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When The Outer Worlds was released last year, I felt it was the perfect remedy for those who felt burned by what Bethesda was doing with the Fallout franchise. The combination of player choice, meaningful decisions, endearing companions, and fantastic world-building combined to make a game that I deeply enjoyed. Now, Peril on Gorgon, the first DLC for The Outer Worlds, has been released, giving us a new reason to explore the solar system of Halcyon colony. Does it deliver a fresh gameplay experience? Or is it simply more of the same (which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing)?
Peril on Gorgon takes place mid-game in The Outer Worlds. A mysterious package containing a severed hand and audio recorder is delivered to the good ship Unreliable, directing you to an abandoned mansion full of old robots and wealthy heiress Minnie Ambrose. The hand belonged to private detective Lucky Montoya, who was hired to investigate the mystery of what happened on Gorgon, a research asteroid run by Minnie’s deceased mother and owned by Spacer’s Choice. Now that Lucky is dead (or at least short-handed), Minnie wants you to take the case in his place. And so, you head to the asteroid in search of her mother’s journal, in hopes that it will finally solve the twin mysteries of why the asteroid was abandoned and why it’s now overrun with blood-thirsty Marauders.
If you’re a fan of hard-boiled detective fiction, you’re going to be right at home in Peril on Gorgon. All the cornerstones of the genre are here, from the wealthy heiress to extreme corruption to the MacGuffin of the missing journal. There are even dramatic music cues throughout the DLC that trigger whenever you hit a particularly “noir” moment. Though the story does have some intriguing beats, it repeats many of the same ones found in the main game, just with a detective-thriller twist. The corruption of the corporations was well established in The Outer Worlds, and Obsidian chose to focus on it again here. While the expansion is specifically about depravity of Spacer’s Choice, the corporate negligence and unbridled cruelty uncovered comes as a no surprise (although, strangely, your companions seem rather taken aback).
As would be expected of The Outer Worlds DLC, there are tons of fascinating and bizarre characters found both on the asteroid and in other locations throughout the system. My favorite encounter was with a certain Spacer’s Choice vendor who made a uniquely unbalanced sales pitch for their products. The voice acting remains as stellar in quality as the main game and the dialogue is very, very well written. Something new added to the mix this time are audio diaries, similar to those found in Fallout and Bioshock. They add a tremendous amount to the story, although I do wish there were more of them and fewer terminal entries. I love reading lore, but the sheer number of inane emails found on terminals through Gorgon tried even my patience.
Peril on Gorgon doesn’t add much to the central gameplay of The Outer Worlds, aside from raising the level cap, throwing in a few new skills and flaws, and providing some new level-appropriate gear and science weapons. Most of the enemies are the equivalent of palette swaps and the environment (with a few memorable exceptions) reuse pre-existing assets. However, the DLC does provide a fairly lengthy new quest for fans of the original game, along with intriguing mysteries to unravel. While the central quest takes up much of the runtime, there are multiple side quests that both expand the lore of Gorgon and provide a few extra hours of enjoyment and exploration.
Unfortunately, most of these side quests are a bit flimsy; essentially fetch quests to entice you to explore more of the asteroid. Thankfully, the environment of the former research colony is so interesting that I don’t mind heading into the dark ravines of Gorgon in search of a flask, comic books, or audio logs. You also get to explore some interesting new spots added to locations from the original game. An “illegal” canid show on Byzantium comes to mind. Unfortunately, this turns out to be little more than a set piece. It promises a fun, novel experience—participating in a toy-sized canid/dog show—only to deliver a short, generic dungeon in the basement.
Much like the original game felt like an homage to the TV show Firefly, this DLC feels like an homage to its movie continuation, Serenity. It even “borrows” a key plot point from that film. When reviewing the first game, I wondered aloud if Obsidian was originally working on a Firefly RPG and lost the license midway through development. Certain parts of this DLC expansion only deepen my suspicions, and makes me feel that Obsidian owes a deep, somewhat unacknowledged debt to the cult-favorite sci-fi western.
Once again, choice plays a massive part in this roleplaying-heavy DLC. You could make your way through the game like the developers intended, or you can kill every character you come across without breaking the central quest. This all culminates in a final decision where you can choose between two morally grey paths, leading to very different end-game experiences for the DLC. One provides a fantastic final dungeon with an unsatisfactory ending, while the other provides a great ending at the expense of a truncated and boring final dungeon. There is a third ending, but it requires very, very high conversational stats to get the necessary dialogue options. My advice would be to save before the choice and play through whichever endings you can access.
No matter which you choose, it will have little impact on the rest of the game, outside of the ending slides. This was actually a fairly significant irritation, as you need to complete the main quest of The Outer Worlds to see the ending of Peril on Gorgon. In the Fallout series, which inspired The Outer Worlds, you used to see the ending cards as soon as you finished the DLC, leaving them as almost stand-alone experiences. It’s super annoying to have to plow through the entirety of The Outer Worlds‘ final dungeon (or whatever you have left of the core game) before you can get any kind of resolution to the plot of Peril on Gorgon, especially if you want to experience more than one ending.
As a big fan of The Outer Worlds, I found Peril on Gorgon to be another fulfilling dive into this fascinating universe, giving me more of what I loved about the original game. It doesn’t break any new ground, aside from the addition of some audio logs and some new weapons. But that’s okay. Great DLC isn’t a sequel, it’s a 10-hour expansion on what made the original game so good. In other words, if you loved The Outer Worlds and want to encounter more tough moral choices, crazy science weapons, and engaging characters, you should check out Peril on Gorgon. I certainly had a blast roleplaying a hard-boiled interstellar detective/starship captain, and it only made me excited for more DLC in the future!