Obsidian's upcoming The Outer Worlds has fans waiting eagerly for launch day, and the studio has emphatically announced that the game will more be humorous than politically-charged.
In a recent interview with Video Games Chronicle, co-director Leonard Boyarsky has clearly stated that the game is not about to lecture players with the themes and storyline. Boyarsky elaborated by explaining that the game is not written as a critique of modern capitalist systems, but it is more about "power and how power is used against people who don't have it."
The aim for humor is not a deflection against political statements. Alternatively, it is a commitment to the previous style of narrative structure seen in other games.
When compared to others in similar situations, the decision mirrors that of other developers who insist that they are looking to make games for people to enjoy rather than present hard political statements. In early June, EA made the decision to change the name of a solider in Battlefield V.
The issue was that developer DICE launched a new DLC character in the game named Wilhelm Franke, who wore an outfit that would easily blend him into a room full of Nazis. Within the DLC description, the character is described as a German general. Unfortunately by some strange coincidence, Wilhelm Franke was actually a Nazi resistance fighter living in Dresden in real life.
The same manner of statement has been made by Ubisoft with their hit game The Division 2. Regarding the game's narrative, the director of the game insists that the outing of a corrupt American government is not a political statement.
That one is a little harder to believe until one considers that the source material on which the game is made comes from none other than popular writer Tom Clancy. Traditionally, Clancy has written nothing but action-packed books centered around similar themes of war, espionage, corruption, and the threat of terrorism.
The decision by Boyarsky feels quite sound. While other games may try to make explicit connections to the current political climate, that is a deliberate choice, and it is not one that everyone wants to make.
With that said, there is still much that could be thematically developed within what is planned for The Outer Worlds. The obtainment of power and its abuse need not speak to any particular political event or leaning, as it is a blanket theme that could arguably be applied to virtually any political time and place.
For now, gamers need only wait and see how The Outer Worlds handles this, as humor and satire can often be far better critics of a political climate through their indirect observation when compared to a straight-up moralistic finger-wagging.