lot of customisation.
People Can Fly/Square Enix

Whichever way you prefer to play, it shouldn’t be too tricky to pick up the controls of Outriders. The gameplay is a lot of fun from the start: after some early missions where you’re taught the basics of using your guns and moving between different positions for cover, you’ll quickly unlock a set of special abilities that will liven things up significantly. We’ve spent most of our time so far playing as a Trickster, which means we can teleport around the map and temporarily freeze our enemies where they stand.

With skills like this at your disposal, it quickly becomes clear Outriders is much more than just a shooter. It’s like The Division 2 meets Marvel’s Avengers, because it really is a mash-up of a co-op war game and a sci-fi superhero experience. And from what we’ve seen so far, this really is as fun as it sounds. The missions are put together in a satisfying way, and it doesn’t take long before you start feeling like you’re living out a proper power fantasy.

There’s impressive depth to the game beyond the missions, as well: there are loads of side missions to be found, including a charming series of challenges that sees you trying to track down remnants of mankind’s previous life on Earth. You’ll struggle to find another AAA game that includes a loving shoutout for a Beastie Boys vinyl.

Another likeable feature is the fact Outriders has a whole load of difficulty options, called ‘World Tiers’, with players unlocking harder tiers as they go. At any point, though, you can switch back to an easier tier, which means you shouldn’t get stuck on any one level for long, unless you personally decide to stick with the hardest options. For players who struggle with hand-eye coordination, the option to switch between so many difficult tiers really is a godsend.

For players who love the ‘looter-shooter’ genre that’s dominated by games like Destiny 2, Outriders has plenty to offer. You’ll be earning loot on every mission, with higher World Tier difficulty choices increasing your chances of finding powerful new weapons and gear. There are also loads of merchants dotted about the place, making it nice and easy to sell any unwanted swag so you can afford the more exciting stuff. The game has a grubby art style that blends gritty dystopian vibes with flashes of colour and quirkiness, and you’ll have loads of options when it comes to kitting out your character and deciding how you want them to look.

Outriders lets you team up with friends in groups of three.
Outriders lets you team up with friends in groups of three.
People Can Fly/Square Enix

As you can probably tell, then, from our early experiences with Outriders, we’ve found a lot to enjoy. However, there are some areas of the game which are really hard to judge after just five hours of playtime. One of the biggest facets of the game that we don’t feel comfortable rating yet is the story.

In the first few hours, the story seems like fairly standard sci-fi shooter fare, but the addition of all these cool powers is a wrinkle that you don’t always get. Mass Effect is the closest thing that comes to mind in terms of that mix between shooting and using your powers, but it’s way too soon to tell if Outriders has a story that can match up to the brilliance of Bioware’s Mass Effect franchise.

The dialogue and performances are also an area which we’ll reserve judgement on for now. There are a few lines in the first few hours which seem a bit try-hard. That being said, though, there are some intriguing characters in the mix already, both friends and foes that make a big impression.

In terms of graphics and performance, Outriders seems to be doing a pretty good job from what we’ve seen so far. The graphics in the full game look a bit better than the ones in demo, and that gives us hope there is lots of good stuff ahead to enjoy. We’re 20-odd hours away from finishing the story, though, so it’s impossible to know if there are any glitches or problems waiting for us down the road.

So far, then, Outriders does feel like it has the potential to be a brilliant game, but we need more time to test it before we can give it a rating. If you’re still not sure whether to buy the game, you want to try out the Outriders demo, which will keep being available even after the game has launched. Outriders is also available for free to anyone with an active Xbox Game Pass membership, so that limits your chances of being disappointed. We don’t think you will be, but as we keep saying, it is a bit too soon to say for sure.

Outriders launches on 1st April 2021 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Google Stadia and PC (with Steam and Epic Games Store both hosting the PC version). We reviewed the game on Xbox Series X.

Where to buy Outriders:

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