Having heard good things about the game, I was excited to learn about Rebel Galaxy Outlaw getting a console release. Now it’s here, and this is our review based on the PS4 version of the game.
Part of the excitement surrounding Rebel Galaxy Outlaw from Double Damage games comes from games like X-Wing and Tie Fighter – and the fact that Star Citizen seems to be taking forever to get to a screen near us. Games where you’re being cast as a space pilot looking to alter the course of the galaxy are relatively rare, and thus I fondly remember both the Lucasarts games and the Wing Commander franchise.
In Rebel Galaxy Outlaw you start off as a bit of a mercenary/gun-for-hire character looking to upgrade your ship and equipment in hopes of pursuing a better life for yourself. You play as Juno Markev, and your initial quest in the game is to go after the one that killed your husband – which gradually introduces you to the universe you’re in and the characters that inhabit it.
Unlike games like Elite Dangerous, space-faring in Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is combat-oriented and you’re trade your way around and out of conflict. You can still mine for resources and sell them off for a profit, but you can get bigger bounties through conflict or even space-piracy – turning you into the titular outlaw in the process.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw takes an approach to 3D space combat that is more arcade-like and accessible than most, though you can still play in a more traditional fashion if you choose to do so. At default setting, however, combat is simplified and has a more cinematic feel to it, which is very satisfying and feels like it fits well with console/gamepad controls. You essentially hold down a trigger button to target an enemy (regardless of where he is) and proceed to fire on him – eliminating the need to chase him through blips on your radar display first. Those who are fond of that mechanic that can still do that, but the developers made a good choice by including both playstyles and making the experience feel less “niche” in the process.
In terms of customization Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a bit of a double-edged sword. I’ve seen a great deal of awesome player-created ships that were done by PC players since the 2019 launch of the original version of the game, but if you’re not interested in (or creative enough for) that whole process then your choices of ships in the game itself feel limited, with only a handful of ships that you can unlock and fly. There’s a few more that can be acquired through side missions, but even with those you shouldn’t expect to get a dozen or more. Once purchased you can upgrade ships through the usual grind, but the core flying experience (though different for each ship) doesn’t change much.
At key points in missions you can call in wingmen to come and assist you, and the fact that these are on a timer makes for some strategic decision-making in combat – which can sometimes involve staying away from combat for a while. Things become more interesting later on as well, when you’re fighting larger ships that require you to take them out in phases – targeting their weapons systems first, for instance.
But where other 3D space combat games mainly give you different ways in which to engage in combat or salvage missions, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw also diversifies by offering up a variety of minigames to help you pass the time while at a space station or even make a little extra money through gambling. In terms of living the life of a space rebel/pirate, it’s a nice touch that shows that it’s about more than just what happens in the cockpit – without having to resort to flashy cutscenes with Hollywood actors.
The universe that the game plays out in feels less fleshed out than it should be for a game with a long runtime like this one, perhaps because there are many small and more trivial encounters rather than a big over-arching epic plot. This fits with the smaller scope of a game that doesn’t take place in the Star Wars universe, but it does make portions of the story feel a tad ‘grindy’ due to a lack of commitment to a grand plot. Juno’s story is more personal and smaller in scale, but as a result not all of her encounters feel like they have a big impact on the story.
Having said that, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is still some of the best fun I’ve had with the genre in a long time, and certainly the most fun I’ve had on a console now that I play less on a PC. Definitely recommended if you have an affinity with the genre.