If you haven’t played The Outer Worlds, one of the best new RPGs to come out in recent years, you should probably go remedy that now. Not only will the space-based, anti (or pro!)-corporate, tongue-in-cheek title give you plenty of hours of entertainment and numerous reasons to play through it again with a different approach, you’ll have to make some progress in the main game and level up if you want to check out the two fantastic DLCs, both of which are now available.
For my money, the new DLC “Murder on Eridanos,” which is also the second and final such add-on, is more fun, more stylish, and more addicting than the previously released “Peril on Gorgon.” I started the desolate and rather stark adventure on Gorgon last fall but never quite finished it; I now plan on going back to do so thanks to “Murder on Eridanos,” which has gotten me back into the game in more ways than one. (And a hat tip to Private Division for the review codes allowing me to do just that.)
“Murder on Eridanos” is just what it sounds like — a murder mystery — but it’s steeped in the style and sardonic humor that the base game has become known for. And while “Gorgon” didn’t grab me after the first act, “Eridanos” hooked me immediately, keeping me awake and playing until night became day, simply because I wanted to see what happened next. That’s the mark of not just a good DLC but good overall storytelling thanks to a compelling hook and charismatic characters I’d happily trip the lightspeed fantastic with again and again. Pop a lukewarm bottle of your favorite color of Spectrum Vodka and allow me to explain why.
How to Start “Murder on Eridanos”
The hardest part of the DLC might be figuring out how to start it. Thankfully, the Devs have a built-in pop-up on launch that walks you through required progression and suggested levels for both DLCs, including how to access them. Here’s how DLC 2 gets going:
“Murder on Eridanos” requires the base game. The player will have needed to progress past Monarch to access the DLC’s content; you must have completed and closed the “Radio Free Monarch” questline. Then, return to your ship and speak with ADA and select the prompt to watch an “aetherwave drama.” This will start the quest in your log, and you simply have to travel to Eridanos on your navigation map to get going. The recommended player level is 30, but there are also difficulty slider options in the DLC.
What’s the Story, Anyway?
Like being thrown into a hard-boiled but slightly overcooked space-detective story, “Murder on Eridanos” sees art imitating life. Halcyon Helen, the star of aetherwave dramas who’s beloved far and wide across the known universe, finds herself in hot water both on and off-screen. It’s this deadly off-screen drama that draws your Captain-for-Hire character into the mystery. That all plays out in straightforward but darkly humorous fashion via your introduction to this quest. (And here’s as good a place as any to mention that I continued my “Dumb” playthrough from my main game. You can do this by lowering your Intelligence stat during character creation. It opens up “Dumb” dialogue that adds extra layers of silliness throughout the game, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. The payoff in the end was absolutely worth it.)
While I’ll keep the details of the mystery off the screen here (it’s a murder mystery, after all; better to go into it cold as a corpse in the vacuum of space), I will mention a fun new wrinkle to the DLC. An NPC will soon explain the situation to you and give you a new device in short order, one which you’ll use to discover clues and advance your progress through the story. It’s a rather simple new addition to the DLC but it works wonders for freshening up the same-old approach to side content like this. And yes, while it can get annoying discovering yet another set of footprints going in the same direction you’ve been running for the last 750 meters, it’s basically foolproof otherwise.
That’s a good thing, too, whether you’re playing the Dumb dialogue or not, because the DLC features some all-time great side-quests and supporting characters. Sure, you could run through the main missions with relative ease and quickness before delivering your verdict on whoever you think is responsible for the murder, but using the new device also makes it easier to explore those Faction quests, side missions, and more lore discoveries. It’s also a fairly short DLC, so if you’re going to give it a shot anyway, you might as well get the most out of it (before you start over and play it again with only smashy-smashy weapons in your arsenal.)
What Makes “Murder on Eridanos” Stand Out?
While the new DLC does a fantastic job of continuing the humor and sharp storytelling of the base game, it’s also a nicely self-contained murder mystery. Everything you need to do is restricted to the title world, a small colony of floating islands connected by bridges. There’s plenty to do, see, and explore, all without the need of returning to your ship and traipsing across the galaxy. (One knock against the DLC and The Outer Worlds in general is the maddening Fast Travel system locked to a map that did not get a specific enough polish for consoles; the cursor often refuses to lock onto a fast-travel spot. Add to that the long and frequent load screens and yeah, this can be a minor headache, even traveling between the overworld and buildings.) You’ll meet mercenaries, bellhops, high-society types, and lowlifes. You’ll battle bugs, slugs, and the overly smug. You’ll uncover a grand conspiracy, or perhaps help to perpetuate one. The choices are yours and yours alone!
“Murder on Eridanos” feels like it crams more style, substance, color, parasites, flavors of toxic vodka, and 1950s-era retro-noir into its runtime than many full-run RPGs have in recent years. Sure, those are incredibly unique and specific descriptors, but they’re also what make The Outer Worlds stand out in a sea of sameness. Your already colorful armor can get a bubblegum pink and periwinkle blue upgrade this time around if you’d like (though there’s still a ways to go toward making these and other loot drops feel special.) Your arsenal, already chock full of bizarro military-grade and “science” weapons, adds three new unique items to the mix, should you choose to track them all down. And if you missed any or most of the achievements, the relatively short runtime will let you take it from the top with ease. And those are all Spectrum cherries on top of the flawlessly funny story that unfolds as you bound across the low-gravity surface of the colony. If there’s such a thing as a perfect DLC (minus those slug-forsaken fast travel mechanics), “Murder on Eridanos” is damn near it.
Now if only we can get Godzilla and Kong to awkwardly pose around some chairs for a photo.
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