Outward is fast approaching a release on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, bringing with it a brand new open-world fantasy adventure game that will be found featuring deep simulation and huge amounts of immersion. In fact, it promises players that they will get to experience an entirely new kind of RPG! Sounds good eh? We think so and when we had the opportunity to quiz the creative lead on the game, we couldn’t let the chance pass us by. Guillaume Boucher-Vidal was more than happy to let us know more about Outward!
Hi, please could you introduce yourself? What has been your role on Outward?
Hi there! I am Guillaume Boucher-Vidal, creative lead on Outward and CEO of Nine Dots Studio.
So, sell it to us… why should gamers spend time with Outward?
Outward is very different in its approach, and I don’t think that it will be a fit for every gamer out there. Our intent is to make a game for a specific type of hardcore gamer who draws satisfaction from earning their victories and also who like to explore things on their own. They should try out Outward if they are tired of games holding their hands. I feel like RPGs especially are too scared of challenging the players’ intelligence. They often have lots of cool options, but those options rarely matter because everything is so easy you don’t need to exploit its mechanics to gain the upper hand. When a game is more difficult, when the easy solution doesn’t apply, that’s when you get the pleasure to get creative.
How do you plan to keep players coming back for more once they’ve got to grips with the basic mechanics of survival?
Outward is an RPG first and foremost, and the survival mechanics are a supplement to that experience to make it more down to earth and immersive. As such, the motivation to play could be to explore more ways to build your character, or wanting to finish the questlines for all three factions, or try and check out all the optional dungeons, etc. Moreover, each region has a different set of obstacles. You might be getting used to winter in the Chersonese, but it doesn’t mean you are well prepared to face off ghosts and beast golems in the Enmerkar Forest, or that you understand fully how to handle the heat of Abrassar, or the poison of the Hallowed Marsh. Every time the player switches to a new region, there is a bit of renewal and adaptation keeping things fresh.
It’s our understanding that once you’ve been defeated by enemies, it’s not the end of the road for your character. How would players be able to come back from having all their possessions taken, and effectively being left with nothing, if enemies are still about?
Most defeat scenarios won’t take away your equipment, but it can happen. Outward is a game that rewards knowledge. Once you know how to handle yourself, you can find a new set of armor and a new suitable weapon relatively quickly. Also, stealth is an option that doesn’t rely on your gear nor your health. You don’t have to fight your way out of every bad situation.
Are there any benefits to passing things down to the next generation of your family? Or is it simply a way of introducing a new-game+ type affair to the game?
The legacy system is not something we are detailing much at the moment as I want to see how quickly the players will get it and start using it, but I can say that essentially yes, it serves the purpose of a New Game + type of experience.
Often in games that bring magic into combat, we find that later on the magic aspects simply reach near overpowered levels. Is this the case in Outward and if not how have you ensured that traditional combat and magic remain fair and equal?
Magic in Outward comes at a very real cost of permanently sacrificing maximum health and stamina. The reduction of stamina is especially painful as it means less dodging, sprinting or attacking. Equipment that increases magical power also offer less protection against physical attacks. Moreover, magic is very resource intensive, usually requiring to use up magical components. Overall, there are situations in which mages are better and others in which warriors are better suited. It is also possible to play a hybrid character. What matters is always whether or not you are well prepared before heading down into combat, and this is true for both approaches.
Are there any other major goals to achieve besides the ultimate one of survival?
Early on in the game, the player is invited to join one of three factions. Those three factions have a different storyline, and joining one locks out the two other until a new playthrough. So for players who are driven by story, they will have enough reasons to play the game three times over. The plot is seen from multiple perspectives and only someone who went through all of those can really get the motives of everyone.
What is the most challenging thing about Outward? And what are you expecting players to be most surprised by?
The most challenging part of Outward is unlearning. Most players were taught to feel invincible for years, and Outward rewards caution and punishes recklessness. I think that what will surprise players most is how much their enjoyment will change once it “clicks”. We’ve seen players take a beating and get frustrated, but once they learn to fear their enemies and respect the environment, they’ll feel that much more involved. One thing I know I feel when I venture out in the game, is that I always have this moment of relief once I reach a town. This sense of relief comes from truly feeling threatened while outside.
We understand that you can roam the entire game world from the very start of the game. How long does it take on average to see everything there is to see in Outward’s world?
We estimate that to complete all three questlines and search every dungeons of every region, you’d need to dedicate about 80-100 hours of playtime.
The co-op and split-screen opportunities seem to be a massive part of the whole experience. Are there any benefits besides simply playing with friends that the co-op play has over solo play or, on the flip-side, any benefits solo has over co-op?
When playing in coop, monsters are tougher and you need to split the loot you find between both players and of course you need twice as much resource to survive. Overall, I still think that playing in coop is easier, but that’s true of real life as well!
And finally, if you had to give one tip to any aspiring Outward survivor prior to them spending time with the game, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to use tools to gain the upper hand. Maybe even make those tools yourself! If a fight feels unfair, turn it around. Use a potion that boosts your strength, make a poison varnish to coat your weapon with, build a makeshift trap using iron scraps, wood and that junk sword you no longer need. Don’t hoard your resource, use them!
Massive thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait to see Outward hit Xbox One 🙂
It’s my pleasure, thanks for having me!
Huge thanks go out to Guillaume for taking the time out of what must surely be a massively busy schedule to answer our questions. Outward is coming to Xbox One, PS4 and PC come 26th March 2019. Make sure you stick it on your hit list and we’ll be sure to let you know our thoughts as it releases.