When Outriders properly broke cover earlier this year with our first look at this looter shooter in action, there was a fair amount of talk of it looking like something pulled from 2008. The more I learn about People Can Fly's first solo outing since 2013's Gears of War: Judgment, the more I think it's not so much a slur as something to be celebrated: this is a shooter that's proudly, defiantly old-school.
It's loud and brash and gory and completely over-the-top - like every good People Can Fly game in the past has been, really, from Painkiller to Bulletstorm - with all that excess met by some smart ideas. There's an intriguing World Tier system that sees difficulty adapt on the fly and a class system that looks properly malleable with player choice having a big impact on character builds. Oh and, most importantly, shooting things looks like it'll feel just great.
Yes, the art-style isn't exactly inspired, although the fresh look offered in today's extended presentation demonstrates that it's got a much broader palette than first gameplay suggested. "Our goal with this new was content to show that every level in our game has a different colour palette," Outriders director Bartosz Kmita tells us. "It's not only about the brown colours and the World War One feel. It's much more than just a warzone."
It's the old school thing that Outriders is being pinned on, even if it's part of a genre that is relatively modern. "So this is a looter shooter," says Kmita, "but we are doing some things different from other games. We want you to be invested in the world." There's a gentle swipe at Destiny and its grimoire - in Outriders, all the lore is contained in-game rather than ferreted away elsewhere - and while People Can Fly's game might share a genre with Bungie's, in many ways it couldn't be any more different.
"Sometimes going with the trend is not a good idea," says Kmita. "Not everyone has to do games as a service. So Outriders is committed to delivering a complete game that tells a complete story with its own beginning, middle and end all waiting for you in the box."
That's one side of the old school formula. The other is action that's gloriously gory and over-the-top - this is an 18-rated game with little concern for reaching the widest audience possible, and more concern for making sure blood flies with the right viscosity. It's loud, a little obnoxious but it looks like an awful lot of fun - just like the rest of People Can Fly's work, really. "We just make the games we want to play and do what we enjoy," Kmita says of the studio's philosophy, and it's one I can't find fault in.
There'll be more dropping on Outriders over the coming months, and it's still on course for release for PS4, Xbox One, PC and next-gen consoles towards the end of this year.
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