Unlike sequels, the expectations for add-ons are usually low. We expect there to be new missions, new locations, new enemies, and new weapons, but we don’t expect much in the way of new mechanics. And that’s okay. Take Worldslayers, a new add-on for the sci-fi third-person action / adventure shooter Outriders. While it does add something (which I’ll detail in a moment), that something doesn’t add much at all. Which is fine because while Outriders: Worldslayer — which is available both separately and as a part of a new, more complete version of the game (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) — may not be an improvement on the core game, it more importantly doesn’t ruin it.
For those unfamiliar with Outriders,
you can check out my original review, or just enjoy this quick primer: After fleeing Earth, a spaceship carrying human colonists has arrived at the planet Enoch. As a member of the advance team, an Outrider, your job is to find a spot to set up camp. But after getting badly hurt in a powerful electric storm, you’re placed back in stasis…only to wake 31 years later, and to a world full of people who’ve clearly watched too many Mad Max movies. Thankfully, you have a bunch of guns, as well as some storm-given magical / technical / Jedi-like powers you can use to defend yourself and maybe, just maybe, get this planet back on the right path.
As for what that actually involves, Outriders is a third-person, cover-based shooter, but one with the mechanics of a role-playing game. Hence why, after shooting a bunch of guys while ducking behind a large barrier, you can pick up the weapons, armor, and ammo they drop, while also using the experience you gained to upgrade yourself and your abilities.
It’s also one of those games that’s supposed to be played co-op, but can be played solo. Though unlike most, it has options when it comes to difficulty, so you’re not forced to fight people who are way above your pay grade (unless, of course, you want to).
In other words (I’ve used before), it’s like if Mad Max director George Miller made The Division 2.
As for Outriders: Worldslayer,
it’s set after the events of the base game, and has you learning that the aforementioned storms are growing exponentially, threatening everyone on Enoch. So, of course, you once again have to run around, kill tons of enemy humans and human-hating locals, while trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
But while Outriders: Worldslayer‘s basic mechanics remain unchanged, the good people of Poland’s People Can Fly did add more than the aforementioned new enemies, new weapons, and so on.
They also added two new ways to improve and customize your character. When you start playing Outriders: Worldslayer, you’re automatically bumped up to level 30, and given some appropriately powerful weapons and ammo. But rather than raise the level cap, and thus give you more opportunities to improve yourself via the skill tree, the game adds two more customization sections instead: Ascension Points, which improve your character (“Next Max Health Bonus Increase: 0.5%” “Next Cooldown Reduction Bonus Increase: 0.1%”), and Pax Points, which improve your skills (in the case of the Technomancer class, you can increase your weapon damage by 100% of your weapon leech, or increase your Anomaly Power or Firepower (whichever is higher) by 10% for 5 seconds when activating a skill).
Though no, to answer the obvious question, neither Pax Points nor Ascension Points are now part of the regular game.
The thing is,
neither of these new upgrade sections really change much. In part because each point only raises an attribute by a small amount, and in part because you don’t earn that many of either kind of point. It’s not like when you started the game, and went from level 1 to 10 within a matter of minutes.
Now, for me, this was not a big deal. Largely because my eyes glaze over whenever I’m asked to micromanage the minutiae. (Or someone uses the word “fiduciary.”) But for some people, getting new rewards that aren’t that rewarding can be irritating.
No, for me, the irritation with Outriders: Worldslayer came when I started this expansion with a new character. While you can play this section with the character you used in the main campaign, you can also create a new character for it, one, as I said, who’s automatically bumped up to level 30.
The problem is that when you get to the “Skills” page, you aren’t given 30 levels of points to redeem. Instead, it automatically fills in a direct path to one of the secondary classes. Playing as a Technomancer, for instance, automatically made me minor in Pestilence. Granted, you can reset the skill tree, but doing so costs you 20 skill points.
while starting Outriders: Worldslayer with a new character gives them appropriately powerful armor and weapons, you aren’t given a choice here either. Not in the type of guns, or the specific ones. While my saved character had a sniper rifle and an assault rifle, with an automatic shotgun in reserve — a great set-up for a game in which your enemies often attack from far away and up close — my starting anew character was given a somewhat redundant loadout: an assault rifle and a machine gun.
Though your new character does have all of their class-specific special attacks unlocked. Y’know, like they would in the regular game when they reach level 30.
Still, because of the forced skill tree aspect, and the less interesting weapon loadout, I went back and started over with my saved ones after playing with a new character for a few minutes.
Not surprisingly, Outriders: Worldslayer also has the same issues that plagued Outriders. You still can’t pause the game; you still get knocked out of cover way too easily when shot; you still sometimes run out of ammo because none of the guns have big enough clips; and you still find yourself irritated by the menus, which use the same inaccurate thumbstick-as-mouse approach as Destiny 2 and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Outriders: Worldslayer also has a problem so common that I just cut and paste this paragraph into every relevant game review: the text is too small. If you sit at a reasonable distance from your TV — y’know, like your mama told you to — you’ll have trouble reading the menus, the captions, the instructions, and even, oddly, the map. And that’s true even if you turn on the “Large Fonts” option in the “Accessibility” menu.
But as with Outriders,
these issues don’t ruin Outriders: Worldslayer. Not with the combat still being frantic and effortlessly engaging, the new enemies who attack in different ways than their brethren, and the battlefields being such that said enemies can attack you from every angle. If anything, I should probably remove “cover-based” from the third paragraph, since the fights in Worldslayer had me forced out of cover far more often than I was during regular Outriders. Sure, getting knocked out of cover so easily is infuriating. And I’ll spare you my rant about why there’s no reason this game couldn’t have been a single-player experience with co-op instead of the other way around. Because when you actually play it, when you’re in the middle of a harrowing battle with some Mad Max rejects or some of the indigenous life forms that, let’s be honest, are just defending their home from interlopers (that means you), there are few games as effortlessly engaging as Outriders, and even with its additions, Outriders: Worldslayer is thankfully just more of the same.