Fallout’s co-creator may be retired—but he’s still advising on The Outer Worlds 2, and how it can avoid the ‘huge chasms’ of RPG design

Tim Cain’s had a storied career—he’s mostly known as the co-creator of the Fallout series, which has grown so big it’s getting its own dang TV show—but he’s also worked on Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, Wildstar, Pillars of Eternity, and The Outer Worlds.

After 30 years of experience he’s mostly retired, though he’s been spending a lot of time imparting wisdom on his YouTube channel. However—as confirmed by a recent Rock Paper Shotgun interview, Cain is still occupying a consultation role on The Outer Worlds 2. 

Cain explains his retirement as a desire for freedom: “There are games I want to make … I’ve been promised too many times, ‘You’ll have final say, we’ll take care of you, this will all be great,’ and that didn’t happen. I’m unwilling to believe it for the eighth time.”

That’s not entirely shocking, considering what he’s revealed about the development of Wildstar on his channel—while he maintained that Carbine was “one of the best companies” he’d ever worked at, he also told a story of company in-fighting that culminated in a dramatic meeting where he talked “for four hours” about an art director who had been fighting tooth-and-nail with him. “He didn’t do anything different. So I gave up.”

Returning to the interview, Cain says that The Outer Worlds 2 is walking in his footsteps: “There’s stuff they’re trying to do in the sequel (that of course I can’t talk about) that I get pulled in on because it’s similar to stuff I’ve done in the past.” 

He’s filling an advisory and cautionary role, warning Obsidian about the potential stumbles in making an RPG: “Sometimes it’s just me saying, ‘I’m not gonna tell you what to do, but here are the pitfalls. Here are some of the huge, huge chasms that lie in your way, that you’re gonna have to wend around.'”

(Image credit: Private Division)

The Outer Worlds itself is a solid RPG, but it still has some problems. That’s despite being developed by Obsidian, who made the critically-acclaimed Fallout: New Vegas—a spinoff some players maintain captures the spirit of the first two games better than Bethesda did with Fallout 3 and 4. The Outer Worlds had some technical issues, but it also released next to Disco Elysium, and comparison is the death of joy. In 2019, our online editor Fraser Brown wrote:

“I started playing Disco Elysium before The Outer Worlds and would highly recommend not doing that … The Outer Worlds is a known quantity. If you’ve played Fallout and watched Firefly, you’re going to feel right at home. Everything from the broad structure of the story to character progression is safe. Disco Elysium, meanwhile, turns empathy and substance abuse into attributes and will gladly murder you with a ceiling fan in the first minute.”

Still, that’s not to say The Outer Worlds failed—it just got plonked next to a game that’s still headlining our top 100 list years after the fact. That’s like if you ate at a five-star restaurant, and then chowed down on a really decent sandwich hours later.

I still have faith that The Outer Worlds 2 will do a good job. Obsidian seems to be leaning away from the safe doldrums of the first game and into sci-fi goofiness bubbling underneath, if the game’s reveal trailer is anything to go by. I still get a good laugh out of “will this creature be in the game? No. Say goodbye to it forever.”

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