Outriders: Worldslayer Review — Can't Slay Expectations
When we reviewed Outriders last year, we concluded the game "has its high points" between loot and progression, but that it didn't make up for "lackluster design in other areas," specifically its story, core gameplay, and ability design.
In the months following that review, developer People Can Fly did much to address some of the community's complaints, adding new Legendaries, changing how Expeditions worked and how loot was awarded, and providing significant balancing and bug fixes.
Worldslayer brings additional updating, a new story campaign, even more weapons and fixes, and a new endgame. Does it all come together to be the game we hoped it could be? It's complicated.
Outriders: Worldslayer Review — Can't Slay Expectations
Outriders' greatest strength has always been its loot game and progression systems. Worldslayer only makes these better. I used the option to begin from the start of the Worldslayer campaign at Level 30 to try out a new class, and I didn't feel like I had lost much for not having a fully-kitted build from the base game.
As I progressed and picked up more gear, loot felt meaningful and reminded me how effective the build-making systems are in Outriders. There are a host of synergies, and I had come to a respectable and easy-to-optimize setup that just happened to fall together.
The rush of getting a Legendary item and seeing how it fits into the build is still prevelant in Worldslayer. If something didn't quite work, I could head to the crafting station and make it slide into my setup like a puzzle piece. The sources of loot, primarily the Trial of Tarya Gratar, are easily some of the best additions. They're not only challenging but incredibly rewarding.
Worldslayer revamps endgame progression with Apocalypse Tiers, which apply additional difficulty like Chaos levels from Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, adding modifiers to combat and providing equivalent rewards.
There was only one point where the Apocalypse modifiers felt overwhelming. However, that was more because of the encounter design and being in between builds. If either had been in a better state, I wouldn't have needed to stop advancing tiers.
By the end of my time with Worldslayer, I could solo most group activities without much difficulty and knew my build had much more room to grow. If you take anything away from this review, it's that Outriders: Worldslayer is a fantastic reason to come back if you liked the base game for its build variety and progression.
There are so many other issues that get in the way, though.
The Story and Shooting are Still Bad
The story of Worldslayer had real potential. It dabbles in themes of corruptive power, the redemptive power of purpose, and the dangers of delving too deeply into the unknown. The DLC tries to slam all this into a three-hour campaign and a single, hour-long endgame activity. A fleshed-out story is at the tip of the writers' fingers, but there just isn't enough space in the campaign to dig into any of it.
Worse, the narrative itself is rife with cliches and ends up being painfully predictable. The main villain, a power-crazed Altered who's constructed as a dark mirror of the player, is nothing but a caricature at day's end. The final boss fight has them spouting the same "I'm powerful, join me, and we can be powerful together!" drivel every B-villain has on their soundboard.
The player character also seems to be taking all of the crazy, world-ending developments in apathetic stride. There's a portion in the campaign where they must climb up a mountain of corpses to get out of a sewer, and they say nothing, letting out only a resigned sigh. There's no witty one-liner, no reaction to what would be a horrendous smell in a universe of them, just a sigh. It was something of a metaphor for the rest of the campaign.
The same could be said of Outriders' moment-to-moment gameplay. The shooting is still mostly cover-to-cover, but most viable builds eschew guns altogether, removing the need to use cover.
Midway through my playthrough, I used my weapons to activate abilities or didn't use them at all. I was tanky enough and healed fast enough that I could walk into a horde of enemies, spam a few abilities, and watch everything around me die — a win for the build department, a loss for anyone involved in designing the gunplay.
Everything Else is Meh
Worldslayer builds on the significant quality of life updates made since the original release. Aside from Apocalypse Tiers, there's a whole new perk tree, Pax Upgrades, a new mod slot on certain weapons and armor. There are also more mods to play with, additional progression called Ascension Points, and more updates to Expeditions. These are great but don't add nearly enough to the core experience to move the overall quality needle.
The endgame of Worldslayer, which promised much, is little more than a static, if somewhat lengthy, dungeon with three unchanging bosses and half a dozen rooms of hundreds of mobs. The Trial of Tarya Gratar is the best way to target farm for specific gear and test out new builds, but I tired of it quickly. There's almost no gameplay variety in the activities, just slaughtering of hordes of trash enemies.
I can't say anything else was memorable about the DLC either. The music is adequate, and the sound design is still chunky and satisfying, but no more than any other sound with lots of base and metal-on-metal noises.
There's very little feedback when you damage enemies, so abilities are both effective and somewhat lackluster. Worldslayer's level design has made no positive strides, remaining a series of hallways and large rooms built solely for fighting and nothing else.
Even some of the set-piece moments, meant to be epic showcases, boil down to something exploding and enemies running toward you. Climbing the pile of corpses is probably the most memorable moment in the story for me, but for all the wrong reasons.
Outriders: Worldslayer Review — The Bottom Line
- Top-tier progression and build design.
- Solid quality of life improvements.
- A short, poorly-written story that could have been so much more.
- Forgettable gameplay, music, and core mechanics.
- Disappointing endgame.
When I heard about Outriders: Worldslayer, I expected it to be a Destiny 2: The Taken King moment for People Can Fly — the DLC that reinvents the game and showcases how great it can be. Sadly, it does neither. The suite of updates the game received after release, and the additional qualify of life changes that came with Worldslayer, are welcome additions. Still, the experience of playing Outriders hasn't changed.
The gunplay is still lackluster, the story is still fraught with cliches and goes for spectacle that falls flat, and the lauded improved endgame falls well short of what it could have been.
If you already liked Outriders enough to put a few dozen hours into the base game, I can recommend Worldslayer at a significant discount. Right now, only the most diehard fans will be satisfied with what's here. I, for one, am not.
[Note: Square Enix provided the copy of Outriders: Worldslayer used for this review.]