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Outcast - A New Beginning

Outcast - A New Beginning

Written by Jason Dailey on 3/14/2024 for PS5  
More On: Outcast - A New Beginning

Open-world RPGs are a dime-a-dozen nowadays, which can make it easy to pass on the ones that don’t present themselves as the next massive, AAA open-world game that’ll make your console sing. Outcast – A New Beginning might appear to be one of those dimes among dozens, and while it certainly won’t blow you away, it is better than most of what gets released on the market. It’s one of those games you used to take a chance on at Blockbuster on a Friday after school because you liked the cover art, and then begged your parents to extend the rental on Tuesday when it was due back. Outcast feels “AA”, not in a pejorative way, but in a quaint sort of way. It took me back to the early to mid-2000s, a simpler time when it was enough for games to just be fun. Which I suppose is fitting for a sequel to a game that released in 1999.

That’s correct, Outcast – A New Beginning arrives nearly 25 years after the original game, bringing back protagonist Cutter Slade, an ex-Navy Seal grunt ripped straight out of a 90s action flick. He’s witty, he’s fearless, and the actor behind his performance nailed his persona. To compare him to a modern game character, Slade reminded me of Nathan Drake. He finds himself on the alien planet of Adelpha, inhabited by the Talan, an alien race that recognize him as their Ulukai, or savior. Slade has lost his memory, though it comes back to him in flashes throughout the game, and he agrees to help liberate the Talan from the invading human-led World Federal Army, who are after Adelpha’s resources. I have to say, for a 25-year-old sequel, I never felt lost, so playing the original or its remaster are certainly not necessary. Outcast – A New Beginning cleverly connects back to the first game, bringing you up to speed just enough for you to understand what is going on.

To help the Talan fend off their invaders, you visit each of the villages of Adelpha, meeting the local movers and shakers to learn about their plight. Interacting with the Talan is a real pleasure thanks to the comedic writing and well-done voice performances. The writing pulls in pop culture references to things like The Beatles and video games ruining our youth, which often made me chuckle. The NPCs are all quirky in their own way and genuinely made me laugh out loud at times. Upon arriving at a particular village, I introduced myself to the local animal trader, Khartak, saying, “Hi, I’m Cutter Slade”, to which he retorted, “Good for you!”. He was not impressed, and I laughed hard enough that my wife had to come see what all the fuss was about. Part of what makes it so funny is that it catches you off guard, in a way. Slade is a fish out of water, and the Talan have no Earthly idea (literally) what his dry jokes and colloquialisms mean.

These village leaders will need your help with all manner of problems – some need fruit to brew beer, some need a friend sprung from captivity at the nearest WFA outpost, and so on. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before in an open-world game, but what makes it interesting is the quest system itself. Each village’s quest line is tied to one or more of the others. For example, the village that brews beer needs the fruit from another village, which then needs your help acquiring said fruit. The quest log is a bit different as well. Outcast trades bulleted lists of quests (though there are some) for flow charts that connect each task with its preceding task or required resource.

It might sound like overkill, but trust me, it is not. After the initial shock of realizing it is not your standard quest checklist, I found myself strangely drawn in by it. It shows your progress on each quest, as well as what each village is up to, providing updates via the HUD when something has been completed. So, sticking with the beer example, when the brewer finishes a batch, you get a notification letting you know it is time to check back in. Not only did it keep me on-task, if you will, but it made the game hard to put down at times. If you’re a video game completionist, you’re in for a real treat from a structural standpoint.

Where things start to feel “meh” in Outcast is when you start fighting enemies. Combat is serviceable, but dated, and taking on enemies is more of a chore than a thrill. I didn’t hate it; I just didn’t look forward to my next combat encounter. Your arsenal consists of a rifle and a pistol, both of which can be modified with dozens of modules that alter its function or buff stats. I liked having projectiles on my rifle that also stuck enemies with a mine for additional damage, for instance. You also have a shield and jetpack, which act as defensive options to block incoming attacks or dodge them. As you progress, new combat abilities will become available for you. These abilities are unlocked by completing each village’s questline and reflects their unique resources and skills, such as calling in a swarm of killer insects. Again, while the combat manages to not get in the way of the experience, it doesn’t elevate it either, even later in the game when you’ve unlocked more stuff or started taking on boss battles, which are mostly forgettable. The crux of the issue is that combat plays such a central role in Outcast that the mundanity of it holds it back in a significant way.

So, while the combat left a bit to be desired, the traversal did not. Moving about Adelpha was a highlight thanks to Slade’s jetpack, which allows you to glide across the ground and air wherever you see fit. Oddly, it takes a couple of upgrades to make it truly fun, but once you have the core traversal mechanics unlocked, getting around Adelpha is a breeze. It’s not Spider-Man levels of fun in terms of traversal mechanics, but it surprised me. And besides a bit of object pop-in, the game handles your jetpacking and gliding around seamlessly. After an early introduction period, the world opens up and allows you to tackle quests in the order that works best for you, which means the entire map is your oyster. Normally, having to bounce around the game world so much would annoy me, as I prefer to stick to one region at a time, but the fun traversal made it an easy pill to swallow. It is doubly good seeing as how there is plenty to do in Outcast. In addition to the main questline, you can take down bases and outposts, complete traversal challenges, deal with Gork eruptions, or just max out your resources across villages. In other words – there is a lot of game here.

Graphically, Adelpha looks good, not great. However, the cutscenes are of notably high quality. Outcast includes the usual suspects when it comes to graphical modes – quality and performance. I stuck with quality, which appeared to run at a locked 30 frames per second with good frame pacing that produced a smooth experience. Performance was fine too but comes with a notable downgrade in fidelity. Beyond graphics, there are some other little oddities that add to Outcast’s “AA” flavor. For example, at least one NPC changed voice actors mid-dialogue, and Slade’s running animation looks strange, to say the least.

Outcast – A New Beginning fills the gap between groundbreaking open-world RPGs and forgettable ones. It’s not great, but it’s not bad, and sometimes that’s okay. It knows what type of game it wants to be and embraces it. It feels like a PlayStation 2 era game that you played and enjoyed before the internet told you how to feel about everything. I respect that about it. The Talan people of Adelpha need your help fighting off the invaders, and they deserve to get it – just go in with a mindset that is closer to 1999 than 2024.

Despite its AA veneer, Outcast – A New Beginning is a solid open-world RPG. The combat doesn’t carry its weight, but the quirky characters, fun traversal, and open quest system are the real heavy lifters. It feels like a game from a bygone era and in this instance it works.

Rating: 7.5 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Jason has been writing for Gaming Nexus since 2022. Some of his favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports, RPGs, shooters, and simulators. His favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2, logging nearly 1,000 hours in Rockstar's Wild West epic. Jason's first video game system was the NES, but the original PlayStation is his first true video game love affair. Once upon a time, he was the co-host of a PlayStation news podcast, as well as a basketball podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @TheDualSensePod, or check out my YouTube channel.

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