Probably the best sign for the Outriders demo is that many people started playing it last week… and still are. Even putting aside the fact that, per our own reviewer, it’s already feeling like a “viscerally fun” looter-shooter, the game’s burgeoning community is delighted with the sheer scope of People Can Fly’s early sample of the game.The demo comprises the entire introduction to the game, along with early main missions, a boss fight, and four side missions. It allows you to try out all four classes, play in solo or 3-player co-op and, in perhaps People Can Fly’s smartest move, offers a taste of its looting as well as its shooting. That final point is what’s keeping fans of the demo coming back far beyond the demo’s roughly three-hour length – farming for legendaries is just as addictive in a demo as in a regular looter-shooter, it turns out.
A brief look at the Outriders subreddit will show you how well that decision has gone down. As I write, popular post topics include: “Can game Demos like this become mainstream?”, and “Shoutout to PCF. Thank you for an amazing demo”, as well as others wondering if the demo will break records for the level of engagement it’s seeing. Many are showing off the sheer number of hard-to-find Legendary weapons they’ve picked up along the way, swapping in-depth tips for specific weapons, and discussing their planned builds a month in advance of the game’s actual release. Twitter’s seeing a similar reaction, too.
i had zero expectations of @Outriders (largely bc the marketing to date had left w me no clear sense of the game’s identity or style) but damn did the demo get its hooks into me.
multiple satisfying progression loops kept me entertained and the value of crossplay is huge for me
— Jacqui Collins (@jacquicollins_) February 28, 2021
In part, much of this discussion comes down to the fact that demo progress will be retained for those who eventually pick up the full game, another smart move from People Can Fly – but the randomness of the loot and the replayability of the demo are also giving players more than a taste of the possibilities the game will offer if they decide to carry on with it. That this isn’t labelled as a beta, and doesn’t come with in-built expiry date or play limit, definitely helps too.
That’s not to say there aren’t reservations being expressed. Many have pointed out performance issues, audio sync problems, wonky animations, and physics glitches, and the game’s tendency to use miniature cutscenes to disguise loading and keep co-op parties together has rankled as well – but the size, scope, and overall generousness of the demo feel almost universally popular.
— DevilDogGaming (SEC) (@DevilDog1977) March 3, 2021
Given that this demo seemingly came as a makeweight for those disappointed in a delay, it feels as though People Can Fly stumbled into a perfect marketing strategy for its game – in a landscape increasingly dotted with looter-shooters, each vying for swathes of players’ time, what better way to sell potential players on the concept than to… just let them try out a slice of it for as long as they’d like? It’s a confident, transparent approach I (and seemingly many others) would love to see more games of this sort take.
The full version of Outriders arrives on April 1 – but I’ll likely be playing the demo for a fair bit more of that time before it arrives.