The love affair between Hollywood and the Wild West may be long gone, with only a handful of truly great films and a plethora of cheesey rugged hero damnsel-in-distress flicks to show for it, but the last few years have proven that the video game industry is less than willing to let the setting go so easily. The improvements in technology have only served to increase players’ thirsts for the expansive and desolate environments of 19th century Western America, a period notorious for its brutality and criminal activity, but nevertheless thought of romantically.
With Red Dead Redemption 2 arguably the most anticipated release of 2017 and rumours suggesting that Far Cry 5 will sport a Spaghetti Western theme, it’s an outstanding time to be both a gamer and fans of the period. This is only one year within several decades’ worth of collaboration between the two, however, so we’re taking a look at the best Wild West games you can play before the new generation is introduced.
Not only was Outlaws one of the first Wild West first-person shooters, but it also helped to introduce some mechanics which are essential to the genre today such as zooming with snipers and reloading of guns. It may not have been as visually impressive as other games at the time, but these features, as well as a solid storyline and gameplay, have helped give Outlaws somewhat of a cult following.
The main campaign featured a retired Marshal seeking revenge on whoever shot his wife and kidnapped his children. Using the classic weaponry from the era, players hunt for the criminals, whilst facing previous losses of family members. With side-missions and multiplayer included, Outlaws was way ahead of its time, and if it weren’t for an unfortunate release period between Quake and Half-Life, could have been much more commercially successful.
There’s only one game that comes to most peoples’ minds when third-person open-world western game is mentioned – it wasn’t always the case, though. When it released in 2005, Gun was one of most critically acclaimed games of that year, with many dubbing it a ‘19th century Grand Theft Auto’. Whilst it wasn’t responsible for introducing certain open-world features to the Wild West setting, it certainly did a good job at representing them.
Gun’s stunning (for the time) environment housed a multitude of different side-missions, all worthy of attention. What made the map feel alive, though, was that in getting to these missions you were often attacked by bandits and wild animals, leaving you with the decision of whether to run or fight. The main story itself was gripping, and rather than settling for the mundane, clichéd Spaghetti Western narrative, Neversoft opted for gritty, with captivating family ties, friendships, and enmity – a world away from skateboarding.
8. Red Dead Revolver
Before we had Redemption we had Revolver, but both nearly never were. Originally Red Dead Revolver was in the hands of Capcom, and was due to take more of a supernatural, Weird West approach. Rockstar purchased Angel Studios in 2002 however, and later bought the rights to the game off of Capcom, deciding to change it to a Spaghetti Western filled with violence and crime. We’ve been grateful ever since.
Red Dead Revolver was one of the first Wild West games to feature third-person, open-world play, and would pave the way for other games inspired by its style. The story follows Red, a character driven by revenge after the death of family members, and one which could potentially make a return in Red Dead Redemption 2 alongside others. It may not have the scale and technical firepower that of its sequel, but Revolver was still a great game and, with hindsight, important in the history of video games.