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Outriders looks like a cover shooter, but the cover is not for you

The enemies in Outriders killed me after just a few seconds in every match, and I could not figure out what I was doing wrong until a friend gave me some wise advice: Outriders is for the villains, not you.

Hiding behind the cover, no matter how natural it feels, is almost always wrong to do Outriders. So what do you need to do instead if you hope to stay alive long enough to deal with real harm?

Heal yourself, the only way the game allows you: By killing your enemies, do not hide from them.

7;s healing system is based on killing, not hiding

Outriders is a pastiche of so many other AAA games that it’s easy to believe it will play like them. Each battlefield appears to be designed to keep players moving from deck to deck, and shoot only when they get the chance, taking properties back from the enemy a few feet at a time. So much of the game’s visual language seems to indicate that this is the right way to play, but do not be misled.

A character in Outriders captures bullets with a force field

There are ways to defend yourself that do not require coverage, and that are much more effective
Image: People Can Fly / Square Enix

It was a difficult lesson to learn. Just about every other third-person shooter in the last decade was informed by the cover system from Gears of War. As players, we have almost been brainwashed into thinking that the standard game loop is to find a match, find a cover, take out all you can, move on to the next cover, and repeat that process until you are victorious. Outriders even looks like a cross between Gears of War and The Division, two series that assume you’ll be behind the cover of most of your skirmishes. It just did not feel right too Outriders, according to the development team.

“We researched different medical methods such as pickups, or special finishers, but we found that getting the most classes to just kill enemies worked best,” wrote Bartek Kmita, director of Outriders, in a recent blog post. “It forces players to be aggressive, use their entire toolbox and dive into the heart of the game, that’s where Outridersbattle really shines. ”

It’s a system similar to the one we saw in recent Doom games, where being relentlessly aggressive was the only way to keep your health as full as possible.

I play Outriders as a destroyer, the game’s thought class, which means I heal myself by killing enemies who are physically close to me. I have an ability that makes me a floating collection of rocks, so I can choose where to fly, put myself back together and attack. Ideally, I kill at least one evil guy while also putting myself in a better position on the battlefield.

But if I wriggle into a swarm of enemies, I better have a plan to suck the damage the rest of the enemy’s forces will send me, while destroying enough of them that my health is always topped. If I can not do it, I must have a clear escape route.

The game wants me to be in the thick of the battle, where I need to know how to use each of my weapons, abilities and strengths of my teammates to make split second decisions and survive. The luxury of taking a breath while hanging behind a barricade while I heal has been completely taken away, and the game’s director was right: If I do not know how to use all the tools in my toolbox, I toast.

It felt awful at first, because I kept assuming that the amount of damage I did meant I was careless. But it does not matter how often enemies hit you, as long as you hit them harder, and enough of them die to continuously replenish your health. Early in the game, I felt like I was being whipped pretty badly, only to realize after a few minutes that they were all dead, and I was still in full health.

As long as you can kill a certain number of enemies when they pour their own bullets and attack you, you can stay there forever. If you think your health is falling so far, you become uncomfortable, try to always have an ability ready that will kill at least one enemy so you can stay alive, or give yourself the chance to get the hell out of there.

Each of the game’s four classes handles healing a little differently, but each system is meant to place that character exactly where they need to be on the battlefield to get the most out of their abilities and help teammates.

A character in Outriders is facing the explosion

The best way to stay alive is to learn how to do the right damage at the right time
Image: People Can Fly / Square Enix

The Trickster class uses hit-and-run tactics, for example, to surprise enemies, take them out and move them out of position before anyone can strike back. Killing enemies with this tactic also fills some of the Trickster’s shields as well as their health, which is good due to the class’ lower overall health and lack of bonus armor. They have to stay mobile, hit hard and then get out, because they do not survive other ways. The healing system for each class, as well as its abilities and properties, tell you how to play them best.

I still use covers, so often, but I do not actively look for it most of the time, and there are better ways to stay safe. So always remember: The cover is for the enemies, because the need to hide from you. It’s your job to stay alive by doing what you do best, tearing everyone in the way.

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