I’ve had the chance to play the Outriders demo for a few hours ahead of the public opening, and I can confirm that it’s an enjoyable looter shooter that, while not exactly groundbreaking, offers an incredibly empowered experience. It’s nice to play a game that makes you feel like the baddest person walking the face of the planet. We’ll have a more detailed preview in the coming days, but for now, I’d like to talk about something a bit more minor that’s alarmingly distracting.
Outriders’ overall direction could do with some work. From the opening menu (where People Can Fly and Square Enix demand that you sign in with a Square Enix account otherwise no demo for you), you’re blasted with this operatic score that’s way too loud when trying to find an app on the Google Play Store that lets you scan QR codes. This anecdote may or may not be based on real life events.
The overall sound design for Outriders seems fine as a whole, but there’s definitely work that needs to be done in regards to fights. With a slew of abilities, bullets and grenades being thrown around during any given firefight, battles feel like the audio equivalent of a melting pot. For someone who plays a lot while wearing headphones, there’s a lot going and it can feel a bit overwhelming at times.
There are also some smaller issues with the sound design, particularly in regards to certain NPC interactions. After the game’s prologue, you’re taken on a guided tour of a world that’s plunged into chaos, but there’s certain moments where characters are getting punched or kicked and there’s no sound. At the home base area, there are even two NPCs fighting, and while the onlookers seem perfectly happy repeating the same few voice lines, there’s no noise from the fighters themselves. It’s as minor as it gets, sure, but it’s immersion breaking nonetheless.
However, the most egregious aspect of the game’s direction is the camera during cutscenes. During gameplay, everything is hunky-dory and you’re always given a good view of the action, but cutscenes turn Outriders into something inspired by the Bourne series. For whatever reason, conversations and plot points in Outriders, especially during the initial prologue, feel like they’re being filmed on a shaky camera during an earthquake. I’m looking to play a good shooter here, not feel like I’m watching Cloverfield.
It’s worse as the framerate seems to take a dive during cutscenes that are rendered in-engine too, so you’re being shaken around while characters feel like they’re moving in a more stuttery manner than they should. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be an intentional decision to make Outriders more cinematic, or just an aspect of the game that could do with tightening up, but the result is jarring nonetheless.
With a month out from launch, it might be a lot to ask People Can Fly to adjust a core part of the game’s storytelling, but this shaky cam stuff needs to be dialled down a bit. Seriously. I know I can turn the sound down to stop it from being too loud, but I can’t hold my TV steady to stop the game’s shaky cam.
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