My “First” RPG

This week, we saw the release of the new next-gen update to The Outer Worlds with the Spacer’s Choice Edition. This new edition features the base game with both DLCs (Downloadable Content) — Murder on Eridanos and Peril on Gorgon. There are also some next-gen upgrades and improvements to the original
The Outer Worlds game.

Playing The Outer Worlds was not truly my first ever experience with an RPG (Role Playing Game), but it does feel like the first time I’m doing it right. As I shared earlier this week, I have always been into games with big action and adventure. This means that unless I was fully invested in a game’s story (which was a rare occasion), I would most likely find myself skipping through cutscenes, dialogue with NPCs, and any other “unneccessary” story exposition.

Over the years, I have enjoyed many story-driven games with specific RPG elements within them, but it wasn’t until playing The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition this past week that I began to closely notice the similarities between this type of gaming experience and a Dungeons & Dragons (or any other Tabletop RPG) campaign.

Tabletop vs Digital RPG

A traditional RPG can basically feel as if a Dungeon Master has set up a whole digital campaign for one player. The world is built, the characters are living their lives, the story is waiting for you. We have seen many new features and advancements in visuals and combat. While common Tabletop RPG combat may rely heavily on chance (or dice), there are many ways to execute combat in the gaming world. Tactical combat, turn-based, real-time, and we continue to see new additions and combinations.

The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition • Slow Motion Marauder Kill (Early Game)

Any good tabletop RPG campaign begins with the players creating their characters (which may sometimes take a full day). This phase takes place using the character sheet. These games feature a digital version of the character sheet, where you can edit your characters appearance, attributes, skills and more and see real-time results.

Every good D&D campaign has a “main goal,” which is usually an excuse for an unlikely crew of misfits to join forces. The campaign itself is rarely about that main goal, in fact that goal may never be achieved. The campaign is about the stories that take place on the way to that goal. There are side quests that get in the way of the main one. Character’s egos and motivations may influence certain outcomes.

The story of a great RPG campaign can be a lot like the story of a great theme park ride. You start off with a simple main goal, “All we have to do is get from here to there.” Next, a distraction derails the action, “If you want to do that, you’ll have to do this first,” and now you find yourself on a completely different mission. In the end, you finally reach that goal, with a cool story to tell. The difference is that in the gaming world the distractions continue to unfold.

NPCs (Non-Playable Characters)

As I see it, when it comes to a traditional RPG, there are two types of NPCs (Non-Playable Characters). You have your basic INFOMANIACS and the STORY PEDDLERS.

The first batch, INFOMANIACS, are there to answer questions and share knowledge. They will usually display a collection of questions which you may ask in any order. You can choose all, some or none of the questions. These INFOMANIACS are here to expand on the lore, drop some occasional hints, and possibly uncover secrets.

The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition • Welcome to Stellar Bay (NPC Chat)

The second group, STORY PEDDLERS, are created to move the story forward. These characters are most likely asking for favors, in the form of a side quest. They may move you closer toward the main goal with valuable information. Some of these NPCs are used to check your character’s alignment. They will react differently depending on the dialogue and tone you use with them. For example, yelling at a particular NPC may lead to a direct response, or even some indirect outcome later down the road with another NPC.

There is a third group of NPCs, but they don’t really matter. This group is the STREET TALKERS. When you interact with these NPCs instead of going into a full conversation, they may just hit you with a quick quip, and move on with their life.

The Outer Worlds and Future RPGs

What I will say about this version of The Outer Worlds is that even with the next-gen updates, it still feels like a last-gen (PS4/Xbox One) RPG. I’m having a good time in this world, and look forward to jumping back into it, but perhaps this is a great starter RPG for me? I’m now excited to see not only what improvements are made for future, true next-gen RPGs like Starfield.

Playing this game has prepared me to give other RPGs more of a chance. I think I will soon be ready to start Cyberpunk 2077 over, and really pay attention to everything going on in that world. Over the past few years, I have become more open to trying out different gaming experiences.

I’m definitely excited to try out some new RPGs, and see what other advancements we get to see.

* was provided a review code for The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition from the publisher.

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