It might seem strange for Xbox to use its next-gen showcase as the place to announce DLC for a 2019 multiplatform title, but when that title is The Outer Worlds the decision suddenly makes a lot of sense. Obsidian's narratively satisfying RPG made for one of the best games of last year, and with the revered developer now officially under Microsoft's wing, it's in a prime position to continue building its new IP as a first-party Xbox studio.
That building process starts with The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon, the first piece of DLC for the acclaimed RPG, which has been in the works for over a year under a separate creative team within Obsidian, led by game director Carrie Patel and project art director Matt Hansen.
"We began kicking around ideas for what we would do for this content in January of last year," Hansen tells me ahead of Peril on Gorgon's official reveal. "And we had some stuff that was pretty cool, but after the reception to the base game, and seeing how much people loved it, we decided that we wanted to make something bigger and more exciting for people."
But how and where do you decide to set your new adventure in a world as large and rich as Halcyon's? There's the history of Groundbreaker, the one-stop superstore space station that's home to some of The Outer World's best characters and most interesting conflicts.
Or how about delving into the backstory of some of your protagonist's companions, such as the loveable Parvati or hilariously deadpan cleaning robot turned killing machine, S.A.M.? For Obsidian, however, the first germs of an idea for Peril on Gorgon started with a single consumable item.
"What we wanted to do with the DLC was dig into some of the lore from the main campaign," explains Patel. "There are a few details that come up in the base game and specifically there's a drug called Adrena-Time. And so we saw the DLC as an opportunity to dig into Halcyon's underlying problems. We know it's a strange place run by the corporations. But how did some of the very specific problems that plagued this colony come to be?"
Patel is hesitant to reveal anything about the story beyond that, but confirms that you'll be able to start the DLC "after they've finished the critical path on Monarch", and will primarily take place on an asteroid; the Gorgon of the title, as Hansen elaborates.
"It's a pretty large area for the player to explore. You can explore every nook and cranny of this place. But in addition to that, we're also allowing the player to return to some of their favourite locations from the base game, with new sub-levels in those locations. So by introducing those, the player is able to sort of retread somewhat familiar territory while still getting to explore new levels and new stories within those places."
Peril on Gorgon will also raise the level cap from 30 to 33, and it will introduce a suite of new perks and flaws to accompany that heightened threshold for player progression (Hansen also teases more additions to The Outer Worlds science weapons arsenal that quickly became the most sought after treasures of the campaign). You'll need to get your hands on those upgrades if you want to survive, as Gorgon will be home to new enemies unique to its biosphere, exhibiting bespoke moves and damage types that will no doubt colour the game's combat systems.
It should go without saying that Peril on Gorgon's story will be just as narratively reactive as the base game, with Patel promising the opportunity to make "quite a few choices both large and small over the course of the DLC that really do change how it plays out and presents new implications for Halycon's future."
What's less clear is how your actions in the DLC will be connected to, affected by, or influential on the events of the main campaign. Patel admits that Obsidian has found it challenging to create a new story that's narratively watertight, and doesn't lead to any unexpected plot holes or canonical paradoxes, yet still feels a part of the wider Outer Worlds universe.
"We want any DLC to feel reflective of the larger story that the player is already getting into. But, at the same time, we're not going to rewrite the entire base game campaign to suit this. So we kind of have a different section of the play space that is dedicated to the content of the DLC. It's kind of like with any of the other settings that you're exploring in Halcyon, whether it's Groundbreaker or Monarch, these are all places with their own specific local stories that then reflect and build on the larger story that you're getting into as the player."
As for the future beyond Peril on Gorgon, neither Patel nor Hansen are at liberty to acknowledge whether a full blown Outer Worlds sequel is on the cards at Obsidian just yet, with the latter admitting that the studio is "focused on getting these DLCs out" at present. "
As far as what would be for a potential, you know, full title down the line, that's all you know, that's all discussions that are kind of still up in the air and floaty. But I'd say anytime that there's an idea for a big systemic change where we're like 'oh, man, that's really cool', we'll put that in our back pocket for something down the line potentially."
As a studio reputed for crafting some of the best RPG DLC of all time – as it proved with Fallout: New Vegas – the expectations for The Outer Worlds' first batch of add-on content are understandably high. But if Peril on Gorgon is any bit as clever, subversive, and fulfilling as even a single side quest from the main campaign, then it'll be super stellar indeed, and well worth the return to the galaxy's most avariciously overexploited colony.
If futuristic RPGs are your thing, read up on everything we know about Cyberpunk 2077 to get your fix for the time being.