If you haven’t seen it yet Square Enix has released a free to play demo of a cross-play, co-op, third person, RPG shooter called Outriders. The demo is available to download on every platform except the Nintendo Switch with the full game to be released on April 1st. While Square Enix are the ones publishing Outriders, People Can Fly are the developers behind it. Just in case you’re not familiar with these developers they are a Polish based company that have also had a hand in games like Fortnite, the Bulletstorm franchise, and a couple Gears of War games. They’re no slouch, and it shows through so far in the demo.
Combat & Classes
Judging by just what is available to us in the demo the combat in Outriders feels really good up to this point. People Can Fly have clearly allowed their experience and success with the Gears of War franchise to influence how they went about making this game. If you’re a fan of the feel and style behind Gears of War’s combat system, Outriders is cut from the same cloth. From the way the cover system works to how shotguns still rip enemies apart in blood-soaked fashion at close range, Outriders just feels like home to a Gears of War fan.
From what can be gathered from the demo Outriders seems to actually have a pretty well developed universe for players to immerse themselves into. The overarching premise of the story behind Outriders is set in a distant future where humans are forced to leave Earth and then, try to colonize another planet that has looked to be a promising new home. Without spoiling anything, I will simply say things do not go as planned, and disaster follows. On the bright side of it all you end up with some pretty awesome abilities. These new abilities end up being one of four different classes you can choose to play as in Outriders. They are Pyromancer, Devastator, Trickster, and Technomancer.
Pyromancers are said to be best played as a good, mid-range fighter. They ultimately end up playing like a fire mage with a gun allowing players to nearly cast their abilities at will during combat. Pyromancers easily have the fastest cooldown times on their abilities when compared to the other classes. Now, each class can use their abilities to not only kill enemies, but at the same time heal themselves during combat along the way. When it comes to Pyromancers in particular, they gain their health by killing enemies that have been marked with one of their abilities. The more aggressive a playstyle you choose to have, the more benefit from this you will see. This makes them suitable to a fast paced, never stop moving type of play style. That being said, the skill trees for every class in Outriders are huge, and I’m sure you can mold each class to play however you’d like with enough tinkering. Every class in the game is broken down into 3 subclasses within their skill tree. Each offers their own unique specialty. The best thing is you can mix and match from each subclass, and are not forced into just one branch.
As you can see within the Pyromancer skill tree it is broken down into three different subclasses, Ash Breaker, Fire Storm, and Tempest. We don’t know much information about them besides the generic descriptions of each subclass given to us at this time. Players were very limited in what we could do in the demo, only being allotted two skill points, and four abilities per class to play around with.
- Ash Breaker– Provides additional bonuses for dealing damage to marked enemies.
- Firestorm– Increases skill, burning, and anomaly power for increased damage over time.
- Tempest– The tank tree that focuses on increasing health and reducing damage.
Devastators are your traditional tank class in Outriders. They have the ability to control gravity and mass which allows them to crush anything in their path. They are set up to be the frontline fighter of the group, and are intended to get up close and personal with the enemies. It’s where they thrive. It makes the most sense to approach this highly aggressive, up close and personal playstyle, because it is how players will be able to regain their health during combat while playing as a Devastator. This class can only regain their health when killing enemies who are within an extremely close proximity to them. If you want to hang back and shoot enemies from afar Devastator might not be for you. In my opinion this class might be the most fun to play, simply because you can just run through enemies at will regaining health with every kill along the way. Playing as a Devastator is essentially an Incredible Hulk sim with optional gunplay.
Just like the Pyromancer we will see that the Devastator class is broken down into 3 different subclasses within the skill tree. They are Vanquisher, Warden, and Seismic Shifter
- Vanquisher– Favors players who really want to lean into the in your face aggressive playstyle.
- Warden– Able to endure tremendous amounts of damage creating an ultimate tank. Full of passive bonuses for shields, health, and resistance to damage types.
- Seismic Shifter– For players who enjoy a more mid range combat not needing to be as aggressive to enjoy class perks. Enhances damage done over time, and increases the overall damage of your abilities.
Tricksters are designed to be a traditional rogue style class. They are described as able to control space and time to assassinate their enemies. At this point in what we are able to play in the demo the Trickster class seems to be the most powerful in terms of immediate damage dealt. They are essentially your traditional DPS class, and are meant to be played at a fast pace, teleporting in and out of combat quickly inflicting massive damage, followed by swiftly being able to escape the enemy’s attack range afterwards. In terms of health regen abilities for this class you will be forced to kill enemies at close range in order to restore your health, as well as some shield.
Tricksters skill trees are broken down into the three subclasses Master of Space, Harbinger, and Assassin.
- Master of Space– Mainly based on increasing your movement ability which allows you to more easily teleport in and out of combat increasing the close combat effectiveness while reducing your chances of being hit.
- Harbinger– Creates the ability to become a light tank by providing more shield and defense bonuses.
- Assassin– Focuses purely on overall damage output, and gives some leeching bonuses on the side.
In case the name was too subtle the Technomancer class utilizes technology based powers creating constructs to do damage from a distance. Not very unlike the way Green Lantern can use his ring to create constructs of anything to use as a weapon against his enemies Technomancers abilities are actually quite similar. However, while that may sound great and powerful, this class is best used in strictly a supportive role. While playing this class one should never get close to anything due to its outlandishly squishy nature. You will die. At this time my opinion can only be based on what I can play in the demo, and the Technomancer just is not a viable option if you are playing alone. Sure, you could do it and get by, but you’ll be making your life much harder than it needs to be. It is said that this class can be a great crowd controller and healer, but we simply don’t have the in depth access to the skill tree at this time to make that judgement. Just like the other classes have unique ways of gaining their health back the Technomancer is no different. They regain health by the damage that they are able to deal in what appears to be a direct ratio.
Technomancers skill trees are broken down into Pestilence, Tech Shaman, and Demolisher.
- Pestilence– Gains bonuses to overall damage as well as damage over time.
- Tech Shaman– Focuses on crowd control and healing. Enhances gadget summons, freeze effects, turrets while also gaining supporting skills to help the surrounding team members.
- Demolisher– For the people unable to decide between either playstyle this offers the best of both worlds. Enhances everything about the class, including damage over time, weapon damage, and gadget damage, etc.
Hopes are High
Outriders may be able to take advantage of being the first big game released this year. That being said, I don’t think it needs the advantage. This game feels great, and the classes are a lot of fun to play. What is rather unique about this game is that you start off by becoming surprisingly powerful early on in the game. Most games like this you don’t usually get truly powerful until you reach the endgame content. In Outriders your abilities are immediately, noticeably dominant in combat, especially on the basic enemies. Even while the character has no idea what he has become, his powers emanate real intensity, and the potential is there to grow into a god among the remaining humans. It is a nice change of pace for games like this where we immediately come in as one of the most powerful beings around.
The combat is straight out of Gears of War, and the loot system is somewhat of a combination between how The Division and Destiny’s systems work with a heavy lean towards Destiny. Although it appears that People Can Fly are avoiding the same mistakes made with Destiny where high tier loot quickly becomes outdated and unusable following a new update. While it is not available to us in the demo, it is said that we will be able to upgrade the gear and weapons we like in the full game.
The demo has offered players a pretty large chunk of the first parts of the game in order for them to get a deep handle on what to expect, and how it will play in the full game. The developers have said that they intend to sell us on the the actual game, and not just sell high hopes of what it could be. That was the main reason they decided to go this route with the demo that was ripped straight out of the full game. They’re not hiding anything, this won’t be a repeat of Cyberpunk 2077’s situation. They even encouraged players to sink some real time into the demo by allowing all progress to carry over once the full game is release on April 1st. This is the approach that confident developers take, developers that have no fear of negative opinion, because they know that they have created a great product for their players. I personally am really excited for the full release of Outriders, and can’t wait to sink many hours into it while I explore each class very deeply. I see a well polished, and well developed game coming to us April 1st that could easily become the next big thing.