Outlast 2 PAX East impressions

The original Outlast has been one of the most terrifying games on consoles since it launched in 2014. Things will soon get even scarier as developer Red Barrels is hard at work on Outlast 2 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam. We played an early version of the new game at PAX East in Boston and came away thoroughly spooked. Read on for full impressions and interview and gameplay video!

A whole new terror

Outlast 2 PAX East screenshot

In Outlast 2, you play as new protagonist Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist and cameraman. Along with his wife Lynn, Blake is investigating the bizarre murder of a pregnant woman whose identity remains unknown. The pair follows the trail of the crime deep into the Arizona desert, where disaster awaits them…

As the PAX East demo begins, Blake and Lynn are traveling by helicopter over the desert. Something causes their helicopter to crash in a canyon, separating the pair. Blake awakens alone and disoriented in the desert night, with only the night vision of his video camera to guide him.

The camera plays an integral role in Outlast 2, just as it did in the first game. At any moment, players look through the camera to view their surroundings. Much of Outlast 2 takes place in extreme darkness, so the camera's night vision mode will prove invaluable. But using the camera drains its battery, which Blake will have to replace if he wants to continue seeing in the dark. Managing the camera and its batteries proves a huge source of tension in Outlast 2, in addition to other terrors.

Blake soon wanders into an isolated settlement filled with rundown shacks and signs of life. Evasive locals peer at him from a distance before vanishing into the night – their glowing eyes caused by the camera's night vision proving most unsettling. Some of the buildings Blake can enter are occupied only by a dead person or two, their cause of death unknown.

In the distance, our hero hears a woman's shouts. Is someone hurting his wife? He runs to investigate, eventually heading down a lone path beyond the settlement. At the end of the road, a mine promises answers – only to reveal even more disturbing imagery.

Out of the frying pan

Outlast 2 PAX East screenshot

The protagonist walks past an unholy altar covered in blood, with someone's detached face rotting on the wall. Just beyond, Blake stumbles into a shallow pit filled with small rotting bodies – possibly those of children. A hole in the ceiling above shines an inverted cross down on the nightmarish pile.

Our hero's situation doesn't improve from there. He soon encounters a hole in the ground, from which a long and monstrous tongue reaches out and pulls him in. Outlast 2 won't just have insane people as its enemies but actual monsters, it seems!

Blake awakens inside of a series of shafts, which eventually lead him into the halls of an abandoned high school. The school looks normal enough, but down the corridor, we discover a female body hanging from the neck. Something eerily pulls her up into the ceiling.

Soon, an assailant gives Blake chase down the hall. Our hero has no defense against this monstrous humanoid, so he must hide in a locker until it passes by. Like the first game, stealth is players' only defense against the malevolent enemies. Combined with the ever-present darkness and limited camera battery life, this gives players a constant sense of danger and doom.

Eventually, Blake exits the school only to arrive in one of the desert townspeople's homes. The resident means to harm our hero, who must quickly run into the basement and hopefully find a means of escape. It's like finding yourself in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, assaulted by horrifying country folk. The reason for their enmity and dark rituals remains to be seen.

Get ready for the scares

Outlast 2 PAX East screenshot

That's about all I could take from the demo, which was held in a suitably pitch dark room. Outlast 2 looked absolutely amazing on the demo PC, with an incredible level of environmental detail. The game takes place entirely in first-person, which puts you in the middle of its nightmarish reality. Although we didn't get to check out the Xbox One version of Outlast 2 at the show, the original is one of the better looking indie games on consoles. Part 2 shouldn't disappoint there either.

Outlast 2 is due out on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam in the fall. Be sure to watch our video for more details and plenty of spooky footage!

Did you guys play the first Outlast, and can your heart take even more frights from the sequel