Outriders might seem like an amalgamation of games we’ve already played before, but there’s one gameplay mechanic that Square Enix’s new looter shooter has totally made its own: the waypoint system. And as daft as it may sound, it’s honestly worth celebrating.
We’ve seen games handle waypoints differently throughout the years, from simple distance counters that tick down the closer you get in Halo to the overhead, guiding beam found in The Division – a personal favorite of mine that I previously regarded as the pinnacle of waypoint systems, just so you know.
All of these were equally effective in their own right, but none of them come close to the majesty, almost hypnotic beauty of Outriders’ waypoint. In a game that’s frequently asking you to jump to new locations, talk to mysterious strangers and navigate a savage land, it’s a relief that it works so wonderfully well. I can’t help but nod respectfully every time I use it.
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Like a spiritual creature gliding through the air, pressing up on the D-pad in Outriders unleashes a little white blob that shoots off into the distance. It leaves a clear painted path in its wake, one that’s almost begging to be followed. As it dips, curves and boldly sets off on its destination, the path slowly disappears over time, encouraging you to chase after it before it’s gone for good. It really is a satisfying sight to behold.
No matter where your destination may lie, be it at the bottom of several flights of stairs, over war-torn barricades, through dilapidated buildings or amid a bustling hub of traders and quest givers, Outriders’ waypoint never fails to find its target. To quote Bethesda’s Todd Howard, “It just works.”
It’s a good thing it does, too, as the large medal-like icon which also shows you where to go in Outriders is extremely underwhelming in comparison. Sure, it’s clear enough, and practically screams “Go here”. But it’s basic, boring and soulless. That little waypoint, though? Marvelous.
Out on its own
For a game that borrows heavily from the likes of Destiny 2, Gears of War and other successful series, Outriders initially feels like it has an identity problem. However, as I’m slowly discovering the more I play, it’s actually a game that has some really great ideas of its own. The waypoint is but one example: being able to pick up all the loot on the battlefield with a single button press is handy, as is marking multiple items that you’d like to disassemble. It’s also a testament to how to do cross-play and cross-progression right (when it works, of course).
Torrid server issues and save-breaking bugs may be dominating the conversation around Outriders at the moment – and it’s this litany of problems that have significantly derailed our review of the game. But if there’s one thing that developer People Can Fly has got right – no, downright perfected – it’s that incredibly alluring waypoint. Just look at it go...