What is Outcast: Second Contact?
A remake of a 1999 classic, Outcast: Second Contact is a game that breathes new life into one of the first 3D open world games. When a science experiment goes wrong, a portal created between Earth and another dimension begins sucking the Earth in - and it's up to you, as ex US Navy Seal Cutter Slade to head into the other dimension, and put things right. Unfortunately for you, even that doesn't go smoothly, as you get separated from your team, and end up in a pretty dramatic case of mistaken identity. With one of the native Talan people believing you to be their chosen one, or Ulukai, you're soon thrust into the middle of a civil war, as it's up to you to win the trust of the Talan at large, help them rise up against their masters, and bring peace to the land. Oh, and save Earth too if you get chance.
How do you play Outcast: Second Contact?
With several large, open hubs representing each region of the game's world, Outcast: Second Contact isn't divided into distinct levels, but instead gives you dozens of quests to complete in each hub. Unlike more modern open world games, there's something of a reduced focus on combat here, with your time in the world instead being spent solving problems for the residents, hunting down artefacts, and slowly starting to win the trust of the Talan.
Whether you're using some dynamite to help a builder correct an accident at a building site, which has caused a cave in; tracking down a Twon-Ha handler (a native beast that's a bit like a dinosaur crossed with a tauntaun) after the animal he was meant to be delivering never arrived; or searching for an elusive Essence Stone, in order to win over the leader of that region's Talan, almost everything you do in game will increase your standing with the locals, which in turn will make them more likely to follow you, and rise up against that region's enemies. With five regions to explore, and many a quest in each, there's a lot of gameplay to get stuck into here.
How easy is Outcast: Second Contact to pick up and play?
With a focus on exploration, Outcast: Second Contact plays a little bit differently to more modern games, with less assistance to help you figure out where you need to go. Although there's a compass at the top of the screen, and an optional map you can turn on the bottom right, there's actually nothing in the way of quest markers here, with the game instead asking you to navigate using your own instinct and observational skill alone, making getting around a lot more complex than it is in other games.
Asking for directions is the only way you'll get any real pointers when finding your way around Outcast's world, with the Talan telling you to "head North East", etc, in order to point you in roughly the right direction. While the lack of any distinct markers does make the game harder to follow, and can sometimes see you wandering for a long time, it's also a large part of the game's charm.
Although enemies are numerous, they usually keep themselves to themselves, guarding various bases on the map which can be avoided until you're ready to take them on. A handy auto aim function snaps your shots to the nearest enemy, but it can be a bit hit and miss - and with very slow moving projectiles, combat can be tricky, as enemies can often just sidestep your shots. You may also find yourself regularly running out of ammo if you don't go exploring off the beaten track.
The game does have an adjustable difficulty level, although it is hidden away in a menu, and unusually labelled as "damage resistance". Setting it to high means you'll take a lot less damage from both enemies, and large falls. There's also the option to make your health auto-replenish, which can really make the game a lot easier.
In terms of accessibility, Outcast: Second Contact is fully voiced, and fully subtitled, with the game's notepad (essentially a quest log) and dialogue options being the only reading involved. Sample sentences include:
- "About essence"
- "Wait until Jan counts three, then try and get the fruit without being seen"
- "A worker at the temple wants the Yods to destroy an accident with some dynamite"
Outcast: Second Contact contains little in the way of mature content. With nothing in the way of sexual content, the game also features only very mild and infrequent bad language (the rare utterance of "sh*t" or "pr*ck"). While combat sees you engaging enemies in firefights with a variety of guns, there's nothing in the way of blood effects here, and little in the way of realistic impacts, with enemies simply saying "ow" before dropping down, and vanishing.
Format Reviewed: PC