The American frontier has always been a romantic place full of adventure, danger, and majestic wonder. Wild West and Wizards takes that setting, hands you a revolver, and also throws in a whole bunch of magic just for funsies.
There have been a few magic-themed first-person shooters — Hexen comes to mind — and goodness knows how many FPS games with a Western theme. There have also been plenty of games that threw magic into the mix with a mod, but I struggle to think of any titles that combined gunplay and magic in this particular setting. I was curious to see how it all played out.
A Lone Stranger Walks Into Town
Your adventure begins at the edge of town next to a little shack. You have a revolver, a handful of bullets, and a helpful NPC to point you in the right direction. Much like many a Fallout game, the hand-holding ends there and you're loosed upon the world with the genuine freedom to go wherever you want — although that's rather ill-advised.
The first town has all the amenities you'd need to get started — a blacksmith to sell and upgrade guns, a clothes shop to buy armor, a general store to sell healing items, and more. Many of these buildings are home to NPCs who will give you your first few quests, each of which has a recommended level.
I'm not one to shy away from a challenge. I've often approached a quest in an RPG as a somewhat underpowered character and come out the other side completely unscathed. I am telling you right here and now, that is downright impossible in Wild West and Wizards, though that might not be such a bad thing.
Early Quest Challenges
My first few quests were relatively simple affairs — find a bad guy, shoot a bad guy, collect a reward. Then, I came across something that I thought was a starter quest but was actually intended for someone a little ways into the game.
The story is fairly simple — a bandit stole gold from the bank and he holed up in a cave with his crew. I headed down there, working my way through his lackeys one at a time until I eventually reached him. Charging forth, I majestically cast ice bolts and emptied my six-shooter only to be ruthlessly cut down while barely inflicting any damage on the big bad boss.
Perhaps I needed to be a little tougher? I did some other quests, acquiring some gear and learning a couple of new skills. I then went down a dark, dark road that resulted in a lot of deaths, largely because the firearms in Wild West and Wizards feel more like pea shooters than anything else.
Wild West and Wizards Gunplay Feels Weak
In my fight against the first major boss, I tried several approaches.
- I continually fired my starter revolver but couldn't get the boss below half health.
- I sold junk to buy a rifle and attempted to snipe him to death, but the same result happened.
- I tried yet again with a shotgun and the same thing happened.
- I bought a repeater — a gun that feels like a revolver with a larger magazine and somewhat longer range — and had more success, but still died.
- Finally, I succeeded by repeatedly emptying my repeater into the boss and slamming health potions like they were Jägerbombs at a frat party.
I loathe — absolutely loathe — bullet sponge enemies. It's why I can't stand the Borderlands games, and Wild West and Wizards, unfortunately, suffers from just that. When I approach a boss of my same level with an appropriately-leveled gun, it should not take approximately a hundred shots with a repeating rifle to kill him. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened.
I don't know if it was because my damage was too low or the enemy's defense was too high, but the guns in this game just felt... weak. Even when using something that's upgraded and making use of special, high-quality ammo, I felt like I was never doing as much damage as a gun ought to have done.
Riding Off Into The Sunset
The gunplay in Wild West and Wizards is unequivocally its most major downside, but this is an Early Access title. Hopefully, this aspect of the game will be tweaked slightly in a future patch.
Let me be clear: in my two hours of play, I liked the mechanics of the gunplay in Wild West and Wizards. What I didn't like was just how many shots it took to down a guy. Firing four revolver bullets to kill a guy feels fine. Firing fifty feels aggravating.
I also appreciated the wide-open world, although it felt a little confusing to navigate at times. The map only tells you a general area you're in and doesn't provide a specific marker on the map. On one hand, this makes it a little difficult to navigate. On the other hand, it throws back to older games like Morrowind that didn't baby the player with too much information.
I think Wild West and Wizards has a lot of potential. Maybe it will balance itself out in the long run. For now, I'll be putting it aside until they've polished up the combat a little more.
TechRaptor conducted our Wild West and Wizards Coverage Club on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.