Last year’s The Outer Worlds was a pleasant surprise, with developer Obsidian (Pillars of Eternity, Fallout New Vegas) crafting an original and engaging world in a succinct first-person RPG that featured everything you’d expect from a studio of its pedigree. I gave it an 8.5 in my review, praising the visual design, humour and RPG systems while remaining somewhat critical of its combat and technical framework. Now, almost a year since it released, the game is receiving its first downloadable expansion.
Peril on Gorgon begins with the crew of The Unreliable receiving an unexpected package in the space-mail, containing exactly one recorded message and exactly one severed arm. This rather alarming gift turns out to contain the last words of a freelancer named Lucky Montoya and leads the crew to the lap of Minnie Ambrose, an eccentric, wine-swilling aristocrat with a blank cheque and a mystery to solve. The mission: to investigate Gorgon, an asteroid once occupied by Spacer’s Choice, and uncover the circumstances behind its abandonment and Ambrose’s later mother’s demise. It’s a setup that screams ‘noir mystery serial drama’ and that’s exactly what Peril on Gorgon delivers. Without spoiling anything the expansion’s five-to-six-our core quest path goes to some interesting places and takes some wild turns and exemplifies the superb writing and colourful world building that makes The Outer Worlds so compelling in the first place.
That’s really Peril on Gorgon’s biggest selling point – it’s more The Outer Worlds. All of the hallmarks of last year’s game are here in full force; the stellar writing and humour, the comfortable RPG gameplay loop with a steady stream of loot and dedication to player agency. Placed alongside the content of the base game it might even seem indistinguishable, but play through it and it becomes clear that Obsidian has paid attention to what resonated with players the first time around and honed in on those qualities in particular. On the flipside, those going in expecting fresh ideas or new takes on existing concepts might be disappointed that this is a surprisingly ‘safe’ outing. Perhaps to avoid inadvertently throwing off the equilibrium of the core experience, Peril on Gorgon doesn’t do too much to shake up the game mechanically.
There’s a smattering of new gear, some kooky new science weapons and perks and a level cap raised by three, but that’s as different as it gets. The new weapons are neat enough (if you manage to find most of them) and a couple of the half-dozen new perks are deviously left-of-field, but compared to the utter goofiness of some of its story and mission content this expansion feels quite a bit more tame than I’d expected.
It’s hard to describe exactly why without going into too much detail and ruining some great moments, but it really can’t be understated how much fun Peril on Gorgon’s quests, character interactions and other narrative content can be. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments and delightfully ridiculous situations (my personal favourite has something to do with a mercenary captain who can’t tell a llama from an alpaca), and the same biting satire that the game is known for and still none of the drama of its noir mystery underpinnings is lost. It can be disappointing initially to realise that Obsidian has little intent to flesh out any existing stories in the game’s universe, and though the current ones are well-integrated it’s a bit of a bum note that there are no new companions to meet and bond with. Once the realisation sets in though that this entire DLC expansion equates to one violent, crass, over-the-top middle finger to big pharma it’s not hard to be gleefully engrossed in what it does have to offer.
At the end of the day, Peril on Gorgon is more The Outer Worlds. Whether that’s for better or for worse will largely depend on how much you’re itching to re-enter the Halcyon Colony and how satisfied you are with the game as it is. Obsidian have doubled down on delivering best-in-class RPG design backed by fantastic writing and quest structure and a solid gameplay loop, even if it gets there without much of an attempt to break the mould. Hopefully the next expansion throws caution to the wind a little more, but if you’re dying to jump back in I can absolutely recommend nipping off to Gorgon for a weekend.
THE PC VERSION OF THE OUTER WORLDS: PERIL ON GORGON WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
At the end of the day, Peril on Gorgon is more The Outer Worlds. Whether that's for better or for worse will largely depend on how much you're itching to re-enter the Halcyon Colony and how satisfied you are with the game as it is. Obsidian have doubled down on delivering best-in-class RPG design backed by fantastic writing and quest structure and a solid gameplay loop, even if it gets there without much of an attempt to break the mould. Hopefully the next expansion throws caution to the wind a little more, but if you're dying to jump back in I can absolutely recommend nipping off to Gorgon for a weekend.
Quality writing and trademark humour in full force
Engaging quests with plenty of scope for varied playstyles