Originally released in 2019, the first-person action-oriented role-playing game The Outer Worlds was like the recent Fallout games if that series had better real-time combat, was even snarkier, and was more influenced by such space operas as Firefly than such ’50s sci-fi movies as Forbidden Planet. While a sequel is on the way, people who missed the original — and who own a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X or S — can now enjoy an enhanced and more complete version of the game with The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition. Which, no surprise, is just as good as the original, and may even be worth getting if you played some but not all of the original version.
Set in 2355,
The Outer Worlds casts you as a colonist on a space ship who wakes up from cryosleep to learn that everyone was supposed to be defrosted 70 years ago, but were instead left on the ship like those pizzas in the back of your freezer you’ve never eaten because they’re buried underneath a stack of leftovers. Revived, and with a new ability you only have because you slept so long, you set out to explore some inhabitable alien worlds in hopes of finding the chemicals you need to defrost your fellow colonists.
For a more in-depth critique of The Outer Worlds, you can read my review of the original game. But here’s a quick summation. As I said in the intro, The Outer Worlds is a first-person action-oriented role-playing game. And you know what that means: story quests, side quests, random attacks, lots of looting, conversations, moral choices, skills and perks you can improve upon when you earn enough experience to go up a level, etc. etc. and so on.
Combat-wise, The Outer Worlds is somewhere between Borderlands 3 and Fallout 4. While its smooth controls put its gunplay and sword swinging on par with the former, you also have the ability to slow time, which is similar to the latter’s V.A.T.S. targeting system, except that instead of running out of points before you get enough shots off, you can run out of time. You also don’t target specific body parts, though you can manually if you want.
Just make sure your gun is fully loaded before you use it; slowing time slows you as well.
The Outer Worlds is also…
more like Borderlands 3 than Fallout 4 in how it’s set on a couple different (but still open) planets, not just one. None of which are as big as the one in Fallout 4, or even the ones in Borderlands 3, but there’s still a lot of room to explore.
As for the Spacer’s Choice version of The Outer Worlds, its move to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S comes with a lot of the improvements you’d expect. Visually, both the graphics and animations have been upgraded, and while it doesn’t look that much better (at least not on my non-4K TV), it does seem to run slightly smoother than when I played it the first time. And the second.
The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition also, not surprisingly, includes the two add-ons they, well, added on later, along with the level cap raises they provided. In “Murder On Eridanos,” you investigate the murder of an actress on the titular planet, while in “Peril On Gorgon,” finding a severed arm leads you to an asteroid where scientists performed dangerous experiments. As when they were originally released, both are now integrated into the main story, expanding it greatly, and with new places to kill and be killed.
What is surprising…
is that The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition fixes some of the original’s more glaring mistakes. Though, annoyingly, not all of them.
For starters, your general walking speed seems to be a bit better than it was in the original. Or at least less annoyingly slow. Which isn’t to say you won’t still want to upgrade it, just that it’s less imperative, especially since, as with the original, you don’t have to worry about draining a stamina meter when running.
The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition also improves the size of the text, which was annoyingly small in the original. And while it was something they previously addressed in a patch, they’ve actually improved it further. Though this just makes it even odder that the subtitles are still on the small side, and that there’s no option to for that.
As for other issues they didn’t fix…
— or, more accurately, the other design choice they didn’t chose to change — you still can’t do a stealth kill on someone you sneak up behind, despite the game teaching you how to be sneaky, giving enemies an “awareness meter,” and letting you improve your stealth skills. Sure, you can sucker punch someone from behind when they’re not looking — or sucker shoot, or sucker slash with a blade — and it’ll deal added damage, but it’s not the same as being able to do a silent takedown on an unsuspecting bad guy.
They also didn’t take out the wear and tear mechanic for your weapons and armor, even though it’s never made any game better, ever. Though it does seem like your guns and clothes are slightly more durable this time around.
So, what’s the verdict…
as to whether you should buy The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition? Well, it depends on how much of it you’ve played before. Or not played, as the case may be.
Obviously, if you’ve played The Outer Worlds and both “Murder On Eridanos” and “Peril On Gorgon” on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC, the Spacer’s Choice Edition isn’t worth it. Save your money for The Outer Worlds 2. Or maybe a book that’s Outer Worlds-esque (I’d recommend Becky Chambers’ The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, or John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War).
That said, if you’ve played The Outer Worlds, but not “Murder On Eridanos” or “Peril On Gorgon,” and have since gotten a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S, the Spacer’s Choice Edition is worth upgrading to, since it’s just $9.99, while “Murder” and “Peril” are $14.99 each, or $24.99 for both, and they are as engaging as the main game.
And, as you can probable surmise, The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition is also worth it if you didn’t play this game at all. Well, assuming you like the recent Fallout games, and shooters, and sci-fi games with a bit of depth…but somehow missed this. Which is weird.
my third trip through The Outer Worlds for this review was just as much fun as the first two. Even though I’d done it before, I still found myself challenged, but in an effortless way that had me sitting down to play for just an hour, only to realize that four hours had passed, I wanted to keep going, and where the hell are my pants? Whether you play the original or this new and improved edition, this is still an effortlessly fun adventure into the unknown.