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Cosmic_Guru

Outward - Below Gothic Morrowind? (RPG / rogue like)

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I've been aware of this game from Quebec-based nine dots for a little while but reading (in-store) a preview in PC Gamer this morning made me rather more interested. The game has some intriguing features and features a human "nobody" as Charname.

 

  • couch and on-line co-op
  • attention to detail on survival elements, you can't just scoff a dead animal
  • no perma death - rather you are transported elsewhere on the map (potentially without your backpack - see below)
  • no quick travel
  • a spell crafting system which reminds me a bit of Two Worlds II, combing different ingredients or components to different ends
  • auto-save only 
  • stamina cost to combat
  • magic comes at the cost of lower health and stamina
  • wearing a backpack hinders rolling away in combat

 

 

 

 

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Had a few hours with this last night and it's, um, interesting.  A blend of environmentally crude Unity engine (?) world (think Morrowind era appearance only with much more colour), the sort of bone-hard-at-the-start development tree favoured by the likes of Gothic and Elex (cash for skills) , a fully fleshed out survival game, and a Roguelike (not precisely, but see below).

 

There is a tutorial which introduces you to the mechanics of combat and the various ways to aid survival by cooking, sleeping, wearing weather appropriate clothing etc.

 

[Potential spoilers if you are getting this and want to go in completely cold.]

 

Then you create a character who is just a bod with no skills or classes to choose from - all six permutations are possible, but are uniformly ugly and low res so it doesn't exactly take long to do.  The bod wakes up after a shipwreck in their undies and off you go.  After a short starting area (worth checking out for the machete and a few bits and bobs), you get taken to your base in town and that's where it starts to get interesting.  After exploring the interior you go outside and get faced by an angry mob demanding restitution.  You have 5 days to raise 150 gold or will lose your home. This isn't very difficult to achieve but with my first character I screwed up big time exploring and died a couple of times by going places I shouldn't go (as you do).   You don't actually die in this, but may get transported elsewhere with some of your belongings gone, and some time  passed.  I'm not sure if this is a bug or intentional in this early stage of the game, but the 5 in-game days came and went in this manner (i.e it was mostly "dead" time) and nothing seemed to happen to my base.  Having raised the cash I was free to follow one of three paths with a view to joining a particular faction, all of which seem to require considerable travel.  I was on my merry way south looking for a stash I had been informed about, and I thought I would pop in to a fort along the way.  Mistake!  I said I was looking for a place to rest and ended up doing hard labour :o. I quickly found a way out but am reduced to the rags on my back and a pickaxe...

 

Time to roll a new character, now I know how to get the cash fairly easily.  

 

The map seems to be bug which contributed to the mess up with Char 1 - it only seemed to work properly once and thereafter was sort of overlaid on the town map. It also features that bizarre mix of voiced and silent dialogue which is so odd - I really prefer all one or the other.  And you have to take notes of directions as well (hence the Morrowind reference).   Needless to say the carrying capacity is a bastard too....  And river water isn't "fresh"....

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LOL, turns out you can use that spell in the clink to earn a little cash and get some food rations, as well as easily recover your gear.  

 

I've arrived at the God Squad HQ in Monsoon , not my first choice of faction but I'm thinking I might as well join them rather than waste a lot more time and resource trying to find the other towns.  There is a really bizarre design ethos to parts of this - neon clashing with medievalism.

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29 minutes ago, Flub said:

@Cosmic_Guru Have you played this anymore? It looks interesting. Would you recommend it?

 

Oh yes.  I've joined up with the God Squad and it's now become more conventional - go there, (to world map dungeons) kill that sort of thing (I don't think anything much happens until you join one group or another so you might as well just make a beeline for it rather than mess around like I have).  I realise I need to get some magic skills because I'm pretty shit at doing anything more than killing the odd hyena or solitary bandit (most enemies can simply be avoided when travelling around).

 

I'm not sure I would recommend it exactly, but it is intriguing.  Morrowind (for the environment, lack of signposting on quests, but presentationally much less sophisticated - no crime etc, NPCs don't move), Gothic / Elex (factions, pay to train skills, weird post-industrial vibe), Below (not sure what is going on at times, key item which may need to be retrieved, eat drink hot cold survival aspects) seem reasonable pointers.  It's one of those where you could luck out in the next chest so it's worth going to see (that blue mage hat I had but lost with my first char retails at a cool 200g :o).

 

The map seems to be sorted but you don't get your location marked so you have to learn the various landmarks (not difficult to be honest but much harder if you die and are relocated and if it's dark).  There is a compass to orient you and you can add markers to the map but thats about it.

 

The survival elements to this are fairly brutal too.  Food (hyena and egg) goes off rapidly, even when cooked, and cold and (I assume) hot kick in quickly.  You need to have 5+ travel rations to move to a new map.   

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1 hour ago, Flub said:

How did the game expect you to earn that first 150gold? Do a few quests?

 

Talk to the woman named Helen something in the village.  She instructs you to find a certain item - bring it back and sell a few other bits and bobs you have picked up along the way and you are good to go.  There are other small quests available from traders but that one is the most reliable and is quickly accomplished (if you don't mess up like I did a few times) - just head straight to the dungeon following her instructions, keep going down, look for a room with a fence or something similar (you might see the item glint too) and stealth past enemies if possible.

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Well, magic acquired in theory.  Unfortunately you need to have the correct boon to activate some (all?) spells.  So even though the God Squad gave me the ability to have electric discharge on my weapon I can't use it until I have the holy (?) boon. I've got a cold boon, but the training to learn ice is a cool 600g. :lol:  I went 80/80/80 split for mana / health /stamina but no idea if that is going to get me any serious magic ability.

 

Never mind, it was satisfying to work through a dungeon rather than try to avoid things.  Upgraded bow, alchemy kit and puffa coat gained along the way.

 

One really interesting feature in this is that things lie around, possibly permanently.  This means if you discard your food waste in the kitchen, you come back home to it.  Also, and more positivity, you can set up little camps in the wild with a tent and a fire, for example just outside a dungeon, or at the entrance to a new map.  The marsh area has some dinky and cheap leaf tents which cannot be rolled up but act to fully replenish your food and drink needs.

 

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I promise not to keep posting about this, but I thought this review is fair.

 

https://www.destructoid.com/review-outward-547670.phtml

 

After a good session Tuesday, I had a poor one last night although some of that was down to losing inventory items through a game freezing at the "updating items" screen.  Incredibly annoying.  However, I've got my shit together again and made it to a second new town (Berg) where there is a boon available which should help with my primary faction task.    

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Yeah - keep posting. I have my eye on this and I'm keen to hear impressions. I have a lot of time for slightly janky open world RPGs (like ELEX), so this has been on my radar for while. I don't have time for it at the moment, but it's on my list.

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Thanks for the support guys!

 

That's a brilliant video review - I'm really not a fan of that format, but he absolutely nails it for me without being annoying as so many of the reviewers are.  Interesting that he actually lost his base whereas I didn't having also exceeded the deadline with my first character, so maybe that was a bug in my game (I started playing before the day 1 patch and my 2nd character knew how to whizz through in day 2).  Also it seems you can get re-instated at the mana obtaining place without going through the dungeon :o (that has its pros and cons though, since there were several chests along the way), which didn't happen with me, before getting my mana on, but has subsequently.  Incidentally you don't have to fight your way out of the prison. I don't fancy being robbed blind by bandits, but never have significant cash building up anyway.

 

But that's the whole crux of this game, figuring things out, what is important, what can be sold (I feel I should be doing something which converts wood-> cash but I want to use arrows so don't want to fritter away iron), what (non perishable) needs to be stashed until needed (or is too valuable to risk losing).  Learning the maps (which are much more difficult at  night of course), learning where to go for water and supplies, learning the "rules" of when caches resupply, figuring out your weapon preferences and when to fight and when to avoid, figuring out magic....  And the world itself, which isn't just a cod medieval setting (there's absolutely nothing to read here in terms of background or lore to help you with this). 

 

Starting again to join a new faction will be a lot smoother, which is why I feel the game merits it's "rogue like" tag, even though it isn't one.  There are hints in the achievements ("obtain item from legacy chest") that this might be better done after completing one run.  Not an immediate concern, though since I still have a dungeon of undead to deal with in my very first faction task.  I might see if my first is able to be re-united with her pack in some way.

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, Cosmic_Guru said:

 I might see if my first is able to be re-united with her pack in some way.

 

Yes, it was actually lying on the beach a few yards away (this was after jumping down the hole without it to escape the prison).  So I waltzed back in, got cheeky to the chap again, got re-imprisoned and found my clothes too (just need to say you want to do some other work than rock breaking).  There seem to be 3 ways of getting out of this prison area, so it's really no biggie.  Anyway, she is good to go now and I might cash that mage hat in to get her some more useful gear.

 

However, can't say the same about my Main guy.  It's not often a video game utterly baffles you and leaves you scratching your head, as to what has happened, what part my agency caused and what to do as a result.  I will spoiler this episode, and it's actually motivated me to post for the first time on Reset simply to see if anyone there has encountered it.  Suffice to say openly, I'm wracked with cold, encumbered after looting low hanging fruit in the forest area and seemingly without a bed to call my own this side of another long trek across the marsh or the forest (where I really don't want to be based at this point and where I currently have no access to my stash). :(

 

Specifically

Spoiler

Got back to the gates and they are blocked by a fallen frozen tree.    I couldn't believe it!!!  All that way, lighting campfires every few yards to try to warm up, avoiding every single enemy, to get blocked in this way.  I don't know if there is something I could have done to prevent this (the water system is failing but I'm on the case on that,  and I was also told to clear out some baddies in the prison fortress which I don't feel up to and wasn't given any sort of sense of urgency about).  It isn't obvious that either of these problems caused the immediate problem of the frozen tree / no-one around to remove it.  I really have no idea what to do other than ditch the heavy stuff, run back to Monsoon or Berg, heal and return hoping that winter is passed and see if that changes anything.  I could also try to find out how much a house costs elsewhere (where Im assuming the stash will be accessible) but can't believe that will be cheap. 

 

 

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I have a day off today so I started playing. Very refreshing. I went and got the mushroom and had enough stuff to sell alongside it to pay off the debt. Now the game has opened up to a point where I'm paralysed. However all the current quests involve travel and I don't feel equipped for that.

 

First job is to get geared up a bit. I need a decent selection of weapons and a bigger backpack for starters.

 

93hh5z2.jpg

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Got myself a new backpack (25 silver in the general store. Phew). Upgraded some starter rags with hyena hide to makeship armour. Managed to get a tribal favour item but as yet I don't know what to do with it.

 

top tip for that initial 150 silver debt.

Head right out of town and go down to the beach. Avoid the fucker down there and near the first rock closest to town there's a shipwrecked man. Give him a bandage and he'll give you a tribal favour. I believe that will cancel out the debt

 

Now I need to figure out how to earn a living.

 

 

outward2.jpg

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Top tips for starting out.

 

Explore the entire town. There's a couple of really handy tools lying around. lots of other stuff you can sell or use. Be sure to go into the storage area. Plenty more free stuff and troglodyte caves to bash shit further in.

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Just now, Flub said:

Top tips for starting out.

 

Explore the entire town. There's a couple of really handy tools lying around. lots of other stuff you can sell or use. Be sure to go into the storage area. Plenty more free stuff and troglodyte caves to bash shit further in.

 

Absolutely, and the storage area re-stocks after a certain number of in-game days - always worth running back to check. 

 

Given there is an achievement specifically to "complete the first quest of the Holy Mission, while keeping the lighthouse", I'm increasingly thinking my problems stem from lapsed time (I "died" lots basically) and I should maybe write this character off to experience.    

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Had my first death fighting a couple of bandits. Ended up getting rescued by a demon and came away with a savage axe and a smaller backpack that is designed for combat and doesn't effect dodge.

 

Then died three more times for every more stupid reasons :)

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3 minutes ago, Flub said:

Had my first death fighting a couple of bandits. Ended up getting rescued by a demon and came away with a savage axe and a smaller backpack that is designed for combat and doesn't effect dodge.

 

Then died three more times for every more stupid reasons :)

 

And there I was thinking you were having it easy!  Was the demon the one who is reading a book?  I think he gave me a boon.

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59 minutes ago, Cosmic_Guru said:

 

And there I was thinking you were having it easy!  Was the demon the one who is reading a book?  I think he gave me a boon.

 

Yeah. That's where I got the backpack from.

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On 29/03/2019 at 19:38, Flub said:

I think I'm done for now. I want to travel to another region but the game just hangs during loading. Every time.

 

Bummer.  Maybe worth trying again since I assume PC has had at least one patch?

 

I'm still playing.  A typical session goes like this:

 

"you, Cosmic, have one job to do today - go do it"

 

The job in this case being to find a particular cave and retrieve a particular object to advance one of the faction quests.  You only have the vaguest of clues as to where this cave might be (hence the Morrowind analogy, particularly in the marshland).  You go round searching likely spots, often taking your eye off the roaming predators of the region - a mistake - you die and are reanimated at a different spot entirely.  You trudge back to the area again. Maybe you rest to ensure your day starts at daybreak.  Success!  you find the cave, evade the creatures, find the goody, all is well.  On your way back to town you spot a trading caravan* - an ideal opportunity to farm some parts for cash.  You die and are reanimated at a different spot and by the time you return caravan will have moved anyway.  

 

*slight variations of this - 

a. you want to try a new weapon on an enemy

b. you have been greedy with loot and are overloaded 

 

in such a fashion several days can pass in this (sleeping being the best cure for everything).  That lapse of time matters in this and adds pressure (there being no great mystery about my earlier predicament - you have to deal with the threat if you want to retain the town as a base).

 

This probably sounds dull and boring but I find it strangely compelling.  I have two working characters - one based in Berg and specialising in bows, the other based in Levant (which is ridiculously expensive presumably to reflect the remoteness of the location and the greed of the inhabitants) with no magic at all but swinging a big 2H axe and putting points into the rogue skills such as trap damage.  Both have been forcibly ejected from other places with no right of re-admittance.  I'm thinking of starting again using the third slot (the chap who froze to death) to major in magic since Monsoon has a relevant trainer for that.

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Another decent review here

 

https://www.pcgamer.com/outward-review/

 

I'm definitely going to explore magic with my final character.  The desert based one has now changed to duel wielding with an Assassin's sword and a venomous dagger, with extra damage + re-usable pressure plates and a few fireballs also in her armoury.   She however forgot one of the basics -  to put a lantern in her pocket which meant a very uncomfortable time in pitch darkness trying to retrieve her backpack in desert rose cave.  

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