Review

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review - Space Truckers

  • First Released Aug 13, 2019
    released
  • PC
James Swinbanks on Google+

Bandit-two-four on the run.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw sits at a crossroads somewhere between American Truck Simulator's slice of trucking Americana and the iconic combat of Freespace 2. It's a highly competent, single-player space combat sim complete with warring factions, pirates, corrupt cops, and dubious sectors filled with all manner of undesirables, a nicely detailed trading system, and stellar combat. While intense difficulty spikes and lacking mission information leaves some scarring on the hull, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw delivers a worthy payload.

You play as Juno Markev, a pilot stuck between the search for her husband's killer, her need to make cash to cover the debt of replacing her recently junked ship, and her shady past. Told largely through comms messages and cutscenes between missions, many of the characters you meet are fairly archetypal, but share a sense of relatability and groundedness that lends them a lot of their charm. Character animation in story cutscenes can feel quite stiff, lending them an uncanny valley vibe, but these moments are short and don't distract from the wider storytelling. Juno herself is a big highlight; her endearingly grounded sense of self-belief and her inability to suffer the fools she finds herself constantly dealing with always makes for fiery dialogue.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Story threads are easy to lose track of due to the sheer number of things to do. When it's just you and your ship, it's all about surviving the hustle of being a space trucker; trading and smuggling goods, taking mercenary jobs, mining and selling resources--anything you can do to keep those credits rolling in so you can upgrade or outright replace the colossal junker of a ship you're given at the game's outset. In the opening hours, your travel is limited to one system and a handful of local missions, but once you get your hands on a jump drive you can start making your way across the galaxy, and things start to open up some more.

There are five ships you can purchase from various stations, each with traits that make them suitable as freighters or as fighters. While some ships are better suited for certain tasks than others, you're not locked into a playstyle because of your choice. Fighters can add cargo bays to move more items, and you can take a freighter fully kitted out with advanced weapons pirate-hunting and it'll still feel pretty good.

The beautifully detailed cockpit is the default view, and it is daunting at first--though you can also play in third-person--which seems weird given that you play an experienced pilot; the numerous switches, lights and dials each flicker away, and you're not really sure what they do at first. There's no tutorial to help with this, so it can feel like you're being thrown in the deep end. But while it takes some time to understand what the ship systems are telling you, it's not long before you're fluent in reading the controls and gaining a better grasp on any given situation. There is support for a flight stick and a HOTAS, but I found it best with a gamepad as everything you need is right at your fingertips.

Stations are where everything outside of combat happens, although you don't hop out of your ship and wander around. Instead you browse a handful of menus to get what you need before setting off on your next journey. This is where you make repairs or ship upgrades, handle commodities trading, sign up to one of the guilds that offer side missions, or browse the standard side missions for that station. It's an elegant way of handling station traversal, and the nice visual shots and animations of the station internals give you a sense of what type of station you're in and the kinds of things you might find there. You can bother the local bartender for helpful gameplay tips, sector news, or other information or play one of the handful of trite but fun mini-games like slots, 8-ball, or Star-Venger, a simple take on an Asteroids-based sprite shooter.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Missions are either picked up from stations or, in the case of story missions, given through dialogue. They generally amount to going to a waypoint and finding or killing something for varying factions. Some of these have an effect on your standing with different factions, which can change who treats you as hostile when out amongst the stars as well as the stations you can land at. Missions also show a level of risk from mild to extreme, but these aren't a great benchmark, as countless times I warped into a mission zone of mild-to-low risk only to be completely overwhelmed within 10 seconds of my arrival. At least a reload after death is super fast, returning you to the last jumpgate you took or station you'd left and allowing you to do something else for a while before coming back to try again. But this is also a huge source of frustration as the only way to push through these difficulty spikes is to grind for credits and ship upgrades.

The tension in a good firefight is wonderful. When you're not tuned in to one of the seven different radio stations that broadcast throughout the galaxy, the game's southern hard rock soundtrack kicks into overdrive as the lasers start flying. Firefights will sometimes offer up instant rewards, either as bounty credits or loose cargo that's been freed from the breached hull, and you can freely engage the tractor beam to suck these up in order to sell on yourself and reap the benefits. In some cases you may also find an ejected pilot who you can haul in for detention, or you can enslave them and sell them on the black market, though doing so will put you on the wrong side of the space cops, which can make life in the outer rims much harder than it needs to be.

No Caption Provided

The cockpit views on each of the game's crafts are tight, and there's no option to move your head around, so you rely heavily on your radar to know where to go and what's around you. It's invaluable when in the thick of the action, which can very quickly get overwhelming unless you act decisively. Power management is a big part of this, and it's a system that adds a nice slice of tactical thinking to the visual feast of the combat. Weapons fire has two modes, linked and staggered, and while linked fire will unleash the full power of your hardpoints, it'll drain your available power quickly and severely limit your ship's capabilities. Staggered fire only fires one hardpoint at a time, meaning it uses less power overall, but can be sustained for longer. You can also quickly reroute power between the engines, weapons and your shields, but as there's only so much to go around you're always settling on a compromise between offense and defense, so the system as a whole works wonderfully well as a test of situational awareness.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw's gorgeous visual design is one of its biggest strengths. There's a huge assortment of stations, ships, planets and other things to see while out in the vastness of space. From the huge casinos of the Nevada sector to the glass-capped atriums of Hobbes Station, there are postcard moments to be found almost everywhere in the galaxy. There's also a wildly in-depth and excellent ship painter that lets you completely redesign the paint job of your ship, so you can customize to your craft's look down to minute details. That extends to the combat, too, with under fire shields flashing in protest and hull plating falling apart as its struck by cannon fire before bursting into a flaming wreck in front of you. Distant firefights look like a laser light show.

There is a lot to do in Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, so much so that it's easy to lose yourself among the myriad of activities beyond flying around and shooting things. Juno is a great character despite her sometimes jarring movements, as are much of the rest of the charming cast. The combat is fast, frenetic and consistently challenging, although that challenge can sometimes feel impossible without stepping back and grinding out some progress elsewhere, which quickly gets frustrating. Thankfully the core of the game--its combat, trading, and space flight--are all superb and had me launching into the stars for many hours of galactic trading and explosive firefights.

James Swinbanks on Google+
Back To Top
The Good
Gorgeous artwork creates some stunning visual moments during combat and travel
Combat is exciting, challenging, and visually engrossing
Station gameplay is simple and elegant
Wonderful southern hard rock soundtrack really adds to the space trucker style
The Bad
Inexplicable difficulty spikes can be intensely disheartening
Grind for progress feels forced in order to progress the story
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

James Swinbanks spent 38 hours jumping from one side of the galaxy to another to complete Juno's story for this review. There were several patches throughout his playtime. Code was provided by the publisher.
41 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Mogan: Indeed, most game makers go to the Epic Store because of the revenue split. It's a no brainer that having more of the money from each unit sale going to the game-maker would entice them to do so.

The problem is the exclusivity, and it would be a problem to people who have trouble waiting for the game to come out on other platforms.

Amusingly, most people have problems admitting that the source of the problem lies with their impatience, and prefer taking out their ire on Epic or the game-maker instead. Fucking fools, really.

(I personally have no issue because I am a lot more patient - and if I am not, there are always the ... other means. Epic's copy-protection for the games on its store isn't really that reliable.)

Avatar image for rotchild
rotchild

@Gelugon_baat: "Epic's copy-protection for the games on its store isn't really that reliable"

You got that right. Pirate copy been available since day 1... :\

Avatar image for rotchild
rotchild

The good thing is that (at least from what can be seen in the gameplay movie) the ship isn't stuck in the "horizontal plane", like the original Rogue Galaxy. That game could've been called "Rogue Ocean".

I really get the people that enjoy the challenge of a difficult game. But one gotta understand that you need to have a lot of free time on your hands to keep retrying a certain part of a game, because you keep failing. Not my idea of entertainment, but again, if people dig it, that's their choice of what to do with their "free time". At least PC players have more choices (and amen to that)... Like for example, getting a trainer and breezing through a game.

Lastly: Not on GOG? No, thanks. Epic = Fail (no pun intended).

Avatar image for Byshop
Byshop

@rotchild: Yeah, I liked the idea of the original Rebel Galaxy but the flight model killed it for me. This one is closer to a real sim with fast action rather than slowly circling each other while aiming turrets. It even has HOTAS support.

Moderator
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@rotchild: At least the ocean lets ships dive, if they are submersible.

The first Rogue Galaxy was more like space petri dish.

Avatar image for rotchild
rotchild

@Gelugon_baat: ugh! I meant Rebel Galaxy... My bad!! (Loved Rogue Galaxy on the PS2, though! Awesome game)

Avatar image for uninspiredcup
uninspiredcup

You had me until Epic Store.

Avatar image for bersuryvec
BersuRyvec

Bought it yesterday, already regretting it. Just a couple of thoughts in general

1. Autopilot is not tied to any button by default

2. Handling is janky

3. Up until yesterday, the release date on Epic Store was just "2019". Dunno whose fault it is, but that's the next level of not giving a damn

4. Recommended specs are a bunch of hooey, and in reality are MUCH higher

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

Difficulty spikes and unforgiving elements should never mark a game down. Its a design choice. The alternative is to hold the players hand and make life easy for them. I know which of the two I prefer and cant wait to have a go at this game tonight. I mean, next thing you know we are going to mark down Sekiro, Dark Souls and the like because of "difficulty spikes"...

Avatar image for Byshop
Byshop

@skippert: Not an even comparison. In the case of Sekiro or Dark Souls it's mostly a matter of "git gud" where skill triumphs over adversity. As pointed out in the review, when you hit a wall it's not a question of skill to get past it, it's just means that you have to do grind missions/activities over and over again to get better upgrades. That's not the good kind of difficult. Also from my own experience some missions will be deceptively difficult with pretty much no warning. That's not even counting random encounters where you get pulled out of fast travel and jumped by pirates for your lunch money. None of these things ruin the game for me, but they are certainly valid points to mention.

Moderator
Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@Byshop: I do not known if you have played the game. I am about 40 hours in and have not run into this issue. I also believe that players are allowed to decide how to pace the game themselves. Very skilled players may decide to move on faster and may find increases in difficult conditions because of that challenging. In some ways its different and in some its not. Its not at all about letting the game decide how fast you go. I decide to take on plenty of activities and getting to know each system before moving on just as I did back in the Freelancer days. Getting to know how all of the systems work before hastily trying to get the campaign done for a review is a little different... Either way I think 8/10 is well deserved and great marks for this studio.

Avatar image for Byshop
Byshop

@skippert: I thought it was pretty clear from my last post that I -had- played the game but if it requires clarification, yes I'm playing the game. There's a lot of basic equipment that you need before you can complete some combat missions. Until you get at least a full complement of all of the basics (some weapons that do actual damage, an afterburner, at least the dumbfire missiles, maybe the ECM but that one's debatable) there are plenty of early missions where you'll get wrecked in seconds. Getting to that basic level requires grinding out a lot of low level 2-3k missions. If you jump in and get torn to pieces if 5 seconds then it's an equipment gap, not a skill gap.

I don't really mind it, because to me it's not dissimilar from an RPG where I need to spend some time building up my character before I have a chance at a new area or story mission, but I get where the reviewer is coming from. Other games in this genre haven't necessarily had this level of "you jump into a situation you are clearly not ready for and die almost immediately" that happens sometimes in this game, but fortunately even though you're limited to a single save it just takes you back to the last dock/system jump with little progress lost and you can abandon an unwinnable mission with no apparent penalty.

Moderator
Avatar image for Acheron18
Acheron18

@skippert: I think you might be confusing difficulty spikes with difficulty. The reviewer isn't saying that difficult games are bad, but rather that sudden jumps in difficulty level is a sign of bad gameplay design.

A well designed game gradually increases the difficulty. That doesn't mean that it can't be really hard to begin with.

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@Acheron18: there are no difficulty spikes. They only exist if you rush through the first 60 minutes with the starting ship without trying to explore anything that makes the game... The game. Basically telling you, you need to get acquainted with it.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@Acheron18: Yep. Pacing the difficulty is the complaint. Not it being a difficult game. Can't believe I am actually agreeing with a gamespot reviewer and defending one. Someone go see if Hell froze over.

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@Utnayan: and yet they are wrong

Avatar image for xantufrog
xantufrog

@Acheron18: agreed.

Moderator
Avatar image for basyong
basyong

Will wait for it to release on Steam/GOG or on the consoles.

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@basyong: why wait. Its well priced right now on a platform that is just as evil as Steam and GoG.

Avatar image for apex_predator_0
Apex_Predator_0

The lack of a tutorial in a game with controls / systems like this is unforgivable. You start your first mission literally being thrown into space in a ship you have no idea how to control. It is almost like putting a person in a plane IRL and going "ok, figure it out, good luck!"

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@apex_predator_0: That is not the kind of response I would expect from a apex predator. Why dont you try not giving up so quickly.

Avatar image for darkfox3
darkfox3

Man that intro dialogue was painful to watch. I hope it gets better.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

I need to finish up a couple games before I get any new ones, but as soon as I do, I'm getting this for sure.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1
lionheartssj1

I'm pretty interested, but honestly with everything on my plate right now, I can easily wait till it's available outside of the Epic Store.

Avatar image for nsa_protocol44
NSA_Protocol44

@lionheartssj1: Indeed

Avatar image for Yams1980
Yams1980

I've heard people compare this game to Freelancer and Privateer... i'm sold at this point.

It's just too bad its stuck on the epic store until next year, that will turn off some people.

Avatar image for Byshop
Byshop

@Yams1980: Yeah, this game is definitely in the vein of Privateer. I've been keeping an eye on this one since it was announced close to a year ago and having gotten to play it this week for the first time it hasn't disappointed. It could have been a bit deeper in areas around the sim aspect (head look would have been nice) but overall it does the job and the rest of the elements are streamlined enough that I feel like it's a great overall product.

Moderator
Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@Yams1980: I dont get why people are so headstrong about the EPIC store. Yes you need to log into "another portal" but who cares. Im logged into Battlenet, Origin, Uplay and Steam at the same time already and really dont care having to add the EPIC portal to that....

Avatar image for beachbum
BeachBum

@skippert: You're right, you don't get it.

Online
Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@beachbum: Very insightfull comment. But why tell me I dont get it, when I already typed that up myself...

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@skippert: If you have no issues with logging onto all these game "services", then you will never understand the people who just don't want to.

Just so you know, many of these games could have been purchasable and playable without having accounts on all these distribution services, and without the use of the software that are associated with these services.

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@Gelugon_baat: agreed but unfortunately (and this doesnt only count for gaming) it is not how the world works.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@skippert: Yeah... I know, the game-makers and publishers are really pushing the "games as services" thing.

What a pain. I don't want to be their customers.

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@Gelugon_baat: I dont even want to speak about games as a service anymore. The last few years have been really bad...

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@skippert: Yup, real bad.

Avatar image for KungfuKitten
KungfuKitten

@skippert:

That's the least of the problems. Its security sucks, their exclusivity practices stifles competition and on EPIC you have less options (not even user reviews). For people outside the USA the prices tend to be higher too.

It's very much a 'consumer last' type of platform.

(Then there's people like me who don't want stores to curate their products, but I don't mind if they do as long as at least a couple stores on the market don't.)

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@KungfuKitten: Same thing happened when Valve announced the Steam platform. People did not like the idea of having to buy everything through Steam for much of the same reasons that people do not like EPIC now. Years later it has grown into something that most people would consider positive (even though Im not such a big fan of it anymore with all the junk on there). The EPIC store will probably need a lot more time before it can grow into something that allows users the same functionalities as Steam has now. Basically all of your points (with exception of the security issue, with which I agree completely) are all related to the store being the new kid on the block. From bringing titles exclusively to their store to functionalities that are not yet implemented.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@KungfuKitten: Wait you mean giving publishers more percentages on their sales and Epic taking less didn't pass those savings along to the consumer? Who would have thought.....

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@Utnayan: Double Damage explained why they went with Epic and how the better revenue split meant they were able to invest more into the game without taking on any more risk. So what got passed along to us is a bigger, hopefully better game than they'd have been able to make otherwise.

Avatar image for digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

@Yams1980: I was excited until I didn't see it on GoG. They would have had my money but Epic can lick my musky taint. They get none of my money.

Avatar image for skippert
skippert

@digitalheadbutt: yep, you go ahead and invest in GoG. Also keep believing its not the same as Steam or Epic and that it is somehow better. I do not get guys and girls like you. You have no clue at all what you are talking about. All these platforms, they are all the same. They have one goal in mind. Stop being a hypocrit.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw More Info

Follow
  • First Released Aug 13, 2019
    released
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    Developed by:
    Double Damage Games, Inc.
    Published by:
    Double Damage Games, Inc.
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Action