The latest exclusive game from Stadia Games and Entertainment is Outcasters, a fantastically fun top-down shooter with a lot of personality. More importantly, Outcasters keeps you (and your shots) hooked and coming back for more.
The core hook of Outcasters is that, unlike traditional shooting games, you’re fighting with magic bolts that can curve in midair. Curving bullets feels a lot like being in the movie Wanted and, just as you’d expect, takes a lot of practice to master. The bullet-curving is surprisingly intuitive on analog sticks but takes a lot more adjustment when playing with keyboard and mouse.
At first, your Outcaster’s movements and bullet speeds feel a bit sluggish, but this actually makes the game far more forgiving. You have an extra moment to dodge incoming shots or not run headlong into danger. You have that time to predict your opponent’s movements and curve the bullet into their path.
To keep things interesting, there are a variety of collectible power-ups on each level, of which you can hold three at a time. These do things like speed up your shots, make them split on impact, or bounce. Part of the strategy is crafting a powerful combination of power-ups or simply adapting to the ones you can find.
The final pieces of the puzzle are recharging, equippable abilities like Leap, Sprint, and Push, which, if used wisely, can dramatically change the battlefield. Raising the stakes, streamers can connect their ability to Stadia’s Crowd Choice, meaning stream viewers will get to vote on which ability is equipped in the next match.
All of this comes together to form a fantastic base for Outcasters’ three game types. Last Man Standing, as the name suggests, is an 8-player, battle royale style fight to the finish, which is typically over incredibly quickly. Team Battle is a traditional 4v4 fight to see who can claim 10 eliminations first.
Finally, my personal favorite mode is Gold Rush, a 4v4 game of collecting coins and fighting for control of whatever area has been designated as the “bank.” Eliminating opponents, or getting eliminated, knocks out any collected coins making them free to be reclaimed. Gold Rush drives quite a bit of tension and makes for some incredible firefights to take control of a bank.
All of these games take place on one of a handful of maps, each of which is absolutely dripping with personality. Every level has its share of moving elements as well as unique additions like cannons that re-fire or even multiply your shots.
In addition to the core objectives of each game type, there are also a rotating handful of daily and weekly challenges that serve as the game’s larger objectives. These challenges are usually straightforward and put your skills to the test, and they’re also the primary way to get tickets to spend on cosmetic items.
In the “Collection” view, you’ll find enough unlockable characters to last a lifetime. Here, you’ll spend your hard-earned tickets on individual pieces of different characters’ designs, which you can then mix and match and apply to your own Outcaster. As you unlock more pieces, more “worlds” unlock with more Outcaster designs. Of course, if you’re looking for a quicker way to stand out, there are a handful of decent looking exclusive skin packs that you can pay to unlock.
The customization system is also far deeper than it may first appear, as each individual piece of your design can be rotated and recolored to be uniquely yours.
All said and done, having played about two hours worth of Outcasters, all I want to do is play some more. Outcasters is far, far more enjoyable than I had expected, and it’s certainly my favorite Stadia exclusive game. The quick gameplay cycle also makes it a great choice for playing on-the-go, which is one of the unique benefits of Stadia and cloud gaming.
Outcasters is available to purchase for $19.99 or can be claimed for free with Stadia Pro.
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