The Outer Worlds was tied with Fire Emblem: Three Houses for my game of the year in 2019. A delightful, whimsical adventure that felt like a culmination of Obsidian’s work to date, it was hard to resist. Two brilliant expansions later, I simply cannot recommend the game enough.
So, when Private Division and Virtuous announced an upgraded version promising next-gen visuals, a stable framerate, all expansions and an extended level cap, I had reason to be excited. However, much like the weapons and products made by the infamous Spacer’s Choice in the game, this new upgraded version is far from the best choice.
To begin with the positives, this game is still, at its core, The Outer Worlds. As someone who grew up playing the Wii version of Medal of Honor and the PS3 version of Skyrim, I know firsthand that the quality of a game will shine above all else. The Outer Worlds is a brilliant, charming, exciting, action-packed RPG that is a joy to play. It was a GOTY nominee for a reason. From the joys of sweet talking your way through a precarious encounter to shooting up a camp full of bandits, The Outer Worlds is, on the surface, every bit as fun as it has always been. The companions are brilliantly written (Parvati is a fan favourite for a reason), the music is stirring, the original visual direction is stunning and the combat isn’t half bad.
The problem, of course, is that The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition undercuts most of these strengths at every turn. The performance is quite frankly shocking. Framerate drops left and right, stuttering, details not loading in. Enter a town, and watch the game turn into a PowerPoint slideshow. This is made all the more surprising when a next-gen update to the base game already exists and it feels great. A silky-smooth, damn near locked 60fps. This version, meanwhile, was hard to get back into. The motivation to persist with the story was lost when I know I have a better version installed on my hard drive.
The remastered visuals, meanwhile, are destined to be a matter of taste. The game still looks good, but I wouldn’t argue it looks better. To be honest, the effect looks as much like I turned my television settings to Vivid. The colours are sharper, but part of the endearing simplicity of the original game’s art direction is lost. This is not a bad-looking game, but it’s unclear why there was a need to change these visuals in the first place.
Moving on to the question of value, we come to the question of value, and this is where things become even murkier. The upgrade price of £5 if you own the original game and DLC isn’t unfair. I’d argue in its current state you’d be downgrading, but the price on the surface is okay. Even the £49.99 the game runs at is not unjustifiable on the surface because of the content you are getting. It’s a brilliant game with two great expansions. However, for those who played the game through Game Pass, which I suspect would be many of our readers, the upgrade cost is £49.99. Yes, you need to buy the game all over again, even if you own the DLC. A pretty steep ask.
As an aside, I have seen some folks blame Obsidian for the state this game is currently in. It is important to note that Obsidian appears to have had minimal involvement in this title beyond providing some marketing and developing the original game. The teams are hard at work on Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2. While Obsidian and in turn Xbox own the Outer Worlds IP and the rights to any future sequels, Private Division owns the rights to the original title and can do with it as they please. It seems to be a case where Private Division and Virtuous provided the bulk of development on this new version of the game, and this shouldn’t reflect what we can anticipate from Avowed and Outer Worlds 2. Look to the original release, Pentiment and Grounded for the level of polish you should expect there.
It is important to note that patches are inbound for the game. The first patch, however, was delayed for Xbox and when it was finally released, it seemed to make a minimal difference. If the Spacer’s Choice Edition was fixed, would it be worth the £5? Maybe, depending on your feelings about the upgraded visuals and desire for a higher-level cap. But no amount of bug fixing would make this worth a nearly full-priced double dip.
With all of this being said, do I think the Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition is a bad game? Do I think you need to return it if you get it as a gift? No. This is still the brilliant game we gave a 5/5 upon release in 2019, and a subpar way to play a great game is still, at its core, a great game. However, if you own the original version or have played it through Game Pass, there is no need to upgrade. The older game runs better, it honestly in some instances looks better and it can even be argued that the more restrictive level cap encourages replayability. This ultimately leaves the name of this remaster rather apt.
When it comes to playing The Outer Worlds, the Spacer’s Choice Edition is not the best choice.
The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition is on the Xbox Store