Outward released in 2019 to rather divisive reviews. It was praised for its unique world, role-playing depth, and rewarding difficulty systems, but its general jankiness was seen as a big slight on an otherwise interesting title. The Soroboreans will not change that, but it does offer lots of content and different systems to work with. If you liked the base game way back when, it’s very easy to recommend this. If you weren’t too sure, this won’t convince you.
In a way, the charm of The Soroboreans DLC is in the fact that it feels so wholly part of the base experience of Outward. The Soroboreans had a rather large presence on the story of the base game before the release of the DLC and it isn’t worried about mentioning that. There are four main factions throughout the world of Aurai, all with different philosophies and politics. The Sorobor Academy are very powerful through the use of knowledge and this has wider implications on how your build can be shaped. In The Soroboreans, it deals with the idea of knowledge very well and the curse that is knowing too much. The land of the Antique Plateau is one constantly aware of death. This takes the form of corruption, the physical manifestation of grief, bitterness and hatred. Certain zones in the world are enveloped in a green mist that signifies events that have transpired previously. If you spend too long there, you can become tainted, corrupted, and then defiled. This comes with a weakness to lightning and a weaker food tolerance, but an affinity for decay spells and ice.
This, in turn, can affect your build. Whilst most interpretations of corruption can be seen as a weakness, certain classes can be made much stronger through its use. This naturally brings one to the way that The Soroboreans changes Outward’s class structure. As well as adding new items and equipment, it introduces two new skill trees: the Hexmage – skilled in curses and rituals – and the Speedster which focuses on alertness and stamina, keeping you in the fight longer. The Hexmage is stronger for a focused class but the Speedster has a general bonus to most classes. Whilst the corrupted system and skills are a nice addition, it’s a shame that there aren’t more skill trees and class-based upgrades in this DLC.
Luckily, these aren’t the only systems that have been changed or implemented. The Soroboreans DLC adds enchanting, which allows you to upgrade gear with semi-random effects. It works much like recipes do by adding certain items together to enchant gear. This can be shaped by the weather, surroundings and a multitude of other factors. While this level of RNG adds a lot to the lore, it gets in the way of the system itself. It’s hard to will yourself to risk it when you don’t know what the results are. Enchanting has a sense of depth that is rather rewarding but not necessary for progression.
Progression is perhaps one of the best things about this DLC. It features a multitude of dungeons that can be fast travelled to via the Runic Train system. The dungeons feel like a real step up from the base game. For the most part, they feel much more deliberately designed than many other areas. There is a distinct challenge to them and a certain intelligence to the labyrinthine design. Whilst it occasionally clashes with the flow of the game as a whole, I’m very glad for this addition. Added to this, boss fights feel grander in scale with multiple layers and phases. The difficulty of Outward is ramped up in these bosses but they never feel unwinnable. In fact, I always felt like I was just one decent run away from that oh so important win. This is something Outward has always done well and it continues here. You have little health, initially, and can die from an attack in the wrong place, but it doesn’t tend to feel like it is making you die to extend game time or get quoted by journalists. The difficulty feels organic and is well-explored, with each death having a canonical explanation.
There is plenty to explore in the Outward: The Soroboreans DLC on Xbox One, like all the branching quests, areas, skills and more. But it fundamentally still feels like Outward. The corruption system is organic and the DLC feels very well-planned; nothing feels rewritten to make sense and all of its systems fit into place. It doesn’t fix issues from the base game and even adds a couple of systems that might frustrate some, but that being said it adds a lot to love and even makes me look fonder on my initial time with the base game. The Soroboreans is a fine addition to the game and a must-have for any fan. If you just want a bit more Outward, give it a try.