Available to download right now, the Outriders demo doesn’t make a great first impression.
After creating your character, you’re introduced to the planet Enoch. Humanity is hoping that it will prove to be suitable for habitation, thanks to Earth becoming inhospitable. It’s your job as an Outrider to venture forth and make sure everything seems safe. “Follow me!”, your leader says. Irritatingly, he walks at a snails pace that you can’t match. In Outriders, you’re either speed-walking, or sprinting like a maniac.
Thankfully you’re not asked to follow your leader for too long. And with you let off your leash, things definitely start to improve. The situation on Enoch doesn’t, though. Earth’s vanguard is quickly going to find out that the planet they were pinning their hopes on has some pretty dangerous anomalies. Although it’s too late. Many of Earth’s survivors are set to land, and there’s not much you can do to stop them.
Outriders then picks up some thirty-odd years later. Your character is awoken from cryostasis to a whole new world. Enoch has changed, and certainly not for the better. With resources scarce and the environment hostile, humans have once again turned to war. Surprisingly, some of the vanguard are still alive, and they sure could use your help. After all, coming into contact with some of the anomalies on Enoch has apparently granted you supernatural abilities. You may as well put them to good use.
The Outriders demo lets you play through the prologue and first chapter of the game, with your progress carried over to the full came when it launches in April. Comprised of numerous story missions and four side missions, there’s at least a good few hours of gameplay to get absorbed in. It’s worth giving a shot, too, especially for fans of third-person cover shooters such as Gears of War, or looter-shooters like The Division.
Operating from a hub, there are multiple areas for you to battle your way through in the Outriders demo. Enoch’s war-torn landscapes are full of waist-high walls and tall columns that can be used as cover, though depending on which of the four character classes you’re playing as, you may not spend much time behind it. I chose to play as a Devastator, a character class all about getting up-close-and-personal with your foes. Equipped with a shotgun, every close range kill recovered some of my health, allowing me to be gung-ho.
Each character class has their own range of unique skills, too, unlocked by levelling up. And numerous skill trees allow players to direct the growth of their characters. This is all on top of a loot system that is sure to have players hunting down chests and completing side-missions in the pursuit of growing ever stronger. A world tier system also allows the difficulty to be raised in order to reap greater rewards.
The action itself is surprisingly fast-paced. You can sit behind cover and try to pick enemies off if you want, and it is easy to move from one piece of cover to another, or dive out if the way of a grenade or melee attack. Swift cooldown timers on your skills promote you to get into the thick of the action. And, as previously mentioned, the speed of your character also influences you to be more mobile.
Some aspects of Outriders do seem a bit rough around the edges, but with a month before the game releases, there’s still a chance of some additional polish. All signs point to it being an entertaining, if not spectacular, third-person looter-shooter adventure though, playable alone or with others in co-op. But you don’t have to take our word for it – give the demo a go. Download on either PS5, Xbox Series S/X or PC and see what you make of it yourself.