An easy purchase for new players but maybe a hard sell for existing owners.
An astronaut putting on a giant helmet that looks like a moon with a face and hat.

It was not until I reinstalled the original PC release of The Outer Worlds that I was able to really appreciate the improvements made with the release of The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition. Initially, I believed that this looked exactly like the same game that I had played on PC back in late 2019 when it first came out.

"I'm just not seeing what makes this Spacer's Choice Edition worth it," I thought time and time again while once again playing through this space-based action-RPG on the PlayStation 5. It wasn't until I re-downloaded the original game on PC and took some comparison shots that I was able to truly visualize and appreciate the new improvements. Without any sort of comparison, you probably think that this new release looks exactly as the original release did. That's simply not the case.

In side-by-side comparisons, Spacer's Choice Edition makes several key visual improvements over the original. I was rather shocked at just how much better Spacer's Choice Edition running on the PlayStation 5 looked when compared to the original PC release running on all Ultra settings. So shocked, in fact, that I had to redo portions of this review once I saw the scope of the improvements.

For the sake of comparisons, both the original game on PC and the new PS5 release are running with a 90 field of view, chromatic aberration was disabled, and in the case of the PC all settings were set to Ultra. The PlayStation 5 images are a blend of Performance mode and Cinematic mode shots and I specify which is which when necessary.

Spacer's Choice Edition offers lighting that is far improved compared to the original. This better lighting is seen in interior and exterior locales. Terrain has been given far more detail and geometry, an improvement that is especially noticeable on rock formations and cliffsides. At least on the first planet you arrive on, a thick blanket of grass now covers more of the ground. Thanks to improved draw distance, this vegetation extends much further into the distance. Additional flora now dots the landscapes, helping to bring added beauty to these alien planets.

I also noticed several changes to world geometry when taking comparison shots. Take this early game cave area as an example.

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Original on PC Ultra (left) | Spacer's Choice on PS5 (right)

The improvements to the rock geometry are immediately noticeable. There are also some changes made to the metallic debris in the back of the cave. It looks like it was completely redone from scratch in the new version. The improvements and changes to the lighting are also immediately noticeable. Some of these differences may come down to different times of day as The Outer Worlds does operate on a day-night cycle. However, you can still see that the Spacer's Choice Edition features far improved global illumination capable of filling the space with more natural looking light. You can also see that the orange light pouring into the cave is seen bouncing up and illuminating the bottom areas of the weapon and the character's thumb.

Character details have also been improved. Now, take a look at one of the first NPCs you come across in The Outer Worlds.

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Spacer's Choice Performance on PS5 (left) | Spacer's Choice Cinematic on PS5 (right)
Original on PC Ultra (bottom)

The bottom screenshot is of the old PC version of The Outer Worlds. On its own, you probably think that it looks fine. Then you compare it with the Spacer's Choice Edition's visual upgrades and you can see that the old version looks almost flat in comparison. The Spacer's Choice Edition upgrade features finer hair details, vastly improved self-shadows, and higher resolution textures on the armor and clothing. The eyes also stand out as being hugely improved in the Spacer's Choice upgrade. The eyes now look moist, they have glossy, reflective properties. They're darker and appear more natural.

All these visual improvements in The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition do come at a cost. Just on the first planet, the performance was less than ideal regardless of which graphical mode I chose. Players on console will have the option to play in either a "Performance" mode that targets 60FPS but with some visual downgrades, or they can play in a 30FPS capped "Cinematic" mode. Those visual downgrades in Performance mode include a reduced resolution, worse shadows, worse reflections in puddles, and even a few changes to lighting.

If playing on either the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, I'm torn as to which mode I would suggest you choose. Unless some updates are made to the game that improve performance, the Performance mode struggles to maintain a smooth 60FPS. There was a lot of camera jutter when standing still and panning the camera around. The framerates inside buildings and other small interiors feel mostly fine. It's when you go out and start exploring the environments when the framerate just feels neither smooth nor consistent.

Meanwhile, Cinematic mode looks to cap the framerate at 30FPS. Though you are only getting 30FPS here camera movement feels smoother because the aforementioned jutter and wild framerate swings are nearly non-existent. Total Gaming Network doesn't exactly have the tools nor the technical knowhow to analyze the specifics here, but hopefully more knowledgeable and capable people at places like Digital Foundry will be able to figure out what exactly is going on with the performance issues.

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Spacer's Choice Performance on PS5 (left) | Spacer's Choice Cinematic on PS5 (right)
Original on PC Ultra (bottom)

I sadly cannot speak for PC performance on this one just yet as I only requested the PlayStation 5 release of The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition. This kind of leads into the big question then: If you already own The Outer Worlds and its DLC, should you plunk down another $10 to get this Spacer's Choice Edition?

If you owned the game and the two expansions for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and want to play through it all again on your new, next-gen hardware, then I'd say that $10 is a small price to pay for these upgrades. If you haven't yet purchased the game in any capacity, you will have to pay full price ($60), but that is still a solid price for everything you're getting here. The game itself is a blast, with the original release being one of my favorite releases in 2019. It may not be Obsidian Entertainment's best game, but damn if it still isn't a really good game.

The whole "should you/shouldn't you?" purchase question really gets complicated if you own the original release on PC. I can already tell there is going to be a ton of totally calm* and not at all heated debate over this one within the various PC gaming communities out there.

*It will not be calm.

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Spacer's Choice Performance on PS5 (left) | Spacer's Choice Cinematic on PS5 (right)
Original on PC Ultra (bottom)

A lot of people on PC are going to look at this and think that very little was done and that the $10 reduced cost isn't worth it. I have already seen so very many people complaining about how this "performance update should be free." They are free to think that. I think that they are wrong to think that, but they are nonetheless free to think that. This release isn't some "performance update." With the work that went into the changes, I think that $10 is a very reasonable amount for a totally optional purchase. As far as I'm aware, The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition isn't going to replace the old version of the game. It will still exist for you to play. Nobody will force you to spend any more money than you want to.

The people that will have no issue with paying $10 for this are the people that realize it's been almost four years since the original release and the upgrades made here are worth it if you like more visual eye candy and other improvements. The work on display here by the developers extends beyond some mere "performance update." If you want better visuals, an increased level cap, and have the PC hardware to run it all smoothly, then "yes" you should plunk down the money for the upgrade. If you don't see the reason to spend more money, be it because you still don't think the improvements are worth it or you had your fill of the game, then don't buy the Spacer's Choice Edition. Nobody is twisting your arm here.

The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition is still The Outer Worlds. By this I mean, if you found the original release lacking in terms of gear variety, enemy variety, writing, or just its general gameplay then Spacer's Choice Edition isn't going to suddenly make you like the game. I personally really enjoyed the original release when I played through it. If you are like me and enjoyed the original release or you haven't yet played it at all, The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition is a solid offering from Obsidian and should serve as nice little hold over until The Outer Worlds 2 is released, whenever that may be.

A review scale using stars showing a score of 4 out of 5.

Additional Information
  • The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition
    • Developed by: Obsidian Entertainment & Virtuos
    • Published by: Private Division
  • Price: Starting at $9.99 (USD) for the upgrade or $59.99 (USD) for a brand-new purchase
  • Platform reviewed on: PlayStation 5 (also available for Xbox Series X|S and PC)
  • Release Date: March 7, 2023
  • ESRB: M for Mature 17+ (Blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, use of drugs)
  • This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes from Obsidian Entertainment, Private Division, and Virtuos.
  • Screenshots from the PlayStation 5 were converted and compressed and do not represent true source quality.

Additional Screenshots
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