Outriders in a lot of ways is just another prototypical loot shooter. Although it has some interesting ideas with its combat and it generally feels good to play, People Can Fly's latest release has absolutely led to me feeling fatigued with this genre. Part of that absolutely isn't the fault of Outriders, but it's hard to say that the game does much different from the competition to make it worthy of your attention.
In its simplest form, Outriders is a cover-based third-person shooter that allows you to choose one of four classes, each of which has a distinct playstyle and abilities to use in combat. Although it may be redundant, the game as a whole plays like what you would imagine a combination of Gears of War and Destiny would result in. Between ducking and diving behind various barricades in each combat scenario, you'll fire off a few abilities and see some baddies occasionally blow up. There's fun to be had here for sure and the general movement, controls, and gunplay all feel smooth.
Far and away the best thing about Outriders is that on a gameplay front, it's quite sound. If you're looking to mindlessly collect loot, improve your character, and complete oddball quests, this is a game that you'll enjoy. Outriders is very much a game that you can turn off your brain to play in some respects, which is something I think everyone enjoys now and again.
What makes the gameplay stand apart just a bit though is how it incorporates the abilities. Each class has a number of different moves that you can learn as you level up, which is to be expected. However, the way in which your character heals themself in Outriders directly correlates with these abilities. If you're ever losing health quickly in a battle, using an ability on an enemy and then defeating that foe will allow you to gain a chunk of HP back. Essentially, it's a way of forcing you to use your abilities on a pretty frequent basis rather than having them sit idle as you mow through villains with simply your guns instead. It's a rather unique idea and was something I appreciated the longer I played.
Sadly, everything else on the outside edges beyond gameplay is either uninteresting or just not all that engaging. The overall story and characters are perhaps the biggest offender of this. I've played quite a bit of Outriders at this point, and I honestly couldn't tell you a single person's name in this world. You could argue that maybe that reflects poorly on me personally, but it also gives you some insight into how interested I was in anything that didn't involve shooting raiders in the face.
Still, even the backstory and writing are never truly awful. The main narrative idea behind Outriders, which involves humans having to navigate to another planet after the fall of Earth, is actually something I was pretty into from the outset. I just happened to not care for how things went from that point onward. And with the writing, nothing that is found in Outriders is what I would deem bad, but it is consistently dry. There are moments of self-awareness where things get pretty schlocky that I liked as it made me fondly remember Bulletstorm. These instances were few and far between, though.
One of the things that I do have to say that I appreciated most with Outriders though is its co-op implementation. For crossplay to have been in the game from the get-go here is something that I absolutely am not used to. When I was looking to play Outriders with my friends, I felt the need to first make sure that we were all on the same platform first. For this to have not been a problem (at least in my case) was genuinely so nice and is something that I hope to see other studios bring to their co-op and multiplayer games at launch in the future as well.
In a time where the "shlooter" genre has become quite competitive, the mark of a standout game within this space, to me, hinges on how much I want to play it in perpetuity. Outriders offers some interesting ideas and for the most part feels great to control and play. However, its bland world and tiresome structure makes it a title that I don't see myself returning to much in the future.
If you're absolutely craving a new game that has tight gunplay and a loot loop that you can get into for a long period of time, Outriders definitely isn't your worst option. But if you have played a litany of games like this over the past few years, I'm hard-pressed to think that there is anything about this one that will resonate with you on a greater level.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Outriders is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, and Google Stadia. A review copy of the game for Xbox Series X was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this article.