It was only just over a year ago when Outriders released, offering its own brand of third person looter-shooter action, with bad dialogue, a forgettable story but relatively addictive action. Most importantly, it’s moment-to-moment gunplay was very enjoyable, and it offered endgame content that proved to be challenging and compelling, even if it was a little imbalanced and relied a bit too heavily on lucky loot drops to be sustainable.
I dropped off from Outriders a few months after it launched; my squad and I had spent a long time completing endgame content, upgrading our gear incrementally with each successful mission and tweaking things to ensure we could get the most DPS possible. Now, Outriders Worldslayer has released, adding on a new story to play through, along with different skill trees, new gear types and an interesting new endgame area to continue on the path to melting down enemies to a paste as quickly as possible. While it maintains the same fast pace and entertaining qualities possessed by the original, Worldslayer also doesn’t make an effort to add meaningful improvements in every other regard. It’s a frivolous diversion for Outriders lovers, but ultimately has left me hollow after a mere few weeks playing it.
The story is about as blah as it was the first time around, with cringey-dialogue churning the sci-fi story along with the usual tropes. The anomaly that has given you all your badass powers in the first place is now threatening to destroy the world, and there’s this weird floating chick with red hair who is pissed off at you for some reason. An effort is at least made to keep the narrative moving along during the endgame, which is a nice change. Really though, it’s just very loose ties that ferry you from one location to the next, so you can blast the crap out of hundreds of enemies with your superpowers and violent weapons.
To be fair, I don’t play Outriders for the story and never did; it’s an excuse to shoot and loot stuff, and in that regard, Outriders Worldslayer offers more of that for seasoned players. The most interesting addition for most will be Apocalypse Tiers, which is like what the World Tier system used to be, but harder, and comes with the reward of Apocalypse Gear, which allows three mod slots in each weapon or armour piece instead of the traditional two. As players of OG Outriders know, rolling the best mods that suit your class perfectly is incredibly satisfying and can make a real difference on higher difficulty levels, so adding in the ability to have a third changes things pretty dramatically in terms of your output.
“…we had to adjust our tactics for Worldslayer before we could get back to dominating like we used to, and it’s enjoyable to be on that journey again.”
There’s some new endgame progression systems on top of that, with new perk trees added on top of the existing ones. The first, Pax Points, let’s you choose five new super-perks that add even more power to your build, while the second is Ascension Points that are just small incremental buffs that you can add over time. This allows you to focus even deeper on whatever makes your character tick, whether it’s amping up your anomaly powers, doing more critical hit damage or even just increasing your base health and armour stats. There’s plenty of room to enhance or even change your style completely; our squad found quite quickly that we had to adjust our tactics for Worldslayer before we could get back to dominating like we used to, and it’s enjoyable to be on that journey again.
Less enjoyable are the boss enemies in Outriders Worldslayer, who are spongier than ever before. Much like the original, “stronger” just means “bigger health bar” for the most part, and that makes for some dull, repetitive fights that can send you to sleep, which is probably the opposite of what they were going for. There’s one boss that you’ll encounter which actually has some mechanics that you need to deal with that makes the battle far more interesting, but more often than not you’re just overwhelmed by how long it takes to mow down similar-looking foes that have a Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V vibe, even when it comes to their attack patterns and abilities.
Once you’ve completed the short campaign, the new Trial of Tarya Gratar opens up, a new endgame activity which acts as one long dungeon, chaining together multiple rooms full of enemies with a loot reward at the end of each one. You can barrel to the finish line and the harder bosses but side-rooms offer gear pieces from specific categories, like gloves or helmets, which at least means if you’re seeking a specific piece you know where to spend your energy as a priority. I like the Trial of Tarya Gratar as a bit of a change of pace, but ultimately it feels like the regular Expeditions, just a bit bigger and themed slightly differently.
In fact, “the same, but a bit bigger and themed slightly differently” is a great summary for Outriders Worldslayer overall. It’s fun, sure, but it’s interchangeable, and the extra systems and dungeons don’t bring any particularly new ideas with them, instead providing more opportunities to explode enemies into bloody pieces. After spending a lot of time grinding through, I don’t feel like there’s much more left to see, other than testing myself to see how high I can get those damage numbers.
That’s not so say the game is unsatisfying or boring – far from it. I have enjoyed my time coming back to Outriders, messing with my build, checking out some new gear, trying new challenges, and feeling like a beast smashing through hordes of baddies. As its stands, “more of the same” for an expansion isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you really enjoy what was being served in the first place. But Worldslayer feels mostly unambitious and going through the motions. I think People Can Fly are talented as heck, so I hope they get the opportunity to really reinvent what Outriders looks like in a sequel, because the foundations are still great – they’re just limited by a lack of variety that, at least with this expansion, they can’t seem to shake.