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Mar 14, 2024

Outcast – A New Beginning Review

Lights Off
3 Okay
Retails for: $59.99
We Recommend: $35.99
  • Developer: Appeal Studios
  • Publisher: THQ Nordic
  • Genre: Action
  • Released: Mar 15, 2024
  • Platform: Windows, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5
  • Reviewed: Windows

Outcast – A New Beginning is the sequel to the 1999 original action adventure. In a lot of ways, the original team at Appeal Studios have made a throwback that is able to introduce new people and welcome back returning players to the series. The inclusion of the jetpack is one of the game’s highlights, and its story and gameplay offers more than enough to see it through. Outcast – A New Beginning is at times janky, it has a lot of charm that’s well worth your time.

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Cutter Slade, the hero of the original game is back, both figuratively and literally. He’s been resurrected, suggesting that he died at some point between the games. He’s sent back to the planet of Adelphia to help the people there. Now there’s a new robotic threat to extinguish before your mission is done. The game starts off pretty slow, with lots of dialogue, but it picks up the pace both from a story and gameplay perspective. There was a remake several years ago, and would make a good primer, but is in no way required.

It’s clear that the game world was built for flying. This is evident when in the early hours of the game you’re walking and running around, everything feels like a slog and not nearly as exciting as it could be. Once you start to acquire upgrades to the jetpack to make it capable of flying, things not only become easier, but reminds me a lot of Dark Void – it feels good . If the flying isn’t enough, there is fast travel that can be done via gateways called daokas. There are seven villages in the game: Emea, Bidaa, Sappa, Palana, Prokriana, Desan, and Kizaar. Each location has a different theme and biome, and are all different areas than what were seen in the first game.

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There are two types of missions, main and side missions. The main missions are non-linear, and can be tackled in just about any order. There will be some requirements that gate progress, but for the most part you’re free to take on the campaign on how you see fit. It feels really freeing, but often there can be too many missions available to complete.

The side missions are standard fare for the open-world genre. So you’ll take on things like gork eruptions, orym trails, and shrines. But these equate to nests, time trials, and outposts. Now, liberating outposts feels impactful in terms of removing the oppressive robotic presence, but you’ve seen and done this elsewhere many times.

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You only get two guns, a pistol and a rifle. Each has a unique set of ammo that can be upgraded to hold more. The guns on their own are unexciting, but you’ll be quickly given access and unlock modules that can expand on what each gun can do. Modules can be swapped between both guns for greater customization. For instance you can equip modules that enable charged shots, multi-shot, or explosive sticky grenades. In doing so, your weapon’s power will grow with it. While stealth isn’t a tent pole of this series or game, you can sneak if you’d like to avoid harder encounters.

As a stranger in a strange land, you’ll be given access to different kinds of Talan powers. There are four active powers that utilize a special gun. There’s the Ascior Swarm that spits acid onto enemies, perfect for fighting off robots. Then there’s the Ventilope Raid to bomb enemies from above. Personally I like the disruptive Garondar Anti-Gravity that essentially disables enemies for you to shoot them without taking damage. There are also passive powers to acquire as well, with each of them different from the last.

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One of my favorite things in Outcast – A New Beginning are the conversations. While they can be lengthy, they are fully voiced and every new item inquired about, will unlock an entry in your glossary. This also means that future conversations will give you better understanding and context of the world around you, making Cutter smarter with each new dialogue he enters.

While I didn’t interact with the systems too much, you can craft items and upgrades like potions and the like. There are merchants that sell these items, and you’re able to sell to them to make money. There are essentially five currencies in the game, from money to crafting to ammo. It’s all pretty standard fare, and easy to grasp each of the systems to upgrade how you want.

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I have to call out special attention to the soundtrack, as it’s outstanding. There’s a flavor of old-school gaming here, while borrowing influences from Star Wars and Star Trek scores, while having this curiosity and fantasy sci-fi flair to it all. It’s definitely something I would listen to on its own.

You can play Outcast – A New Beginning in either an experimental DX12 and DX11 versions. I did find the DX12 version to be more performant and absolutely gorgeous. I was able to get over 100fps while exploring the open world with DLAA turned on. When DLSS was enabled, the framerate soared higher. This is a game that’s beautiful to look at, but sometimes the world is barren or empty looking. I think a contributing factor is that the world is really built for the jetpack when you’re able to fly around. It’s fascinating to see the dichotomy of the native people of Adelphia, and the robot invaders – old vs new. I know Cutter Slade is meant to be older, but his character model is the worst out of everyone in the game, and is hard to look at when. Thankfully, there’s so much other beauty to take in.

My PC Specs:

– Microsoft Windows 11 Pro
– Intel Core i9 13900K @ 5.8GHz
– ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X
– WD_BLACK SN850X M.2 (4 TB)
– LG UltraGear 34GP950B-G (21:9 Ultrawide @ 3440×1440)

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The first game was neat for it’s time, and the remake breathed new life into the series. While I’m not sure we needed a sequel, there’s some really neat ideas, quests, systems, and ways of traversing I haven’t quite experienced. There’s clearly a lot of secrets to uncover and things to do in this open-world adventure we’ve seen before, but in a new way. This really feels like a throwback game from a different era mixed with new ideas. While not every component of Outcast – A New Beginning comes together the way it should, it’s still very entertaining and captivating.

A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes