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Outcast - A New Beginning Review

A jetpack-assisted flyby of mediocrity

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Open-world action games are like a smorgasbord of tropical fruit, each one promising a unique flavor. From the vibrant chaos of modern-day shooters like Far Cry 6 to the mechanized marvels in Horizon: Zero Dawn, there's something sweet for everyone. However, standing out in such a crowded market is a challenge. Outcast - A New Beginning arrives with a striking burst of color that might tempt players to dig in, but upon closer inspection, imperfections become apparent. The first few bites are rather bitter, and only much later does it become appetizing. But even when Outcast – A New Beginning offers its sweetest flavor, it cannot overcome its many blemishes.

Outcast - A New Beginning

The original Outcast released in 1999 and gained some popularity because of its colorful alien world and interesting voxel technology. 25 years later and some of the same developers are behind the sequel, which is also a third-person shooter. Gamers need not know the original’s story because the same protagonist, Cutter Slade, wakes up in a temple with a case of amnesia. He is back on the alien world of Adelpha and initially only remembers that he was in the military. Soon he recognizes the planet, with its Stargate-esque circular portals and odd inhabitants. The planet is home to one sapient species, Talan, and one of their warriors believes Slade is the chosen one because the amnesiac has ambiguous visions from the gods. One vision indicates Slade has an estranged daughter and his main goal is to get back to her, but first he must reunite the Talans and defeat the invaders.

Adelpha is being invaded by an army of robots, who take the Talans hostage and use them as slaves. The robots are being controlled by Humans from the World Federal Army (WFA), the same army that Slade was part of in the original game. The WFA are trying to pilfer valuable Helidium crystals, but when Slade and other Talans fight back, the army begins to torture and kill the mostly pacifist species. The narrative has many initial similarities to the first Avatar movie, which is partly why it comes across as a generic sci-fi action game.

The story begins poorly and struggles to pull itself together over the 15-25 hour runtime. The initial hour is fraught with clumsy cutscenes, shoddy explanations, and all-too-brief gameplay segments. Slade’s amnesia is annoyingly selective, as he remembers key info when the plot desires. The concluding few hours have a similar cutscene avalanche, with a strange ending and unpolished presentation. It often tries to be funny, but rarely succeeds. The constant barrage of half-baked jokes become endearing by the end, but mostly out of pity. Interesting elements relating to Talan culture, like their handling of death and why males and females are separated, are sorely underrepresented in the many bloated dialogue exchanges. At least there is a glossary to explain complex Talan words, and definitions can be accessed during conversations, which is a nice touch.

Outcast - A New Beginning

Slade’s main goal is to bring together seven Talan settlements by undertaking quests and building trust. Refreshingly, the large world is open from the start and this is vital because most places will ask Slade to venture elsewhere for resources, information, or personnel. Each settlement has a main goal, like training a fleet of birds to drop bombs, protecting an egg and raising the flying-elephant creature that hatches, or freeing prisoners. It is ridiculous how much running back and forth there is at times, even within the same settlement, just to commence a simple fetch quest. Once a settlement’s tasks are all sorted, Slade will usually get access to a powerful beacon that he can use to bring aid during combat, like summoning a swarm of toxic wasps.

Main quests are usually insipid fetch tasks or irritating escort missions. Slade will have to ascend trees to pick colorful fruit, climb mountains to grab flowers, and swim around to harvest algae. One unusual quirk is that fetch quests have a minimum count but also an unknown maximum that is revealed upon return. Getting the minimum will advance the story, but getting more will reduce how long it takes to access the next mission and may increase the effectiveness of those beacons. It is somewhat nice to get a benefit for going the extra mile, and players will quickly learn to collect more fruit, but it can mean doing the exact same thing (e.g. luring a bird via the same route) several times over.

Escort missions range from bad to awful. Slade leads various creatures along paths, regularly stopping for predictable bouts of dull combat, being careful not to go fast so they keep up, and avoiding obstacles so they don’t get stuck on a pebble. There is a mission where Slade must herd some creatures into a pen, becoming an honorary sheep dog. And another has him collecting animal saliva by running in a circle, which coincidentally lowers player IQ enough to make them start drooling. Instead of these being whimsical, they are just annoying and shallow. It is amazing how outdated, repetitive, and generic most settlement quests are, falling short of similar games and making a mockery of the alien world.

Outcast - A New Beginning

Another major objective is to destroy the WFA bases, so the Talan people can steal back the precious Helidium. Certain bases are protected by shield domes, and these can only be accessed when the story allows, thanks to a friend behind enemy lines. Most others are wide open and ripe for the picking, varying in size and difficulty. Smaller outposts might have a few flying drones and a chest with upgrade material. Main bases have multiple terminals that need to be activated (in any order) so the generator can be destroyed. These large bases have many rooms to clear, but the scanner neatly highlights objectives to prevent confusion. They also have unique layouts, which is good for variety, despite the repeating main objective. While the hostile robots are pretty dumb in battle, clearing bases is moderately enjoyable when all offensive upgrades are available.

For combat, players can use a shield, melee attack, and two weapons, all of which can be upgraded. The shield blocks laser fire effectively and can even knock over enemies when upgraded, so players can be aggressive, although its protection is rarely needed on normal difficulty. Both weapons can equip a bevy of modules, and their effects stack so offensive power grows. Certain modules can significantly change weapon functionality, turning one into a sniper rifle, machine gun, or a shotgun. The explosive module is good against packs, like the swarming arachnids. Some modules dish out more damage but overheat. Despite a few appropriate changes, the modules lack depth and wild combinations. And while combat approach might change slightly, the action always provides comparable nourishment.

Navigating around the world is initially clunky but becomes entertaining with all jetpack upgrades. Initially the jetpack allows a single boost jump, but with more battery unlocks, five vertical jumps can be performed. This makes traversing the world far easier with so many large trees, mountains, and boulders to scale. Players can also unlock glide, wing-suit style, which is a fun way to drop into enemy bases or just cruise around. The jetsprint upgrade allows Slade to hover briskly just above the ground and pick mushrooms, although undulations and rocks can result in an abrupt stop. With the upgrades, and after adapting to the persistently clunky movement, zipping between activities becomes fun after about 10 hours, but by then you have probably seen enough.

Outcast - A New Beginning

The open-world activities are basic and too similar, although at least they are usually quick to complete. Orym trails are brief platforming challenges that might feature moving obstacles and falling ledges. Trying these with the limited upgrades is not fun, but doing them all at the end is trivial. Essence shrines increase Slade’s health, after you pursue a moving orb that circles on a timer. These feature more jumping and gliding, not that dissimilar to Orym trails. Temples consist of more essence-chasing rubbish over and over for maximum boredom. Finally, gork eruptions are tiny combat zones against hostile wildlife. Unfortunately these are covered with red junk and a dark haze, which makes it hard to see anything. And dead creatures often glitched out, floating in mid-air or running on the spot, which makes gork eruptions too gawky to enjoy.

On a technical level, Outcast – A New Beginning is not up to the standard set by other open-world action games in its price range. The technical problems are not usually insidious but they are fairly comprehensive. Enemy AI and movement are consistently disappointing. Birds might spawn in a clump before floating apart like a particle cloud and flying through buildings. Robots get stuck inside walls and become impossible to kill. Cutscenes trigger abruptly, if you are in range, and this can mean enduring three in succession after fast-traveling to a settlement. The game’s performance is okay on high-ultra settings, with a bit of stuttering that is not usually disruptive. But there were several crashes, including one that repeated when trying to clear the same gork nest.

At least the world of Adelpha looks nice, with temples on snowy peaks, seaside towns near coral reefs, lush forests, and deserts, all teeming with bizarre alien life. A nice bestiary keeps tracks of all creatures and robots, if you want to know what you are shooting or which ones are edible. For those looking for a light, easy adventure then it certainly ticks a lot of boxes, and the vibrant color helps. The music is decent too, mixing a bit of Star Wars with Harry Potter to give it a jovial and quirky atmosphere. Voice work is inconsistent though, with average lip-syncing and wooden facial animations. Slade’s voice actor often sounds like he just woke up, while some Talans have enough personality to bring interactions to life.

Outcast - A New Beginning

Sadly, it takes too long for the good features in Outcast – A New Beginning to fully emerge, but even then it is predominantly mediocre with satisfying flourishes. With all movement upgrades, traversing the world with glider and jetpack is fairly enjoyable. Combat is brisk and easy, with a few weapon modules that alter functionality, despite stupid enemies and bland encounters. Settlement quests are disappointing, usually either boring escort missions or repetitive fetch tasks, and the story does not put its best foot forward. Although the alien world of Adelpha looks nice, some technical issues prevent maximum enjoyment. Since Outcast – A New Beginning struggles to compete in the mid-tier, its premium $60 USD price is hard to swallow. There are more satiating fruits in the open-world action game buffet, and you should pick one, or more, of those instead.

Our ratings for Outcast - A New Beginning on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Adelpha looks nice with colorful landscapes, regional variety, and neat alien creatures. The voice work is a bit inconsistent, but at least the music is good.
With upgrades, it can be decent fun to zip around and shoot enemies. But there is a persistent clunkiness, dumb AI, excessive repetition, and a lack of depth.
Single Player
The amnesiac story fumbles early and does not recover. Main quests are usually extremely boring. It also ends strangely and does not make the most of the alien world.
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

Although it runs okay at high settings, there are many technical issues and a few crashes.
With movement and combat upgrades, Outcast – A New Beginning eventually comes close to being a decent open-world shooter, but terrible fetch quests, bland activities, tech issues, and narrative gaffes mean that the colorful world of Adelpha does not bear enough fruit.
Outcast - A New Beginning
Outcast - A New Beginning box art Platform:
Our Review of Outcast - A New Beginning
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Outcast - A New Beginning is ranked #1793 out of 1971 total reviewed games. It is ranked #24 out of 25 games reviewed in 2024.
1793. Outcast - A New Beginning
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Platform: PC
Released: March 2002
Developer: Raven Software

Outcast - A New Beginning
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