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The Outer Worlds - DLC Field Report

Not my screenshot, and not from the DLC, but a reminder that this game looks pretty neat!
Not my screenshot, and not from the DLC, but a reminder that this game looks pretty neat!

I like The Outer Worlds. Hell, I ranked it #4 on my 2019 Game of the Year list, and I stand by it. But when the DLC was released in September 2020 (Peril on Gorgon) and March 2021 (Murder on Eridanos), I didn’t bother checking either of them out. In the case of the former, Hades had just come out and already consumed most of my gaming hours. For the latter… I just had stopped paying attention to the game. For the next couple of years, the only things I would hear when someone mentioned The Outer Worlds were “I wonder if the DLC was good” or “is that the one with the time loop?”. So why, in the year of someone’s lord 2023, did I revisit this game and purchase the DLC package for 19-ish American dollars?

Because I wanted to provide a public service for anyone who saw the recent announcement about the current-gen upgrade, and give out information for anyone interested in buying it. I’m just a nice guy like that. I’m not at all mad that I spent a couple months playing the game without the improvements!

Because I played High on Life, and I fucking hated it.

This is not meant as a slam on anyone who enjoyed High on Life, but my only thought during the 3 or so levels I played was it felt like a bad version of The Outer Worlds. The humor, the weapon handling, the upgrade system, the environments: all of these compared unfavorably in my experience. Consequently, I got a hankering to make a new character in the game I did enjoy, with the goal to at least get past Emerald Vale (the starting area). I made a melee-focused character who excelled at speech checks and was very, very stupid (more on this in a bit). Originally, I intended to side with the Board this time around, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. After getting about halfway through the story, I finally decided to pull the trigger on the DLC when it went on sale. I wish I’d bought it sooner.

There are a few reasons for this, and most are positive. First, my skepticism that the DLC would be worth it was dispelled fairly quickly. A lot of people have expressed disappointment in the writing of The Outer Worlds, but I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s very much More Of That, although the writing in Murder on Eridanos was better than the base game because the premise relies on stronger dialogue. It was fun to hit new narrative beats in a style that works for me, and I regret spending so much time on Monarch when I could have skipped over to the new stuff. Next, one of the DLC (not sure which) added perks for your character and companions. I would have selected different options from level 2 had these choices been available to me. It also increased the cap for skills from 100 to 150, but I don’t think I had anything over 80 naturally. Lastly, the DLC increases the level cap from 30 to 36, which is just not enough for my enjoyment. The recently announced current gen upgrade (still not mad!) promises to increase the level cap to 99, but it’s too late for my playthrough.

Before I dip into each individual DLC, I’ll add a recommendation: you really should use a low Intelligence character, especially in Murder on Eridanos. There are a lot of very satisfying [Dumb] options in the base game, but the DLC took it to another level. Without spoiling anything, there is a particular exchange in the main Eridanos storyline that crescendos beautifully, but only for the most willfully stupid player character. The game does a good job making you into a Futurama character (think Philip J. Fry or Zapp Brannigan), contrasted with certain Bethesda open-world games adding an offensive noise as their “dumb” option.

DLC #1 - Peril on Gorgon

That melee weapon was in my hands through the end of the game, for what it's worth.
That melee weapon was in my hands through the end of the game, for what it's worth.

At first glance, I thought this would be a self-contained story on a fully disconnected new world. And for the majority of the playthrough, it is just that. You’re tasked with tracking down what went wrong in a Spacer’s Choice facility on an asteroid, with some sidequests sprinkled around the map to encourage exploration. It slots in pretty comfortably with the rest of the game, with the exception of having no base game story missions take place on Gorgon. In terms of size, I would say it’s roughly as large as Monarch (the biggest area in the game) once you account for the interior spaces. I did run into some frustration midway through my playthrough, as it felt like a number of places were gated to me.

The reason for this mission structure is because after hitting a certain story beat, you’re tasked with going off-world to find some people. I had fully expected to be contained on Gorgon the entire time, so this was a welcome surprise. These missions are a small fraction of the time spent on the DLC, but it was nice to connect the story to the full world. After they were completed, the rest of Gorgon opened up to me, and the story took darker turns. In the end, you make a choice very similar to the one you make to complete Monarch’s storyline, and whatever you choose pops up in the game’s epilogue. The overall story will be similar to anyone who watched a certain movie based on a canceled sci-fi show from the early 2000’s, but I felt it worked despite being overly familiar. I don’t have an exact number on my time to beat (thanks to frequent pausing borking up my play counter), but I would estimate 15ish hours.

Verdict: Recommended, at least as part of the DLC two-fer pack.

DLC #2 - Murder on Eridanos

To the credit of this screenshot, I can immediately pick out a bunch of memorable details from my time with the DLC.
To the credit of this screenshot, I can immediately pick out a bunch of memorable details from my time with the DLC.

Ah, here’s the fully-confined-to-a-single-new-map DLC I had expected! You’re tasked by a Rizzo’s administrator with solving a murder of a character who’s appeared in loading screens and art assets around the system. Some other names you might recognize, such as a washed-up actor and a notorious tossball player, also make appearances. The highlight of this DLC is going around talking to everyone you can. Obsidian had noted in interviews that playing this DLC with low Intelligence was highly rewarding, and I can now substantiate that claim (as stated above). Honestly, I’m not sure it would have been nearly as fun without it.

You get a weapon that functions as a detective tool and trot around Eridanos, or rather the network of rocky platforms that flies through Eridanos’ atmosphere. Some of the game’s limitations become apparent in this setting. First, many of the clues you detect are footsteps, which are accompanied by identical line reads and spaced fairly close together. Also, it feels like there should be more “reward” to jumping off the edge into a gas giant than just hitting an invisible floor and experiencing a death animation. If it seems like I’m nitpicking, it’s because I am. I largely enjoyed my experience with the DLC, and the complaints I have are owed to the game being at the end of its life cycle. The plot developments were more in line with the base game’s style than Peril on Gorgon, which led to it feeling a lot like the section of the game where you raid a secret Auntie Cleo’s lab on Terra 2. A lot more of this DLC’s plot beats ended up in the game’s epilogue as well. Like Peril on Gorgon, this one took me around 15 hours to complete, with a much higher balance on talking than running around a new map.

As an aside, I’ll say performance on the Xbox One version of the game was fairly poor even on a Series X. I experienced a fair amount of hitching while running around in the Eridanos overworld, and I hope the Spacer’s Choice Edition fixes this issue.

Verdict: Recommended, on its own or as part of a package.

Me realizing I missed the chance to obtain that gun she's holding.
Me realizing I missed the chance to obtain that gun she's holding.

So the burning question is: would it be worth it to grab the DLC and then spend $10 USD to upgrade to next gen? Well, if replaying The Outer Worlds is an appealing concept to you, then I would personally say “yes”. At full price, that would be $35 USD (assuming I read the conditions correctly). That might be too steep for anyone who wasn’t super into The Outer Worlds when it launched. Like I said, these DLC are very much in line with what the base game offers, and they didn’t change the core experience in any way that I’d call significant. Still, there’s no new Fallout game in sight, the open world punctuation vomit is kept to a minimum, and the writing is pretty fun. You could certainly do worse things with your time, and if none of the spring 2023 releases are really grabbing you, a better version of the game is about to become available. What I’m saying is: it’s not the best choice, it’s Sp-

[User: ALLTheDinos has been banned from further blogging.]