Outriders has four "Mantras of Survival"; memorable maxims marketed by developer People can Fly to teach players about the unique rhythms of its third-person shooter combat. Currently, there's "Cover's for cowards", "Think aggressive", "Powers on tap", and "Kill to heal", but now that the game is out in the wild, i'd like to propose a fifth – "Lower your World Tiers".
Don't leave the World Tier system ignored and unloved, in other words, while your poor Outrider suffers at the hands of an ever-increasing difficulty curve of enemy encounters. On the contrary, World Tiers are there to be tinkered with, and if you've found yourself knocking heads with some of Outriders' more challenging fights, there's a good chance you aren't using the World Tiers as People Can Fly envisioned.
Let's rewind for a second, and break down what Outriders' World Tiers actually are. A unique form of progression that exists in isolation from your character's own status, World Tiers are what define the difficulty levels of your game. There are 15 Tiers in total, scaling from lowest ("Story") to highest ("Madness"), and you'll need to accrue experience in each Tier in order to gain access to the next one. Each subsequent Tier will increase the levels of enemies and dropped items, alongside the rarity of loot, including the chance for legendary drops, lending a risk-reward dynamic to the entire system that you ought to consider.
Unfortunately, the way in which World Tiers are integrated into Outrider's progression structure doesn't exactly encourage that kind of consideration. In fact, if you didn't know any better, you might assume that World Tiers can't be raised or lowered at all, but are just another slider to progress through alongside all your other various character stats.
But People Can Fly designed World Tiers specifically with the intention for people to tweak them to suit their preferences. For example, speaking to GamesRadar+ earlier this year, Outriders' creative director Bartosz Kmita explained that the higher strata of World Tiers are designed to be enjoyed specifically by those who have a mastery over the game's class builds, squad compositions, and mechanics, ideally within the endgame's ultra-challenging Expedition levels. You're not supposed to be slugging through those higher World Tiers mid-way through the campaign, in other words, as some of you currently are.
"That's why we have this spectrum of 15 World Tiers," explains Kmita. "To unlock the tiers, you need to prove that you are capable of playing on the higher difficulties. Not only through skill but by creating the proper character builds." Those higher Tiers are a challenge to the initiated, and not a universally recommended difficulty setting. That confusion, admittedly, can be partly attributed to the design of Outriders itself, which automatically progresses through World Tiers until the player manually turns it off in the menu, making it easy to see why players might assume that they can let the game set the right Tier for them.
But stick to that auto-scaling, and you're going to have trouble, as Kmita tells us: "In our tests, most of the players are not able to climb to the very top of the World Tiers. It's really challenging, it requires you to find the proper combinations and to really understand how the mechanics work."
Not only is Outriders a more viable and accessible experience on World Tiers more suited to your character level, but a better one too. The power fantasy of playing as a super soldier loses some of its edge when nearly every enemy is as overpowered and bullet-spongey as you are, and slowly chipping away at the health bars of even the most basic grunts can start to make the game feel like a bit of a grind. A lower World Tier in which enemies are still a threat, but can nevertheless be squished into mulch with a well-timed ability, meanwhile, exemplifies the immediacy of Outriders' cathartic appeal as a gutsy, visceral looter shooter.
Gaming culture's historic obsession with challenge has wired us to believe that lowering the difficulty settings is a form of compromise, as if we're missing out on the "right" way to play a video game. That is, of course, completely untrue, but World Tiers shouldn't even be seen as difficulty sliders in the traditional sense, but a gameplay modifier there to be customised in accordance with the context and priorities of your game session.
If you're playing with a full squad of different class types and farming for high-end loot, for example, then switching to a higher World Tier makes sense. But if you're struggling through even the most basic side quests on a solo run, lowering that Tier level isn't just sensible, it's wholeheartedly advised.
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