The Outer Worlds Update 1.2 Fixes A Dreaded Bug, But The Solution Was Anything But Simple

The Outer Worlds was released back in October to critical praise. Since its launch, however, numerous players have reported a bug where the game thinks one of your companions is dead, causing you to fail certain quests. Update 1.2 for The Outer Worlds has now rolled out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (and you can see the full patch notes below), thankfully fixing the strange bug, but Obsidian’s QA lead Taylor Swope has revealed just how difficult it was to solve.

In an 18-tweet thread on Twitter, Swope explained the fascinating process of trying to figure out how and why the bug was occurring. “The gist of the bug was that, for some players, a companion quest would be marked as Failed in the quest log, with the reasoning that the companion was dead–despite the fact that the companion was very much alive and well,” he said. “This was perplexing because (outside of SuperNova mode) companions can’t die.

“There were one or two cases before launch where this issue seemed to happen, but no one in QA ever managed to reproduce it and despite our best efforts we couldn’t learn anything concrete about it. One reason it was so hard to pin down is that it was impossible to tell when the bug actually happened–all of the cases we had were essentially ‘hey something bad happened in the last ten hours and now my quest is broken.'”

This led to an investigation where Swope had to figure out the location of every script and line of code that could possibly make the game think that a companion was dead. After plenty of searching, the logical culprit ended up being the player’s ship. Companions can die when they’re in a party, and the only time they’re present but not in a party is when they’re on the ship. They might be “undamageable” on the ship, but as Swope and his team discovered, undamageable doesn’t mean “invulnerable.” Companion’s can’t take damage from attacks but can still get hurt by other things.

Fall damage was one suspect, but there’s nowhere on the ship that’s high enough to result in a lethal fall. “I looked into tons of theories, including ‘maybe their height data is preserved when fast travelling from other maps’ and ‘maybe a physics interaction between two companions causes one to rapidly accelerate upwards,'” Swope explained. “My personal fav was ‘what if a companion is standing right where a cow spawns in during a random event and they’re launched into space.’ Was genuinely bummed when that theory didn’t pan out.”

With The Outer Worlds now out in the wild, players started reporting their companion quests failing. While it certainly wasn’t ideal that this turned out to be a real issue instead of a weird fluke, it did mean that there were thousands of eyeballs on the game. “Eventually, an offhand comment in one user’s review mentioned seeing a weird bug where a companion was ‘climbing nothing’, and this comment led me to figuring the whole thing out.”

The system for NPCs interacting with the environment in The Outer Worlds is called “furniture.” Sometimes this is literal, but it also covers everything from using a terminal to leaning on a wall. “Somewhere deep in the complex beast that is the furniture system, we had code that disabled all NPCs from starting new furniture interactions if the player was in a conversation. The problem was that using a ladder is considered two different furniture interactions: one for getting on the ladder and starting to climb, and one to stop climbing and get off.”

Thus leading to the hilarious cause of this particularly tricky bug:

Players are now reporting that their companion quests are no longer broken, thanks to the work of Swope and the rest of Obsidian’s QA team. Below are the full patch notes for everything else included in update 1.2

The Outer Worlds Update 1.2 full patch notes

Top Community Requests:

  • Updated the “Large Text Mode” setting to apply to Examinables
  • Added “Chromatic Aberration” setting to all platforms
  • Added “Controller Aiming Sensitivity” setting to all platforms
  • Added “Head Bobbing” setting to all platforms
  • Added “Field of View” setting to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms
  • Fixed weapons unholstering when interacting with the environment
  • Fixed additional cases of companion quests being marked as Botched incorrectly

Audio:

  • Fixed multiple characters from talking over each other when the player dies
  • Fixed audio cutting out when scrolling on the map
  • Fixed NPCs continuing to have dialog after they have died

Companions:

  • Fixed some of Felix’s belongings appearing on the Unreliable even when he wasn’t recruited
  • Fixed Vicar Max being available as a companion even if he was killed in Edgewater
  • Fixed consumable durations not being affected by Max’s “Tuned In” Perk and the “Beverage Service Technician” Aptitude
  • Fixed enemies not always animating correctly when hit by Max’s companion ability
  • Fixed companion Perks being reset when the player respecs
  • Added a notification for when companions gain Perks from quests
  • Fixed companions calling the player’s attacks ineffective, even if they were dealing appropriate damage
  • Fixed lit areas of companions’ armor being unlit after they were knocked out
  • Fixed companion outlines not appearing after changing their armor

Design:

  • Fixed the “Battle Hardened” Perk not stacking correctly with the Inspiration 40 Skill unlock
  • Fixed the Determination 100 Skill Unlock not applying to both companions
  • Fixed the “Precision” Perk not applying to companions in some cases
  • Fixed the Determination 40 Skill unlock not applying to both companions in some cases
  • Fixed the SuperNova Hunger debuff not applying in certain situations
  • Fixed description text for the Ambidextrine status effect
  • Fixed duration for the Ambidextrine status effect
  • Fixed the “Steady Hand” Perk stacking incorrectly
  • Fixed non-drug consumables not stacking correctly
  • Fixed automechanicals being susceptible to the Poison debuff
  • Fixed the Burn status effect from Mantipillar attacks lasting forever in some cases
  • Fixed the “Bleed” and “Sugary Drink” status effects not working with one another
  • Fixed the “Leader” status effect missing a description when applied to a companion
  • Fixed the Inspiration 80 skill unlock stacking incorrectly
  • Fixed the “Caffeine Drink” status effect not applying when the “Permanent Concussion” Flaw was active
  • Fixed the effects of the “Robophobia” Flaw not clearing in certain conditions
  • Fixed “Pack Mule” Perks not applying while on the Unreliable
  • Fixed the “Revenge” Perk not increasing damage
  • Fixed misleading text in the description of Thinking Cap-let items
  • Fixed “Adelaide’s Gardening Shears” not applying the Bleed effect on targets
  • Fixed the Prismatic Hammer not benefiting from several melee Skills and Perks
  • Fixed the Prismatic Hammer not benefiting from Critical Hits
  • Increased damage of Handguns

Quests:

  • Fixed “A Family Matter” not updating properly if Tucker Needham was killed in Stellar Bay
  • Fixed “The Amateur Alchemist” not progressing if the player intimidated Vaughn
  • Fixed an optional objective in “BOLT With His Name” being blocked if the player exited a terminal at a specific point
  • Fixed “Comes Now the Power” not updating properly if the Deserters returned to Edgewater under specific conditions
  • Fixed “The Doom That Came To Roseway” being blocked if Anton left Roseway before getting his research back
  • Fixed “Friendship’s Due” not updating correctly if the player spoke to Harlow without meeting specific requirements
  • Fixed “Friendship’s Due” not updating correctly if the player killed Trask before speaking to Harlow
  • Fixed “Solution Vital” not updating properly if Captain Irion’s medical automechanical was killed
  • Fixed Dr. Chartrand attacking the player after she agrees to help them
  • Fixed issues with manti-creature spawning during Nyoka’s companion quest if the player left the area and returned in the middle of the fight

Settings:

  • Fixed the “Look Up” and “Look Down” keybindings being swapped
  • Added “Foliage” graphics setting for PC platform
  • Added “Enable Cinematic Kill Camera” setting

UI:

  • Fixed player response nodes being numbered when using a gamepad
  • Updated Vendor UI to show carry weight and encumbrance limit
  • Updated item tooltips to better indicate Pristine items
  • Added item sorting options to the Companion and Workbench screens
  • Added SuperNova survival meters to the Consumables screen
  • Fixed the companion damage bonus from the Inspiration skill not appearing correctly in the UI
  • Fixed two-handed melee weapons not showing the correct DPS value
  • Fixed plus signs appearing next to Skills that cannot directly gain points
  • Fixed quest objectives disappearing from the Quest Tracker after certain quest updates
  • Fixed the “Sublight Sniper Rifle” unique Dead-Eye not being marked as unique
  • Fixed the Vendor screen from becoming misaligned when selling many items at once
  • Fixed the effects of the “Paranoid” Flaw not displaying correctly
  • Fixed encumbrance limit not updating correctly when applying a Backpack armor mod
  • Fixed certain lootable NPC corpses not highlighting correctly
  • Fixed the “Compare” option incorrectly being available on the Companion screen
  • Fixed the effects of the “Adrena-Time Crash” debuff not displaying correctly
  • Fixed Adreno not being automatically equipped to the Emergency Medical Inhaler
  • Fixed the “Leader” status effect missing from the player
  • Updated description of “Field of View” setting and moved it to the Graphics screen
  • Fixed a missing button icon in the Quick Melee tutorial

General:

  • Fixed a crash involving mind-controlled enemies
  • Fixed a soft lock when trying to interact with the Meditative Aid after attacking the hermit
  • Updated description of “Everybody Likes Me” and “Destroyer of Worlds” Achievements/Trophies to reduce confusion
  • Fixed the player’s weapon becoming invisible when trying to attack while using the inhaler with the weapon holstered
  • Fixed facial animations not playing in certain conditions
  • Fixed NPCs continuing to climb beyond the end of a ladder on the Unreliable if the player started a conversation while they were climbing
  • Fixed not being able to open the Ledger if the player has unspent Skill points and two NPCs are conversing
  • Fixed Raptidon Collosi being able to knock targets hundreds of meters
  • Fixed Julius Moreau missing voice-over on a line of dialog
  • Fixed not being able to hit enemies with ranged weapons from point-blank range
  • Fixed various issues when trying to fire a ranged weapon and use quick-melee simultaneously
  • Fixed modded Flamethrowers being able to damage targets through walls
  • Fixed Raptidon Matriarch being invulnerable to Flamethrower damage during certain animations
  • Fixed beam weapons being able to lock on to underground targets
  • Fixed the reload animation playing too fast when exiting Tactical Time Dilation
  • Fixed a missing collision issue in Amber Heights
  • Fixed a spot in the Byzantium Tunnels that allowed the player to fall out of the map
  • Fixed not unlocking the Cascadia landing pad fast travel point in certain circumstances
  • Fixed collision issue in Edgewater junkyard
  • Fixed grass showing through the floor in Fallbrook
  • Fixed low-resolution blood textures in Labyrinth
  • Fixed a temporary asset being visible in Monarch
  • Fixed collision issues in Monarch
  • Fixed flickering geometry in Stellar Bay
  • Fixed rare cases of characters falling through the world as it was loading
  • Fixed “Hemlock’s Eyepatch” unique item being weightless
  • Fixed rare instances of player response options not being available after loading a save
  • Fixed an issue resulting in duplicate items appearing
  • Fixed consumable durations not updating correctly after saving and loading
  • Updated credits to correct a title, added two focus tester names, and added a developer that was uncredited
  • Fixed instances of missing text when playing in non-English languages
  • Fixed German localization issues
  • Fixed Japanese localization issues
  • Fixed various text errors

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