Beginner’s tips for The Outer Worlds

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The Outer Worlds looks like a game you’ll be shooting your way through. And while there’s plenty of that, approaching the game like it’s a shooter might not be the best strategy.
There are many things — at least in our first 15 or so hours — we would’ve done differently. Mostly we’d focus on talking more than shooting. Below, we’ve boiled down what we learned into six tips that give you a head start on making and playing your perfect space settler.
Emphasize the lockpick and hack skills early
Our first tip is simple: the lockpick and hack skills are invaluable early on.
Lockpick will open lockers and bins with valuable goodies inside, meaning you get better gear faster. Once you get it up to 20 points, you’ll be able to pick simple locks for free (without using any mag-picks).
Getting your hack up to 20 points means you can sell items at any vending machine, so you can keep your inventory (and weight) manageable without having to schlep to a store — and you’ll earn some bits while doing it.

Lockpicking will get you good loot early.Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division via Polygon

Both of these skill will open (literal) doors for you early in the game. And hacking will give you options — like shutting down automechanical guards — to avoid combat altogether.
Explore everywhere for surprisingly good loot
We mentioned that there’s loot everywhere in our beginner’s guide, but with high hack and lockpick skills, that becomes even more important. Take your time with every area you enter. Unlock everything — every door and crate and locker with a lock on it. We were shocked by how much high-value (and high-damage) loot was hidden out of seemingly innocuous boxes right out in the open.
Dialog skills let you control the flow of the game
Because talking well and expanding your dialog options lets you control the story, the shooting becomes almost secondary.

Increasing your dialog skills will open new options for conversations.Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division via Polygon

You’ll be talking to a lot of people, and increasing your persuade, lie, and intimidate skills will open up new dialogue options in many converstations. Being able to talk your way out of (or into) conflicts will make navigating The Outer Worlds much easier. Once your intimidate skill gets high enough, you’ll even start scaring away creatures before they attack.
Also, you can respec all of your skills and perks (but not your attributes) on your ship at any time with the vocational competence respecification machine in the cargo hold.
There’s every reason to fast travel
Enemies and loot don’t respawn in The Outer Worlds, at least in the areas around the first settlements on the first planet. Once you’ve cleared an area of bad guys and picked up everything good (see our tip about exploring slowly above), there’s no reason to return unless you think you missed something.
Use fast travel to complete your quests, side quests, companion quests, and tasks quickly, because they all earn you XP. You won’t lose out on random encounters or places to farm XP by fast traveling.
Companions affect your skills
Your companions are more than an extra pair of hands and guns. They’ll also add points to your skills just by being in your party. You can see this in your Character > Skills menu. Parvati, for example, adds points to your lockpick and persuade skills, and Vicar Max adds points to you hack skill.
Each companion also has a perk that will increase the bonus even further.
Correctly choosing your party can dramatically improve your chances to get past specific challenges — taking Vicar Max will help you hack computers, while Parvati will help you talk your way into places. With enough bonuses, your companions can supplement any skills you don’t have many points in. (This goes back to our point in our The Outer Worlds beginner’s guide about the game adapting to you.)
Armor can affect a lot of stats, so choose carefully
Armor in The Outer Worlds is a lot more than just armor. Yes, it has a number that determines your defense, but it also has aspects that affect your stats. Heavy armor, for example, decreases your stealth.

Skill bonuses attached to armor will change your stats.Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division via Polygon

Beyond that, many armors have skill bonuses. The snazzy outfit in the image above, for example, gives a +5 to all leadership skills. Armor mods add even more stat adjustments beyond defense or damage, like the backpack mod that increases your carrying capacity, and the silver tongue mod that improves your dialog skills.
This means that your choice of armor might vary from challenge to challenge. A heavy shooting area might mean heavier armor is better, but a negotiation scene will benefit from a wardrobe change.

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