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Official Review Outcast 2: A New Beginning Review

Outcast 2: A New Beginning is an Action-Adventure game available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
 
 

General Information

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By the Yods, here we go again!



You are Cutter Slade - a dry-witted ex-Navy SEAL and, not to toot your own horn, Earth's last chance at survival. You've been sent through a wormhole along with a group of scientist to track down a probe and stop a cataclysm that they inadvertently wrought upon Earth. Little did you know that due to time dilation, superstition of the natives and a fair bit of skulduggery you'd be named the Ulukai, the savior of their race, and end up having to save not one, but two planets. That's all in the past though - now... now things are different. You just woke up in a Talan temple with a massive headache, you don't know how you got here, you're suffering from memory loss and you have an unshakeable feeling that it's been a while since you walked on Adelpha, or at all for that matter. You exit the ancient structure and notice the first signs of trouble - an unidentified spaceship opening fire on the locals! Time for the grizzled vet to step in and save the world once again, regain your lost memory and, most importantly, find your way back home.


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Make friends with everybody and destroy the invader's bases - no problem, right after a quick shower

If this introduction makes you think that Outcast 2 starts as a collection of 90's tropes with a typical 90's protagonist doing typical 90's things, you would be correct, and having tried Outcast: Second Contact recently I suspect this was done on purpose. A New Beginning is a product of the original team coming together years after the fact to create a sequel they never got to finish, and it shows. It's a game they would've made in the early 2000's if they were given the chance. Thankfully Appeal was very much aware that most gamers probably don't even remember the previous game. Who could blame them after over two decades? As such, they made the protagonist start from the same point as the player does - knowing nothing and experiencing the cheesy sci-fi world of Adelpha as if they landed on it together for the first time. Amnesia might seem like a cheap writer's crutch, but in this case it works well enough, allowing the game to drip feed the player lore as needed. Cutter Slade is a "generic" Action Man-style hero, but since you don't really get to play as those nowadays he almost feels refreshing in a way. As he slowly regains his memory throughout the campaign you get to learn more about him which adds more depth to the character, but never more than required to propel the story forward. Outcast 2 isn't about Slade so much as it's about having an old school adventure on an alien planet - comparisons to Stargate or Avatar write themselves. At its core, it's a fish-out-of-the-water story about a human messianic figure surrounded by alien noble savages - instead of being dark and brooding like a lot of modern productions, it's innocent and has an air of childhood wonderment about it. While it does take full advantage of new technology and various gameplay conveniences we've grown accustomed to over the years, it feels decidedly "retro" in the way it's written. Some players will find that appealing, others may consider it a bit dated. Me? I had a good laugh, and enjoyed the nice change of pace compared to the likes of Mass Effect that treat themselves very seriously.

Boost, Blast, Mod, Repeat!



In terms of gameplay, Outcast 2 is an open world action-adventure. Yes, another one. No, don't close the tab. Hear me out... I promise a jetpack, alright? Good, I have your attention. Now, Cutter's been MIA for quite some time and, as legendary of a figure as he was, telling strangers that he's their prophesied savior decades after disappearing without a trace is a tough sell. Your first order of business is to prove that you are who you claim to be. Don't worry - the rulers of Adelpha are quick to give you a laundry list of things to do that'll convince them. Your objective is two-fold. Step one is to travel from one village to the next, resolve the countless issues Talans, the natives of Adelpha, are dealing with and gain their literal tokens of appreciation called "daromons". Step two is to destroy any and all enemy outposts, recovering upgrades for your gear. The quests are varied, ranging from textbook stuff like collecting certain items or killing specific enemies to more original tasks like herding local livestock, freeing hostages, participating in races or escorting NPC's. It's nothing that you haven't seen elsewhere before, but the game manages to weave the sub quests together into a sensible net of interactions, so it's easy to track the progress of all the tasks involved. Everything you do has an impact on the world around you and prepares both the natives and yourself for the final battle ahead. Now, to be fair, some of the activities can be repetitive, but on the flip side there's always something to do somewhere. You're free to complete quests in any order you like, so if you feel monotony setting in, you can take a detour and tackle a different village for a change.


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Now that I think about it, for a space messiah you sure do a lot of animal husbandry in this game
Where Outcast 2 truly shines is in the gear, and the game is not afraid to shower you with it. Your starter pistol, shield and jetpack are wimpy, but quick and easy to upgrade, so before long you become a real force to be reckoned with. Frequent readers of my reviews will know that I'm a sucker for a good jetpack, and this one's top notch, allowing for plenty of verticality and fast movement, both on the ground and in the air. In fact, chances are you'll spend most of your time gliding across the picturesque Adelpha instead of walking or using fast travel simply because it's fun to do, especially if you plan on hitting up points of interest along the way. The game gives you a lot of freedom not just in terms of movement, but also customization. I particularly liked how Slade's pistol, and later rifle, have interchangeable module slots which allow for some pretty intense add-on synergy. Homing spread shot explosive pistol rounds that paralyze anything they touch? Uhh, yes please? The combinations feel endless, allowing you to perfectly tailor combat to your liking. Speaking of combat, it once again feels like a bit of a throwback. There's no fancy cover system to contend with and no regenerating health, just good 'ol over-the-shoulder action with a normal health bar. Hello, old friends - it's been a while.

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Making friends on Adelpha often involves getting accustomed with the native's various traditions and rituals
In terms of presentation the game scores highly. Adelpha is colorful and lively, with a variety of different biomes to visit. There's lush forests, barren deserts, snow-covered mountain tops and everything in-between, really making you feel like you're exploring an alien planet with a real ecosystem. Every village is populated with Talans eager to tell you all about themselves and, naturally, add more items to your bucket list. Appeal really nailed that "out of this world" feeling they were going for and if there's anything they could've improved then perhaps a bigger variety of both the invaders and the local fauna would've been nice to see. I've read that other reviewers came across performance issues on other platforms, but my experience on the PS5 was nice and steady with very few noticeable hitches or bugs worth mentioning.

Blast-off or Crash Down?




So, in summary, is Outcast 2 worth your time? Yes, if you're into old school action-adventure games that don't treat themselves too seriously. A New Beginning is not a big budget title and you have to set your expectations to match, but it's an effective series revival that refreshes the franchise without straying too far from its roots. It's a charming space adventure full of quirky characters, dry humor and a straightforward story. Its strong points, extensive weapon customization and exploration especially, shine through and allow you to overlook some of the game's rough edges. If you're looking for a light-hearted adventure on a truly alien world that doesn't require you to think too hard, you may want to look into this one. It's an ambitious game done on a tight budget, and it effectively recaptures that 90's gaming feel returning players are sure to appreciate. Now, is it worth the asking price of £59.99? To me it's a little much for what you're getting. I've had a great time playing it, but that's a price tag I still associate with AAA productions, and Outcast: A New Beginning is definitely not that - it's "good", but not "exceptional" besides a few stand-out elements. If you're in two minds about it, there is a demo available, so my recommendation is to try it first and see if it's your cup of tea. Who knows? Maybe downloading it will tide you over, and Outcast 2 will truly mark a new beginning for the franchise.

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