In the first look at Outriders, the new co-op shooter from People Can Fly, we got a taste of three out of the four classes that'll be available. Each one had a unique set of violent and useful superpowers that complemented the gunplay. The fourth class has been kept under wraps, but it looks to be an actual combination of superpowers and gunplay.
The final class has been revealed to be called the Technomancer and while it's the least physically flashy of the four powers, it allows you to summon a variety of guns and weaponry out of thin air. The official description says the player can "control technology," but in practice, it becomes more about conjuring ordinances and guns in the heat of battle. Sometimes they're more powerful than the actual guns you'll pick up along the way.
On paper, this might seem like a basic class to break, but in practice, it's actually the most difficult. We got a chance to play with the Technomancer for a few hours and the most surprising aspect is how its existence can change up a team's strategy. We got to play a few hours with the new class and here's what we found.
What is Technomancer gameplay like?
In a preview I and fellow writer Matt Brown attended earlier this year, I got to check out the first three classes: Pyromancer, Trickster, and Devastator. Each fit into an easily-definable gameplay class archetype. The Pyromancer acted as your classic DPS damage class; the Trickster was your get-in and get-out scout-esque, close-quarters damage class; and the Devastator was your tank. That made playing around with those skill sets familiar. At the very least, people who have played combat-heavy team-based games can jump into any of those three classes with an idea of how to play them, with some deviations on more specific play styles.
The Technomancer is a different story. It was built as a versatile class, allowing players to tweak the loadout to either be support, crowd control, or a heavy that deals a lot of damage. I got to play around with the different strategies, but found that the most useful was as support. The Technomancer is the only class that can heal other party members, which became a huge asset when combined with the increasing difficulty of the game's World Tier system.
However, if you're in between battles (or can just find a spare moment when enemies aren't trying to kill you), you can always swap around your kit, changing to something with more crowd control. You can take out hordes of low-level enemies with super heavy artillery — a handheld rocket launcher or two different turrets you need to place on the ground — or with ordinances like grenades that you can drop at a moment's notice. One allowed me to freeze enemies within a close radius, which was great for disengaging from an encounter.
Playing the Technomancer contains a lot of trial and error. Granted, the demoists started us on level 30 with all skills unlocked, so we had some catching up to do, but once I tried them all out, it still wasn't straightforward. I often found myself tweaking my loadout depending on what my team needed (even though in the preview, we all played the Technomancer). Sometimes one of us would take on healing responsibilities while others would go for more long-range damage. Since you could choose between two elemental abilities — Toxic, which sprayed acid, and Cryo, which froze enemies — there was a lot of room for retooling.
Like with a lot of the classes, there is room to combo certain abilities together. I would often freeze enemies in close proximity, and then put out a turret in front of them. Sticking with your teammates also helps to make more combos, which is especially helpful once the mini bosses come out to play.
Bottom line: What does the Technomancer add?
Now that all four classes have been revealed, we have a better idea of the system that People Can Fly has built in Outriders. While each class has its own specialty, there are more specific loadouts you can play around with inside each of those classes. More importantly, you can communicate with your teammates to figure out your roles. The existence of the Technomancer compared to the other classes ensures an empty role will always be filled. It's versatile, so you can use it for healing support, to deal aggressive amounts of damage, or for crowd control.
The Technomancer is for the player who will fill a hole in a team dynamic, and who also wants to summon rocket launchers out of thin air. It contains multitudes.
All in all, it shows that the four classes are meant to balance each other out and to encourage teammate cooperation in a way beyond just ensuring you're all going towards the correct enemies on the battlefield. These aren't just four simple classes that let you play the way you want. The system is more complicated than that since players can strategize with each other. That's what any party-based game needs, whether you're playing with AI or with friends.
Outriders is set to release Holiday 2020 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series x, PC, and Stadia.
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