Many of the most popular mechanics ever got their start as a bug that subsequently became a feature. In Outer Worlds, one such bug resulted in the "Mandibular Rearranger," a Science Weapon capable of doing some truly messed up things to enemy faces.
In the Outer Worlds gameplay showcased at today's PAX East panel (fast forward to around the four hour mark), we got to see the Mandibular Rearranger shrink and expand their facial featureks, like a facial slider run amok. It brought to mind the scene from Harry Potter in which a Death Eater gets their head stuck in a time jar, and winds up with a baby's head attached to an adult body (an image that makes me shudder to this day). According to the Outer Worlds devs, it started out as a bug, but proved so popular that it was incorporated into the game.
"There was a bug where the NPC faces were getting pushed to the extremes in some of the builds, and it was making us laugh. And we thought we should use this because it was making us laugh, and humor is a big part of this game," said lead designer Charles Staples.
The scene with the Mandibular Rearranger took place on Byzantium, one of the main planets in The Outer Worlds, the other being a monster planet called Monarch. Byzantium is a corporately owned world filled with propaganda posters and sales pitches, the product of an alternate future in which William McKinley survives an assassin's bullet (at least, that's the theory put forward by co-directors Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky).
While there was a brief scene in which the main character messes with a propaganda film actor, most of the quest was centered around combat. We got to see the Tactical Time Dilation, in which players get a brief window for easy headshots, as well as the aforementioned Mandibular Rearranger. At one point Felix, one of the game's main companions, wound up in a Man on the Moon hat, making them look like a character from Payday as they fired.
After the 30 minute gameplay clip, the team including took some time to answer questions. A few things that we learned:
- The team expounded a bit on Flaws, which will be unlocked depending on your actions. For instance, taking too much damage from Canids may result in Canidphoba, which increases the damage you take from Candis (but with the benefit being that you get a perk to offset it). Apparently The Outer Worlds will also let you get addicted to substances if you use them too much. "I like a flawed hero," Boyarsky said.
- You'll be able to run through areas with enemies that are way too strong for you, though you'll be warned ahead of time.
- Senior Narrative Designer Megan Starks was apparently told to watch Brazil, Terry Gilliam's famously wild sci-fi dystopia, before starting. "I was like, 'Oh my god what am I getting myself into,'" she said.
- The team elaborated a bit on mod support, explaining that because it's their first time with the engine, it's not their main focus with the initial release.
- The Outer Worlds team has faced challenges in being able to make all of the content that they want. Boyarsky told the audience, "Shaders and such don't add much to the graphics, but they do make it take longer to make content."
- The Outer Worlds community is currently up in arms about it being a launch exclusive for Epic Game Store, but the team declined to address the furor doing the panel or in the subsequent Q&A.
Outer Worlds was first announced during the Game Awards last December. Developed in part by the original creators of Fallout, it's a first-person sci-fi RPG that takes heavy inspiration from Futurama and Firefly. While it won't be a true open-world RPG, it has earned numerous comparisons to Fallout: New Vegas, not the least because it's being developed by Obsidian.
The Outer Worlds is currently slated for PC, Xbox One, and PS4. It'll be out later this year.
Disclosure: USgamer is a ReedPop company, which also operates PAX East