Outcast: A New Beginning Review

The long-awaited sequel to the video games genre’s first-ever 3D open-world adventure is finally here. For somebody like myself, it’s a brand-new experience within Adelpha, the gorgeous world of Outcast. It feels refreshing to venture into a new, alien world full of breathtaking environments, gorgeous creatures and Avatar-like inhabitants, minus the blue skin. Aside from the audio glitches and constant framerate drops, Outcast: A New Beginning is quite a fun game, if the dated mechanics can be forgiven.

The journey begins…

 

A Whole New World

Cutter Slade is our protagonist, an on-the-nose soldier who has completely lost his memory, awakening from a dream state in which he enters occasionally before dropping into a temple, questioning his presence once getting his bearings. As somebody who never played the original game, it’s also a breath of fresh air for me, but that might not be the case for the people who remember the 1999 first instalment. But alas, if you never played the first game, it doesn’t mean the second instalment would be any more confusing than it already is, especially with its almighty gods…I mean yods, having a religious impact on the world and its inhabitants. Most of the world is crafted by industry veterans who worked on the original Outcast, and it’s a heavily detailed world filled with love and passion. Still, it’s incredibly safe to jump straight in if you haven’t experienced Outcast before because, in a way, neither has our protagonist.

Where’s a saddle when you need one…?

 

Walking Bullet Sponges

Our protagonist doesn’t exactly fit into his surroundings. Cutter’s sarcastic quips and dry humour fail to sit well with Adelpha’s brown-skinned Talans, a race of aliens at war with invaders in full body armour, looking very familiar with two arms, two legs, one head and 10 fingers. Slade is a hardened military veteran who I thought sounded like Nolan North, but it is Luke Roberts; not surprising that a legendary voice actor had no part in a near-forgotten video game series. There are plenty of docile creatures in the game that lack any hostility towards the player and are, in fact, definitely not Earth-like. Unfortunately, Cutter cannot pet the smaller creatures, nor tame the larger creatures. These otherworldly beasts are also virtually indestructible, no matter how much you try to test how many headshots they take. Essentially, if it doesn’t have a healthbar, it can never die, so boredom-filled killing sprees are not allowed for you bloodthirsty players.

Just need a campfire and a tent.

 

Sorry, Could You Repeat That?

Questlines are provided through the many Talans of Adelpha, who can speak for the world. Outcast incorporates a deep dialogue system, so deep it makes the Mariana Trench look like a kid’s swimming pool. Cutter’s personality doesn’t exactly resonate with his alien companions as during conversation, he might make a smart quip that shows how Outcast doesn’t take itself too seriously. Cutter might say something like, “You’re pulling my leg”, leading to the other party being confused and responding with, “I haven’t pulled anything, my hands are right here!”, providing some humorous moments. The game’s playtime majority is filled with dialogue, however, as many of Adelpha’s inhabitants just don’t know when to stop talking. Some dialogue trees where Cutter can ask questions that deviate from the main story can have up to five or six branches, each carrying a good chunk of dialogue inside, containing lore that, half the time, sounds like complete gibberish. Luckily, the game provides a glossary during a conversation that explains all the words with which the writers of Outcast love to confuse even the most beloved of fans.

A thriving community…

 

I Could Walk 500 Miles

You’d fail to find any modern video game release this past decade with as much maneuverability as Outcast: A New Beginning. Early in the game, Cutter will be equipped with a jetpack that allows him to reach inhuman levels of height whilst jumping. Finding himself in combat sequences, Cutter’s jetpack provides opportunities to dash away from attacks, similar to Dark Souls rolling but minus the forgiving invulnerability frames. Adelpha’s deep jungle system doesn’t include any vehicular movement for exploring its massive open-world, but Cutter’s jetpack has one more trick within its engines: a boosting system that allows Cutter to reach immeasurable speeds, and if you find yourself too high up, the jetpack’s gliding system offers quick air travel. Who knew humans could fly, huh?

Shoot if it looks weird…

 

Gimme Some Space!

Whether you’re engaging in warfare with the invaders or fighting tooth and claw with the animals, Outcast offers a deep weapon customisation system that will help you kill enemies faster than ever before. Sadly, the game only really offers two weapons, those being the pistol and rifle, but these can be heavily modified to go from pew-pew to kapow-kapow in a flash. Simple bullets can be turned into explosive mines that stick to enemies for a truly destructive death. Other mods might include a power enhancer that increases the damage of weaponry when close to overheating, creating more risk for the plentiful firefights but bringing in the reward of much faster killing. Cutter can duck and cover from enemy fire, and if need be, he can project a simple shield that can also be used as a melee weapon when enemies try to burst Cutter’s bubble. Animal fights can be trickier as they prefer to get up close and personal, so the player must change their tactics by dodging or jumping to gain a more breathable distance.

He saw the performance issues…

 

Unfortunately, the colourful world of Outcast can’t always be just rainbows and armageddon as the performance in the game can be abysmal at the best of times. Sure, there’s a lot of detail in the world of Outcast, but sometimes, even the emptiest locations can barely keep up to a solid 30fps on current-generation software like the Xbox Series S. Funnily enough, I’ve had situations where simply walking around a populated village is choppier than engaging in full combat sequences. For a video game advertised for the new generation, pop-ins were far too frequent as the game would struggle to load in rocks, flora and simple ground textures sometimes, especially if Cutter was moving fast throughout the world.

 

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, Outcast: A New Beginning is a decent enough game to get invested in if you love alien worlds and technology. The game’s beautiful, detailed environments shine as one of its strong points, and combat is enjoyable enough, but the game’s consistent performance issues and dragged-out questlines do let it down. The world of Adelpha is breathtaking for a AA title, however, so hands down to the developers for creating a gorgeous, new world to spend a few hours within.

Developer: Appeal Studios

Publisher: THQ Nordic

Release Date: 15th March 2024

Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Windows PC

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