Outriders is the kind of game that has you ripping off your headset and swearing at the screen, saltier than a bag of pretzels, only to stoically sit back down, dry your tears and wade back into the fray about 10 seconds later.
It feels so perfectly pitched to tingle the anxious part of your lizard brain that secretes angry dopamine that you’re constantly dancing on the knife edge of temple-bursting rage and unblinking exhilaration.
Sometimes it's incredibly aggravating, sometimes you can’t believe where the time’s gone because you’re so engrossed.
This is Outriders’ greatest strength and weakness and it’s back in full-blown force in this new campaign DLC, Worldslayer.
The base game’s World Tiers worked as a progress bar, ratcheting up the difficulty whenever you got too comfortable and making sure the action is always on the cusp of what you could handle.
Worldslayer’s Apocalypse Tiers function basically in the same way, just with a couple of different modifiers and a chance at getting a new variety of loot with an extra mod slot, so outside of a couple of additional skill trees and a brand-new story, it’s a heaping helping of more of the same for better and worse.
It’s a good thing the story’s genuinely interesting then, even if it still feels like it should star Bruce Willis in about 2002. After a bit of a clunky opening setting up the scenario from a cold standing start, you eventually come across a few fun character concepts and start to unravel some of the deeper secrets of the planet of Epoch and the mysterious nature of the Anomaly.
There’s a lot of strong world-building and sci-fi, but it does fall into some of the same pitfalls as the base story. It still has the same tonal whiplash that has your character climbing a rotting pile of dilapidated bodies one minute, action hero quipping the next, then saying “what do we have here” as they pick up a collectable in the same sort of voice Homer Simpson might use when he’s wiggling his fingers over a donut.
The environments looks as majestic and alien as ever, but since they’re basically just containers full of waist-high walls to duck behind, they can feel like one of those glass tube walkways at an aquarium – a lot of beautiful things to gawk at, but with the detached feeling of being hemmed in by invisible walls.
On top of that, some of the weird gameplay decisions from the base game persist too. Life-leech weapons are still absolutely imperative to the point where any weapon without it is completely useless, rendering a lot of your loot junk as well.
Plus, this is not a live-service game, so why would you add a load of cool-ass legendary weapons and gear that’s pretty much locked into post-game activities? If the storyline is the main draw, then what’s the point of even having them when you can play the whole game and see maybe one or two if you’re lucky?
And I still feel like Outriders would be a lot more fun with four skills – even if the fourth is locked in as your movement skill – but I get the impression that’s to stop the game from melting down with too many effects on screen in multiplayer (it’s already limited to 3-player co-op because of this).
For all its inconsistency, Outsiders still boasts some of the most intense and exciting PvE shooting around - just sometimes it’s you in a puddle on the floor instead of the waves of nameless goons.
It’s silly and nerdy and dark and takes no prisoners as it violently demands your attention from start to finish.
Outriders Worldslayer released on June 30 on PC, Xbox One and Series X/S, PS4 and PS5. Code was provided by the publisher.