In September 2016, a demo version of OUTLAST 2 was passed with an R18+ (High impact horror violence, blood and gore) rating.
The extended classification information described:
High impact: violence
Strong impact: themes
Moderate impact: language
Very mild; nudity
The full version of the game was submitted in early 2017. In March of that year it was banned by the Classification Board.
The Board's database gave the following reason for the RC-rating.
Games 1(a) The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1. (a) as computer games that "depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified."
Here's Why Outlast 2 Was Refused Classification In Australia
kotaku.com.au, March 16, 2017
The board's decision, which have been provided to Kotaku Australia, was based on multiple scenes where - even though it is implied that the main character, Blake, is hallucinating - sexual violence is implied.
One particular scene shows a female creature thrusting against the main character while his wife is tied up in chains:
"In one cut-scene in the game ... a female creature prepares Blake for a ritual. She says, "I want to see your true face. Your seed will burn this world." Shortly afterwards, he objects to having psycho-active dust blown into his face, yelling, "Nope! Nope!" before he stumbles into a forest clearing.
His vision blurring, he witnesses what appears to a ritualistic orgy. His wife, Lynn, calls out for his help, saying, "It hurts! Oh god!," as she hangs from chains on a raised platform at the front of the clearing. Humanoid creatures, their skin grey, spattered with blood and scarred, implicity have sex as others pray, or chant, or gesticulate.
One creature has another bent over a rock, thrusting as they implicitly have rear-entry sex, another sits astride the pelvic region of a creature prone on the ground, moving their hips rhythmically as they too implicitly have sex. Two other pairs of creatures in the clearing are also implicitly having sex.
As Blake yells for the creatures to "Get away from her!" a female creature, her greyish breasts bared, pushes him onto his back, holds his arms to the ground and repeatedly thrusts her crotch against him. As Blake protests, saying "No! Stop that!" the creature thrusts again, before placing its face over his midsection and then sitting up and wiping its mouth.
Although much of the contact between the creature and Blake is obscurred, by it taking place below screen, the sexualised surroundings and aggressive behaviour of the creature suggest that it is an assault which is sexual in nature. The Board is of the opinion that this, combined with Blake's objections and distress, constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence.
In the Board's opinion, the above example constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence and therefore cannot be accommodated within the R18+ classification category and the game is therefore Refused Classification."
The Board's report noted that "without the depiction of implied sexual violence listed above", Outlast 2 would be eligible for a R18+ rating. However, they added that the scenes described were not "an exhaustive list of the content that caused" Outlast 2 to be refused classification.
Film and Video Game Classification
Commonwealth of Australia
Monday, 20 March 2017
Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (22:16): According to a recent survey, at least 68 per cent of Australians regularly enjoy video games. Their average age is 33, and nearly as many women as men enjoy the hobby. But, by an unfortunate quirk of demographics, very few gamers are the kinds of people who make or enforce the laws. For example, not many senators or senior public servants would know the difference between a ghoul and an alghoul, and so would find it hard to advance in the video game known as THE WITCHER.
In fact, politicians and public servants are blocked from accessing several gamer websites. If you, or we, want to access Polygon, IGN, PC Gamer or Gameplanet, 'computer says no'. This is presumably because we might stumble across an image of something somebody disapproves of in a medium we do not understand. However, we have no such trouble accessing Neo-Nazi forums like Stormfront; and video-sharing sites like LiveLeak, where you can watch videos of real people being killed. That is not something I recommend or would choose to watch myself, but I defend the right of adults to access all kinds of internet sites, because adults should be free to choose.
It tells us something about the illogical, censorious attitude bureaucrats have about video games. Take, for example, the ban on the sale of the latest instalment of a popular video game called OUTLAST 2. This video game takes place in a fantasy world involving all kinds of creatures, both human and non-human. The mere suggestion of an out-of-screen encounter between a creature and a human character was enough to get it banned altogether by Australia's Classification Board.
All of this operates on the false assumption that people who play video games are impressionable children who would play out anything they saw. Yet the internet is now awash with all manner of unpleasant images involving real people, not computer-generated images, while violent crime around the world is in decline. It makes me wonder: how is it that adults are not trusted to make choices about video games, yet they are allowed to vote?
Prime Minister Turnbull claims to have an innovation agenda, but every signal we send to the gaming community in this country is of censorship, disapproval and discouragement. Compare this attitude to that of former Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, who famously presented a copy of THE WITCHER to President Barack Obama—who, presumably, now has time to learn the difference between a ghoul and an alghoul. Video games do not hurt anybody, and the government Classification Board should leave video gamers alone.
On March 21, a modified version of OUTLAST 2 was passed with an R18+ (High impact horror themes, violence, blood, gore and sex) rating.
The extended classification information described:
High impact: themes, violence, sex
Strong impact: language, nudity
Moderate impact: drug use
18point2 was the applicant.
Outlast 2 Will Now Release In Australia After Successful Classification
press-start.com.au, March 24, 2017
In a statement provided to Press Start, Red Barrels confirmed...
"Outlast 2 has been rated R18+ by the Classification Branch in Australia and will be released 26th April 2017. There will be only one version of Outlast 2 available worldwide."
March 27, 2017
The original submission of Outlast 2 sent to the Australian Classification Branch contained the final game code and a video file for reference taken from an Alpha version of the game. This video file should not have been sent along with the game code, as its content was not representative of the final game.
In the second submission, the same game code was submitted, with a video file reflecting the final game content. The game was then approved for release with an R18+ rating. There will be only one version of Outlast 2 available worldwide. These will be the final comments made on this release.
Following the re-rating, the original RC entry for OUTLAST 2 was removed from the Classification Board's database.
Outlast 2's New Classification Report Is Interesting Reading
kotaku.com.au, April 5, 2017
Question is, what changed in the final version of the game?
In the latest [R18+] report from the board, the scene [that caused it to be banned. See above.] is described as a segment of gameplay where the player is able to move around, rather than being bound, and the interaction with the female demonic creature is removed:
"In one section of gameplay, the player, as Blake, stumbles into a forest clearing after having psycho-active dust blown into his face. Blake's vision blurring, he witnesses what appears to be a ritualistic orgy. Humanoid creatures, their skin grey and scarred, implicitly have sex as other pray, or chant, or gesticulate. One creature on the right side of the clearing has another bent over a rock, thrusting as they implicitly have rear-entry sex. The player can approach the couple and view the implicit sex from different perspectives, but no genital detail is viewed."
Importantly, the Board wrote that Outlast 2 contained "no actual sexual violence nor does it contain implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards."
"Themes and violence are inextricably linked by the game's narrative, in which the player's character, Blake Langermann, finds himself navigating a hellish world when his wife, Lynn, is abducted," the report added.
Other Outlast 2 scenes described focus more on their violence and gore, rather than anything of a sexual nature.
"In one section of gameplay, Blake entres a room to find a man, Josiah, chained to a spiked wheel, next to a large pile of maimed and bloody bodies. The wall behind is covered with blood spray and blood coats the floor beneath. He has the word "Judas" carved into his chest and his eyes appear to be gouged out. He begs Blake, saying, "Kill me. You have to kill me. Knoth is coming back. With MARY. He'll hurt her and I'll talk."
Knoth and two of his henchmen enter the room dragging Mary, Josiah's wife, and strap her to a rack-like torture device. She is already covered in cuts and blood. Knoth interrogates Josiah about the whereabouts of Blake's wife, Lynn, and when he does not give a satisfactory answer Knoth commands his henchmen to wind the rack, saying, "Make the woman scream.".
He does so, causing the woman to struggle and scream in agony as she is stretched. Josiah begs for them to stop the torture, before his will breaks and he tells Knoth of Lynn's location. Another of Knoth's henchmen then implicitly kills Josiah with an axe, before they leave the room, with Mary still strapped to the rack."
What's intriguing between the latest report and the first one appears to be a difference in perspective: the Board seemed to be much more appreciative of context and surrounding. That's not to say implied sexual violence would be appropriate in Outlast 2 at all, but the note about sexual violence "not justified by context" is an indication that the Board would accept with implied sexual violence, provided it was neither interactive nor incentivised.