From the game's introduction:
Outlands is a science-fiction role playing game, designed to capture a cinematic atmosphere. It is not space opera, and is not concerned with creating a wholly believable future world. Instead it attempts to create an environment where players can take part in a gritty science fiction movie.
The setting is not a utopian future, and neither is it a grim, black future where the citizens hold no power. The background to Outlands lies somewhere in between. Like the modern world, there is justice and injustice, and people are not tangibly good or evil; they are just people.
The players play central characters to whatever storyline is being enacted. They are not necessarily heroes, but they are the centre of the action. Similarly, the players provide a supporting cast of people that their characters know - friends, lovers and adversaries - that the Gamesmaster uses to build and act out the plot.
The rules cover creating characters and supporting casts; creating weaponry, vehicles and starships as well as combat, psionics and a host of other areas essential to creating a cinematic adventure.