After playing Outworlds for just a few hours, it's remarkable how often the game seems to say "yes" to the choice I make for my character. He is not trying to steer me or push the conversation in any direction. The end result is an RPG that feels incredibly wide, with many options for how I choose to play a scene.
As a result, my character already feels truly unique. Her name is Kate, and with extremely low intelligence and high charisma, she is a crook who packs guns that falsifies him until he does. It means to reveal to anyone that she has taken on the role of Captain Alex Hawthorne, who stole their identity and their star ship with a plan to ride, and for whatever cost.
And at least for now the game doesn't stop me. All of my dialogue solutions allow me to reveal my real name and also give me a dialogue option that keeps it secret. I even managed to confuse the ship's artificial intelligence. Add to that a bonus – called "dumb" – that allows me to derail even the simplest conversations with the funniest cues that can be presented, and this is already shaping up to be an unforgettable role-playing experience.
Game directors Tim Kane and Leonard Boyarski tell me that everything is part of the plan, with a short campaign featuring many different potential paths to take along this path. The outside worlds are effectively built on the basis of playability.
"We want to allow players to do whatever character they want," Boyarski told me during an interview last week. "This is the job [game master’s] to make it work."
"It's an old-school idea," Kane added, telling me it was similar to his original vision and to Fallout . He and Boyarski helped create the franchise in Interplay in the mid-1990s.
"We always wanted players to be able to play their characters any way they wanted," Cain said, "and make the game feel like it fully supports them, not looking down at them or trying to force them to take a different path. . "Of course, you can play that type of hero! But we really will make you in this direction and the rest is just taste. "We really want the game to feel like it's responding to the character you chose to play, and it rewards you for choosing to play the game this way. "
One of the first things players will have to do in Outside Worlds is a set of attributes, unlike the contemporary fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons for example, there is no "standard" set of numbers to work from. It's a straight dice roll, with a point-stacked layering system for good measure, meaning you can create muscle-bound lean or hyper-intelligent weight loss and it's all about window dressing; the story itself has countless hooks that really support those options and includes options for many different play styles.
This includes both negative and positive.
"I love this for the low qualities," Boyarski tells me. "They are like flaws that you can pick up from the beginning. You can be dull or weak or cumbersome or not very receptive or not very pleasant.
"If you play a character with low charisma," he continues, "this is interesting because you will do some things in the game that you normally miss and people will call you on it. People get really angry with you really quickly, and it actually surprised me in the middle of the game when an entire city was angry with me. "
" I recently did a low-temper build and played and forgot that he had not received passive health regeneration, "says Cain. "I kept dying. I want, “What the hell? I play easily. Why is it so difficult? ". Before long, his character was addicted to the adrenaline, health lover of the game. Feeding this addiction made him a kleptomaniac by necessity as he constantly needed stolen goods to finance his habit. "It completely changes the way you play," Cain says.
Along with this depth of personalization, Obsidian Entertainment's developers also added a ton to the player agency. The thief has consequences, as well as the murder. The team had to build many redundant, sustainable paths throughout the story, and that required planning.
"A designer will come to us with a great search idea and we're like, 'Okay. What if a player kills this NPC before talking to them at all? What are you going to do, then? "Boyarsky says. "It's almost a habit when you design these things. You start thinking along these lines. ”
In each RPG, however, the storyline ultimately narrows down to a few points of decision: Do you kill the kitten or save the kitten? Kane and Boyarski acknowledge that their design has similar limitations, but with Outworlds their team is actually building several different ways of dealing with these kittens.
"We need to have all the players at certain points in the game as long as we want to keep it as wide open as possible," Boyarski tells me. "When you get to these points […] a lot of games will happen: 'Well, we want to go through this point this way. You can play it any way you want, but when you reach that end point, you have to play it that way. "
" We look at these dramatic moments and say, 'You have to be able to play with the ones your character wants,' "Boyarski continues. "That's why we have to design this way. […] We're really trying to find new ways to support this gameplay and actually make you once again feel that you're playing the "right way" for your character. "
Despite these constant conditions of accommodation, the narrative has a clear view. It is full of anti-capitalist messages depicting a colonial world that is completely unrestrained by contemporary ethical constraints. Both men agreed that it was a conscious choice.
"We are not saying that all capitalism is bad," Boyarski admits. "We obviously live in a capitalist culture. Here we are talking to you to try to convince you and other people to buy our game. But it really is about the power of […]. Who controls the power and who controls the story. If you give your self to others and let them write your story about you, they should not keep a gun to your head. They can get you to do whatever they want. We could easily find that out in communist society and have the same. "
" Our goal is to have fun, "Cain said. "But it might get you thinking."