A great piece of DLC can do wonders to revitalize an older RPG. At their best, they can inspire you to replay the entire game, beginning to end, trying out new builds and making different choices from your original playthrough. Earlier in 2020, The Outer World‘s first DLC, Peril on Gorgon, drew me into a fascinating mystery with an intriguing setting to boot. Now, developer Obsidian has released their final piece of DLC, Murder on Eridanos. Does it provide the thrilling adventure I hoped for, tying up loose plot threads and providing us with a fulfilling RPG experience? Sadly, no, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth playing.
Halcyon Helen, intrepid silver screen adventurer and beloved spokesperson for Rizzo’s Beverages, has been murdered in the Grand Colonial Hotel’s ballroom on planet Eridanos! After her body is discovered, the local authorities ask you, as the preeminent freelancer in the system, to investigate her death. It’s your job to determine if the murder was a crime of passion, of jealousy, or if it was all just part of a massive cooperate coverup. (It’s The Outer Worlds, so it’s likely a combination of all three.)
At first, Murder on Eridanos gave the impression of leading down the path of an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery, much in the same vein as the noir-inspired Peril on Gorgon. However, the game quickly starts to lose that genre focus as you explore the various floating islands of the Grand Colonial resort. More than once, I forgot that I was even investigating a murder as I visited multiple generic corporate laboratories and factories.
With NPCs that range from quirky & helpful employees to sociopathic & greedy executives, Murder on Eridanos is packed full of interesting people to interact with. Interrogating suspects is the most enjoyable part of this DLC by far. They all have their motives for killing Halcyon Helen, so sorting out their stories to determine who is lying and who isn’t makes for some excellent back-and-forth conversation. It’s a shame that you couldn’t take any of the new characters on as temporary companions, as their emotional investment in the resort’s future would have deepened the story significantly. Instead, your usual companions accompany you and have little to contribute other than occasional commentary (and a spectacularly effective and over-the-top “bad cop” routine from Ellie).
Much like the previous DLC, Murder on Eridanos ups the level cap, adds in new level-appropriate science weapons and gear, and tosses in a few new skills and flaws. Set on a floating resort in high orbit of the Halcyon System’s gas giant Eridanos, the environment is certainly a contrast from the winding, dark canyons of Gorgon, but unlike in the previous DLC, there is no real sense of discovery here. Yes, you visit each of the islands, tracking down NPCs-of-interest in your investigation, but you never get that feeling of “I found something new” that provided much of the joy of The Outer Worlds and other RPGs of its ilk. It’s very much a “what you see is what you get” kind of environment, which is a missed opportunity given the potentially fascinating setting.
The Outer Worlds excelled at giving you a massive amount of player choice, with some truly difficult decisions to make along the way. In MoE, however, your choices turn out to be almost inconsequential. In a scenario where you can theoretically finger potentially innocent NPCs for murder, you would think that decision would have more weight to it. But no, as the story unfolds around you, you quickly discover your actions have no real consequences until the endgame. And even then, your available choices lack the moral grayness that I came to love in the series, instead providing you with two morally binary options. I fully admit that I almost always choose the “heroic” side in an RPG, but rarely is the righteous path so clearly telegraphed. The evil choice lacks any real motivation or rationale to choose it (unless, of course, you are roleplaying as a complete psychopath).
There is also a tendency of hand-holding in Murder on Eridanos, the worst coming in the form of a new science “weapon,” the Discrepancy Amplifier. This investigative aid assists you in finding clues and contradictions around crime scenes and elsewhere in the resort, which is an excellent idea! Unfortunately, the darn thing won’t shut up. You never need to investigate to find any clues because it will start beeping whenever you are within range of one. Upon bringing it out, the “discrepancy” in question will be highlighted in impossible-to-miss, shiny blue particle effects. The end result is that you aren’t so much deducing the truth as you are chaperoning your smart gun from crime scene to crime scene, as it does most of the real detective work for you.
The actual gunplay in the game doesn’t exactly hold up either. You need to be at least level 30 to access the MoE DLC, but none of the resort’s enemies feel like a true challenge. I was never in danger of dying, even though my stealthy assassin character drew some large enemy mobs more than once. The new science weapons provide a small amount of amusement in how they changed enemy encounters, but not enough to actually make the combat engrossing. The combat in The Outer Worlds was never exceptional, but I was hoping for a bit more difficulty here.
As the final piece of The Outer World‘s DLC, Murder on Eridanos simply didn’t live up to my expectations for the series. If anything, it feels like a semi-memorable side quest inflated into a full-scale DLC. Maybe Obsidian ran out of things to say about the universe of The Outer Worlds! While the DLC’s inconsistent tone and lack of meaningful choices left me cold, there were a few interesting characters that did pull me in for a few hours. If you enjoyed the core game of The Outer Worlds, then Murder on Eridanos may give you another reason to visit the Halcyon system. Otherwise, it’s as dead as Halcyon Helen on the ballroom floor of the Grand Colonial.