Outriders New Horizon: Nearing the Promised Land
People Can Fly have spent the seven months since Outriders release to change the game for the better. A number of updates and patches have been released meant to address community concerns after its promising but rocky start.
There have been buffs and nerfs, and some of the peskier imbalances have been tweaked, even if they aren’t precisely where some would like them. Matchmaking has been improved, the overall online experience has been smoothed out, and full crossplay is here.
Now there’s New Horizon, a free Outriders update that looks to make the overall experience and endgame the best it's ever been. Set to release on November 16 for all platforms, it adds new Expeditions, adjusts loot drops, and introduces transmog, among other things (no new weapons, enemies, or narrative elements yet).
I was able to go hands-on with it recently to get a feel for what it brings to the table. And … it’s fine.
Mechanically, it’s more Outriders. Having taken some time away from the game after playing 70 hours around launch and having previewed the game twice before that, my initial impressions of New Horizon are that it probably won’t do much to change the way some feel about Outriders. At least from a purely gameplay perspective. It's still difficult in places.
Outriders seems to favor specific builds over others, while enemies will still swarm you. The Trickster People Can Fly provided me during the New Horizon preview didn’t stand a chance at the higher tiers in these new Expeditions, and I went down more than I would have liked to. I chalk part of that up to rustiness and my uncomfortability with the particular build and weapons I had, but it’s also because some builds still just melt enemies while others don’t by a long shot.
Despite patches and updates meant to balance enemies to this point, they’re as ruthless and unforgiving as ever. Elites are still bullet sponges and coupled with how lower-level ads continue to flood combat areas in droves, there remains a general feeling that something’s a little bit off about Outriders endgame, something that I was hoping wouldn’t be.
Regardless, New Horizon does make some worthwhile and very welcomed changes. First on the docket is gear.
People Can Fly have heard the community loud and clear when it comes to loot drops, implementing a brand-new system with New Horizon.
Expeditions no longer have timers by default, and Expedition rewards are not — in any way — tied to how quickly you complete an Expedition. People Can Fly have left players the option to enable timers if they choose, but more casual players aren’t forced into specific builds and playstyles automatically because of an arbitrary time limit.
Loot, then, is said to be more prolific, balanced, and fair. Legendary drops rates are up 100% throughout the game, including the campaign, and the final Expedition level grants a guaranteed Legendary from a pool of three (you pick your poison). Tiago sells random Legendaries. And you can now spend Drop Pod resources to re-roll Legendaries after Expeditions. These are all very good things.
It’s difficult to say exactly how these additions will ultimately play out when New Horizon enters the wild, but they felt tangible romping through the demo. Even in the short time I was able to play it, I came away with more worthwhile gear than I ever did in my many hours grinding the endgame just after launch.
And that leads us to another addition I, and many others, desperately wanted at launch: Transmog. People Can Fly said this was meant to be part of launch, and whatever kept it out doesn't matter because it's perhaps the most exciting part of New Horizon.
Unlike some other transmog systems elsewhere (ahem, Destiny), transmog in Outriders New Horizon is incredibly easy to use and lets you go hog wild from the get-go. There are no resources to collect, no arbitrary currencies to grind for, and no dismantling. When you find a weapon or piece of gear that hits your inventory, you can use it indefinitely in the transmog system on every character and across classes.
Accessing transmog is intuitive and straightforward too; just pop over to your inventory, go to visual customization, and select the weapon or gear piece you want. In a neat touch, you can easily transmog a single item or an entire gear set at once at the press of a button, and transmog for weapons also includes sounds and animations. It took me less than 30 seconds to pop into the system and only about a minute more to settle on a unique look I was happy with. Then I was back in the action.
Four new Expeditions are also being added in New Horizon: Molten Depths, City of Nomads, The Marshal’s Complex, and The Wellspring. Like combat, these new areas are fine and serviceable, giving players new backdrops to battle against while revisiting old locations and characters.
Despite being visually compelling, these levels still mostly adhere to the same “enemy-filled-hallways-with-a-boss-at-the-end” structure we bemoaned in our Outriders review. Nothing’s really changed. Though there are a few bright spots where the level design creates new strategic kill zones with enemy spawns that force you to rethink your tried-and-true Outriders tactics, none of them particularly stand out.
They serve their purpose to expand on the lore of Enoch and the Outriders, but they don’t seem essential. With the right build, everything can just be bulldozed anyway.
To be fair, I don’t know what I would have liked to see outside of a radical, unrealistic paradigm shift in level design, but what’s on offer just sort of blends into the Rolodex of levels already available. Depending on who you ask, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: again, it’s more Outriders, for better or worse.
Overall, New Horizon is a step in the right direction for Outriders, despite not blowing me away. You can skip the opening movie now. There are more controller remapping options. And there’s Expedition kick protection. There’s more elite variety, and revisiting old locations and characters is nice. Getting guaranteed legendaries and running into fewer dupes will be great, and transmog kicks ass. Destiny, eat your heart out.
But even with these additions and quality of life upgrades — and for how much I genuinely like the game for its worldbuilding, campaign, and fun team play — I’m still not convinced the endgame is exactly where it needs to be. Things still feel geared toward specific builds, and there are moments, especially on higher tiers, where enemies can be overwhelming to the point of frustration.
Honestly, I’m most excited for what the future holds beyond New Horizon in Worldslayer, the story-focused expansion People Can Fly have teased for 2022. You can watch the entire recent Outriders broadcast over here to see more.