Outcast: A New Beginning wants to be more than just another open world adventure

Outcast 2 artwork - protagonist watching a sunset

THQ Nordic has given us a fresh look at Outcast: A New Beginning, a full sequel to the 1999 cult classic (and the 2017 remake without the old voxel graphics). This is a broad open world game, with a difference.

Outcast: A New Beginning puts you back in the boots and jetpack of Cutter Slade, the former Navy Seal that was sent through to Planet Adelpha with the first game. Now, with the planet and its Talan people under threat from robotic invaders, he has to join their resistance and help them fight back and persist, if he’s got any hope of getting back to Earth.

Jetting around the world looks wonderfully freeing, with Cutter’s jetpack letting him skim along the ground, do little pulses up into the air, and then gliding with a fancy wing suit. It’s got all the vibes of Just Cause’s freeform movement style, but without the kind of zaniness that follows when heading into combat.

Still, the jetpack feeds into the combat in big ways, letting Cutter just hover in midair and blast away at enemies emerging or patroling their base. There’s a weapon system with over 30 modules that range from a basic shield to mighty Talan powers, and can quickly transform Cutter’s gun from a shotgun to a sniper, if that’s what the situation needs.

Floating in the sky sounds like Cutter makes for an easy target, and… he kind of is, but for the Talan powers and tech abilities that he can call upon. One creates an anti-gravity bubble that will suspend now helpless enemies in midair, another attracts a swarm of angry wasp-like insects, or you can call in birds to deliver bombs and blow them up.

So far, all of this sounds like pretty standard open world fare, from Far Cry to Just Cause, but Outcast: A New Beginning is about getting in tune with the natural world, the environment and its people, and there’s a deeply systemic foundation to this.

At the most simplistic level, Cutter cannot actually speak with the Talan at the start of the game, but picks up the ability to understand and converse at some point, allowing him to join their freedom fighting force. More fundamentally, there’s relations and connections that sprawl across the whole planet, and Cutter can tap into and aid these. You can foster towns and villages, the fruits of your labour seeing them flourish, become more verdant, the shops replenished with stock as supply lines are restored, and their output improving your Talan abilities – those aforementioned bomb birds can make bigger bangs.

It’s more than that, though. Cutter can come across and egg that he then nurtures to hatching, grow plants to feed to the flying creature so it grows up to be big and strong, and then ride on its back to explore the world. Then, when a dynamically occuring enemy convoy appears, you can ride it up high into the sky and attack the ships as they approach, breaking and weakening the enemy supply lines and giving the resistance another leg up.

It will be fascinating to see how in depth this will actually be in the full game, and it feels like the hands off demo I saw was just scratching the surface of what you can do. Almost just as important is that you don’t have to do all of the busy work in order to progress through the story. You see the connections on the world map, but can explore at your own pace and pick off the objectives as you go.

It’s refreshing to see different approaches coming to open world gaming, which can all to easily feel like they’re just having you check off markers on the map, climbing towers, and performing the same minigames and activities time and again. Outcast: A New Beginning will absolutely have some elements of that within its structure, but could make them more deeply meaningful to the game itself.

There’s no indication when THQ Nordic plans for Outcast: A New Beginning to release, but we were told that the game is currently in a pre-beta stage, pointing to a 2024 launch across PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

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