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The Outer Worlds beginner’s guide

Welcome to Halcyon

The Outer Worlds city Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

The Outer Worlds is sprawling and intimidating at first.

With standard role-playing game complexities, weighty decisions that go into every main quest, branching dialogue trees, and the ability to kill anyone you meet, it immediately feels like a whole lot of game — and making any decision feels impossibly stressful.

In our Outer Worlds beginner’s guide, we’ll eliminate a ton of potential stress.

The game adapts, so don’t worry

In an early quest, you’ll make a big decision. Based on your choice, one town survives and another withers. It’s easy (and human) to get paralyzed by decisions like that. What if you kill a necessary informant? What if you make the wrong choice about who to trust? What if you give the life- (and career-) saving medicine to the wrong group?

The Outer Worlds - Edgewater Reed’s office
You’ll have to make a lot of weighty decisions, but the game will adapt to you.
Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division via Polygon

Sure, your decisions will have consequences, and you might make enemies along the way, but your choices aren’t always as binary as they appear to be. In the example above with the two towns, immediately after switching power, a new objective moves everyone into one place, mostly better off than they were before.

Maybe your choices will mean you’ll miss out on opportunities later on, but The Outer Worlds is built around letting you make decisions and then course-correcting to deal with the consequences.

Don’t agonize over every decision. Make the choice that feels right to you (or the character you’re playing), and go for it. The game adapts.

You have multiple options for every objective

The Outer Worlds is built around not just the decisions you make in-game, but the character creation decisions you make as well. You don’t really have to worry about your high-stealth character being bad at combat, for example, because that high stealth makes you good at picking the locks on crates containing great weapons.

You’ll almost always have multiple ways to complete an objective — everything from killing bad guys to finding lost items to breaking into a secure facility. These options tend to correspond to various skills you may or may not have. Solutions will be around no matter if you emphasized strength, sneaking, or intelligence.

You don’t have to explore all of those options — and you won’t be able to, depending on your skills — but it doesn’t matter. Use your strengths to find a solution.

Search for hints everywhere

Figuring out which of the multiple paths is best for you isn’t always easy, but The Outer Worlds will give you plenty of hints. Look for computer terminals, books, notes, and even people you talk to — they’ll all hint at the various solutions. Whenever you pick up one of those hints, it’ll appear in your Journal menu under the corresponding quest.

Talk to people. Read everything. All of that information will make completing your objectives easier.

Search for loot everywhere

Just about every room, bin, bookcase, and corpse has something for you to loot. You’ll pick up everything from condiments to grenade launchers just by wandering around and looting everything you see.

looting a Marauder Thug corpse in The Outer Worlds
There is loot everywhere.
Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division via Polygon

Explore everywhere and take anything that’s not nailed down. You won’t use (or even need) most of it, but you can sell it, break it down for parts, or give it to your companions. Nothing is useless, so grab it all.

Watch your weight

Encumbrance is a mechanic that comes from your strength, current health, armor mods, and even companions, which all go into the calculation for your carry capacity. When your inventory weight exceeds your max, you won’t be able to sprint or fast-travel.

a screenshot of the player’s inventory in The Outer Worlds showing that they are encumbered
Your current weight and carrying capacity are shown in the upper left of your Inventory menu.
Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division via Polygon

When this happens (and it’s a matter or when, not if), break down your extra weapons and armor into parts. That’ll usually be enough to get you back under the threshold.

To avoid it in the first place, make sure you’re selling off your junk and anything you’re not using. Junk items are just for selling, and since there’s loot everywhere (see above), you’re probably going to find more of any item that you sell.

A backpack armor mod will increase your carrying capacity if you’ve got a spare slot in the armor you’re wearing. You can also increase it with the Pack Mule perk. (Another perk, Traveler, will even let you fast-travel when you’re encumbered.)

Swap out your gear

Grabbing everything you can get your hands on and looting every corpse that you make means you’re going to be picking up weapons, armor, mods, and consumables pretty much constantly.

When you find a workbench, you only need bits, the in-game currency, to level up your weapons. You won’t need any extra parts or items. And you can install and swap mods as you find them.

There’s nothing special about (most of) the weapons and armor you pick up. If it’s better than what you have, use it. If it’s not, turn it into parts or sell it. Level up your gear if you have the cash on hand. If you don’t, just wait until you find something better.

Make your decisions quickly — there is always more gear to find. For weapons, look at the type of weapon and the damage it deals. For armor, look at its defense stat, any perks it has, and its weight.

The only caveat to that is making sure your companions are well-outfitted. Treat their gear the same way, though. Bigger numbers are better, and that’s about as much thought as you have to give it. (You can get pickier as the stats get higher, and the distinctions get more subtle, but early on, change out your gear often.)

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