When I first opened this, the whitespace that would become this post, earlier in the morning I wasn’t really that far into the game yet. If you were curious — I’d made it to the forested area with the death-fungi first encountered in the prologue.

The plan was to jump in for another 40 minutes or so as in theory that was all the time my brother had before needing to go out. With how limited our available time to play together is, writing this post could certainly wait a little bit!

Fast forward several hours later… And we were still going, having powered through a lot of the main story, putting sidequests aside until we were done.

We had to each break for various reasons until this evening, but then found ourselves able to push on further. Now? The campaign is over and the endgame has been commenced. I’m no longer 100% sure an ‘early impressions’ descriptor is still accurate. But I’ll leave it there perhaps in the hopes it will be accurate.

While Outriders has no designs on being a forever game, I am at least hopeful that the post-campaign expeditions will keep our group interested enough to rack up much more time yet.

I’m no longer sure the fungi is the most dangerous part of the forest

The short version — sometimes I can do one, I swear — is that while Outriders if far from perfect I’ve had fun from start to finish. There are moments of frustration largely resulting from server and/or game instability. Joining games online seems to route through some sort of Peer-Server-Peer setup resulting in a really laggy feeling experience for anyone except the host, even when the peers are located within the same country.

I assume this is due to concerns over cheating and general security, which fine, great. But ugh. My hope here is that as server strain reduces the laggy/jolty feeling of playing as a game-joiner reduces. It does seem to be a little worse during peak-times, so we’ll see.

My only other complaint is that so far the end-game expeditions are easier than we had been led to believe in some of the prerelease videos. That ‘so far’ is a pretty huge caveat though. I’ve only done a couple, working my challenge tier up to 6 (of a possible 15). My brother and I blew through them like hot knives through butter though. Prewarmed butter. Butter left out in the sun for a while. And also the knives were cleavers. Swung by an ogre.

But it’s a game hard to stay mad at.

Because it does so much else so very well. It’s a very narrowly focused game. It’s a game about powerful people with powerful guns and powerful skills killing (sometimes) powerful enemies.

The campaign world at large and the endgame run on different (but similar) difficulty scaling systems. The campaign-driven parts of the world have a ‘World Tier’ that also runs from 1-15. It’s similar to Torment levels from Diablo 3 in many respects but has a few interesting quirks unique to Outriders. The most fun one in my opinion being that the maximum level gear you can equip goes up with it. At World Tier 10 — where I’m up to presently — you can equip gear 7-levels over your character level.

Each level difference in gear is quite significant, too. Going up a World Tier is therefore a big deal, particularly once you cap out in character level (30), it becomes the means by which you can get better and better gear.

At World Tier 15 you can equip +12 (or level 42) gear. This doesn’t get you to the current game’s cap of 50. To go any further than 42 you’ll need to rank up your Challenge Tier.

These systems overlap and if you don’t want to carry on with World Tier anymore once finishing the campaign you don’t have to. You start the endgame with the first three Challenge Tiers unlocked which will let you fight level 34 enemies and gain level 34 gear.

This was behind what I could get in the world (with WT10) but the first run was over in less than 10 minutes, well and truly ‘gold’ timed. This immediately unlocked another +2 CT, letting us run CT 5 (level 37 enemies and gear) — on par with our world progress. We also gold-timed that one, although it looks like we only unlock +1 CT per run from here on out regardless of gold timing a run (or not).

And despite what I said about the difficulty about — I could definitely feel the jump from +3 to +5. Given there are another 10 levels to go before the end, perhaps we will get that balanced-for-three best-of-the-best-builds experience yet.

Whether it does or doesn’t though I have to say the loot game is incredibly compelling so far. Gear has a range of primary stats and a set of mods. Primary stats include your usual suspects. Weapon power, skill power, status effect (DoTs or CC for the part) power, Crit damage, max health, etc etc. The mods are probably the more interesting part. You can collect ’em like Pokemon. As you dismantle any weapon or armor possessing a mod you don’t get own it gets added to your library.

From there you can reapply them to other pieces of gear at relatively low cost.

You can only swap one mod on a piece of gear — so you still need to get gear to drop with at least one desirable mod and the right balance of stats you want for your current build. The mix of good drops and craft-to-make-better is my favourite style of gear progression so it’s right up my alley. :)

The pieces are all here to get a tonne more enjoyment out of the game but it is going to require some attention from the developers.

Given how much has already been fixed between the demo version of the game and the launch release though — I’m hopeful. They dealt with the motion blur issues. Cover snapping was incredibly janky in the demo and is now only a little janky. ;)

Fingers crossed for the best!