• Stu

Anomaly detected.

A couple of weekends ago, a longtime irl mate of mine came over to my house for a gaming afternoon and brought his son with him. It's something we've been trying to arrange for a long time; his wife isn't as tolerant of his video game playing as mine is of mine, so getting the planets to align has quite literally taken us several years. The question was mainly of what to play. To cut a long story short, I ended up re-installing Destiny 2 for the first time in about 9 months so that we could all roll into the Crucible together. I think he was optimistic that the experience would draw me back to the game... but it ended up doing the opposite. Why? Well, it's because I've been playing Outriders an awful lot lately - and it's really good.

I played Outriders when it first came out - and enjoyed it at the time, although not enough to stick with it deep into the endgame. The class I picked first was the Pyromancer (with the benefit of hindsight, probably not the best choice for a first attempt) - and while setting everything in sight on fire was a lot of fun, it never quite suited my playstyle. I sometimes wondered if I'd ever return to the game - and if I did whether I'd choose to start a new character afresh. This week, with the launch of the new Worldslayer expansion, I got the answer.

Caveat: I haven't picked up Worldslayer yet. I will, in due course - but I wanted to start a new character and get them up to a reasonable level before diving into it - mostly to make sure I was more comfortable with my new character than I was with the Pyromancer before committing my cash. I recalled Outriders as being fun but quite badly broken from a technical perspective - as is so typical for new online games, my experience with it at launch was a mixture of chaos and technical problems. Back then, any attempt at multiplayer resulted in a connection that would be laggy and unresponsive - and disconnect you at any moment. There was also an infamous bug floating around in the game that could wipe your entire inventory - a massive problem for a looter/shooter, and one that I feel lucky to have not encountered. It effectively turned every login to a game of Russian roulette. Revisiting it a year or so later, it's a very different experience. Stability has been added, with nothing lost from the chaotic gameplay.

"How chaotic?" Well, I'm glad you asked. This chaotic:

That's at least moderately bonkers, right? Well, that footage is actually kinda tame - captured from quite early in the game. In comparison to what's possible with a more fully levelled character, it's not exactly a stand out moment. How is this relevant to Destiny? Well... because Outriders doesn't have a PvP mode to balance, it leans into player power and autonomy in a way that Bungie's (admittedly still excellent) first-person space magic experience simply can't. Outriders is 100% PvE - and it leans in HARD to build crafting. My new character is a Trickster - she can teleport and slow down time. Damage dished out to slowed enemies will give me back my health - meaning that the game rewards me for playing as aggressively as possible. Teleporting into a pack of enemies, popping a bubble that slows time, swinging a sword to strip enemies of flesh and armour and then pouring bullets into their skeletons as my health surges upwards and they explode in a mass of blood, limbs and blue light isn't an experience that's going to get old quickly. When you get into the flow, it's utterly glorious.

Going back to Destiny reminded me of two things that stand out as negatives in comparison to my recent experience with Outriders. The first was the comparative stinginess of the loot - the way in which the game only rewards loot that's meaningful to player progression in exchange for that player engaging in all of the different modes the game has to offer... whether the player actually enjoys them or not. The second was the sheer delay in uptime of your various abilities. I know, I know. The Destiny players reading this will probably be shaking their heads around now - and you're right. My build isn't optimised. My light level isn't current. My armour mods needed looking at. I get all of that - and you're not wrong. But, I felt less powerful as a lapsed player in Destiny than I did as a new player in Outriders. Neither approach is wrong; different games, obviously - and different strokes for different folks. I get it... but that was just how I ended up feeling after a couple of rounds in it.

It's fair to say that Outriders feels a bit like what Destiny could have been if it dropped PvP from the equation. The whole game is balanced for one mode, and by allowing players to equip a ridiculous number of mods, perks and class abilities, it delivers a ballet of destruction that little else can currently match. Get three people with complementary, well-specced characters into one squad and the opportunities for synergetic carnage are just... staggering. Right now, it's helping me to scratch that looter shooter itch - just when I thought it had finally gone away.

If anyone needs me, I'll be on Enoch. And if you're playing Destiny but maybe looking for something else to hold your attention through the traditional seasonal dry spell... you should take a look at this. I think you'll like what you'll find.

Are you playing Outriders? What class did you choose? Need a squad mate? Hit me up on Twitter!