Outcast – A New Beginning review for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X

Platform: PC
Also on: PS5, Xbox Series X
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Appeal Studios
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

When the original Outcast came out back in 1999, it was ahead of its time. It was one of the first 3D open-world games, giving you a planet to explore and graphics that required a top-of-the-line computer to run. While it hasn’t aged all that well – just look at the game’s remake that came out in 2017 – it’s still noteworthy due to the fact that it predated GTA III by a couple of years.

It’s taken 25 years, but thanks to Outcast – A New Beginning we finally have a sequel to Outcast. And, in a tremendous bit of irony, where the first game was a look into the future of gaming, this new one feels a lot more like a look back – or, if you want to be a little less polite about it, Outcast – A New Beginning feels like a relic from a bygone era.

This applies in both very broad and very specific terms. If you want to look at it broadly, Outcast – A New Beginning feels like a game that could’ve come out ten or fifteen years ago. It’s kind of an open-world-by-numbers game, with lots of fetch quests to carry out and resources to gather and a protagonist who feels very much like a space marine circa 2010, but nothing that makes the game stand out on its own. It doesn’t help, either, that the world, well-imagined though it may be (and I’ll expand more on that shortly), also feels a little empty, and not even the fact you have a jetpack makes traversing it any more enjoyable.

The game’s more specific problem is that it kind of feels like Avatar – and, of course, we had an Avatar game just a few months ago. Frontiers of Pandora may have been a flawed game, but it also did everything Outcast – A New Beginning set out to do, and did it exponentially better. The alien world was way more breathtaking, the combat was way more interesting, and it was just more polished in every way. Mind you, the budget was undoubtedly also way higher, but if you have a choice of two open-world games set on alien planets, it’s hard to know why you’d choose this one, unless you have nostalgia for the first Outcast.

At the same time, though, Outcast – A New Beginning undeniably has its own kind of weird, wonky charm. In the decades since the first Outcast, we’ve had a whole subgenre of Eurojank-y open-world games emerge – think stuff like Elex and Gothic – and Outcast – A New Beginning very much fits into it. Despite the fact you can go everywhere, your character’s movement looks oddly stiff and ungainly. Every character you talk to wants to engage in conversations that are really just lengthy info-dumps. There are glitches here and there that require restarting from your last save point, since key items are missing. The game’s star, Cutter Slade, is a wise-cracking jerk who’s trying to get back to his daughter while also apparently being the prophecied Chosen One. That doesn’t make any of it good, but if you’re a connoisseur of that very specific genre, there’s a reasonably good chance you’re going to love Outcast – A New Beginning.

But again, appeals to a certain kind of nostalgia aside, it’s worth emphasizing that Outcast – A New Beginning is not a good game. Its predecessor may have been groundbreaking for 3D open-world games, but we’re definitely not getting that this time around.

THQ Nordic provided us with an Outcast – A New Beginning PC code for review purposes.

Score: 6.5

Outcast – A New Beginning – PlayStation 5

Price: $69.99

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