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Outer Worlds studio’s next project is a survival game where players are tiny

This... is not what we expected

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.

Obsidian Entertainment is making a multiplayer survival game. Called Grounded, it shrinks players down to the size of an insect, and then sets them loose in a stereotypical American backyard.

The game was announced during Microsoft’s X019 presentation. The software giant acquired the award-winning studio last year, making them part of its own internal stable of developers. That didn’t stop Obsidian from completing and releasing The Outer Worlds, which launched to rave reviews just last month. Published in partnership with Take-Two’s Private Division, it remains a separate franchise outside the control of Microsoft.

Representatives from Obsidian were on hand to say that the game has been in production for some time, even before the acquisition by Microsoft. Today’s trailer began with a young man running through a muddy landscape, only for the camera to pull back reveal a massive baseball. The entire yard is full of the typical detritus of childhood, including the head of an action figure and a juice box. Action then goes underground, where the player character holds a tiny match to light his way before fighting with ants in first-person. The game appears to include base building mechanics, which look very inspired by Fortnite. The tagline ends, “Go big or never go home.”

Three teens stand in front of a massive baseball. One gives a thumbsup to the other. Obsidian Entertainment/Microsoft

Of course, Obsidian is well-known and well-regarded for its role-playing games. It’s the same team that created Fallout: New Vegas and the Pillars of Eternity series, among others. But departures like this aren’t all that unusual. Recall Armored Warfare, a game from 2014 that went toe-to-toe with World of Tanks. The free-to-play action MMO was recently offloaded to the team at

Today’s trailer indicates that the game is destined for Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, with an early access release on Xbox Game Preview and Steam Early Access. The launch window is expected to be spring 2020.

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