How The Outer Worlds Tackles Difficulty

The Outer Worlds will let you wander into various forms of trouble that include the game's equivalent of Deathclaws.

The Outer Worlds difficulty

In many ways, The Outer Worlds is a tribute to classic RPGs, especially in the way it tackles difficulty. The RPGs of old often let you enter high-level areas before you were supposed to and would force you to learn that you were doing something wrong by killing you over and over again. It’s a design concept that lives on in games like Dark Souls and even The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

So will The Outer Worlds let you get in over your head like its predecessors? 

“Oh absolutely,” says Brian Heins, senior designer on The Outer Worlds, in an interview with Den of Geek. “Recently, we had a bunch of press playing through the beginning of the game. There were a few people who found some of the harder encounters in the starting zone of the game and got killed in five seconds.”

Some studios and fans will tell you that such game design is discouraging, but Heins notes that he saw those same players who died in seconds load their last save and go right back to that area to try it again. He even recalls one person who was able to overcome that significant early challenge. 

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“There was one guy who basically figured out a way to kill some creatures that were about six or seven levels higher than his level at the time,” Heins says. “He managed to take them out and we were like ‘Huh, pretty good job.'”

Whereas some games use these incredibly tough sections to build walls and leveling zones, the designers of The Outer Worlds are more interested in allowing those who are willing to bang their heads against a brick wall enough times to work their way through it eventually. 

“We know that there are some players who will gravitate towards fights to try to overcome something, so we want to include those moments,” Heins says. “We want to make sure those [moments] are in interesting places for the players who really want to tackle a challenge that’s not along the scripted path of the game.”

Given that The Outer Worlds, in many ways, aims to be the Fallout: New Vegas sequel we never got, you’re probably wondering whether the game will feature an equivalent to Deathclaws, the monstrous creatures that not only helped make Fallout a brilliant horror series but served as one of the franchise’s most memorable early challenges. While Heins didn’t reveal the games full roster of monsters, he did indicate that there is plenty to be frightened of in the furthest reaches of The Outer Worlds

“There are definitely a few creatures that are more challenging,” Heins says. “[For instance], there are the Manta Queens, which are at the top level of the Mantasuar family. Taking on one of those could be a real challenge unless you properly prepare your party.”

We’ll be bringing you much more on The Outer Worlds in eager anticipation of the game’s launch on Oct. 25. 

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Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014