I never played Outriders. It’s not that the idea of a People Can Fly–developed looter shooter didn’t appeal to me. It just launched when I didn’t have a ton of time to sink into a big new game, so I ended up letting it pass me by altogether.
During Summer Game Fest Play Days, I got a chance to go hands-on with some of the content in the soon-to-launch Worldslayer expansion, so I can finally say I get it: This is a game where I can kill the Gorton’s Fisherman.
For anyone as uninitiated as I was, Outriders is a third-person shooter RPG with support for three-player co-op. The game is set on the planet of Enoch, where two factions of settlers are duking it out for dominance while trying to survive a massive energy storm called the Anomaly. Also, you got zapped by the Anomaly and gained superpowers, and at some point you find out there was a race of aliens on Enoch when humans showed up, and they turned themselves into monsters using the power of the Anomaly to fight humans.
That, more or less, is all you need to know to get started in Worldslayer. Even if you’re not familiar with the intricacies of the base game, you should still be able to hop right in and start blasting bad guys. That’s in part because Worldslayer includes the option to skip right to the new content and hit the ground running. Should you so choose, you can create a new character and instantly boost them to level 30, allowing you to effectively skip the base game. If you have an existing character, though, you can of course bring them over into the expansion.
I started a new level 30 character and played through the first two and a half missions of the new campaign. Despite my total lack of Outriders experience, I quickly got a handle on the flow of the combat, which feels about as solid as you’d expect given People Can Fly’s pedigree. There are big, chunky guns, enemies that can take a serious beating, and class abilities governed by cooldowns like you’d expect to find in an action RPG. As a tank-class character, my powers let me dish out serious damage, but the big key to survival was a passive ability that let me recharge health whenever I killed an enemy in close proximity. Once I learned the basics, I was quickly stringing together combos between my powers and my shotgun, topping myself off on the reg so much that I only died once.
In essence: Shoot bad guys, get loot and experience to power up your character, shoot more bad guys. That sort of thing. I won’t say the gameplay did a ton to stand out from other titles in the genre, but it’s a competent RPG-shooter that I imagine is even more fun to play with friends.
While I can’t speak to the base game, there was certainly a decent variety in the three environments I played through, too. I started off in a snowy biome, fighting off massive local fauna and humanoid enemies alike, all the while avoiding icy AOE zones that would freeze me and leave me wide open to take damage. After that, I headed to a rainy, muddy fishing village, where I squared off against a certain fish stick mascot.
Actually, I don’t know for sure if it was the Gorton’s Fisherman. But he had the iconic yellow slicker and bucket hat. I was told by my allies he was believed to be the ghost of a local sea captain who’d died—in fact he was just pretending to be a ghost to capitalize on a local legend. He wielded massive dual blades, spoke in a guttural, ogrish bellow, and took all of my power to defeat. All of this tracks perfectly with my understanding of Gorton’s lore.
After I (maybe) felled that titan of the frozen food aisle, I moved on to infiltrating a rebel prison, leading me into a massive canyon complex with a strong Mad Max vibe. Midway through that level, my demo time came to a close. If anything, I was surprised that Worldslayer kept mixing up locales so frequently. It never felt like any given environment overstayed its welcome.
The one thing I’m less than clear on, after my hands-on time, is how what I played of this fits into the overarching story Worldslayer is trying to tell. From what I gather, through the dialogue I heard and the trailers I’ve seen, is that our heroic Outrider’s quest to tame the Anomaly will eventually reveal that there’s a big bad in control of the storms— Ereshkigal, the blue lady from the game’s artwork.
Apart from the new campaign, the big focus in Worldslayer is offering new ways to level up your character. Rather than just tacking on additional levels to the same skill tree, the expansion instead introduces two new progression systems. First, there are Pax levels, which let you earn points to fill out a single branching skill tree divided into two subclasses. Based on the demo, it looks like you only have a limited number of points, so you’ll need to choose carefully as you spec out your character—every skill or trait you unlock means you’re choosing to forgo one of the others. The second progression system, Ascension Points, appears more open-ended, offering chances to stack up smaller but eventually meaningful boosts to different stats, inching up things like weapon damage or your health. Worldslayer also adds an infinitely replayable endgame dungeon called the Trial of Tarya Gratar—though I didn’t get a chance to give that a go.
In general, it seems like People Can Fly is doing the right things to let existing Outriders fans get even more fun out of the game. And just as importantly, Worldslayer is making sure newcomers won’t be lost if they decide to hop in now.
If that sounds like your bag, you don’t have much longer to wait. Outriders Worldslayer launches June 30th on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. The expansion will be available in a bundle with the main game, or as an upgrade if you already own Outriders.