According to a recent interview with Obsidian Entertainment lead designer Charles Staples conducted by USGamer, the upcoming The Outer Worlds will be foregoing the traditional crafting mechanic seen in most modern games in the genre. That may sound like a purely gameplay-focused choice, but Staples suggests that it has much more with the game’s narrative themes than it does with any actual in-game mechanics.
“One of the reasons we sort of shied away from it was with all with all the corporate branding that we had,” he said when asked about the feature’s exclusion. We felt like doing a lot of your own crafting sort of took away from one of those themes that we were trying to hammer on quite a bit and get across. So if the players were doing just a lot of making their own things, it sort of lessened that message that we were trying to talk about.”
Though we know relatively little about The Outer Worlds and its story at this point, Staples seems to suggest that players will be dealing with a less-than-subtle Orwellian theme here. That said, Obsidian’s upcoming release shouldn’t be taking itself all that seriously, as trailers and previous interviews suggest that dark, satirical humor will be a major part of the experience. Developer Tim Cain cited Futurama as a major influence for the game’s wit, and that will undoubtedly be an interesting juxtaposition between the Brave New World—esque pseudo-horror of this alternate society.
Crafting has, of course, been a bit played out as of late, and a good chunk of prospective players will probably be glad to hear that it won’t make an appearance in the studio’s first proper 3D RPG title since Fallout: New Vegas in 2011. Plus, Staples does mention that some customization will be possible through weapon modding, which is always a welcome inclusion if well-implemented.
This potential indictment of so-called “late stage” capitalism would feel particularly hypocritical were microtransactions to work their way into The Outer Worlds. Fortunately, based on what we have heard so far, recurring payment options won’t be a part of the project. What does smack ever so slightly of hypocrisy, however, is the publisher’s decision to enter into an exclusivity deal with Epic’s storefront on PC. However, it’s important to note that the publisher, Private Division, is a subsidiary of Take Two, an entity which has been eager to do business with the Fortnite developer. Obsidian likely had no say in this move, and the game started development years before the Epic Games launcher was even conceptualized.
It’s been quite a few years since Obsidian has put out a game of this magnitude, and, at this point, crafting mechanics probably aren’t at the forefront of everyone’s minds. With a release date speculatively slated for sometime in August, the launch of The Outer Worlds is rapidly approaching, Steam accessibility or not, it’s bound to be one of the most significant releases of the past few years—just don’t plan on scavenging the environment for resources or searching around for a crafting bench.