I’ve been waiting a long, long time to write this article—and for good reason. Since its announcement in 2019, my thoughts on Outnumbered have been somewhat mixed. Now, after much deliberation, I’m finally ready to take a measured approach to LAI’s latest.
Let’s start with the facts: Outnumbered is an on-rails “shooting gallery” of sorts, in which players blast as many targets as possible as accurately possible within a given stage’s time limit to earn the highest score. Think Sammy Sports Shooting USA by Sammy or America’s Army by Global VR.
The twist? This otherwise unassuming target practice simulator boasts a bevy of additional features in its companion smartphone app. Here, players can view worldwide leaderboards and personal stats, customize loadouts, and purchase microtransactions to utilize at any Outnumbered arcade cabinet.
All in all, it’s hard to deny the immense value of a companion app in an industry that has historically shied away from online connectivity. What LAI is doing here is, to my knowledge, rivaled only by the StepManiaX Tracker and GTCaddy.
From what I’ve seen in gameplay footage, Outnumbered seems like a fun and fast-paced light gun experience. Early on, I was kinda bummed that such a cool app was being “wasted” on a target shooter, but I’ve pretty much moved past that. Outnumbered doesn’t necessarily need the narrative prowess of Time Crisis or The House of the Dead to stand out.
I’d be supremely stoked to see more content added in future updates, though. Outnumbered is currently composed of three stages: High Noon, Deep Space, and Quarantine Zone (the third of which is morbidly amusing given the real-world pandemic). Each surprisingly eclectic stage can be played on intermediate, advanced, or extreme difficulty levels.
With a 2-minute-30-second timer on gameplay, my concern is that there may not be enough to content to satisfy players like myself for a prolonged period of time. Score chasing is most certainly a compelling reason to keep playing, but I feel having at least a few more levels would complete the package.
Each credit equates to one stage regardless of performance—similar to Star Wars Battle Pod—but players can use virtual “continue tokens” to play again. While this is something I’m not as keen on, it makes sense considering the construction of the game. You play stages with the intention of beating scores, not a campaign.
Beyond that, my biggest worry lies in the microtransactions. There’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll try to explain it as accurately as I can. (Many thanks to Tabor Carlton at LAI for providing this information.)
There are two currency types: shrapnel (the standard currency earned after each stage) and shells (the premium currency purchased with real money). As many of you likely know, it’s fairly standard of games with microtransactions to utilize two forms of currency in this way.
Shrapnel earnings vary depending on the stage and difficulty. Players can grind to purchase everything they need with shrapnel, although some weapon components require a player to have a certain level of XP first. Shells allow players to purchase all weapon components regardless of XP.
Outnumbered offers a solid range of consumable items for which to spend said currencies.
Loadout slots, “lockers” that hold forged weapons, can be purchased with shrapnel or shells.
Forge tokens are required to use forge weapons and can be purchased with shrapnel or shells. Continue tokens are equipped in the app
Continue tokens allow players to repeat the stage they’ve just played for free. These aren’t purchased outright but rather are available in content bundles.
XP boosts multiply the XP a player earns after completed a stage and can only be purchased with shells.
Bundles come in two forms: content bundles and shell and continue token bundles. Content bundles rotate in and out of the companion app store and include a fully built weapon, shells, forge tokens, continue tokens, and XP boosts. Shell and continue token bundles include exactly what you’d expect given the name.
As far as video game economies go, this is probably one of the fairest I’ve seen in a long time. I’d be downright silly not to give LAI credit for handling microtransactions with a level of tact we don’t generally see from, say, the unscrupulous home game market.
That doesn’t mean I’m not wary of the idea of microtransactions in arcade games. I’m 19 years old. I’ve literally lived through home games evolving from one-time, premium purchases to exploitative monetization vehicles in no more than a decade. You can’t be blame me for being a little jaded.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to see arcade games go down the same slippery slope. Do I trust LAI Games? Yes, I think they have a pretty consistent pulse on the player community. Do I trust every other manufacturer in the industry? Well, I’m not going to make any definitive statements about that.
Here’s the skinny: Outnumbered looks especially fun as far as shooting galleries go. The companion app is a genius idea that I would’ve preferred as a one-time purchase with no microtransactions. Fortunately, the microtransactions don’t seem all that questionable. I’d love to see the ideas Outnumbered brings to the table expanded upon in other games of various genres.
I hope today’s article didn’t come off as too critical. In all honesty, I don’t want to ravage LAI’s present staple. I simply wanted to articulate what I like and don’t like in as balanced a way as I could.
If you want to discuss Outnumbered and the arcade industry at large with a host of delightful arcade gamers and me, you need to join the Wilcox Arcade Discord server, like, ASAP. And hey, why not follow me on Twitter while you’re at it?
Keep it real, ya sweaty flippin’ nerds.