If there’s a universal truth of the looter shooter genre, it’s that they only get good with year two. That first full-on expansion to the game can take on board all the feedback from players of the base game, throw in a bunch of new ideas and more varied activities alongside, and fine tune the progression and rewards. Outriders Worldslayer has aimed to do just that, but does it succeed?
Truth be told, I can’t judge Worldslayer against the base game. Outriders and I were like ships passing in the night, my hull burnt out on the all-encompassing time sinks that rule the looter shooter genre and with Outriders’ demo not convincing me to change course. Worldslayer giving the option to skip ahead with a fully levelled character gave me the opportunity to dive straight into the action.
Outriders Worldslayer picks up right after the end of the main game, transforming the glimmer of a future for mankind into a Phyrric victory at best. The civil war between the ECA and the Insurgents comes back to the foreground as you’re tasked with finding some kind of solution to the Anomaly that has only grown stronger and run headlong into Commander Ereshkigal. If you’re here for the story, you will want to head back to the main game first, but it’s not the strongest pull to keep you driving forward through the campaign. Maybe just read the Wikipedia summary or accept that things are kicking off and you’ve got some baddies to shoot.
As the prime antagonist from all the trailers, Ereshkigal feels underused through the new campaign. Yes, you see her in a couple of cutscenes where her Anomaly abilities can run unchecked, but the plot beats are so predictable, and you rampage through to a final encounter against her in just a few hours. It doesn’t help her that it doesn’t feel as though the Insugents have tipped the balance. They’re just a roadblock to your character’s quest to find some kind of solution to the growing danger of the Anomaly.
Worldslayer also does little to address some of the core flaws with the game’s structure. Beholden to last generation consoles and a very particular method of keeping players together in co-op, there’s still far too many 3 second cutscenes where your character opens a door or squeezes through a gap to a different level and area. It’s as jarring now as it was in the base game, and only made more ridiculous when it leads straight to a loading screen.
And if you didn’t really gel with Outriders’ art direction? Well, Worldslayer won’t really help you there, either. There’s quite a bit of time trudging through dreary brown environments where the civil war has taken its toll, but that’s broken up by… a trip to a dreary brown swampy region to fight a big guy in a raincoat. It eventually gets a bit more distinct through a snow-covered mountainous region and the ruined centre of alien civilisation.
Outriders’ strength has always been with its front-foot combat, though. Yes, a lot of the encounters here just throw hordes of enemies at you, whether they’re just charging straight at you, lean into the underlying cover-shooting, or are chunky bullet sponges with special abilities of their own, but that all leans into how Outriders wants you to play, rushing into the fight and using feedback loops of special abilities and health regeneration through combat.
Playing through this new content as a trio, I chose the Trickster class and soon leant into the intended archetype of rushing into the middle of the action, unleashing a couple of time-warping specials and then backing off again. With all of the class abilities unlocked for you when starting a new character and skipping to the Worldslayer campaign, it’s a bit daunting trying to find the abilities you want to use, but I settled on the time-slowing Slow Trap, skeleton exploding Temporal Blade, and enemy levitating Time Rift. With these in hand, you’d see me sprinting toward each newly opened spawn point to lay down a bubble, make bones go bang, and maybe get a few of them to float helplessly while we blasted away with SMG and assault rifle.
My plan of attack was only encouraged as it handed me Legendary gear through the stretch of the campaign that becomes the endgame. This included Enoch’s Blessing, a shotgun that makes enemies explode upon death, and a Chronosuit Mask that shoots lightning at nearby enemies every few seconds, these pieces of supercharged loot helping to make battles feel rewardingly dynamic for a cover shooter.
Worldslayer adds a new PAX skill tree, building on the regular class progression from the main game and letting you further specialise and enhance your chosen sub-class with skill points handed out at set points through the campaign. Ascension points live alongside this as a more general set of passive buffs to different parts of your character build. They’re less fundamental, but can nudge the needle in a particular direction with each 0.5% improvement to things like Anomaly power damage, piercing damage and the like.
Having staved off the immediate danger to humanity, the narrative continues into the endgame Trial of Tarya Gratar, and it’s only upon completing your first run through this and revealing the next cliffhanger twist to the story that you get the end credits. Delving into the ruins of the Pax, each room and encounter ends with a chest of rewards that will hand out a specific gear type. If you want new boots, you can look at the map and see the rooms you need to fight through.
This is all tied into the new Apocalypse Tiers, building on the concept of the World Tiers and Challenge Tiers from the main game to boost enemies and offer greater challenge in exchange for the ability to earn higher level rewards, and earn higher difficulty tiers. This will give you the loop to keep on coming back, if you want it. For many players, I’m sure that a couple of runs through to the end will feel like enough, but the die hard players can crunch through 40 tiers.