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The Outer Worlds Guide – Beginners Tips & Tricks

Your safety and comfort are guaranteed. 

Do you want the best chance for surviving the hostile environs of the Halcyon System? Our tips for Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds will give you a leg up on all the marauders, beasts and horrors crawling outside the walls of the colony. Chin up, explorer! Your safety and comfort are guaranteed!*

*Safety and comfort not guaranteed


Familiarize Yourself With The Menus

Like any RPG worth its salt, The Outer Worlds boasts menus, and lots of them. Take some time after the game begins to peruse these screens, figuring out where all the relevant information and systems are located. Some, like your skills window, can seem dense with information and overwhelming. But don’t worry! Despite a few questionable design choices, The Outer Worlds wants to make the experience as easy as possible.

Pay special attention to the bottom of the screen. Some menus, like the questlog, can be resorted for different purposes, while the map screen can toggle between showing your immediate surroundings or the entire region.


Making the Most of Maps

Speaking of maps, you might be surprised to find The Outer Worlds does not sport a sprawling open world to explore. Instead, it plays out through a series of large but bounded hubs. There’s also no minimap, meaning you’ll need to access yours from the menu anytime you want to track your position. Luckily, that function is mappable to a key or controller button.

Your map will also display your currently tracked quest, points of interest, vendors and fast travel points. And while the topographical backdrop roughly showing elevation isn’t the most helpful thing, it is quite handsome. 


Exploring The Unreliable

After sorting affairs on the Earth-like planet of Terra 2, you will gain access to a spaceship known as The Unreliable. It will act as a base of operations for the rest of the game, as well as a home for you and any companions you recruit along the way. It is very much worth familiarizing yourself with its interior from the jump. It contains a workbench for improving your weapons and armor, a navigation terminal for exploring the Halcyon System, a kitchen where your companions will often gather and mingle, and more.

Much like the Normandy from the Mass Effect series, there are hidden secrets and tucked away features to reward your diligent exploration. For instance, a machine somewhere in the ship will refund all of your skills and perks, allowing you to rebalance everything for a small fee.


Dialog Skills

You will discover a chance early on to use your mouth to solve a problem rather than your gun. Doing so in certain situations can be not only advisable but downright advantageous, leading to a greater reward or unexpected outcome. Always consider leaning on Persuade, Lie or Intimidate: not only does it open new options and build out your character, you gain experience each time regardless of the outcome. 

Note that certain dialog checks have skill requirements and will be restricted if you don’t meet the prerequisite. Consider investing in the ones you like to use when leveling up. 

In The Outer Worlds, dialog skills also affect combat by imposing status debuffs on your foes. A high Intimidate skill will send your enemies fleeing from your presence, while a considerable Lie score has a chance to confuse automechanicals into attack each other. 


Hacking, Picking Locks, and Stealing

Like other games in the style of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, The Outer Worlds is littered with locked boxes, encrypted consoles, barred doors and otherwise inaccessible goodies. Luckily, you can bypass the most well-intentioned security through the combination of skill and tools. If you come across either Mag-Locks or bypass shunts while adventuring, pick it up! You will need Mag-Locks to open locked doors, while the shunts help you hack into computers. The higher your skill the less of these you need, but challenges tend to increase as you progress through the story.

Stealing, on the other hand, requires no special tools. If you have the moxie and stealthiness to position yourself behind your mark, the contents of their spacesuit are as good as yours. A note: your companions will not impede any sneaking attempts, even if they decide to squat down in the middle of a well-lit room in front of absolutely everyone. 


Building Your Best Self: Which Attributes & Skill Points to Pick

The first choices you make in The Outer Worlds dictate the strengths and weaknesses of your player colonist. It provides a layout of six generalized attributes, like Strength, Perception, and Temperament for you to finesse as you want. You *could* roll as a completely average person, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, choose one attribute from each of the three categories of Body, Mind, and Personality to excel in. You begin with five “points” to assign, raising the value from average to good to high, and each investment unlocks certain bonuses. 

But don’t shy away from dropping below average. Not only does it award you another point to invest elsewhere, but it could provide novel roleplaying opportunities. For example, a below-average intelligence score unlocks “dumb dialog options,” allowing you to flaunt your willful lack of understanding when negotiating quests. 

Next, you will need to invest two “skill points” among a lot of options. Don’t be overwhelmed! At the beginning, you will be choosing to enhance a group of two or three skills with each invested point. If you want to be better at swinging melee weapons around, your one point grants a bonus of ten to both 1-Handed and 2-Handed melee skills. Likewise, choosing Dialog makes you better at Persuade, Lie, and Intimidate at the same time.

It’s a little confusing at first, but understand that you’re choosing a root skill that benefits several related skills. This will work until 50, at which point you will start assigning skill points with more specificity. By then, you will have a much better idea where you want to specialize.


Leveling Up

This is an RPG, which means you will be leveling up with regularity. Fortunately, the process is much easier than creation. At even-numbered levels, you will be awarded 10 skill points and one perk (we will touch on these in just a moment); odd-numbered levels just award the ten points. While you are certainly free to spread your skill points evenly among the seven root options, we recommend specializing. The only truly mandatory skill would be Dialog, as some of the best content in The Outer Worlds comes from interactions with its rich cast of NPCs. 

Here are a few pointers if you’re having trouble deciding:

  • There’s no need to excel at melee weapons, guns and defense. You will pick up companions with strengths and weaknesses of their own and can slot them in to cover for what you lack. 
  • Leadership is a great skill for beefing your buddies. Invest here if you’d rather focus on social and sneaking, letting them handle the wet work of dispatching foes for you.
  • The Tech skill can offer many benefits, including better healing and lower costs for upgrading your weapons. It also unlocks skill-specific dialog options, making this a hard one to pass up.
  • You will need a Sneak skill of 40 before you can even begin picking pockets. So make sure your fledgling interstellar thief invests early. 


Which Are The Best Perks to Choose?

Perks are your best way to further specialize your character after creation. You will receive a perk point every other level and can use them to purchase skills from a list in the menus. The choices span combat enhancements, more carry weight, faster run speed and more. The choice really depends on how you want to play, but here’s a list of some generally advantageous suggestions:

  • Want to run solo? Choose the Lone Wolf and Soliloquy perks as soon as they’re available. This makes up for the critical lack of damage and skill bonuses you normally benefit from when running with a crew.
  • Didn’t invest in strength? You might find your noodly arms straining under the weight of accumulated loot sooner than others. Compensate by purchasing the Pack Mule perks and unlock the true potential of your pockets.
  • Picking Deadly Demonstrations early in the game allows you to glean the most bonus experience possible from your companions’ kills. The further along you are, the less desirable this one will seem.


Know Your Weapon

It’s a dangerous world out there, and nearly everyone you meet, friendly or otherwise, will be packing some serious firepower. Knowing which gun to bring to a, er… gunfight could mean the difference between victory and becoming yet another frontier casualty. Weapons come in five basic flavors, each associated with a skill: Handguns, Long Guns, Heavy Guns, 1-Handed Melee, and 2-Handed melee. Stock your loadout with weapons that can benefit from the bonuses and effects awarded from your highest stats. 

All weapons will have a type of damage they inflict, beyond the obvious. Different enemies will be weak to certain damage types: shock damage puts mechs on the fritz, and deadly N-rays eat through organic flesh with frightening speed. So even if you only want to use pistols or hammers, vary the kind of damage you dish out. 

Additionally, you will find and collect three variations on ammunition: light, heavy and energy. If a weapon does any kind of elemental damage, there’s a good chance it takes energy ammo. Snipers, shotguns and assault rifles tend to need heavy armor, while handguns and machine guns only accept light. Keep your current stock in mind so you aren’t caught with an empty magazine in the middle of a marauder ambush.


Optimizing Your Gear

Workbenches allow you several avenues for transforming a looted weapon into something truly your own. The Unreliable has one on deck, but each map sports at least one somewhere that allows for mid-mission optimization.

  • Modify: Most weapons and armor contain modification slots where you can install upgrades found or purchased around the system. Perhaps you want to throw a silencer on your sniper rifle or a grip on your scythe. Adding extra pockets to your armor increases carry capacity, while the Thug Kit provides the boost to armor and slugging power that an aspiring knuckle-buster needs. Careful: replaced mods disappear, so consider your decisions beforehand.
  • Tinker: Lootable weapons level up as you do, meaning your current arsenal will eventually fall behind the curve. Keep your favorite side piece relevant a little longer by tinkering at a workbench. Each tinker costs an escalating amount of bits, but a high science score offsets or limits this amount. Also, you can tinker weapon and armor five levels *above* your character, giving them a killer edge against nastier baddies.

  • Repair: Hitting or getting hit wears on your gear, gradually decreasing their potential. Regular upkeep at a workbench staves off this dulling. Repair consumes weapon and armor parts, which you can find buy or collect from scrapped loot. You might find gear with a little diamond icon on it: their condition will fall much slower and are perfect for those who tend to forget to clean their gun and polish their armor every day.
  • Break Down: You could hawk that knapsack full of knives and guns to a local buyer, or you could take them to a workbench and bust them down for parts. The collected material can be used to repair your current loadout. Plus, parts are a bit hard to come by early in the game. 


Companion Abilities

The cast of recruitable companions in The Outer Worlds do some real heavy lifting, both in the narrative department but also on the battlefield. One aspect of theirs that is easy to miss is the combat abilities they provide. You can travel with two at any given time, and each possess a spectacular and cinematic move they can bust out on a foe. By default, these are mapped to the d-pad on controllers. When used the camera zooms in for a close-up of the carnage as your friend barks a snarky finisher line. In a pinch, these moves can provide the cover you need to heal or reposition.


Tactical Time Dilation, or TTD

Being frozen in hypersleep for 20 years and then suddenly and violently revived did funny things to your grey matter. You can now slow down time by activating your TTD ability, The Outer Worlds’ answer to the VATS system from Fallout. When activated, you can precisely line up shots or calmly assess the battlefield. It slowly drains by default, and taking any action consumes a large portion of your bar. 

If you find yourself enjoying TTD, consider investing in the perk options that extend your time, recharge and abilities while in use. You can even pinpoint weak spot and inflict status effects by targeting certain parts of the body.


There you have it, explorer! A bevy of tips and pointers to make your travels across Board-controlled space as safe and lucrative as possible. There isn’t a wrong way to play The Outer Worlds, so choosing the guns, companions and skills that feel right to you can’t go wrong. And if you want a more critical look at the game (caution: contains spoilers), feel free to check out our review of the game on the site!