The game was originally developed as a sequel to the first Mindscape game in the Mad Max universe - Mad Max (1990 video game). When Mindscape failed to secure the license's renewal, the title was changed to "Outlander", and specific references to Mad Max were dropped.
Outlander's gameplay combines vehicular combat with on-foot side-scrolling. The main character (which is based on Max Rockatansky) searches for food, ammunition and gasoline in a post-apocalyptic, desert landscape.
Gameplay between the Sega Genesis and SNES versions differ slightly. The driving sequences in the Sega Genesis version are from the driver's perspective of the dashboard (First-person), whilst the SNES version positions the camera behind the car (third-person).