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Outriders’ Technomancer class lets turrets do the talking

outriders
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Outriders pulls off a neat trick with its recently revealed Technomancer class: it makes healing fun. As anyone who’s ever played an online multiplayer game can attest, “healer” is a necessary (but often thankless) role, relegated to background work while frontline warriors steal all the glory. The Technomancer, on the other hand, can juggle rifles, turrets, explosives and elemental effects, plowing their way through enemy lines — while also keeping teammates alive with the simple press of a button. It’s an engaging way to play support without missing a beat in battle.

I recently went hands-on with Outriders, People Can Fly’s upcoming cooperative online shooter, to see how its mysterious “fourth class” feels to play. The Technomancer seems like a smart complement to Outriders’ three previously announced classes. Moreover, the session was a good reminder that Outriders itself could be an exciting addition to the burgeoning “looter-shooter” genre, combining tight gameplay with an interesting world and story.

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outriders

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Outriders Technomancer class

In case you haven’t been following Outriders, it’s a multiplayer third-person shooter with RPG elements. Similar to games like Destiny, you’ll guide a futuristic freedom fighter through a constantly updating world of enemies, quests and upgradeable items. Picking your class, refining your abilities and seeking out side quests are as important as shooting your foes, deploying your special skills and cooperating with your teammates.

Outriders has garnered a lot of interest for being one of the first games developed specifically with the PS5 and Xbox Series X in mind. For a deeper dive into the title’s general gameplay and story, check out our Outriders preview from PAX East.

When I first played Outriders, the only thing missing was the game’s fourth playable class. In the PAX East demo, we could choose among the Devastator, the Trickster and the Pyromancer — a bruiser, a dodger and a damage-dealer, in other words. While each of the three classes excelled at taking down enemies, it was tough to heal, even with a balanced party. And staying alive is often the biggest challenge in cooperative online shooters, particularly when late-game foes can take you down in just a few hits.

Enter the Technomancer, arguably the most versatile class in Outriders. In my demo, I played along with two teammates. While each of us played a Technomancer, we employed three vastly different builds and strategies during our three hours together. Not only can Technomancers complement Devastators, Tricksters and Pyromancers; they can complement other Technomancers as well.

outriders

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The Technomancer has three main abilities at its disposal: Heavy weapons, automated turrets and healing. I didn’t toy around too much with heavy weapons in my build, but it was fun to peek out from behind cover, fire a barrage of rockets directly into an enemy, then watch as the burn damage took care of the rest.

Instead, I assigned pretty much all of my available points into survivability and healing. My Technomancer wasn’t exactly a frontline warrior, but he could soak up a lot of damage as he flitted between the other two party members, tossing down turrets to distract enemies and keeping them alive in the face of overwhelming enemy fire.

The thing I admired most about the Technomancer was just how effortless it was to back up my teammates. To heal them, I simply had to get near them and hit a single button. There’s no targeting involved, and the healing burst hits every friendly character within a pretty generous range. You can move and shoot while you heal, and tee up your other abilities immediately afterward.

Basically: the Technomancer removes every pain point usually associated with healing in an online multiplayer game. There’s still strategy and skill involved, as you have to time your heals carefully and save them for when you really need them. But you can also get right back to running and gunning, which is still the most exciting thing to do in Outriders.

I also enjoyed the Technomancer’s ability to drop automated turrets, which can also poison or freeze enemies as you upgrade your abilities. Between shooting, healing and deploying turrets, there’s a lot to do as a Technomancer, and you never need to choose between supporting your allies and taking down some bad guys yourself.

outriders

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Outriders new features

The gameplay loop here was similar to what we saw in the previous demo. Our three Technomancers started in a safe hub area, where we could talk to townsfolk, gather quests, upgrade our gear and fast travel to other locations. After finding a quest we liked, we’d travel to the appropriate area, take down every enemy in the vicinity (usually in waves, with easy cannon fodder at first and deadly bosses later on), collect some new gear, return to town, buy some upgrades, and repeat.

While the Technomancer was the main focus of the demo, we did see a few other cool features in action. Outriders continues to have a much better story than it strictly needs, complete with a cast of interesting allies and villains, such as the embittered Jakub or the doomsaying Seth. Side quests often contribute important character backstories to the main plot.

Even the game’s structure is a little more decentralized than it could have been. You can’t simply collect a bunch of quests in town, venture out into the wilderness, then turn them all in at the same time. You’ll often come across new quests in enemy territory, and complete them in tandem with the main quests that you came to finish. This method of picking up and finishing quests feels organic and rewards careful exploration of each new area.

Perhaps the most interesting new feature I saw, though, was the ability to upgrade an item’s rarity. Online multiplayer veterans are probably familiar with the “rarity ranked by color” system, which exists in everything from World of Warcraft to Destiny 2. Essentially, weapons and armor are ranked by rarity in a color system — an item with a purple background, for example, may be better than an item with a blue background, which is better than an item with a green background, and so forth.

In Outriders, any piece of equipment can become an “epic” item (in this case, one with a purple background), provided you’re willing to shell out enough money and resources. From a practical perspective, it means that you can hang onto favorite weapons and armor for much longer, especially if you gather enough resources to upgrade their secondary abilities, such as leeching enemy health or applying negative status effects. Upgrading rarity makes gear collection in Outriders feel a little less chaotic and a lot more customizable.

Outriders will cost $60, and be out late this year for a variety of different platforms — PS5 and Xbox Series X, notably, but also PS4, Xbox One and PC. While you’ve almost certainly played something similar to it before, classes like the Technomancer help put a fresh spin on a familiar genre. Tom’s Guide will have additional coverage of the game once it comes out.