If you fall into the category of people who believe that 2010’s Fallout: New Vegas was the best game in the series, then The Outer Worlds might be for you. Last week at E3, I spoke to the game’s co-director, Leonard Boyarsky, for a bonus episode of Kotaku Splitscreen digging deep into this cyberpunky role-playing game.
In a behind-closed-doors session at a booth belonging to Private Division, the Take Two-owned publishing label behind The Outer Worlds, a few developers from Obsidian Entertainment gathered to show off the game. Playing through a 20-minute demo, they shot and bartered their way through a mission on a failed colony planet called Monarch.
It looked great, combining sci-fi gunplay and abilities (plasma rifles! slow time!) with the massive dialogue trees and branching paths that Obsidian fans expect. The demo showed off a variety of different ways to approach each chunk of the mission, and it looked weird, quirky, and fun.
Then I spoke to Boyarsky about developing The Outer Worlds, player choice, gunplay, the scope of the game, and much more. Listen above, or read an excerpt here:
Jason Schreier: Obviously this is a game about player choice, but it’s also a game that explores some very relevant political topics: corporations, dystopia, capitalism. Is there something you’re trying to say with this game? Is there a message you’re trying to send?
Boyarsky: Ironically, when we first started this, it didn’t seem quite as prescient as it does now, cause we started it in April of 2016. It’s become a little bit more pointed than we had hoped... Even more than this being about capitalism or corporations, it’s really about people controlling narrative and stories. And if people control the story you tell yourself, then they kind of control you.
We always love making a game where the player comes from outside, and we’ve done that again here - you’re coming into this world where all these people have been indoctrinated into this way of thinking, and even the people who are rebelling against it have been brought up in that system, so the ways they think about rebelling against the system are also created by the system.
So the player comes in and looks around and says, “This is insanity.” That’s really where we were at, and it seems a lot more prescient and pointed than we may have originally wanted it to be. It obviously talks a lot about corporations and how they are, so that’s not an accident, but we’re all about exploring philosophical themes while having a fun, great game experience.
We don’t ever want it to get too heavy. We don’t ever want it to feel like we’re lecturing people or that we are trying to make a very specific point. We tried really hard to make sure that no matter what character it is in the game, they feel like they’re very realistic and they have realistic motivations.
When you talk to the people on the board, they have a very realistic, or at least understandable, outlook. You might not agree with it at all, but it makes sense why they think that way.