by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Editor’s Note: This game is in Early Access, and this is not a review.
You really do start with ‘nothing’.
There aren’t enough Wild West games. It’s such a cool setting for a sandbox/survival, but for some reason, they just don’t get made often enough. That allows the ones that do come along to have a much bigger impact overall. So I spent a little time with a game coming to Early Access today on Steam, Outlaws of the Wild West. It’s a sandbox survival title where you wake up in what looks like a coffin, left for dead I assume, and have to make a life for yourself. Whether that life means you’re an outlaw or serve up some justice using hot lead, that is entirely up to you. However, I did not get to spend as much time with this as I’d like to, due to the servers. Though there will be dedicated RP/PVE/PVP servers, there will also be a host system that lets you rent unofficial servers to play this on. There is also the “Single Player” option, but that was not unlocked in my testing period. Over the weekend, I played on a server that was not private, but the very next day (Sunday) that server was gone, as was all of the progress I had made. From there, they were all locked servers that I had no access to. But I still learned a fair bit in that day of exploring.
In Outlaws of the Old West, you can be whatever you want in this open prairie. The players will determine the course of the game and will be their own law, which I think is fascinating. As you commit acts in the world, the morality of your character will raise/fall accordingly on your Morality Meter. Players will be able to mine for gold, set up communities, farm, hunt, build, there’s virtually no limit to it. Now I personally am more keen on games that have some kind of storyline to affect, but I’ve never really found that sandbox game to lure me in and keep me there.
I’ll need more time before I can say if Outlaws of the Old West is going to be that game for me, but I certainly found it interesting. It still needs some work and some things to polish it up though. I get that it’s a sandbox/survival game, but any buildings/outposts I’ve created should be on my map and easy to find without having to set markers on it first. I built my first house and then went into the world to hunt down some leather. If you die, you start back at the beginning with nothing, but if you have a bed in a house, you can respawn it seems. It doesn’t show you where you died either, so if you were carrying everything you needed, it’s all gone. You should definitely be able to see where you call home.
My other reason for deciding this absolutely needs to be in the game is that it features some nice quality-of-life changes from other sandbox games. A big example is your carrying capacity. It doesn’t restrict you to amounts or weights that make logical sense. I had 200+ stone/logs on me, a furnace, and other things I needed in my house, and had no problems getting around. I think at most, I held 15% of my total carrying capacity. This made me so damn happy. In far too many sandbox games, my first order of business is a “box to put crap in”, but instead, I made a brick furnace and set it up somewhere in the wilderness. Then, because of course, I did, I lost it as I wandered out to make my fortune. This is where I learned my second valuable life lesson: Do not attack the American Bison with a spear. Or with a bow and arrow. Instead, wait for guns. There is safer game out there, trust me. You can make little traps for Rabbits, or shoot Badgers and Deer. Don’t try to pick a fight with Bison. Don’t run past them either, they’re very aggressive.
So unless this gets changed, you should definitely learn the local landmarks and not stray too far from home. You can, however, build several buildings. There is no need for deeds or buying plots of land, none of that nonsense. If you want, you can build your own small town, and make your own living. Get some friends to come to live there too, run a few businesses, and you can really live that Old West lifestyle. You do have a hunger/thirst meter, but they lower at a pretty reasonable pace. You’re able to farm, hunt, cook, fish, but I did not run into all that much wildlife. Deer was incredibly hard to kill, so I wound up foraging for berries and killing Badgers to eat in the early going. Then you can also tame horses, and seek out gold! I feel like they did their homework developing this world. I can see there being a lot of potential for PVP servers to be frustrating, on top of that. I personally will probably play on a PVE server, so I don’t wind up being griefed or murdered. I didn’t get to interact with other people during this testing weekend, and I was really hoping to.
All told, I’m grateful that it’s not going to require you to purchase a server just to play – that would be a dealbreaker for me. But if you want to just play with your friends or your stream community, I can see that being a pretty serious draw. Want to create your own RP community where people come, hang out and live in the Old West? Maybe have a group act as the foils/villains? You can definitely do that here. Actually getting started in the world is incredibly simple. You don’t have to research your crafting recipes. Instead, you just click on the “Crafting” portion of the inventory and it tells you exactly what you need to know. You need a mallet to build actual structures, and it shows what you can craft in the world, from weapons/clothes to beds, forges, tanning, and fishing nets.
It could use a bit of structure and organization, but it’s definitely a good start. I’d like to see how this world grows, if it will set up any kind of storyline in the world, or if it’s 100% up to players. Will we be able to create stories and quests? Bounties for players who are jerks? There’s so much potential and possibility with Outlaws of the Old West. I do think that if you like sandbox/survival, and enjoy the Old West, this just might be the adventure you need. I didn’t feel that I was making zero progress, and I was able to level up, put points into my stats, and feel a sense of pride when I built my first house. I wound up enjoying it far more than I thought, and I think you will too. It’s honestly a gorgeous world. The characters lack a little in detail, but the actual world is very visually appealing.
A game key was provided for preview purposes.