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The Outer Worlds

FBT is in the Outer Worlds and over Borderlands in the latest sci-fi shoot n loot RPG.

Isn’t ‘Outer Worlds’ just a different way of saying Borderlands? Comic sci-fi open-world shooter-looter-RPG set in rotting wastelands ruled by soulless corporations, cartoon colour-schemes, raiders who run directly at your gun barrel, Pandora-like creatures, weapons with elemental damage, vending machines, comically indifferent characters… Well, can’t be any worse than Borderlands 3 can it?

No wait, this isn’t Borderlands, it’s Fallout. We’ve got followers, slo-mo deaths, an inventory that needs management and tinkering, terminals, endless food items that grant brief perks, reputation, multiple-choice answers, cannibals… we can even be over-encumbered. Plus, this is from Obsidian, who did Fallout New Vegas.

No hang on, it’s Mass Effect. We’ve got a ship with a quirky AI, companions with loyalty missions, moral decisions to make, and … who’d have thought sci-fi RPG could become so generic? So what is Mass Fallouterlands about? As if I hadn’t guessed.

As usual in the future, mega-corps own the universe. Two ships, the Hope and the Groundbreaker set off for the Halcyon system, with the crew cryosleep. While the Groundbreaker arrives, the Hope is lost. Until, years later, crackpot scientist Welles discovers it. Only able to defrost one of the crew, who has developed better reactions (bullet-time) and better intelligence (skill-tree) while on ice, Welles sends us to Halcyon for help.

Unsurprisingly, Halcyon has become corrupt under the mega-corps (now a hyper-conglomerate called The Board) and society has broken down with bandits, war lords and crime lords making life difficult for the settlers who eke out a living in the mining towns, factories and harsh conditions in Halcyon. It’s up to us to either bring it all down or make it right as we search for a way to defrost the Hope’s popsicle population.

For the first hour I just sigh my way through this; it is like my Steam Library corrupted and merged every RPG I’ve played, it’s like someone modded Fallout with Borderlands skins. This is like gaming’s equivalent of a cover band. And then, suddenly, I’m wrong.

I’m having way too much fun to dismiss this as a reheat. This is exactly what I want from a sci-fi RPG. This is the game Borderlands 3 should have been, the game Fallout 4 should have been, the game Mass Effect Andromeda should have been, the game Rage 2 thinks it is – RPGs have become self-important and bloated; Outer Worlds isn’t original, but it strips it all back to what made RPG-shooters original.

Our ship, the ‘Unreliable’ is the antithesis of the Normandy; a battered scow of a freighter that acts as a base as you bounce around the planets within Halcyon picking up waifs and strays who become followers; but they are more self-serving and dysfunctional than I am.

The first, and best, is Parvati, a nervy mechanic who tags along because she’s told to. At first she seems like the typical NPC who just explains things, but her adorable, jumpy attitude grows on you, and we can help her gain the confidence to date another engineer which is so good. She’s accompanied by ‘Vicar Max’ who is anything but a man of the cloth, wiseacre and sawbones Ellie, scruffy Felix and drunk gunslinger Nyoka, and a bot, ‘SAM’ – who’s not exactly Legion; its actually the ship’s janitor - we swap out his detergent with acid and let him think he’s literally ‘cleaning up’ by dissolving baddies; a