Outer Wilds Preview: Space Camp

Outer Wilds has been in development for several years, but thanks to publisher Annapurna Interactive, it's set to arrive later this year. Shacknews recently had a chance to take a look at this first-person space exploration game.

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Who's to say that humanity is the only species aching to explore the cosmos? Outer Wilds is an exploration of an alien race seeking key answers to the universe. Those answers lie in the stars and in other worlds, so it's time to jump in a shuttle and search for what lies beyond.

If the name sounds familiar, Outer Wilds has been in development for quite some time. It was last seen at the 2015 Independent Games Festival, taking home the Seamus McNally Grand Prize and Excellence in Design awards. It was one of the first games featured on crowdfunding site Fig. Even after hitting its goal, developer Mobius Digital only has so much manpower and resources to devote to the project. That's where publisher Annapurna Interactive comes in. The publisher behind indie hits like What Remains of Edith Finch, Gorogoa, and Florence is now lending its resources to the project to ensure that Outer Wilds launches in 2018. Shacknews recently had a chance to take a look at Outer Wilds and see how it's coming along.

This first-person exploration game follows an alien race called the Hearthians. The surroundings at the start of the game look familiar, like a national park. In fact, that's the aesthetic that Mobius Digital is looking for, as they're looking to give players a sense that they're out camping while also looking to explore space. As one might imagine, the Hearthians have crafted a backwoods version of NASA to aid in their endeavor. Their efforts have put together a vessel capable of space travel right along the center of the world.

There's a central mystery to Outer Wilds and it involves an ancient race called the Nomai. The idea is to explore the outer reaches of the solar system to find the answers to this mystery. And there is indeed a functioning solar system in place. Each planet out in this universe has its own orbit around the sun, weather patterns, ecosystem, gravity, and different day/night cycles. Furthermore, nothing is off limits. Any area that is visible can be explored.

Space travel is aiming for realism, with the spacecraft featuring a functioning autopilot and tools to help match the velocity of other objects. While Outer Wilds wants to be realistic, it wants to offer that realism in an accessible way.

Players will find other Hearthians along their path, who have placed settlements along each planet. If there's a visible smoke stack, it means there's a Hearthian who's set up camp. They'll offer clues to aid the player in their journey, while also offering information on the planet's ecosystem.

But one thing to note about Outer Wilds is that the key to the central mystery involves a time loop. For some reason, time seems to be repeating endlessly. Whether the player takes too long to complete their journey or dies along the way, they'll wake up at the same spot as they started: looking up at the stars and watching as something unknown is fired from the moon.

The mysteries of Outer Wilds are aching to be solved. Players will have a chance to do so in 2018 on PC, with other platforms set to be named later.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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