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Outlast 2 isn't banned in Australia after all

Ratings authority backs off claims of “implied sexual violence”

Outlast 2 Red Barrels
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Two weeks ago the news broke that Outlast 2, the survival horror game from Red Barrels, had been refused a rating by the Australian Classification Board, effectively banning the game from sale in that country. Polygon has now learned that decision has been reversed.

Outlast 2 has been given a rating of R18+, the second highest rating, below the Australian equivalent of X-rated.

So why the sudden change of heart? A statement given to Polygon yesterday explains that a mixup occurred, and the wrong code was sent to the Board for review.

“The original submission of Outlast 2 sent to the Australian Classification Branch contained the final game code and a video file for reference taken from an Alpha version of the game,” said Red Barrel’s public relations team. “This video file should not have been sent along with the game code, as its content was not representative of the final game.”

That code, according to the Board, contained some pretty graphic stuff:

The following contains spoilers for Outlast 2, as well content that is NSFW.

In one cut-scene in the game ... a female creature prepares [the main character] Blake for a ritual. She says, "I want to see your true face. Your seed will burn this world." Shortly afterwards, he objects to having psycho-active dust blown into his face, yelling, "Nope! Nope!" before he stumbles into a forest clearing.

His vision blurring, he witnesses what appears to a ritualistic orgy. His wife, Lynn, calls out for his help, saying, "It hurts! Oh god!," as she hangs from chains on a raised platform at the front of the clearing. Humanoid creatures, their skin grey, spattered with blood and scarred, implicitly have sex as others pray, or chant, or gesticulate.

One creature has another bent over a rock, thrusting as they implicitly have rear-entry sex, another sits astride the pelvic region of a creature prone on the ground, moving their hips rhythmically as they too implicitly have sex. Two other pairs of creatures in the clearing are also implicitly having sex.

As Blake yells for the creatures to "Get away from her!" a female creature, her greyish breasts bared, pushes him onto his back, holds his arms to the ground and repeatedly thrusts her crotch against him. As Blake protests, saying "No! Stop that!" the creature thrusts again, before placing its face over his midsection and then sitting up and wiping its mouth.

The board based the decision to refuse a rating on what it determined to be “implied sexual violence” in this scene. But, once the correct version of the game was resubmitted, they changed their mind.

“In the second submission,” Red Barrels said, “the same game code was submitted with a video file reflecting the final game content. The game was then approved for release with an R18+ rating. There will be only one version of Outlast 2 available worldwide.”

Outlast 2 was originally expected to launch last year, but in August, it was delayed into the first quarter of 2017. The game is slated for Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

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