It’s been nearly a year since The Outer Worlds was released. Returning to it now, for its debut (and surprisingly late) DLC Peril on Gorgon, is a surprisingly jarring experience.
Back in October 2019, The Outer Worlds was a real surprise. It proved to be an incredible game–one made “free” on day one through Xbox Game Pass–and was rightly praised by players, but didn’t get the awards recognition it deserved. At least Ashly Burch, who played Parvati Holcomb–the best NPC of the generation–picked up a couple of gongs for her incredible VO work.
After its long hiatus, The Outer Worlds now feels… tired. And boring. But stick with it, because Peril on Gorgon is far from bad; it’s genuinely rewarding. However, it exposes a few issues with the original game, somewhat sabotaging the obvious hard work that has been put into this maiden DLC.
If you, like me, sank countless hours into completing the game, chances are you’ll boot up your save where you left off. Sadly, Peril on Gorgon doesn’t offer a Fallout 3: Broken Steel-esque role, unlocking the game past its original, permanent ending.
After loading my last save–with the ashes of Sophia Akande at my feet–I got the chance to relive my personal Outer Worlds ending, once again hearing what happened to every single major player in Halcyon and beyond. It was a nice refresher, but one that made it obvious that Obsidian’s decision to close out its story meant the DLC needed to take place earlier in the game.
Thank god, then, for oversaving–old PC gaming habits die hard. Going back to the previous mission at level 29, Peril on Gorgon introduced itself, in the typically wacky manner of The Outer Worlds: the delivery of a severed arm to former Unreliable pilot Alex Hawthorne.
The intrigue leads you to the Gorgon asteroid: the former home of an ambitious scientific project to develop and synthesize “Adrena-Time”, a drug designed to improve worker productivity. In time-honored fashion, it proved to be a failure. A really, really horrible failure. A people-being-turned-into-cubes kind of failure.
Herein lies the game’s first problem: as 99% of players will have done everything else in the game already, and will be likely to avoid starting the whole thing again, this places the focus solely on what Peril on Gorgon has to offer. Sadly, aside from incredibly limited trips to Byzantium, Groundbreaker, and a small workstation above Olympus, this DLC is stripped of the interplanetary excitement that made the original game so intoxicating.
What’s more, Gorgon is an ultimately restrictive and confusingly laid-out asteroid, populated with only a few new characters, alongside the usual monsters, marauders and a couple of half-new enemies to deal with. While it does have its moments of beauty and intrigue, it often feels like a palette swap of other parts of Halcyon.
Given the story dictates what you can access and when, the explorative nature of Peril on Gorgon is limited. That’s not to say there’s no loot–in fact, there’s way too much, especially given how few enemies there are. Initially, Peril on Gorgon feels like an extended plunder quest; you’ll pick up dozens of Mag-Picks and Bypass Shunts you’ll never use, you’ll never drop below 5,000 Light ammo, and you’ll probably boost your personal kitty of Adreno by a good 75 syringes.
Once you commit to the story missions, things do improve, and the game delivers a remarkably horrifying tale of stupidity, murder and greed, tied together with The Outer Worlds’ trademark bureaucracy, courtesy of Spacer’s Choice. All this is effortlessly finessed with excellent dialog and character-specific interactions, which must’ve taken months to plan and record–it makes the long wait all that more explanatory.
The ending, however, is all too predictable, as is the “best” way to fix things. But it doesn’t leave you feeling empty; the only thing you’ll yearn for is another DLC in future. Be prepared for another long wait: Murder on Eridanos doesn’t arrive until 2021, but at least it’ll be optimized for Xbox Series X and PS5.
Hopefully it’ll be more of a tour than Peril on Gorgon; Hephaestus, Typhon, and Olympus have remained untouched so far, and if The Outer Worlds needs to use one thing better in its second and final DLC, it’s the actual outer worlds–not a small asteroid.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of Peril on Gorgon in exchange for a fair and honest review.