Apr 03, 2021 Written by:Eric Born

Outriders explores a supernatural conflict on the far reaches of an alien planet

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Not many movies came to the local two-screen theater in my rural Alaskan hometown, but my dad and I still found many to watch together anyway. We enjoyed quite a range of movies, but both of us loved science fiction. The original Matrix film, Galaxy Quest, every Star Trek movie, Starship Troopers—if it involved spaceships, we were in.

From the first moment of Square Enix’s upcoming co-op RPG Outriders, I caught the same feelings I did as a teenager when I’d sit down to watch a great sci-fi flick. This sprawling adventure puts me in the boots of an Outrider, part of the last remnant of humanity who escaped a dying Earth to build a new home on an alien planet. Disaster strikes quickly. After being exposed to a reality-bending anomaly, my character was put into cryosleep. She awakens 31 years later to a world ruined by constant war, but she’s changed, as well. Her encounter with the anomaly left her Altered: empowered by strange abilities that she must master to stay alive and lead humanity to a better future.

Outriders launches on April 1st. For a limited time, you can secure your own copy with a purchase of an ROG gaming laptop equipped with an NVIDIA RTX GPU. For a sneak peak at the action, you can play the full first act in a free playable demo on Steam. Its alien setting, compelling characters, and kinetic combat will keep you coming back for more.

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The action is intense and the co-op gameplay is fine-tuned and fun, but what grabbed me right from the start was the story. My character is unflinchingly earnest, confrontational, and just a little bit too quick to sign herself up for a near-suicidal mission to save humanity—exactly what I want from a post-apocalyptic heroine. This is sci-fi comfort food, an homage to genre-defining classics like Final Fantasy VII. She’s joined by a cast of distinct and compelling characters. I’m especially fascinated by Shira, a daydreaming engineer who embarks on the colonization mission full of optimism and hope. When I find her again after waking up from cryosleep, years of constant war have broken her down into a hardened and bitter leader.

The alien planet Enoch itself might well be considered a character. In the prologue, I witnessed the scenic vistas, verdant flora, and supernatural storms of its natural state. After three decades of war, it’s unrecognizable. The marks of conflict are everywhere. Charred and broken bodies litter its landscapes. Mere years away from the destruction of Earth, humanity seems hell-bent on reliving its worst mistakes.

I still haven’t quite figured out who I actually trust in the game, and I expect many twists and turns when I experience the full story. Allies are scarce, but enemies are everywhere. To take them down, I unleash a satisfying blend of firepower and supernatural abilities. Environments are filled with objects, walls, and terrain elements that I can use as cover, so I can control the flow of battle like a master tactician. The up-close-and-personal weapons like shotguns are powerful enough that I can choose to be a fast-moving frontline brawler, as well. Frequent weapon and armor drops steadily make me tougher and more powerful.

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My character’s Altered abilities complete the combat package. I selected to be a Pyromancer, and even at a low level I can send fire blazing across the battlefield, yank enemies toward me with a blazing chain, and turn hapless foes into living bombs that explode on death. Killing ignited enemies restores a portion of my health, so with a healthy mix of fire and firepower I thrive in the thick of battle.

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I’ve had fun going it alone in Outriders, but the game really shines in co-op mode. The game lets you squad up with two other players, either invited friends or other players dropped in by the online matchmaker. The game automatically scales the difficulty of encounters depending on the size of your team, but also gives you ability to adjust the difficulty on the fly to match the power, size, and confidence of your team. It’s especially rewarding to find a group with a complementary mix of gear, skills, and tactics.

The detailed environments, lavish lighting, and spectacular fiery effects of my Altered abilities would tax the resources of a lesser system, but since I’m playing on an ROG gaming laptop equipped with an NVIDIA RTX GPU, I enjoy smooth frame rates that keep me in control. When the full game launches, I’ll be able to enable NVIDIA DLSS. This AI-powered upsampling technique gives me higher FPS without visual sacrifices to image quality.

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I’ve only had a taste of everything Outriders has to offer, but I’m already hooked. Check out the free demo to see what everyone’s talking about, and secure your own ticket to Enoch with an ROG gaming laptop equipped with NVIDIA RTX.

Articles: Gaming
Article Tags: Community
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