Outcast: A New Beginning Review

Tailor-made for Cutter Slade

By Paul Hunter

The first Outcast game passed me by in 1999 as I wasn't a huge PC gamer back then, but that wasn't going to stop me from playing the sequel, which just released on PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. I had a chance to play a demo of Outcast: A New Beginning (originally Outcast 2, but has since dropped the "2") at Tokyo Game Show and thought the alien world of Adelpha had tremendous potential, especially when you get to traverse it at high speed using protagonist Cutter Slade's signature jetpack.

Outcast: A New Beginning is best described as Avatar meets Starship Troopers as the story revolves around Cutter landing on an unfamiliar planet to help the enslaved native race Talan, and a strong sci-fi comedy vibe permeates the entire story. Interestingly enough, the original Outcast, which had a similar premise, was released 10 years before Avatar and it's also one of the first three-dimensional open-world games featuring nonlinear exploration, releasing two years before Grand Theft Auto III.

I can't stress enough how hilarious this game is, easily rivalling the all-time great video game comedies like Saints Row IV and Timesplitters. Cutter Slade speaks with a dry wit and has a deadpan face in stark contrast to the absurdity of situations he finds himself in.

The native Talan race is also full of some of the funniest characters I've ever seen in a game, like an alchemist who dresses like a Woodstock hippie and mixes a potion wrong, turning his house into a giant chemical bong. One mission has you collect drool from large emu-like creatures, while another features a cutscene of a 'fishertalan' who thinks whacking fish with a paddle is more efficient than using a fishing rod (hint: it's not, lol). This is not a game where you should skip through dialogue—which is all excellently voice-acted—as there are jokes tucked away in nearly every conversation that had me chuckling out loud.

The comedy is reason enough alone to play this 20-year adventure, but there are also plenty of other drawing points. The gameplay loop is a big one, as I found exploring the entirety of Adelpha to be a joy. There are a plethora of open-world activities to partake in, with my personal favourite being the Orym Trails, which are traversal challenges where you have to hit certain checkpoints before completing the course. These challenge runs are such a blast because they require you to use a range of jetpack abilities including vertical jumps, your gliding wingsuit and gravity helper. Bouncy flowers are also peppered around the courses and sending you flying much like a Sonic the Hedgehog spring.

Outcast features twists on usual open-world side activities that are also quite fun to undertake. You've got Gork corruption points that emit spores to enrage all nearby creatures and provide a great combat challenge. There are also Shrine traversal challenges where you need to zip around an obstacle course following a glowing trail of a Talan spirit. Finally, there are a ton of enemy bases that range from small to large to clear out and reward you with new weapon modifications and upgrade currencies.

Speaking of weapon mods, boy are they a blast to experiment with. Initially, you'll have a pistol with up to four module slots, but you'll eventually get a larger rifle with six slots. There are 30 weapon mods to find all over Adelpha and can have a significant impact on your guns. Mods range from multi-shots to smart homing bullets to adding an explosive payload. Some of my favourite mods are the electrical orb that's slow but deals deadly energy bolts and the magnetic bullets that get attracted to marked enemies.

While there are "only" two weapons in the game, using the dozens of mods these guns can feel vastly different. This is especially true when you combine mods, like turning your gun into a shotgun that fires sticky grenades while also increasing damage as it overheats. The combinations are endless and can make for some silly and devastating combat moments.

Changing our focus to the game's story, your central task is helping seven Talan villages scattered around the map get freed from the robotic invaders' grasp. This includes taming giant worms (think Tremors) that are eating a village's livestock or helping an enslaved group of Talans secretly steal resources from their captors. Missions range from serious to silly, but even the serious ones often have comedy moments that keep the story light and bubbly.

As the saviour of Adelpha, you can also undertake several multi-mission sidequests to help out the locals, like assisting a brewer find the ingredients for Lampe, a traditional alcoholic drink that hilariously makes drinkers fall asleep. There are many side quests like this where you help Talans with their personal situations or help revive the local economy. Whenever there's a mission nearby you can press the PS5's touchpad to auto go into your menu to make the mission active, which I thought was a nice quality-of-life feature.

Outcast: A New Beginning is a great game overall, but it's not without its faults. The most disruptive one is the frame pacing, which on Performance mode can fluctuate quite a bit, especially when gliding around the map at high speeds. Thankfully, there is a Quality mode that locks the framerate at 30fps and was my preferred way to play. It can also be a bit finicky traversing the map, particularly mountains, as it's not uncommon to occasionally get temporarily stuck in the geometry. While these issues certainly can be felt, they were tolerable given how good the gameplay loop is and how much I enjoyed chatting with the Talan villagers.

The Verdict

Outcast: A New Beginning is silly and entertaining—such a refreshing relief from the usual serious open-world fare. It's been a while since I've laughed this much playing a game, whether it's the satirical hero Cutter Slade or the ridiculous personalities of the Talan. When combined with the many fun open-world activities and joyful weapon modification system, this game gets an easy recommendation. There are a few technical drawbacks, but they can be somewhat overlooked given how great the core game experience is.

Final Score: 8.5/10 - Great

Outcast: A New Beginning details

Platform: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Developer: Appeal Studios
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Adventure, Third-Person Shooter
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A key was provided by the publisher.