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"Welcome to the edge of the galaxy, the frontier of space... Well, at least it was, until the corporations bought it, branded it, and started selling it at ludicrously inflated prices!"

The Outer Worlds is a Science Fiction First-Person Role-Playing Game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Private Division. The game is notable for having Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky as directors, two of the founders of defunct Troika Games and key staff in the creation of Fallout.

The player awakes from hibernation on a ship lost in transit to the colony of Halcyon at the edge of the galaxy. By the time the ship was found however, decades have passed and the edge of the galaxy had already been settled. Soon enough, you find yourself drawn into a deep conspiracy threatening the colony itself.

The game was released on October 25, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A Nintendo Switch release is planned for a later date.

Not to be confused with Outer Wilds.


The game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: The game's level cap is set at 30. If you're making an effort to do side quests and explore areas thoroughly, it's possible to reach this long before reaching the end of the game. It's possible that this was done in anticipation of raising the cap through DLC expansions in the future, similar to Fallout: New Vegas.
  • Achilles' Heel: An interesting example in which the player can choose their own: in exchange for taking on a flaw related to in-time events and gameplay, the player is then given a perk-point to spend. For example, if you catch on fire a lot the game will offer to make you even more vulnerable to fire, or if you encounter a certain creature multiple times it offers to weaken you against that creature. Taking a flaw isn't mandatory, however, meaning that the player character doesn't have to have any flaws if they wish.
  • Advertisement:
  • Advertising by Association: The trailer proudly boasts that the game is "From the original creators of Fallout and the developers of Fallout: New Vegas".
  • Advert-Overloaded Future: Pretty much mandatory for a hypercapitalist setting. It's most notably seen on the Groundbreaker, where drones flit around with holographic ads while reading others out, TV delivers ads interrupted by news rather than the other way around, and workers are trained to answer all questions with slogans.
  • Alien Sky: Terra-2's sky features a planetary ring and three moons, the largest of which has its own planetary ring. Meanwhile, Monarch is a moon: its sky is dominated by Olympus, the jovian gas giant around which it orbits. While not the most realistic, it gives every landscape a look straight out of a 50's pulp magazine cover.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Averted. You can actually steal things and this mostly just gets you lost reputation with the locals. Shooting up the place, however, will turn everyone hostile.
  • Alternate History: In the game's universe, the survival of William McKinley in 1901 led to the Corporate-dominated society and the discovery of N-Rays led to the foundation to the exotic technology of the setting.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: Completing certain quests will add related decorations to the captain's cabin on your ship. You can also find decorations for your companions' rooms.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Base stats are handled on a four point scale, and skills are upgraded by category until they reach 50. Further, perks only unlock once the game begins, and flaws are emergent. The end result is it's much easier to commit to character creation and cover for any accidental weak spots later, rather than suffering Alt Itis trying to perfect to foundation of a character build. You can also respec your skills and perks at any time from a machine on your ship for a nominal (though increasing after each respec) bits fee.
    • Companions don't have their own inventory. Instead, their ability to carry things for you is abstracted as a flat increase to your overall weight capacity.
    • Given the mixed-reception to hacking and lockpicking minigames in other role-playing games there are none here. You simply need to meet a skill-check and availability check on picking/hackling tools to open a locked door/container or password-protected terminal.
    • Ammunition is weightless and there are only three types to collect.
    • Companion characters are essentially invisible while sneaking. A patrolling enemy can walk right by your hidden location... and right past your companion crouching down in the open. You only need to worry about your visibility state.
  • Apocalypse How: A Stellar Societal Collapse that would then turn into a Species Extinction for humans in Halcyon; due to rampant corporate greed and the Board being a bunch of shiftless delegating ninnies, the entire system has hit a point-of-no-return with their food supply, both in terms of dwindling supply and a lack of essential nutrients in grown food resulting in things like the "plague" in Edgewater — a character with a moderate Medical skill can note that said plague has all the markers of a common flu. Preventing the entire colony from collapsing on itself because of this shortage is a key quest after completing the main missions on Monarch.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Par for the course. You will run into plenty of abandoned places on your journey with only the logs left to tell you what happened there.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Only two out of the six recruitable companions can join you out in the field at a time.
  • Art Deco: As part of its Raygun Gothic aesthetic, many ships and newer corporate architecture have begun to incorporate the style's futuristic, modernist graphic shapes into their designs. The Board, ironically, has also begun to employ a style similar to Soviet modernism in their pro-capitalist propaganda.
  • Art Nouveau: Many of the illustrated posters used by the corporations are full of braided lines and stylized figures, using intricate printwork to make the most of limited color palettes.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Combined with The Cavalry, the friends you have made during the game can attack Tartarus in order to help you free Phineas Welles. This can be somewhat ironic as it's entirely possible to stealth the level with Phineas' holographic projector. Groundbreaker, Stellar Bay, and the Iconoclasts are all willing to join in the attack, though.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Right when the game starts your escape pod crashes on top of Alex Hawthorne. If you take a moment to look at his corpse, you can see he's a black guy in a red suit.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: T&L brand weapons tend to have gold finish and elaborate engravings. They also typically are superior quality as well; many of the guns have cheap knockoffs in the Spacer's Choice product line, or are superior in one aspect their primary purpose (like the hunting rifle compared to its Hammersmith counterpart) or are less overspecialized in comparison (like T&L'S Plasma Carbine compared to the Plasma Rifle).
  • Blood Sport: Tossball appears to be similar to baseball or cricket, but much, much more violent - standard equipment is as viable a weapon as a plasma cutter or an axe, and players are regularly ejected for "excessive sportsmanlike conduct."
  • Body Horror: Cystypigs are genetically-engineered pigs that are covered with tumors and cysts, but instead of being the result of some experiment gone wrong, this is deliberate. The tumors are bacon-flavored, and slough off the pig's body naturally without harming the cystypig for easy harvesting. This "sustainable meat product" is a staple food in the 24th century; in a terminal log, Phineas Welles even regards his ancestors' butchering pigs for meat as "barbaric".
  • Break Them by Talking: Maxing out Persuade is the most obvious example, but other high skills can also allow the player to do this in specific situations.
  • Breakable Weapons: Weapons degrade and need to be repaired. Ones made by Spacer's Choice are especially bad about it, thanks to being as cheaply made as possible.
  • Bullet Time: Tactical Time Dilation, which is tied to a meter, slows the game to a crawl and shows enemy statistics, allowing players to quickly shoot them down. It's also a more real-time stand-in for post-Bethesda Fallout's VATS system.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": "Sprat" may not seem like it, but the name for the little critters you often see scurrying about is actually a portmanteau of "space rat".
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Exaggerated and Played for Laughs. The setting of the game is every single criticism and stereotype about capitalism taken to the Logical Extreme. Just for example: Edgewater, the first town you visit, is run entirely by Spacer's Choice, even the guards. One of these guards, who you meet in a cave outside town, was wounded by his shoddy company-made pistol misfiring into his side, and if aided by the PC, he says he will be reprimanded for accepting medical attention from a non-company source. When you reach the town itself, you see a huge graveyard outside the front gate where the families of the deceased must pay rent to keep their loved ones buried there. If the fees are not paid then the remains are exhumed and unceremoniously dumped into a nearby mass grave. One of the poor souls kept there is an employee of the local Spacer's Choice-run fish cannery who was Driven to Suicidenote  - under company policy, the suicide was written off as "vandalism of company property" and his "closest living relative" is made to pay the rent. Meaning the foreman who discovered his body, as she was the one closest in proximity to him and they are all part of the Spacer's Choice family.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Edgewater is periodically stricken by plague. There's never enough medicine to treat all the victims due to the Mega-Corp that owns the place cutting corners, so manager Reed Tobson follows company policy and reserves treatment to only "good workers" — here meaning "workers who aren't sick". For bonus points, it's later revealed that the "plague" is actually nutrient deficiency: the town's diet consists entirely of its own canned saltuna — except it's not saltuna because they don't have any, it's mostly mushrooms, sawdust, and actual dirt — and beer.
  • The Cavalry: When you go to Tartarus to save Phineas you can get reinforcements from the Groundbreaker, the Iconoclasts and MSI depending on how you dealt with them.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When ADA (the Unreliable's A.I.) insists that she can only take orders from Captain Hawthorne, she pretends the player is Hawthorne with a wink and a nudge. The player can then repeatedly express confusion with ADA, insisting earnestly that they're not Hawthorne. A number of the [Dumb] dialogue options available to a PC of below average intelligence take this tack as well.
  • Companion-Specific Sidequest: Each of the companions (with the exception of SAM; you instead have to find parts to rebuild him) have a personal sidequest associated with them. Completing it not only unlocks a unique Perk from them but also affects their ending.
  • Company Town: Edgewater revolves entirely around a cannery that processes saltuna (a local fish with a life-cycle similar to salmon), run by the Mega-Corp Spacer's Choice. Even their diet revolves around the cannery, which is part of the problem.
  • Copy-and-Paste Environments: Justified, as most of the corporation products, including the buildings themselves, are prefabricated for very high efficiency.
  • Copy Protection: Subverted. The Epic Games Store version has no DRM.
    • Played straight with the Microsoft Store/XBOX version though, which use account-based activation.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Almost every corporate executive and their employee in the game. Played With as it's also the case that many of them are stupid rather than actively malevolent. Their cost cutting and incompetence is enough to cause deaths far in excess of what would happen if they were actually evil.
  • Crapsaccharine World: A colorful, vibrant retrofuture of corporate oversight and overreaching.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Averted for the player. Many noncombat skills give combat bonuses, such as speech skills giving debuffs to certain enemy types, or tech skills allowing you to hack robotic enemies. So a character who never improves their weapon skills will still be combat-viable from all the passive perks their other skills give.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Scientism is kind of a hybrid of Confucianism and Deism, but its churches are still built like Catholic cathedrals with stained glass and the like (although they have vicars, an Anglican title, instead of priests or bishops).
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Skip-jumping a ship to a destination in the same system. Collision is highly probable since destinations would be near planets. It's also the only way to get the lost colony ship Hope past the Board's security pickets around it.
  • Death World: The "lightly terraformed" world of Monarch has a way of reclaiming human settlements. Even if you're behind walls thick enough to keep the mantisaurs and acid-spewing raptidons out, famine and the omnipresent, maddening stench of sulfur test the wills of any colonists eking a life out on Monarch.
  • Deconstruction: Of Mega-Corp tropes, mainly by taking the One Nation Under Copyright elements to their Logical Extreme; people discriminate against each other based on corporate loyalties and the way people treat companies sometimes reaches Cargo Cult levels. That's not even getting into the raging incompetence that plagues many of them as a result of growing far beyond their capabilities, like The Peter Principle applied to entire companies.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • A sidequest in Emerald Vale deals with a robot that you can either destroy or repair. If you have Parvati with you, she can repair it herself while giving it the name Jeremy. If you take this option, you can later encounter the robot, now with the name Jeremy.
    • It's theoretically possible that you could break both the main storyline and the SubLight Salvage faction quest by becoming unable to get the navkey for Stellar Bay from Gladys: you'd have to not bring back enough tech from Roseway to trade for it, and spend too much money to be able to afford the 10,000 bits to simply buy it from her. Fortunately, Obsidian anticipated the possibility: you can still land on Monarch at the abandoned Cascadia pad, though it means a heck of a hike to civilization through territory infested with monsters and Marauders.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Most robots in the setting are very clearly non-sentient, but ADA, the AI on your ship, makes you wonder. She claims that she isn't really self-aware, just programmed really well to simulate it, but a lot of her behavior seems way to emotional and spontaneous for any sort of programming to explain. You can debate this trope with her and others at several points, but the game itself never says for certain whether she's attained sapience or not.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: One of the propaganda posters shown during the loading screens is a warning about indentured servants rising up in violent revolt against their masters. Replace ‘indentured servants’ with ‘slaves’ and similar arguments have been made historically for denying them freedom/rights.
    • The first European settlers in America came over with a disproportionate number of business owners, luxury goods craftsmen and unskilled laborers, and a unfortunate lack of scientists, educated farmers and physicians. Huge numbers of colonists died within the first few years, largely out of sheer incompetence.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Anton Crane's fate if you help him see the ruin he wrought in the name of science and ambition.
    • The sole inhabitant of Relay GB-23 shot himself when he realized it was the only way to silence the murderous voices in his head.
  • Drop Pod: How you arrive on your first planet after Phineas Welles saves you. Your contact, Alex Hawthorne, is stupid enough to be standing directly where you're landing when this happens. CRUNCH.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The most commonly used kind on the planet, Adrenal-thine, results in homicidal rage, paranoia, and depression. It is implied to be responsible for both suicides and the rampant Marauder problem.
  • Dump Stat: Block, one of the defense skill stats which provides bonuses to player defense while using a melee weapon, is in practice one of the least useful stats, at least depending on the player's play style. While its sister stat, Dodge, is slightly more useful for dodging away from charging enemies, Block is next to useless if the player has prioritized using any type of gun weapon, as the defense boosts brought by block only apply with melee out. In the time that it takes the player to bring out their melee, if they have one, they could have just dodged away and take a shot or several with their gun.
  • The Famine: The entire Halcyon System is crashing headfirst into a mass food shortage thanks to the Board's criminal incompetence and a combination of environmental factors: the terraformed soil and genetically modified plants mean crops are lacking in essential vitamins, so people are technically starving no matter how much they eat, meaning the colony cannot support even its already shrinking population. And there is no guarantee that any of the Hope's scientists will have a solution either once they're revived — it could just lead to a population increase that will make everything worse.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Played for Laughs; in keeping with the One Nation Under Copyright setting, bigotry in the game is based on things like brand loyalties and credit ratings rather than anything like race or gender.
    • Dissidents are treated like the scum of the Earth by the OSI. We only get to hear about this second hand from Vicar Max, though, and through corporate propaganda posters. The Board also promotes this attitude heavily, and you can hear derogatory comments from various citizens in Byzantium. Sophia Akande will take it even further by ordering the execution of the entire town of Edgewater if you've sided with her, but had previously put Adelaide in charge.
  • The Farmer and the Viper:
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: The Board is, in addition to its villainy, often incompetent. A player who wants to work with them will spend an astounding amount of time cleaning up the messes their ill-considered policies, in-fighting, cost-cutting and occasional just plain corruption and stupidity cause.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Superluminal regular-space variant. The engines for it are called "Skip-drives", as they "skip" past light speed. Usage of them in a system is emphatically not recommended.
  • Final Solution:
    • The Board plans to put 90% of its population in storage while the wealthy live in luxury until they can find a solution to The Famine. They also kill all of the Hope colonists by emptying out their stasis pods contents (people) into space to do this.
    • Played more straight with the Halcyon Early Retirement Plan where people win the Lottery and then are given a "place" in Byzantium that amounts to execution.
    • If you side with the Board but previously set up Adelaide as Edgewater's mayor, Akande will order the entire town's execution by mechanicals, which the player themselves must switch on. Her reasoning being that the now independent town's success will encourage more dissidents.
  • First Town: Edgewater, plagued by marauders, deserters, starvation, and actual plague. It's up to you whether you solve their problems for them or simply abscond with their power source and leave them to their fate.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Your character goes from being a nobody in an abandoned cryo pod with brain damage and 70 years of debt, to a major player in the corporate wars and one of the most (in)famous people in the Halcyon System.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Flaws are "identified," not selected. What this means in practice is that your character will have the opportunity to acquire Flaws (and the Perk points they come with) by doing something that would make that person develop a lasting behavioral change. For example, taking too much fall damage allows a flaw for a fear of heights, and taking too much damage from Mantisaurs will prompt a phobia of Big Creepy-Crawlies. Compare to the Fallout games, where Traits (a flaw with a specific upside baked in) were selected from a list during character creation.
  • The Gay '90s: Much of the game's culture is based on the Gilded Age, the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, from the Art Nouveau ad illustrations to the growing discontent toward the labor boom and rise of big business — here rather than Railroad Barons and the fallout from the Industrial Revolution, it's the Board and the aftermath of the initial colony rush.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Captain Alex Hawthorne. The original was male, but the androgynous name means you can use it as a false identity even if you aren't.
  • Genre Throwback: To Planetary Romance stories such as Buck Rogers.
  • Golden Path: Something of a theme for the game: most conflicts that seemingly force you to take a side usually have a superior compromise option. It just might not be the most comfortable in the short term.
    • Emerald Vale: You can convince Reed Tobson, the head of Edgewater's cannery, that the corporate-mandated diet is responsible for the plague, merging the town with the Deserters. The optimal solution, however, is to shut down power to the Botanical Labs and force the Deserters to return to the town, which makes their leader Adelaide hate you... even after you convince Reed to step down and let her take over, in spite of her grudge against the town and Reed. But even Reed can agree she's the better leader if you tell him how she's growing real food and curing the plague, and he's willing to accept his own exile (and probable death by marauders) for the good of Edgewater.
    • Roseway: If you manage to convince research director Anton Crane that his ambition is undermining any theoretical greater good he hopes to achieve, spare outlaw-with-revolutionary-leanings Cassandra, convince her to turn Anton's research over to you, and then return it to Anton, the two of them end up meeting up as they leave the planet. You later run into Crane aboard the Groundbreaker, where it turns out he's sold the research and means to turn over a new leaf, making an actual difference rather than helping the Board keep the workers placated.
    • Stellar Bay/Amber Heights: At the climax of the main storyline quest on-planet, a UDL gunship crashes and both Monarch Stellar Industries (which unlike the other Mega Corps actually gives a damn about its workers' welfare) and the anti-corporate Iconoclasts want you to bring them their weapons. You can instead convince Iconoclast leader Graham's more grounded Number Two Zora to turn on him (by proving he was responsible for a tragedy in the backstory), and then get her and MSI to strike a deal.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: If you helped Junlei, the Iconoclasts, and MSI, each will arrive in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and help assault it.
  • Government Conspiracy: One is at work to conceal the Hope's arrival in Halcyon and keep all its colonists frozen for the time being in order to prevent a potential Overpopulation Crisis. Thwarting it is why Phineas Welles unfroze you, but the game leaves it up to you to decide whether the conspiracy should be thwarted.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: As per Obsidian's most famous works, everyone has a reason for what they do with some sides being closer to Black and Gray Morality while others being Evil vs. Evil.
    • The central conflict between Phineas Welles and the Board. The former comes off as the Lesser of Two Evils, planning to restore a bunch of frozen colonists, versus the people who wrote them off in the first place. However, the Board is the major force keeping the region going, and Phineas admits that if none of the top scientists or engineers he intends to revive can think of a solution then "we're spaced". The Board is much worse but they're also aware Earth is gone and there's no help coming. Phineas is also a man who conducted horrible human experiments that got Hope colonists killed.
    • The conflict between Edgewater and the Deserters has the Company Town against some hippie-ish Commune types. The people of Edgewater live in appalling conditions and their Undying Loyalty is going to get them all killed because they're eating nothing but poor quality canned meat. The Deserters are healthy, happy, and thriving. However, the former need the latter and the latter can't support all the others.
    • The Groundbreaker is led by Captain Junlei Tennyson, who wants to keep the station independent at all costs. Board liaison Udom Bedford is somewhat buffoonish but at most a Punch-Clock Villain who was even friends with Captain Alex Hawthorne; the worst thing he actually does is cast some doubt over how good Phineas himself really is. The local mob, Sublight Salvage, doesn't cause any trouble on the station itself, and their leader, Lilya Hagen, is on friendly terms with Tennyson and believes she's stumbled upon an alien conspiracy and is trying to save the colony. And even the flamethrower-wielding MacRedd and his gang squatting in the Back Bays are actually just a captain and crew who've had their ship impounded and sold off, resorting to growing hallucinogenic mushrooms just to scrape by. All of them can be reasoned with, and much of the bad blood between them is the result of various misunderstandings.
    • Roseway is Evil vs. Evil, with Auntie Cleo's being a secret lab engaged in illegal Animal Testing that has gotten many people killed, all in the name of diet toothpaste. Most of the outlaws with pretensions of being anti-corporate revolutionaries, on the other hand, are Only in It for the Money. You can convince the two leaders of the factions that violence isn't solving anything, though whether they're worth the effort or just a pair of Karma Houdinis depends on the player. Auntie Cleo's team leader Anton Crane can be broken down and put through a complete Heel Realization, which, depending on how harsh you were, can either result in him giving up his career and leaving everything behind to try and redeem himself elsewhere, or simply killing himself on the spot.
    • Monarch is a complicated example of White and Grey Morality. MSI head Sanjar Nandi wants to get back in the Board's good graces, but he genuinely cares about the welfare of his workers (albeit some of it is Enlightened Self-Interest). Iconoclast leader Graham Bryant is an idealistic zealot who cares more about getting his message (of rebellion against the Board) out than practical matters such as feeding his followers, but his Number Two Zora Blackwood covers for that fault. Graham turns out to have been responsible for a massacre in the backstory that caused the Board to pull out of Monarch—inadvertently opening the way for Sanjar to seize the planet for MSI. The Golden Path ending of the Monarch storyline has the PC talk Zora into overthrowing Graham and making peace with Sanjar.
  • Groin Attack: As a game that's a spiritual successor to the Fallout series, critical hits to the groin return from the original PC games while you're using your TTD ability.
  • Hand Cannon: Fiver, a unique revolver purchasable once your reputation with the Deserters gets high enough. It's been chambered to use Heavy ammo, giving it dramatically more punch than most one-handed firearms. However, it's still early game equipment and a Spacer's Choice revolver, so players looking for a high-damage pistol can move up to the Vermin revolver series, which also use Heavy ammo and each deal several times the damage of the Fiver.
  • Hanlon's Razor: The Board is extremely morally ambiguous, and fully deserve to be overthrown for their intentional actions alone. To their extremely debatable credit however they're not actively trying drive the colonies into the ground or get their people killed, it's merely a side effect of how utterly incompetent they are. Thanks to a total lack of oversight on account of having lost touch with any sort of proper government, elitism, promoting people far beyond their capabilities, and growing far too large and unwieldy for their own good, possibly the biggest blows against their power are largely self inflicted. Notably, some of the game's best endings come about from cleaning up the Board's messes and restructuring them into a genuinely competent company.
  • Harder Than Hard: Supernova difficulty can only be selected during new game, if you change the difficulty down during the game, you cannot change it back up. It entails the following:
    • Enemies have more health and deal more damage.
    • You must eat, drink and sleep to survive, as measured by hunger, thirst and exhaustion bars unique to this difficulty.
    • Companions will die permanently when downed in battle
    • Crippled body and limb conditions can only be healed by sleeping in beds.
    • You can only sleep inside your ship.
    • You can only fast travel to your ship.
    • You can only manually save inside your ship.
    • There are less autosaves than the other modes.
    • Weapons and armour perform far worse at lower durability.
  • Holographic Disguise: Early on, Phineas gives you a Holographic Shroud that temporarily disguises you and your companions whenever you enter a restricted area provided that you have the right ID. If it runs out enemies that detect you will inquire about you, forcing you to pass a speech check that restores the Shroud (up to three times).
  • Human Popsicle: The origin of your character; you and hundreds of other colonists were crammed into cryogenic pods on a Sleeper Starship bound for Halcyon, only to somehow get lost and forgotten along the way, until Phineas Welles discovers and unfreezes you (the rest of the colonists aren't so lucky).
  • Humans Are Morons: A recurring theme. Most of the colonists of Halcyon colony are simpletons who worship the ground their corporate overlords walk on, even when said corporate overlords are buffoons themselves.
  • Humans Are White: Actually, most of them are pretty brown, especially the NPCs.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: Tossball player "Black Hole Bertie" Holcomb, so called because he sucks up anything that comes his way, is also known as "the Tally Whacker" and "the Slick Stick". Your character is disturbed and/or incredulous.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The "science" weapons with a maxed out science stat are obscenely powerful and cheap to level up.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Phineas is captured by the Board regardless if you're working with the latter or not. Choosing to send a tracking-signal to pinpoint his location to the Board, or sending a corrupted-signal to obscure his whereabouts makes no difference. The true choice that determines your allegiance and the game's ending is whether you send the Hope to Terra-2 for Phineas or to Tartarus for the Board.
  • Interface Spoiler: The amount of space on the screen where you select which companions will join you makes it clear how many exist and if you've recruited them all yet.
  • Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Buying prices and access to restricted stock are tied to your Alliance Meter with the faction that controls the store (or with a perk in the case of vending machines). Sale prices are globally fixed, with a perk only providing a 20% increase.
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: The colony ship that was ferrying the main character fell out of FTL and lay abandoned for seven decades, during which time the edge of the galaxy had already been settled.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • ADA is programmed to only take orders from Captain Alex Hawthorne. After you report Hawthorne's death to her, she suggests (in a roundabout, technical way) taking his identity so she will take orders from you.
    • MSI's Mr. Sanjar intends to use this to force the Board to put Monarch Stellar Industries back in their original place of prestige.
  • Lost Colony: The Halcyon System itself, judging by the fact that they've lost contact with Earth and the rest of space.
  • Mega-Corp: Spacer's Choice, Auntie Cleo's, Rizzo's, Universal Defense Logistics, formerly Monarch Stellar Industries, and the rest of the original ten corporations that jointly own the Halcyon colony in the form of the Halcyon Holdings Corporation. Through the Board, they control everything in the system, with the exceptions of the Groundbreaker and the abandoned colony of Monarch.
  • Min-Maxing: As part of the game's perk system, the game keeps track of things you are not very good at, and gives you the option of taking on a flaw in exchange for an immediate perk point.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Defied. You can suggest this to Phineas Welles when he tells you about the holographic disguise, but he points out a stolen uniform would never fool biometric scanners.
  • Multiple Endings: Like most Obsidian Entertainment games, the story can end in several ways. There are two main ending paths: siding with Phineas and awakening the Hope colonists, or siding with the Board and freezing all but the wealthiest and most essential colonists until the Board's scientists can solve the food shortage. In addition, as is tradition for Obisidan, each area you go to and major character you meet has a variety of possible endings that change depending on your actions. The Phineas ending also changes based on decisions made through it, in particular how much of the chemicals the player gave Phineas.
  • My Beloved Smother: Agnes Needham in relation to her son Tucker, who throughout his whole life was babied and coddled by her, not allowing him any freedom in his life out of irrational fear that some mishap might happen to her little 'Tuck-Tuck', who is now forty-two years old, and completely sick and tired of his mother's overbearing attitude, to the point that he decided to run away from Stellar Bay to Amber Heights to join the Iconoclasts, just to get away from her. Agnes, fraught with worry, calls upon the player to retrieve her son and bring him back to her. The player can either force Tucker to return by force, which he resents immensely, or they can convince Tucker to stand up for himself against his mother.
  • Oh My Gods!: At first one might think people are swearing by the Lord, but they instead swear by the Law - the Scientism belief that the Architect set the universe in motion, governed by laws, and then left it to work.
  • One Nation Under Copyright:
    • The Board, the various MegaCorps that hold sway over Halcyon colony. Instead of racism and sexism, people in the colony define prejudice by corporate loyalties, peppering company slogans into dialogue and insulting rival corporations. It's revealed at the end that this situation came about because the Halcyon system lost all contact with Earth and the wider interstellar community some years ago, meaning the corporations pretty much had to act as the closest thing to a government.
    • Entire human civilization itself is implied to be this with the Earth Directorate being formed as an intermediary to solve corporate disputes and selling deeds of star systems to any bidding owners. Furthermore, the game's lore on Aptitude—many of its flavor text being occupations—implied that safety inspections by Corporations are usually done to find ways to install safety measures in bare minimum standards rather than ensuring workplace safety.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: The Science stat is remarkably useful to just about any kind of play style. Science weapons are among the highest DPS weapons in the game, and often come with different types of status damage to boot. But what makes Science extremely important is that it dictates the player's ability to tinker and improve their equipment for increased amounts of money, with a maxed out Science stat lowering it by 90%, which makes it useful even to non-combat focused characters wanting to improve their armor.
  • Our Slogan Is Terrible: "It's not the best choice, it's Spacer's Choice!"
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: Hammersmith's weapon product line tends to have very angular, boxy lines.
  • Overpopulation Crisis: Preventing this is the reason why Chairman Rockwell and Sophia Akande are opposing you and trying to keep the Hope colonists frozen; unlike the rest of the Board, they have enough common sense to know that the Halcyon System is in serious trouble, and believe that a major population boom is the last thing the colonies need at the moment. Depending on your previous choices, they can be completely correct — but their solution is to space the sleeping colonists of the Hope so they can stick 90% of the current population into hibernation in their place, and the Board has already begun instituting such draconian measures as the Logan's Run-esque "Early Retirement" program, in which colonists from other settlements are chosen by lot, promised a life of luxury in Byzantium, and then summarily killed en masse by automechanicals.
  • Path of Inspiration: Scientism has some elements of this, like causing people to try to be The Stoic to an extreme and mindlessly accept their lot in life. Downplayed because most people aren't particularly inclined to do this and it has somehow managed to inspire some sincere believers to do the opposite of its doctrine and improve lives.
  • The Peter Principle: The corporations promote huge numbers of executives into positions of power based on what will generate the most revenue, missing that such a concern is secondary to making sure the colonies (that they run) are livable. The companies themselves have grown far beyond their limited means in the Halcyon System, to the point of becoming downright labyrinthine with bureaucracy. It has gotten to the point where a massive food shortage is beginning that could lead to the whole system imploding.
  • Pinball Projectile: "Ultimatum", a contraband Earth Directorate military plasma pistol, shoots these. After completing the quest "Vulcan's Hammer" for either Auntie Cleo's or Gladys, you will start seeing branded ones being sold across the system as either the "Ulti-Nature" or the Joch "Ultimate Bolter."
  • The Plague: Edgewater has been suffering from a deadly plague when the player first arrives. The plague is actually due to nutrient deficiency, since the town lives on a one-food diet.
  • Planetville: Justified due to the planets in the system having been poorly terraformed, so humans are stuck in the small areas on each world that are marginally habitable.
  • Plasma Cannon: Energy ammo-consuming weapons typically are this. However, though they are not insta-hit like slug-throwing weapons, they are still practical up to mid-range. The plasma carbine is a solid general-purpose semi-auto long-arm gun, for instance.
  • Plot Armor: A notable example in a game that otherwise lets you kill any character. When you reunite with Phineas he will only speak in person behind a wall of bullet-proof glass. This is to prevent you from killing him and derailing the main-plot as he is your primary quest-giver. In the endgame if you side with Phineas then the final mission will be to rescue him from the Board. If you side with the Board instead then you must rescue Sophia Akande with Phineas acting as the Final Boss. If you talk Phineas out of a fight then he will kill himself regardless.
  • Precision F-Strike: The previously prim and proper Vicar Max saying he doesn't speak "fucking French!" when you hand him the banned Philosophist text he's been searching for. If you recruit him, he goes on to be one of your most foul-mouthed party members.
  • Raygun Gothic: Complete with Art Deco designs and garish neon colors everywhere. The game's aesthetic could best be described as this trope getting mixed with Used Future and Cassette Futurism elements, and also Planetary Romance-style space armor and Art Nouveau posterwork straight out of The Gay '90s.
  • Reality Ensues: The idea of One Nation Under Copy Right was shown to be a mess where a corporate-ruled society was shown to be run down with the Board being made up of greedy-yet-incompetent Executives whose focus on profits tend to do more bad than good in the long run. This also applies to The Reveal of communications blackout with rest of the galaxy meant that companies in Halcyon System are left without an actual government with focus on economic stability and infrastructure management to lay a foundation for them to thrive.
  • Real-Time with Pause: Tactical Time Dilation is a downplayed example. It's not a true pause, just slows down time immensely, but as long you you don't try to move or shoot, the gauge decreases very slowly, giving you plenty of time to assess enemies and plan your moves.
  • Released to Elsewhere: "Early Retirement" is a Deadly Euphemism where randomly chosen "lucky" settlers are promised luxurious new homes in a brand-new district of Byzantium, flown into the city, then sent on a one-way trip deep into the maintenance tunnels where they are slaughtered by robots.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Spacer's Choice produces Reliably Unreliable Everything, not just arms. Yes, even food. They're usually the low-tier weapons; not great performance, breaks down quickly. However, their saving grace is that repairs are low-cost.
  • Schmuck Bait: The Power Regulator in the cannery, the first MacGuffin, is sitting around unguarded. It's also sparking and surrounded by sprat corpses, next to a computer that warns that touching it causes horrible electrocution. Guess what happens if you grab it without turning off the power.
  • Science Is Good: Science is something that is desperately needed in the Halcyon system as despite being a space colony, there is a serious lack of qualified experts in a variety of fields. The corporations' Propaganda Machine has led to vital problems in society being dismissed and going unaddressed.
  • Sequel Hook: The ending reveals that all communications from Earth suddenly ceased three years ago. Whatever happened there is a mystery to be solved in a potential sequel.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • Chairman Rockwell and Adjutant Akande's plan. Keeping all the Hope colonists frozen for now sucks, but things are bad enough in Halcyon without a massive population boom exacerbating things before The Famine can be resolved. Notably, the player is allowed to agree and join forces with them.
    • Phineas' plan requires the same from the player. In order to wake up all the colonists, you have to remove all the chemicals that the Board has in their laboratory. Unfortunately, those chemicals are keeping dozens of people alive. You have to witness them suffocate to death if you make the call For The Greater Good... unless you have the Science/Engineering skill to learn/calculate the exact amount of the chemical you can remove without killing them. And subverted regarding the potential overpopulation problem with reviving the passengers of the Hope — Phineas will point out that it's not all or nothing, and he only ever planned to revive a few specialists at a time, enough to hopefully save the colony first and thus make room for the rest without sacrificing the rest of Halcyon.
  • Shout-Out:
    Description: Perfect for a young gun with a quick fuse.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: One of the in-universe films is titled Titus Androidicus.
  • Sinister Scythe: One of the melee weapons is a collapsible scythe with a hellish glowing edge made of plasma. Apparently it's still used to cut grass, despite plasma being the equivalent of fire damage in this game.
  • Slaying Mantis: Mantisaurs, a cross between praying mantises and dinosaurs that also swarm like locusts, go through a caterpillar stage, and are organized into ant-like colonies with queens and drones. They're some of the toughest creature-type enemies in the game, and mantiqueens are The Dreaded in-universe.
  • Sleeper Starship: You and the other lost colonists Human Popsicled your way across the galaxy aboard one of these, the Hope. Her sister ship Groundbreaker did arrive successfully, and was converted to be an independent port-of-entry space station for the colony upon arrival and debarkation.
  • Space Western: You start the game in a company town on a backwater planet with plenty of arid wasteland and gun-toting raiders. Towns like Edgewater are built using distinctly Steam Punk-looking retro-future technology and made to resemble western slapboard storefronts with 19th century stripes and stained glass, while Spacer's Choice and Auntie Cleo's favor old-timey cartoons and Art Nouveau illustrations for their branding. There's nothing stopping you from embracing this and wearing cowboy hats and using western-style hunting rifles, revolvers, and sawn-off shotguns.
  • Spanner in the Works: Your character in a nutshell. You're the one variable no Mega-Corp was able to plan for, hence your title of the Unplanned Variable.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • To Fallout, specifically the style of the first two games and Fallout: New Vegas, having been led by Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, the original creators of the Fallout series, and developed by Obsidian, founded by many of the devs from the same studio, Interplay. The game essentially embraces concepts that Bethesda's Fallout moved away from, such as more character-driven writing and an emphasis on quests with branching paths.
    • To Arcanum, also created by Cain and Boyarsky. While Arcanum is a Victorian Steampunk Standard Fantasy Setting, The Outer Worlds are the Gilded Age IN SPACE! as a Raygun Gothic Planetary Romance, revisiting many of the same concerns regarding growing industrialization.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: Ships in the setting are generally slab-like and utilitarian. The same goes for the prefab construction used for houses throughout the colony.
  • Stupid Evil: The corporations, as a rule, will chose what is profitable in the short term or favorable to their free operation over anything resembling common sense. Played with, in that it's clear the stupid part comes before the evil.
  • Stupid Good: In contrast to the corporations, Phineas Welles is determined to awaken the Hope's colonists and tear down the corrupt system... so much so that he apparently doesn't realize or care that doing so could make all the problems in the Halcyon System (like the major resource drought) even worse.
    • However, when confronted about this by a Board-aligned player with high enough Persuade and Science skills, Phineas will tell you he never intended to revive the whole ship while the colony wasn't stable. Just the most brilliant minds, in the hope that together they could devise a solution. Though he also admits that if that doesn't work "we're well and truly spaced".
  • Sweet Tooth: Rizzo's has this as their hat, with a whole line of products infused with their proprietary "purpleberry" artificial fruit flavor, from candy and cereal to liqueurs and frozen dinners. They even have an elite special forces unit called the SugarOps team. Companion Felix is a Rizzo's man, a big fan of their Rangers tossball team, and his room is filled with their merch, food included, which fits his Manchild personality.
  • Take That!:
    • The first trailer mocks other games which give you a big, momentous choice that ultimately locks you into two equally arbitrary decisions, with the player choosing between two factions, as represented by a Gas Mask Mook and a corporate suit.
      Ellie: Taking on the corporations has left us with two options: bad, and worse. But you have to choose. And you have to choose now!
      (gas mask mook is shot dead, corporate suit is horrified)
      Ellie: ...You know you didn't have to shoot either one, right? But it's fine... I guess. You just keep being you!
    • After obtaining the hologram projector, the PC asks why you can't just take a uniform. Phineas laughs at such an idea, which is likely a dig at games and movies that employ such a tactic, like Hitman... and Fallout New Vegas.
    • The whole story is a blistering satire of corporate culture in general.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • This is actually a plot point. The Halcyon Colonists are almost, universally, a bunch of idiots, having been so thoroughly indoctrinated by their corporations they instinctively chose to support the party line over common sense. Many of them have no idea how even basic survival techniques work and are completely subservient to their corporation to the point of Undying Loyalty (even when the corporations are run by people even more stupid than them). The graveyards are full of people whose brand loyalty extended to death by malnutrition from eating nothing but corporate-approved, nutritionally-void food.
    • The dashing and brilliant Alex Hawthorne (the OG one) who was so brilliant that he disregarded Phineas' advice to put down the homing beacon for your escape capsule and move away and instead held on to the thing. Death from Above was the result.
    • The Board is a bunch of Corrupt Corporate Executive types who have no idea how to actually run a sustainable colony that makes use of science, commerce, as well as its personal resources. All of its corner cutting is resulting in an Apocalypse How with the majority of communities suffering massive numbers of deaths. Their plan is to freeze everyone until they can fix the problem.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Your Time Dilation powers (the game's equivalent of VATS) are a side effect of all the questionable chemicals Phineas Welles had to pump into you to keep you alive, coupled with over 70 years of cryo sleep-induced brain damage.
  • Truce Zone: The Groundbreaker is another Sleeper Starship that got off luckier than yours, becoming an independent city-state in orbit around Terra-2. They strictly enforce their neutrality from any corporations, which unfortunately means they're also home to a very seedy criminal underbelly.
  • Truth in Television: The "plague" in Edgewater is caused by nutrient deficiency from a diet consisting entirely of beer and canned fish. There are many such diseases in real life, including pellagra, which was practically an epidemic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dr. Joseph Goldberger proved it was caused by niacin (Vitamin B3) deficiency in a series of experiments beginning in 1915, but his results were ignored by the scientific community (who insisted it must be caused by a pathogen, much like the inhabitants of Edgewater) until 1937.
  • Undying Loyalty: The colonists are loyal to their parent corporation in the same way a very patriotic citizen would be loyal to their country.
  • Unreadable Disclaimer: The announcement trailer ends on a wall of Unreadably Fast Text which an announcer rattles off merely the first sentence of. Some animals were harmed in the making of this advertisement (specifically five canids, two raptidons, and a genetically unidentifiable space organism).
    Disclaimer: This advertisement was tested on animals and found 89.5% safe for human viewing.
  • Used Future: A lot of the technology in the game is boxy, retro-looking, and badly worn out.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Certain perks are noticeably less useful than others. One such example is "Traveler" which allows the player to fast travel when over-encumbered. Even ignoring the multitude of ways to raise the carry weight limit available to the player through other perks, there's the fact that A. locations are not as spread out as they are in most other open world games and the like, making fast travel less of a necessity. B. With only a 20 in Hack the player gains the option to sell items to vending machines, which are commonplace through out the game worlds, meaning that the player is never too far from being able to offload some of their junk even if they are over the limit.
  • Very False Advertising: The "Welcome To Halcyon" trailer has the narrator cheerfully talking about how Terra-2 and Halcyon are awesome places to live and work in, safe and full of solidarity, with the Crapsack World showing a very marked contrast. For example, when the narrator mentions that Halcyon's corporations are like family:
    Corporate Goon: Apologies in advance, but I'm about to ruin your day.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In grand Obsidian Entertainment tradition, you can do some pretty terrible things if that's how you choose to role-play. One example given: instead of helping Phineas after he frees you from cryostasis, you can turn him into the Board for the bounty on his head instead. There are also plenty of opportunities to verbally kick people when they're down.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • To Firefly: You play as the captain of a rustbucket freighter crewed by a ragtag bunch of misfits including a cute mechanic girl, a preacher with a mysterious past and a snarky, attractive doctor/criminal, travelling between rugged frontier towns from job to job in a planetary system run by unscrupulous corporate authorities.
    • The people of the future are a pack of gormless buffoons who endlessly parrot corporate slogans and are causing a famine through their own gross incompetence and mismanagement, and it's up to you, a cryogenically frozen everyman, to save them from themselves. The Outer Worlds is basically the video game of Idiocracy crossed with The Jungle.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: A downplayed example since the game-world is broken into several maps, but there is plenty of exploration and questing on the side. You'll venture through three zones on Terra-2, the wilderness of Monarch, the orbital-station Groundbreaker, the asteroid Scylla, and a handful of Endgame areas. Depending on the playthrough it's possible to skip the Groundbreaker, Scylla, and Roseway on Terra-2 entirely.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: A number of the flaws you can choose to give your character are phobias, giving in-universe context as to why the character would have a weakness against that particular thing.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Many characters in the game, possibly including the Unplanned Variable, have hair of an unnatural hue, brightly colored, metallic, or seemingly prematurely grey or white. Whether it's natural, like, presumably, the various unusual eye colors, or just a future fashion is never discussed, though several characters, like party member Nyoka, do have visible roots.
  • Zeerust: The game's colorful look combines vaguely Steam Punk ships and buildings with the garish pockmarked craters and canyons of vintage B-movie sci-fi, alongside the more austere designs of modern productions.


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