Ahead of the Xbox Games Showcase, we got to speak to Obsidian’s Carrie Patel, Game Director of The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon and Matt Hansen, Project Art Director for the expansion.
The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon is releasing on September 9th for PS4, Xbox One and PC and will set you back $22.95 (or $37 for the expansion pass).
We got to talk to them about the locations of the expansion, how your companions will come over to the expansion as well as a few little secrets that you can expect to see.
How long ago did the expansion go into development?
Matt Hansen: So there’s a bit of back history there we began working on an expansion at the beginning of last year. So The Outer Worlds had still not yet released. There was nine months until that was going to happen. And we started spitballing ideas and building on top of those and started to move in a direction. Then when the game released, much to our rejoicing it was really well received and that kind of told us we need to take what we’re doing and we need to we need to go bigger.
We need to go bolder with it and really give something back to the community as kind of a way to say thanks in addition to just helping to build the world around the brand as well. So we we kind of restarted at that point. From there we had a really good footing with what we wanted to do in Late December and hit the ground running with it. The rest was history.
When is it playable in the game? is it only available to those that have finished the game?
Carrie Patel: So it becomes available after the Monarch crit path is complete. At that point, once you have the DLC installed any point between the end of the Monarch crit path and your point of no return save at the end of the base game, you can jump into the Gorgon content.
It was mentioned that there’d be changes to level caps and abilities. How much of the main game content has been re-balanced to accommodate these kinds of things?
MH: Not a lot, honestly. We worked really hard on our end to make sure that the new content we were introducing balanced well with the main game, but even then, we kind let it go a little wild with some of the high end skill unlocks. There’s a lot of fun to be had and feeling immensely powerful once you get that top tier thing that you’re you’re driving towards. That isn’t to say it reduces the fun at all if anything it kind of increases it and at higher difficulties it’s still very very well balanced.
CP: Yeah, one of the nice things about easing the player into this and you know like the last half or third of the game is that they are leveled up, they do have a good foundation and our skills and our gameplay and so that allows us to then you know, create some cool more high difficulty scenarios and also to give players room to grow with their skills again, especially players who may be loading into this from a point of no return save you know, from when they beat the game six months ago
Will we see any new companions and if so, will they be integrated into the main game?
CP: So you’ll see a lot more content for existing companions. Companion writing is something that we love and that we know requires a lot of work to pull off. So we wanted to make sure that the players base game companions felt well integrated into the story of Gorgon. So as with the base game, they will have interjections and conversations with each other and with other NPCs that you meet as you’re adventuring through the world. And you know, because the story of Gorgon is very much about a facility that’s been abandoned by spacers choice.
Because a lot of the we have some pretty big moments that take place in various stations. And because the impact of what happened on Gorgon has had an enormous effect on all of Halcyon we really wanted to lean into the companions to help tell the player that story by reflecting on some of these big revelations and some of these, you know, important moments, so I think players can expect to see some cool moments from their base game companions, including some some pretty neat arcs for a few companions who have huge moments of special reflection and meaning attached to the events on Gorgon.
In terms of locations, how do they differ to the ones we see in the main game?
MH: So the primary play space for the expansion is the Gorgon asteroid. It’ this pretty sprawling, labyrinthine collection of canyons and caves, with some sub biomes and abandoned facilities for them to explore. it’s a desolate, but visually bustling space and then in addition to that, we also have a couple of opportunities for some offworld encounters, both at locations that the player is familiar with introducing new sub levels, so they are and in new, smaller locations elsewhere that will be new to the player.
With new abilities and enemy types, will there be any kinds of combat scenarios on Gorgon that Outer Worlds players haven’t experienced before?
CP: We have new enemy variants for most of the enemies that the player can encounter in the base game, you know, that have new stats, new attacks, and in a couple of cases new damage types. So players who enjoy engaging with the combat will definitely find some new surprises and challenges there.
Has creating Peril On Gorgon as an expansion allowed you to introduce things that you wanted to do in the game originally but ran out of time to?
MH: There’s certain things that we wanted to try and chase down and were difficult to make feel seamless and integrated with the base game, but there’s a lot of things especially things that fans really responded well to that we were able to build upon. But there’s also some new stuff you know, we’ve got three new science weapons that have some pretty wacky abilities that are really fun and kind of change the face of how combat is played. As we touched on there’s there’s some new level increase stuff that you’ll get see including some virtuoso tier skill unlocks that are pretty pretty darn interesting and drastically changed you know how you can approach conversations and combat And then also, we did introduce a new storytelling mode in the form of our portable, portable phonographs.
CP: Players are familiar with audio logs from tons of narrative games these days, and we wanted to develop The Outer Worlds approach to that. One of the design constraints that we were trying to work around is, especially in a place where the story is this facility has been abandoned, and we do still have other NPCs in that location, but you talk about a place like a dungeon or a place where the original inhabitants have left and you say, okay, well, how can we tell the player story here besides just using notes and terminals all the time. So, we came up with a design for portable photographs that worked with our base game systems and this allows us to tell some of those stories in a more character focused manner. The voice acting for the base game was fantastic and is fantastic in the DLC as well, so this just lets us give the player more story snippets and character moments in more of a human voice and one of the cool things is you pick one up and you can hear it plays you explore the world so it also feels a bit more seamless than you know having to stop and read something.
Are they well hidden or just obviously placed in the world?
MH: It’s definitely a mix of both, there’s some that rely on the player experiencing to drive the story and in fact to begin the the story for you. But there’s also a lot of hidden gems that we wanted to kind of tuck in interesting places and allow the player to discover and be rewarded for kind of digging around a little bit.
There’s been a lot of chatter about the inaccessible planets in the game’s map since the game launched. Will we ever get to those places or do we get to those places in the DLC?
CP: So there is one that you will get to have an experience on as part of Peril on Gorgon but I won’t say which one..
How does Gorgon compare to other planets in the main game visually?
MH: So that’s one of the things that we actually did experimental a bit with. It’s an asteroid so you can kind of expect some of that desolate spaciness, but we also introduced a lot of verticality to that overworld space. So as you’re traversing through it, you’re going to see sort of aspirational dungeon facades up on cliffs sides and cool facilities that are, you know, way far away through a snaking Canyon that it’s kind of hard to figure out exactly how you get there. But when you finally cycle back to that, there’sa bit of a Ah, I remember this place this will be this will be a fun experience. So, we wanted to really push that to kind of push this idea of aspirational spaces to help move the player through the Gorgon asteroid, but as far as you know how it differs from other locations. The only other asteroid you visit is Silla and it’s a pretty it’s a fun to play experience, but it’s a pretty small one. So we wanted to kind of go and say, How can we take something in an asteroid field like this and blow it out, make it a really interesting play experience, that the player is able to encounter these sort of sub biomes within and kind of slowly unpack the mystery of this abandoned facility.
I’d love to know a little bit more about what you spoke on earlier in terms of the DLC going through several iterations?
MH: There were several iterations. There was one that was like a mid sized DLC and that kind of where we started and then it drove into something that was a lot more bite sized and rapid and then by the end we decided, all right, even that first one wasn’t big enough, let’s let’s try something different.
CP: I think a lot of this is just looking at what players responded to so well in the base game and also just the rhythm of giving the player a new location to explore, giving them a story to sink their teeth into there, and then creating a lot of fun and novel found content across that location that builds on that story and that over the course of the game tells the larger story of Halcyon. And we wanted to make sure that the DLC we were making fulfilled that promise for the player and in kind of a meta design sense, slotted in well with the base game in terms of saying like, Hey, this is the core experience for players playing The Outer Worlds. How can we how can we deliver more of that and also push some of the design and artistic elements like Matt was talking about, by creating challenging new play spaces, and recognizing what works well with our encounter design and just beefing that up even more.
The Outer Worlds: Peril On Gorgon releases on September 9th for PS4, Xbox One and PC.