In our E3 demo of The Outer Worlds, we found out something interesting about the game’s age rating.
When we sat down to a demo of The Outer Worlds, lead systems designer, David Williams, was talking through the presentation while one of his colleagues drove the demo live from in the room. This was a great way to go through a demo, for an Obsidian game in particular, because they’re always filled with choices and options for how to play. (It was also a great demo, one of the best we saw all week, but we’ll have full impressions to come in the next few days.)
Some of the choices had been pre-determined by David and the Obsidian team, to allow us to follow a vaguely sensible path for the demo. But some of the other choices – like how to approach sections of the mission, via stealth or combat, or dialogue choices – were thrown out to members of the audience.
In the demo, our character spends a little time talking to a faction leader, Catherine, to accept a mission called Slaughterhouse Clive. (“We really like puns,” says Williams. That joke sadly goes over the heads of sections of the assembled crowd, but shooting enemies in the groin in a later section is met with raucous laughter. It was a mixed group.)
In conversation with Catherine, we see that The Outer Worlds features classic Obsidian-style dialogue trees, which received a cheer from the audience. These include different contextual options – lie, intimidate, make dumb suggestions, and more – based on your character’s custom stats, any skills possessed by your companions, and the stats of the person you’re talking to.
As is customary for an Obsidian game, the dialogue trees in The Outer Worlds also include a lot of foul language. Obsidian is particularly fond of f-bombs.
“We are an M-rated game, after all,” Williams tells the audience. He’s met with a chuckle and claps and cheers at this information.
Now the interesting thing here is that, if you look on the ESRB website, The Outer Worlds doesn’t officially have an age rating (at the time of writing). Online store listings for the game also just show a “rating pending” symbol.
What’s unclear is whether this means Obsidian, and publisher Private Division, have spoken with the ESRB and have prior knowledge of what the game’s age rating may be. It’s also possible that Williams and the Obsidian team know their onions, and they’re fairly certain – based on the content of the game, the very foul language, and their long and storied history of producing mature games – that The Outer Worlds will receive an M-rating from the ESRB, even though it’s not official yet.
We reached out to Private Division’s press team, to see if they could confirm this age rating assertion from the demo.
“The Outer Worlds has not yet been rated by the ESRB,” a PR manager told us. When we read back the direct quote we had taken from the demo presentation of The Outer Worlds, they confirmed that “the game is not yet rated, but we expect M for Mature.”
It’s not official with the ESRB, yet, but Obsidian know their games better than anyone. If the developer says it’s expected to be M-rated, it’s probably going to receive an M-rating. (And based on the demo we saw of The Outer Worlds, we’d tend to agree with them.)
We’ll all get to experience The Outer Worlds – including copious amounts of violence, bad language, and dark humour – when it launches this autumn.
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