Outcast – A New Beginning Review – Best left in the past

James Cameron’s Avatar has done irreversible damage to the sci-fi genre.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Earth’s government is invading an alien planet, extracting a precious resource with a stupid name and violently oppressing resistance from the native population in the process. Only with the help of one human can the more spiritual, nature-intuned locals defeat the hostile occupying force.

If that sounds like Avatar or Gone with the Wolves but in space, you’re wrong because that is also actually the plot of Outcast – A New Beginning! The story follows former special ops soldier Cutter Slade as he goes against the government that betrayed him, fighting to protect the natives of an interdimensional foreign planet and, in the process, fulfilling their chosen prophecy.

Look, before I tear into Outcast – A New Beginning’s story, I want to say that this review is more than me just criticizing the writing. While I know many people are going to care about a game’s story and certainly are going to care this one’s is full of tropes, cliches, and outright plot holes, I also understand that there are people who simply don’t care about that stuff or even like some of the tropes I’m going to be complaining about. I’ll mention the gameplay in the second half of this review. While I certainly have some things to say there, they won’t be nearly as scathing as my review of Outcast – A New Beginning’s writing.

Outcast – A New Beginning sets up a series of storytelling tropes before we even get out of the game’s tutorial. Some of these, while effective, are pretty tired, and I would have preferred they be left out of the story entirely. Others I downright despise, and while I’m not really a cancel culture kind of person, I feel they are way outdated for the times.

Outcast A New Beginning Sniper
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

To give you an example of the latter, Outcast – A New Beginning egregiously uses the very dated “white savior” trope. For those who aren’t familiar, this is a trope where a white man, with no knowledge of local culture or people, comes in and easily becomes a master of their traditions and saves the day. To quote Wikipedia’s article on the trope,

” The white savior is a cinematic trope in which a white central character rescues non-white (often less prominent) characters from unfortunate circumstances. This recurs in an array of genres in American cinema, wherein a white protagonist is portrayed as a messianic figure who often gains some insight or introspection in the course of rescuing non-white characters (or occasionally non-human alien races that substitute as non-white civilizations) from their plight. “

“But mister Erik TryHardGuides,” I hear you asking, “How can funny coolman Cutter Slade be a White Savior if the people he saves are aliens?”

That’s a bizarre line of questioning, I would respond. I would also tell you that my last name isn’t TryHardGuides. I would also point out that the Talans take some apparent inspiration from several real-world cultures, which would be ok if not for their role in the game. Or if the inspirations were less blatant, I’m also not a big fan of when games go, “Look at this alien culture!” and slap an outfit I’ve seen in historical paintings on a being from a completely different planet.

Outcast A New Beginning He Dies
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Several other tropes and annoying writing trends also plague Outcast – A New Beginning. An amnesiac trope is lazily thrown around with our main character, who is also supremely sarcastic and quippy. The whole game suffers from Marvel Cinematic Universe-level “Erm, he’s right behind me?” dry comedy that’s been plaguing the industry for years now, causing every character to be needlessly quippy and crack jokes where they aren’t needed.

The story is better in some places than others but remains remarkably predictable throughout. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, and the villains are so cartoonish that the main antagonist’s first introduction calls a helpless Talan a “savage” and then executes him for “not being able to learn English.”

This is particularly strange because every other Talan seems to speak with Slade just fine. At one point, he says he’s speaking their language; another interjects, saying he’s speaking the language of humans, but only Shamans—Oops, sorry, the game calls them Shamana, or something—can understand him. Five minutes later, this isn’t true again, as Slade needs to interact with random civilians to complete quests.

The gameplay of Outcast – A New Beginning isn’t nearly as offensive as the storytelling, but it isn’t what I’d call the game of the year, either.

Bad optimization of the Unreal Engine meant that I could barely get above 40 FPS on medium graphics, and believe me, I was playing on a modern machine. This was disappointing because many of the game’s environments looked really pretty.

Probably the best thing the game has going for is how it allows you to free-roam and challenge the story as you see fit. Very early on, you’re tasked with either kicking the invaders out of Adelpha by attacking human outposts (don’t worry, robots operate them, so your decision to betray your entire species isn’t as wrong as it could be.) or uniting the villages for a breeding ceremony. I don’t think I have to tell you which route I chose.

Ew, sicko. It was war—the one with explosions.

Outcast A New Beginning Fort
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The combat is fairly basic, just point-and-shoot without too many fun complexities. The movement mechanics are reasonably generous, allowing you to jump high and dash at will. Enemy AI is more or less atrocious. Many of the various robots you fight will bundle up into big groups and don’t the rare times they do take cover; they often won’t get back up from behind it. Sometimes, enemies spawn endlessly in front of you, just appearing from the ether in your line of sight.

I feel like a target lock system would have been great for this game because jumping around in combat, while great for positioning, means you won’t be able to shoot anything until you land. These movement mechanics get much more impressive later in the game, allowing you to fly around freely.

Outcast A New Beginning Combat
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The weapon upgrades are my favorite part, and once I got past the story and the constant cutscenes, the weapons kept me invested. Different weapon modules can be found at human bases, allowing you to drastically change how your guns function. They also visually changed the gun’s appearance, which I appreciated.

Above all, I enjoyed that all the game’s upgrades could be found through the free-roam exploration, more or less allowing you to unlock everything as you earned the currencies needed to purchase them. Then again, anything to pull me away from the story in Outcast was a big plus.

The Final Word

Outcast – A New Beginning features dated storytelling, poor writing, and an overliance on tropes we’ve all seen a thousand times by now. If none of that matters to you, however, you’re in for a pretty ok gameplay experience, with some unique mechanics and freedom that thankfully allows you to bypass a lot of the game’s storytelling, no matter how confidently it seems to throw it in your face.


6

Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Outcast – A New Beginning is available on Steam, Xbox and PlayStation.

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