Review – Outcast: A New Beginning

James Cameron with a Wingsuit

Overview

Developer Appeal Studios
Publisher THQ Nordic
Genre Third Person Action, Open-World
Platforms PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X | S, PC
Release Date March 15, 2024

The original Outcast hit store shelves nearly a quarter century ago. Praised for its revolutionary contributions to open-world gaming, it cemented a place in the annals of gaming history. Now, developer Appeal has revisited the franchise, bringing Cutter Slade back to Adelpha with a new story and some substantial updates. Is it worth taking a new trip to Adelpha?

Content Guide

Violence: Enemies die with a poof of air and vanish. There is no blood or gore.

Sexual Content: There’s a fertility festival you’re working towards as one of the major goals in the game. It’s implied to be a large, hyper-sexualized event, though nothing explicit is shown.

Drugs and Alcohol: There’s a character who brews an alcoholic beverage and talks about getting high. He’s kind of modeled after archetypal modern stoner culture.

Language/Crude Humor: The game heavily utilizes G**D***, B****, and S***. Expect anything an R-rated film can have.

Dark/Spiritual Content: The Talans have their own world and their own faith/spirituality. They often speak of the “Yods” (gods) and feel heavily animistic in their approach to religion. They have festivals and rituals similar to many of the more remote tribes on Earth.

Review

Cutter Slade is back and, like many folks who played the original Outcast, his memory of Adelpha is fuzzy. Now, with his memory wiped, Cutter will have to help the native Talan citizens as each village learns to trust again. Can they band together and fight off the invading forces or will both human and Talan life be erased from the galaxy?

The modern take on Adelpha and Cutter’s involvement there feels like a re-telling of James Cameron’s Avatar franchise; a human special forces officer ends up on this planet full of indigenous aliens, coming to their aid to fight off humans intent on taking their resources by force. I can’t decide if Cameron took from Outcast or vice versa.

The narrative as a whole feels like a few story beats were missed or planned poorly. That said, I like the Talan characters themselves. The voice actors did a fantastic job and the writing is decent. The main quest of the game is a little frustrating, though, as it hinges on finishing every mission in every town. A lot of each town’s missions require fast traveling across the globe to collect or kill things. If you wanted to take a critical path to see the story through, you might as well throw that notion away. To make any story progress, you’re going to have to experience everything Adelpha has to offer.

Thankfully, Adelpha is an interesting world and the game equips you with some excellent traversal mechanics, especially once you unlock the wingsuit. Jump-jetting and gliding around the world is satisfying in the best way. It’s genuinely enjoyable just to get from one place to another, which is good since you’ll be doing a lot of it.

While Outcast: A New Beginning is an open-world game, I feel like they did a good job reining in the world and the activities you can do on it. Outside the main missions in each town, you can do two types of side missions. Some missions will require you to kill enemies and others require you to traverse the environment to get upgrade materials. Killing enemies and doing these side missions will give you the materials to upgrade your suit’s abilities for better traversal or defense.

In terms of the game’s combat, you’re given two firearms to play with. Each of these can be upgraded with a variety of ability augments that make for wildly different gunplay styles. You can have a pistol that fires explosives, an assault rifle with homing shots full of electricity, or much much more. It’s a blast to find new augments and test them out. With regards to the game’s gunplay, it’s really just a third-person shooter that does a generous amount of auto-targeting for you. Still, it makes for a relatively low-stress, fun experience that focuses on the elements it knows it does well.

While I think Slade and the other humans in the game look fairly mediocre, the Talans and planet of Adelpha are visually engaging and interesting. The alien fauna is fun and the plant-life looks otherworldly. Cutter Slade just reminds me it can be hard to span uncanny valley with human hair and facial expressions sometimes. It is, by no means, an ugly game. Some of the animations suffer from open-world jank though.

Outcast: A New Beginning sits firmly on the upper end of what I fondly like to call a “B-Tier Game.” It’s not a Triple-A studio pumping out cinematic quality cutscenes and there may be some things that feel a little rough around the edges, but it’s a blast to play anyway (see also Evil West). Unfortunately, A New Beginning launched a little out of what I consider B-Tier price range.

If you’re looking for a good time in a big, open world and don’t mind some jank with a little less structure to your main quest, there’s certainly fun to be had with Outcast: A New Beginning. Hopefully, we can get another solid follow-up before James Cameron can put together two more movies.

Review copy provided by THQ Nordic

The Bottom Line

 

Despite technical issues and bad design decisions, Outcast: A New Beginning is a lot of fun to fly around in, saving an endearing race along the way.

 

7

Joe Morgan

Husband, gamer, software developer, animal lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace, he's probably fishing or working on content with his wife for Coffee and Adventure, their YouTube channel

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