Although Square Enix scaled back its PAX East 2020 plans a bit without its Final Fantasy IX team, it still had a showcase in store. Along with a demo for Final Fantasy VII Remake, it also provided a behind-closed-doors look at Outriders. This upcoming third-person role-playing-laden shooter comes to us from People Can Fly, the manic team behind Bulletstorm. And while this game is a little more serious in tone, it definitely delivers the action vibe we expect from the studio.
Humanity at a turning point
The game takes place in the future, where humanity attempts to strive across the galaxy. They find little hope, however, until they reach the planet of Enoch. There, they try to track down a mysterious signal, only to come across a massive energy storm.
In its wake, they discover new superpowers that give them additional abilities. With four different classes to choose from, players form their path and try to give humanity a new hope. That’s easier said than done, considering opposition rises up with its own agenda.
The three classes we had on hand were the Pyromancer, the Trickster, and the Devastator. The fourth should get a reveal closer to the game’s release.
This class is all about fire, able to utilize volcanic energy to summon a few techniques. These include an impressive wall that can cover a good amount of range.
If you’re looking for a character that’s a little bit slower, but ultimately powerful, then the Devastator is for you. It can channel Epoch-based energy into its attacks, creating devasting techniques that can shatter even the toughest of foes.
Finally, this class puts time on its side. It can manipulate opponents with energy attacks that can slow them down in a number of ways. Once unlocked, you can also teleport behind enemies to deliver additional damage.
No matter which way people go here, there’s a lot of damage to dish out across a truly impressive open world. You’ll come across all sorts of battles in Outriders against different opponents. How you take them out is through third-person-based gunfights, complete with cover tactics and finding your best ability to wipe them out. You only have one to start, but you can eventually unlock more and really put the hurt on them. And you don’t have to wait long, as they usually become available within the first hour.
That combines with the hundreds of guns that are available within the game. You can pick up a variety of firearms as you make your way through Outriders. Shotguns, for example, are ideal for close-range attacks. Meanwhile, assault rifles come loaded with ammo and are great at pounding your rivals from afar.
And since this is a “looter shooter” of sorts, you can always pick up new weapons in the game, along with a variety of items. Nothing is wasted here when it comes to availability.
Bring your fellow Outriders
You could take on this shooter by yourself if you really feel daring enough. However, this experience came together with co-op in mind, and you’ll thank yourself when you bring friends along. The game supports up to three players together, so you can take on missions like a little strike team.
Our co-op session worked really well in the demo, though it is still a general work-in-progress. Being able to rely on teammates and figure out an approach to each firefight is very cool, and some bosses require a strategy that’s not so much on the manic side. It’s really well done at this moment, and the final release should mix things up further once the fourth class gets an introduction.
A presentation to die for
As for the graphic style of Outriders, it really does look like the game is levels above People Can Fly’s previous work on Bulletstorm. There are some flourishes that appear to be the same, like a marker that shows your next mission point (complete with a sound effect from Bulletstorm‘s connector points). However, other touches show just how next-level this game is.
Here’s a good example. You end up running through one stage when a lightning storm suddenly breaks out. You’ll need to dodge their strike points, which appear as glowing circles on the ground, and scramble to reach safety. It’s a rich moment that really shows off the new engine People Can Fly has become highly invested in.
Not only that, but the game also features a variety of internal and external settings, so there’s no shortage of creativity with firefights. You may need to figure out a way to scramble to better cover to take on an opponent, or even call on a teammate for help. The game is definitely looking pretty sharp at this point.
Also, the dialogue in Outriders is great. Again, it’s not on the comical side, but you can tell it has the touch of the developer in spots. In one scene, for instance, you have a character that isn’t afraid to show off his powerful side. But he hams it up in the process, displaying just the right hint of villainy.
You can also customize your character however you see fit from a number of design choices within the game. From the face to skin tone to hair appearance, you can really go all out in making your Outrider stand out.
Not your typical People Can Fly venture
Though there aren’t many details on where the game will go in the future in terms of post-release content, Outriders should have a lot to offer upon its initial release. We played through a good portion of the first part of the game and found it to be to our liking. The shooting is tactful and well put together, not to mention exciting. The co-op factor works really well, especially when it comes to tougher bosses – like the teleporting fiend we went up against. The visuals look levels above People Can Fly’s last work. And the story is intriguing, something that should keep players around for the long haul.
Outriders should be a good time when it arrives later this year for Steam. Be sure to wishlist it, then prepare for an unpredictable future for humanity.