Outriders’ endgame ignores the game’s best feature in the name of efficiency


A lot of things in Outriders are undercooked, but nothing more than its endgame.

Before the launch of Riders, I was particularly impressed with the clarity with which People Can Fly communicated what players can expect from different facets of the game.

The World Tier system was properly detailed and the studio demonstrated why it was a good choice for the game. Expeditions, another major component of Outriders, was also featured as a standalone endgame activity with new content. , and not just as an excuse to replay the whole game.

Whether or not you bought what People Can Fly was selling, you could only feel confidence in the team’s message. I was looking forward to the end of the Outriders game more than any other loot shooter I can remember except maybe The Division 2. I jumped as soon as I finished the campaign, and in the days that followed i was so disappointed with what Expeditions is, now i think it might have been better to delay releasing this content until a few weeks after launch.

A lot of my problems with expeditions stem from a single basic philosophy that guides them: racing to finish as quickly as possible. Each expedition has time targets that each correspond to a rating: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Beat him under or at exactly one of those set times and you earn that accolade. Gold is obviously the fastest, but it’s also the most likely to drop the rarest loot in the game. In other words, gold is not something to aspire to. , this is your target.

What this does, and I can’t believe it was missed in testing, is that it reduces the experience to a DPS race. Nothing matters more than quickly eliminating the piles of enemies that each expedition throws at you. It took everyone I play with, and millions of others online, a day or two to figure out that the only thing that matters is maximizing your damage per second. The main minds of the community were all focused on creating the deadliest builds possible for their class, right down to determining everything else.

In most other loot games this wouldn’t be totally out of place. After all, everyone likes to do more and more damage late in the game and take on whatever challenges the game throws at them more effectively. But it was especially surprising to see Outriders fall into this trap, as it spends its entire main campaign teaching players to experience, diversify, and savor the different aspects of each class’s power.

Gear and weapon mods are the cornerstone of the Outriders’ build variety. Over the course of the campaign, you come across new mods almost throughout, or at the very least, powerful versions of existing mods. The cost of modifying weapons and equipment is slim, designed so you can DIY at will. Even the skill tree can be completely redone with one click, no expensive or limited-use items needed.

All of this helped create a particular cadence that I don’t think any other loot shooter can claim. I was generally excited about a new mod, which prompts me to try a new combination of them. I would then do the skill tree again to see if I could better complete this new setup. This version would last me a few levels, before I got distracted by another set of mods. And so on.

All of this experimentation and the viability of different player approaches to the game’s classes comes to a screeching halt the minute you reach the end of the game. DPS is the only language Expeditions understand, so it was quite shocking to have to uninsert one of my favorite mods after another, not top tier, to make room for more crucial DPS boosts or survivability in higher challenge levels. This is especially evident in the single player game (which I wouldn’t recommend anyone to try), as your build needs to be even more efficient. After all, all enemies will be chasing you solo, so there’s almost no room for anything other than full damage or absolutely critical survivability.

This raw DPS drive also creates friction with players who are unwilling or able to achieve maximum destruction potential. Some have played the entirety of the Outriders as suspended technomancers, and others have chosen Devastator specifically because it allows them to stay alive longer. For the game, simply disqualifying these styles of play at the end is cruel. For the record, tanky Devastators in particular are kicked out of public games more than anyone, and it’s no secret.

And it all seems to be working as expected, which is frustrating. One of the first balancing updates People Can Fly made to Expeditions was lowering the target times for a few of them because players clear them too quickly, so I’m not sure if the studio sees this as a problem.

Some have suggested a scoring system instead, which takes into account tank damage, healing, and other areas that aren’t limited to DPS. Fixed times could still exist, but they shouldn’t dictate the outcome the same way they do now.

In the meantime, maybe a more difficult version of the game’s existing campaign, or something like that, would work both as a satisfying endgame activity beyond Expeditions and as an activity where different styles of game could flourish as they have been during the campaign.

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More