The Outer World’s senior narrative designer has clarified previous comments suggesting Obsidian doesn’t want the game, which is set in a sci-fi dystopia, to be “politically-charged”.
The Obsidian-made RPG, which won the Game Critics E3 2019 award for Best Original Game, is set in a future world where megacorporations have begun colonising and terraforming alien planets. As such, its plot heavily references the ‘dark side’ of capitalism.
However, creative director Leonard Boyarsky insisted in June that the game’s story is less a critique of modern capitalism and more about “power and how power is used against people who don’t have it”.
Speaking in a new interview with VGC in August, senior narrative designer Megan Starks said “of course” The Outer Worlds has “elements of politics”, but she echoed Boyarsky’s stance that the development team ultimately wants the game to be a form of entertainment and escapism.
“I think everybody has their opinions on this, but first and foremost we are making a game for entertainment,” she said.
“We want it to be escapism and we want it to be a fun, enjoyable experience for players. But because we did make it a dystopian society, any real-world universe has to be rooted in these types of things. So of course there is going to be elements of politics in the game, yeah.”
Asked if she felt it was important for game stories to incorporate elements of real-world issues, Starks said: “Yeah, because I think you want to immerse people in the world and have that feel like a real universe that exists, so of course we want to be convincing, even if we are taking it to the extremes so that you can have this absurdist, humorous experience.
“We want it to be escapism and we want it to be a fun, enjoyable experience for players. But because we did make it a dystopian society, any real-world universe has to be rooted in these types of things.”
“And it’s so different from your real world experience that it still provides that escapism and you’re empowered as a player.”
The writer, who also contributed to Pillars of Eternity II, added that the game’s pair of creative directors – and original Fallout creators – Boyarsky and Tim Cain “absolutely” don’t pressure the writing team to avoid topics that might have real world connotations.
“Tim and Leonard are really cool. They have a message that they want to convey and it’s my job to bring that to life, but then also introduce some of the things that personally interest me or I’ve experienced that I bring to the table.”
She added: “Because the writing team is so diverse, the type of things that they think are funny or evocative [might be different from me] and I think that brings a really interesting mix.”