Outward Preview

Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2019-03-26
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

During my time with the preview build, I visited two of the game's expansive areas (can't say how many of them there are in total but definitely more than two). They both offered over a dozen hours of content and had a nice mix of major landmarks, minor points of interest, dungeons, and unmarked locations for you to discover.

I just wish those points of interest had a bit more going on personality-wise. I want the places I visit to have rich stories associated with them. I want to hear rumors about a fierce beast that's been terrorizing the village and then get a chance to encounter it on my journey. Unfortunately, in Outward a bandit is usually just a bandit. There were some exceptions but not enough, in my opinion.

You should also be aware that the game is pretty shameless when it comes to blocking certain areas off with invisible walls, and those can be quite jarring. Though perhaps this was an issue with the preview build, and by the time the game launches, those invisible walls won't be quite as obvious.

Now, even though the game's visual fidelity can't really compete with the behemoths of the industry, its vibrant color palette, lighting system, and creative placement of glowy and mysterious props more than make up for its somewhat lacking models and textures. This lively vibrant feeling was further augmented by the game's music that was extremely pleasant to listen to.

Less pleasant was the fact that regardless of the settings I used, the larger open areas suffered from some weird micro stuttering where occasionally the game would freeze for an instant and then make the camera controls hyper-sensitive for a bit. I mostly attribute this issue to playing an early build, but it was still annoying enough to mention.

The game's controls should also be mentioned. Despite the fact that Outward's combat system is heavily inspired by Dark Souls, some alterations to the basic control scheme and the addition of active skills made the game feel extremely clunky when playing with a controller. Navigating the game's menus and managing its robust inventory was also quite annoying without a mouse. As a result, I firmly advise you to use a keyboard and mouse for Outward.

The UI was too small for my taste, and the fact that you couldn't move or resize its elements meant that most of the time I had no idea how much health or stamina my character had left.

And finally, you should also keep in mind that you can play the game together with a friend. You can do so online or even locally. And while I didn't get a chance to try Outward's online functionality, the local split screen co-op worked perfectly fine and only required a plugged in controller.

Conclusion

Overall, Outward is a curious specimen. Its story is pretty basic, its combat can be quite anemic, and some of its systems feel a bit underbaked. But at the same time, the lack of hand holding, a healthy degree of challenge, and the ever-present desire to find out what's hiding behind the next rock manage to balance those shortcomings out somewhat. As a result, it's hard for me to say whether the game will remain enjoyable in the long run, I just know that I had quite a bit of fun playing the preview version.

And if I, with my distaste for open-world games and survival elements, managed that, those of you who generally like these kinds of games should definitely put it on your radars.