PAX West 2018: Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

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I reviewed the original Rebel Galaxy about two years ago. While I liked the game overall for its style and structure, the gameplay wore on me quickly, with little variation and not much to do aside from flying around shooting at things. While I think the combat was the strongest part of the game, it still got boring when it seemed like there wasn’t much else to the game, and took a fair amount of time to get used to. Enter Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, a prequel to the original game, but just looking at the games themselves you’d never know that they were related.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw | Cockpit view

The biggest difference, and the thing that is the most immediately noticeable, is that Rebel Galaxy Outlaw throws away the first game’s more strategic, naval-style combat and exploration in favor of a more traditional space sim style of control, similar to games such as No Man’s Sky or Elite: Dangerous. You can control it from either a first-person cockpit view or a third-person view, and the cockpit of each ship looks different, as well as being able to find trinkets to decorate it with. The control is smooth and easy to get the hang of, a far cry from the first game’s complex (but still fairly enjoyable) naval combat system. Your ships can be equipped with a variety of different primary and secondary weapons of different types, which naturally behave differently in combat, and you can change firing patterns and which of your weapons are active at all on the fly, represented on the in-cockpit data readouts or the HUD when in third-person mode. You can also lock on to an enemy, and have your ship swing to face them and your weapons follow them automatically. Alternatively, if you want a more pure experience, you can disable the assisting features when starting a new game and do everything manually.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw | Station pool minigame

The first game’s lack of variety and content was the biggest thing that Double Damage Games was trying to rectify with Rebel Galaxy Outlaw. The story and world are more established, and you control an actual character, and you have more ability to customize your ship. They showed off the colour customization system, which is incredibly extensive, with the developer likening it to Photoshop specifically for painting your ships. A variety of tools are available to use, such as custom brushes, projection painting, and direct texture editing by unwrapping the ship’s textures so you can paint on them more directly. There’s also more to do when you land on a planet or dock at a station; you still can’t explore them freely, but there’s more to do and it’s all presented in a more appealing way. Conversations play out like actual conversations, rather than just choosing options from a list and hearing what the person has to say about it. In addition to talking to people, there are a few different minigames to partake in, such as various ways of gambling, a full billiards minigame, and some arcade games. You can also apparently buy an abandoned station, which starts a mission chain to outfit it with increasingly absurd and risky facilities. There’s also in-game radio stations, seemingly similar to those in Grand Theft Auto 5 with in-universe DJs and ads along with the music. As with the first game you can also import your own music on PC, even using it to create your own radio station, complete with the in-universe ads.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw | Station exterior

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw looks like it’s poised to be an improvement over the first game in pretty much every way. More user-friendly gameplay and control, a more fleshed-out and less random galaxy and economy, and more to do in general all set it apart, making it look almost nothing like the game it’s a prequel to. I’m definitely looking forward to this one when it launches in early 2019 on PS4, Switch, and PC.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.