The original Outcast debuted way back in 1999. The game was a moderate success commercially, and well received critically. Yet 25 years later, we’re only just receiving the true sequel. Outcast: Second Contact acted as a remake of the original, priming players for this follow-up. A middling response to this remake could’ve seen the series put on ice again, but it seems publisher THQ Nordic has faith in the franchise. And so here we are, with an Outcast: A New Beginning review. A game that hopes to right the wrongs of the past, but does so with little ambition.

You take on the role of Cutter Slade, more commonly known as George Clooney. Well, he’s not, but it’s a damn good impression. It also makes a refreshing change from the bald headed egotists of previous generations and the edgelords of today. Much like Lost Planet 3, Outcast: A New Beginning is happy to cast you as a middle-aged man. Albeit a military trained one.

Outcast: A New Beginning screenshot

You land on the planet Adelpha with little more than the clothes on your back. And that includes any memory of how you got there. There’s a whole lot of Stargate shenanigans going on, but you’re not really sure what. And you won’t be for many hours yet to come.

For a game that’s all about freedom, Outcast: A New Beginning sure takes a long while to get going. Your first couple of hours will be linear missions with a mystical fog preventing you from veering off the beaten track. Of course there’s the basic tutorial. But then there’s a whole lot of incomprehensible backstory and fetch quests to be trudged through before the game truly opens up.

Once it does, there’s a whole world out there for you to explore. It’s impressive even by modern AAA standards, mostly because of the densely populated environments. Flora and fauna fill your field of view in every direction you look. The game regularly calls out to you to venture further even when you’re travelling at 100 miles per hour. See, it’s actually less about the exploration than the traversal.

Outcast: A New Beginning screenshot

Outcast: A New Beginning equips the player with a jetpack of sorts, and many of the games activities revolve around this. Soon after the game begins you’ll get a dodge and a jump move. Then a double jump. Then before you know it, you’ll be propelling yourself across the planet’s surface at a record pace, launching into the air and gliding towards the next mission objective.

The free-form nature of Outcast: A New Beginning is evident here, too. You’ll almost always have a whole bunch of missions available at any one time. While some are denoted as a ‘priority mission’, many can be interacted with at your convenience. Sadly despite a great deal of window dressing, we only found two types of mission during this Outcast: A New Beginning review: fetch quests and kill everything. Even then, the fetch quests largely revolved around killing things to get said items.

Typically you’ll be attacking bases to advance the plot. But there’s also side quests in which you’ll face some of the more aggressive, single-minded creatures on Adelpha. Further to this are essentially platforming challenges where you have to reach a destination/follow a beacon within a limited time frame. While none of this is in anyway poorly conceived, it has all been seen before. You could easily compare it to a recent Ubisoft game for the types of engagement you’ll be offered, though the map icon creep is far less intrusive.

Outcast: A New Beginning screenshot

With Outcast: A New Beginning being one of the earliest multi-platform titles to finally give up the ghost on the previous generation of consoles, you may be wondering why. The answer surely lies in the game’s environments. The dense foliage and awe-inspiring vistas are vastly superior to anything seen on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The character animation is a little stilted, but there are frequently dozens of models onscreen using entirely different loops at any one time. While the details on your character model and other more mundane aspects of the game leave something to be desired, the full screen picture is never less than impressive. There were some glitches discovered during the process of this Outcast: A New Beginning review, but nothing that surely won’t be remedied within a patch-or-two.

The quality to be found in Outcast: A New Beginning comes from the balance of open world traversal and combat. If engaging in those two activities alone for dozens of hours appeals, then you’re surely going to get your money’s worth. However, Outcast: A New Beginning is never going to drag in the GTA crowd. It’s a game proposes little in the way of invention or creativity, but does what little it offers very well. And there’s a lot of it. Don’t expect Outcast: A New Beginning to challenge any of your preconceptions. But if you’re happy to switch your brain off for 40+ hours, there’s fun to be had here.

Categories: Games