Too often I find DLC can push a game outside its wheelhouse trying to be different. It can end up feeling disconnected from the base game. In my mind, great DLC builds on the sturdy foundation of the main game, enhancing the experience without trying to reinvent the wheel. Peril on Gorgon, the first DLC for The Outer Worlds, accomplishes this, even if it does stumble along the path.
A new adventure
Peril on Gorgon kicks off any time after completing Radio Free Monarch in The Outer Worlds’ base game. After receiving a grotesque parcel –not a package– and talking to my crew, I was off to Gorgon to pay a visit to Ambrose Manor. Minnie Ambrose, the daughter of Olivia, hired me to find her mother’s journal and restore her family’s good name. You see, Olivia Ambrose headed up Project Gorgon, a disaster that led to the Ambrose family being ousted from high society. After exploring the manor and a quick chat with Minnie, I took the Unreliable and my six companions to the main landing pad of Gorgon.
The moment I stepped off the Unreliable I could tell that I was playing The Outer Worlds, but this place had its own vibe that made it feel unique from the base game. Gorgon is an asteroid, meaning lots of rock and little vegetation. With high cliffs, traversal is limited to passing through the asteroid’s ravines, which can get confusing at times. More than once I found myself unsure of the correct path to get where I was going, but there’s no shortage of interesting things to see on Gorgon. It’s never far to the next small cluster of buildings begging to be looted and explored.
Give me a beer
Before I could head out and conquer Gorgon, though, I needed to visit the Sprat Shack, a local bar where I was to begin my investigation. The Sprat Shack feels like a place I’d like to go for drinks, and I was quickly back to my pickpocketing ways, trying to snatch keycards and find side quests.
The Sprat Shack is also where I ran into a bug that stalled my progress. I spent a few hours trying to figure out how to progress without reverting to a save file seven hours of gameplay old. My objective was to talk to a bartender, which I did many times and using every dialog option, but my quest marker never moved, and my journal wouldn’t update. Knowing The Outer Worlds, there’s more than one way to skin a Sprat, so I shot and killed the bartender. This updated my quest and gave me an idea of what to do next. I loaded my save with the bartender alive and managed to skip to the next step without offing an NPC I had no desire to see dead. Crisis averted.
My time at the Sprat Shack got me properly rolling with the Peril on Gorgon’s main quest, as well as a couple optional tasks from named NPCs. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of side action in Peril on Gorgon. There may have been four or five side quests, but I was expecting more. Maybe there are a few more. It’s easy to overlook things in The Outer Worlds given the complex choices and evolving narrative, but I’d be surprised if I missed many –if any– side quests in my more than 25 hours with the DLC.
Shooters and looters
Once I left the Sprat Shack, I headed out into Gorgon looking for trouble and answers. It didn’t take me long to find a fight, and I could tell the enemies were a tad tougher than the ones in the base game. Still, just like the base game, I didn’t find the combat difficult. I think I died once trying to ski down a cliff and land on some buildings I wanted to explore. This was on normal difficulty, so I’m sure I could have cranked things up if I wanted, but for the most part combat just sort of existed. It was fun to try and stealth kill an enemy with a melee, or deploy the special moves of my companions, but the combat was always just an obstacle I had to overcome so I could loot, read terminals, and look for secret pathways.
That’s not a criticism. The combat is fine, but for me, the focus of The Outer Worlds is the desire to explore, discover, and unravel the narrative through conversation options. These systems are all fully realized in Peril on Gorgon. There’s no shortage of terminals to read or conversations to have, which can be hilarious but also paint a dark picture of Project Gorgon.
A system that doesn’t feel fully realized is the weapon selection in Peril on Gorgon. There are unique options and even a cool quest that leads to a nifty tool of death, but mostly I was just selling or breaking down guns for parts and currency. It doesn’t help that tinkering with a weapon gets ridiculously expensive without a perk, so forget beefing up those cool Science Weapons from the base game to be competitive in the DLC. I'm sure I overlooked or skipped a couple, but I didn't feel drawn to chasing weapons like I did in the base game, and I missed that.
What I did enjoy about the loot in Peril on Gorgon was the armor. I use that term loosely since most of the items didn’t provide a lot of protection, but quite a bit of the head gear looked cool and had some unique bonuses that could push my build to the max. You’ll need this gear, too. Some of the locks and terminals in Peril on Gorgon require 150 Lockpicking or Hacking, respectively.
Just pile it on
Peril on Gorgon builds on the base game and takes things up a notch without overdoing it. Players truly can play the way they want. There are oodles of ways to create or respec characters, and each quest features different options for how things can play out. Picking an NPC’s pocket before talking to them opened unique conversation choices, and I was tempted to blast just about every character I met in case they had a cool gun I needed to add to my collection. It’s a second helping of a delicious holiday meal. It might taste similar to the previous helping, but you’re going to leave the table thoroughly satisfied and counting the days until the next big feast.
These impressions are based on a PC download code provided by the publisher. The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon will be avaiable on September 9, 2020.