Since I’m a big fan of immersive sim games, I’ve been looking forward to Weird West since its initial announcement. After all, this is the first game by WolfEye, a studio formed by the co-founder of Arkane (who worked on Dishonored and Prey, both of which I absolutely loved). So, here are my thoughts after completing the game in around 40 hours.
Weird West’s story is hard to talk about without heading into spoiler territory since it is integral to the experience, but I’ll say what I can.
You play a total of five different characters throughout the game, each with their own story arc. There is a bounty hunter who is in search of their abducted husband, a Pigman who needs to find out who he is and who made him that way, a native Indian who is tasked with killing a Wendigo driving greed in the land, a werewolf who is trying to save his people and finally an Onirsit (a cultist) who is trying to prevent something “bad” from happening.
Each story is played sequentially. Once you complete one character arc you begin with the next until you reach the game’s conclusion where you are presented with a summary of the consequences of your choices (you’re also presented with a smaller summary of choices made at the end of each arc). Even though each story is its own entity, all 5 stories are very closely intertwined (with you as a common factor). Each time you progress to a new character, you know more about the world, your role in it, its inhabitants and ultimately the overarching story. The world remains explored and changed based on the choices you’ve made with the previous characters, looted containers remain looted, uncovered locations remain uncovered etc. Nimp relics, Ace cards and inventory items are kept (I’ll talk more about these in a bit). Essentially each playthrough builds on the last which is nice.
Overall I enjoyed the story, and while it wasn’t amazing, it was enough to keep me invested throughout my playthrough. As far as replayability goes, there is certainly some to be found here, if you are interested in seeing different outcomes by changing some of the actions and choices the second time through. ?owever, don’t expect the moment-to-moment gameplay to change very much.
The game is played from a 3D isometric perspective in real-time when wandering around the various locations, or via the mouse on the overland map. You move your character around with WASD, aim with the RMB, slow-motion dodge with Shift (which uses action points), and use the numbers 1-4 to use special abilities (which use action points). By pressing the TAB key, you can go into a “tactical” slow-motion mode where aiming is also slowed down (this mode though does not use any action points).
Although combat was enjoyable, and it was great to watch enemies ragdoll in death, it was somewhat clunky, especially when it came to changing weapons mid-fight. If you intend to actually make use of any of the weapons/character abilities frequently or use slow motion dodge you’ll need to be consuming copious amounts of Invigorating tonics (to refill action points) like an addict, or be forced to choose between dodging and abilities because you just won’t have enough points to do both (and there is also no way to upgrade the total amount of action points you have). And, to be honest, that was my biggest issue with the game’s combat system.
So a typical encounter looks like this (when stealth is out of option). Start tactical slow mode, pop an Invigorating tonic (if you don’t have enough AP), use an ability, use a weapon ability, turn off tactical mode, dodge and shoot. Repeat. And then repeat.
I personally found the tactical slow mode to be very annoying as it was messing up the game’s overall flow, so I never used it much. I also realized pretty early that I barely needed to use any abilities (since many of them were mostly situational or not particularly useful), and that dodging and shooting was by far the most effective and easiest way to deal with anything the game could throw at me. Every battle essentially just devolved into dodging and shooting everyone, regardless of what character I was playing. Truth be told, there were a few exceptions where using abilities did help. However, and for the most part, the impact these abilities had was quite small.
For example, I was pretty excited to get to try the werewolf form, only to find out it lasted a measly few seconds and was essentially a glorified melee attack mode.
They could have done so much more with the weapon skills and character abilities. Man, what a missed opportunity. All the weapon skills are identical for every character, so there is zero variety there unless you plan on specializing in a different weapon for that character (which is what I did, despite it not being the most efficient route as some weapon skills are just outright better than others), but even then they all felt mostly the same. Dodge, kite and shoot enemies and barrels, and maybe use an ability now and then.
There is stealth in the game as well, where you can hide in bushes and out of line of sight. It’s serviceable. You can sneak around and choke everyone out (there is no way to stealth kill enemies). I played stealthily whenever possible, as I enjoy this kind of playstyle.
The enemy AI is a little daft in combat though. The enemies will frequently just run at you out in the open and not utilize cover, and make for easy pickings.
You can upgrade characters in two ways. The first way is via Ace cards and the second way is via Nimp relics (which are found via exploration or offered as mission rewards). The Ace cards upgrade a number of passive abilities that carry over between characters. On the other hand, the Nimp relics can be used to upgrade and unlock the various character-specific skills and weapon abilities. The combination of weapon and character skill choices can be built around your playstyle and does allow for some variations in how you play.
There are only 5 types of weapons in the game (not including throwables like dynamite). These are Revolvers (2 types), Rifles (2 types), a shogun, a bow and some melee weapons. All of these weapons come in various tiers. There are Common (grey), Uncommon (Green), Rare (Blue) and Legendary (Orange). All of them can be upgraded to the next tier (with ore) with the exception of Rare -> Legendary. Legendary weapons can only be bought and they become available as the story progresses.
You can also find armor which negates a percentage of damage. You can upgrade your armor to Legendary by using various animal hides that can be acquired from killing various animals in the world (bears, deer etc). Additionally, you can craft armor from different hides. By doing this, you can get different boons, like higher resistance to poison (snake skin) at the cost of overall damage reduction. In practice though, poison, lightning, fire, etc were never an issue throughout my playthrough. In fact, and as I mentioned earlier, I don’t think I used even one antivenom potion in my 40 hours playthrough.
Players can also find charms/trinkets which add a variety of effects, like doing more damage at night, doing more damage when your reputation is higher or lower, etc. These also come in various tiers/rarity levels, and you can find or purchase them at certain places. Each character can equip two of these. However, I did not find any that could make any kind of significant impact on my playthrough.
The inventory management and loot implementation are somewhat cumbersome, and one of my bigger gripes with the game. There is a ton of junk you’ll find that needs to be sold and before you know it, your entire inventory will get filled with this worthless stuff. You’ll also find tons of gray ranged weapons that only sell for $2 each, so you’ll end up dismantling them for ammo (1-2 bullets). The game does not allow you to mass dismantle, therefore you’ll have to hold down G for 2 seconds for every weapon dismantled (hold it down too long and you’ll probably scrap a weapon you did not want to scrap since it will automatically scrap the next weapon in line). I don’t know why they couldn’t just give you ammo directly as loot. At least, and according to the latest patch notes, they’ve shortened the amount of time needed to dismantle items slightly. Yay.
You can store items on your horse, in the bank stash and on your party members (of which none has an item filter), and in your own inventory (which can be filtered). You’ll spend a fair amount of time trying to sort out your inventory, transferring items between the stashes, etc. Also, you can only move one item at a time to other inventories. I’m not sure why the devs did not allow you to move your entire stack or at least numerous items to other inventories. After all, you can get the entire stack from other inventories.
To make matters worse, at least for me, there was an issue with the bank stash where I lost all the items I stored there… twice. So I simply stopped using it (don’t know if they have fixed it). Thankfully, you can at least keep all your items across each character’s playthrough in addition to your Ace cards and Nimp relics. Unfortunately, though, you cannot carry over your cash or ammo. So, if you don’t want to lose the 1000s of dollars you have, you’ll have to spend them. I also suggest avoiding selling high-quality items until you start with the new character.
What I ended up doing was storing my items across my main character, 2 posse members, and my horse. Then, and once I’d started with a new character, I’d go and recruit my previous posse members. As said, you can have only 2 posse members. Therefore, I had to empty their inventory onto my current main character, dismiss them and then hire the last one. That was tiresome and annoying.
I simply don’t know why the game does not allow you to store your cash at the bank. It is a bank after all. Also, there is no option to upgrade the amount of storage space you have which is unfortunate. Encouraging exploration and looting, and then not providing an adequate solution to the space and inventory management seems odd.
You can hire mercenaries or previous story characters to be part of your posse. Obviously, I tended toward hiring my previous story characters as they had all my loot. Moreover, hiring some generic NPC didn’t strike me as the best choice within the context of the story. You can give your companions weapons, medkits and armor to use. Then, in combat, they’ll use whatever weapon you have told them to and do their own thing. However, as posse members, the previous story characters won’t use any of their abilities in combat, and they’ll behave like any other random mercenary.
Throughout the map there are a number of locations that you can uncover by exploring them. These are towns, mines, Haciendas, caves and such. Now while the story-specific locations are all unique, most non-story locations seem to be very similar or outright duplicates.
Bigger towns have general stores where you’d sell most of your junk. You can also find tanners where you’ll sell, buy or upgrade armor, gunshops where you will sell/buy weapons, a blacksmith where you can change ore (used for upgrading weapons) into ingots (for selling to bank) or visa versa, and finally the doctor where you can buy health packs, poison tonics, a Sixth Sense Elixir that allows you to see enemies through walls, and Invigorating Tonics which were arguably the “most useful” in the game.
There are also a number of side quests, random bounties, and travel events in the game. The side quests and bounties were another way to earn some reputation, cash or items. Side quests were mostly unique, but the bounties were incredibly repetitive (capture or kill person X in location Y). The locations were also the same places. Mine, Hacienda, Hacienda, Mine etc. If you manage to capture or kill a gang boss, a vendetta will start, and then at some point, you’ll get a random encounter related to it (which was nice at first but soon became just another repetitive encounter with a different name).
Throughout your travels, on the overland map, you’ll also encounter random encounters. Unfortunately, the pool they drew from was quite shallow and as a result, you’ll see the same few events repeated themselves over and over again.
Performance-wise the game ran fine for the most part, with the exception of the starting town which suffered from some big performance dips (into the mid-40s at 1080p). More importantly, the game suffered from a number of bugs, some of which I would consider to be quite serious. As I mentioned earlier, the bank stash was broken and caused me to lose items twice. Also, upon starting the final character story arc, I lost ALL my Ace cards and Nimp relics and I could not upgrade my main character (according to the latest patch notes this issue has been fixed, but I’ve not had a chance to test it). There were at least two instances where my mouse aim just stopped working. There was also an issue that prevented my character from moving or running. Both of them were fixed as soon as I restarted the game though.
Additionally, the AI would often just stand still in combat and do nothing, or just stop following me during exploration. And finally, there were occasional camera issues when in cramped spaces, and the game also crashed on me at least 3 times. These were the most glaring issues I came across, and I have no doubt that they will be fixed. Nevertheless, I was surprised a bit surprised to find out that the more serious ones were present at launch.
Weird West was a mixed bag for me. I really wanted to love the game, and I DID enjoy it, but it didn’t leave me with the kind of lasting impression I had hoped for. It is definitely ambitious. However, WolfEye didn’t quite manage to pull it off. Or at least in my opinion as several bugs and design choices hindered my enjoyment. The character abilities could’ve been more interesting and impactful. The combat, while fun at times was also clunky. The repetitive bounties, events and locations made my journey far less interesting, and even though the story managed to hold my attention all the way through to the end, the moment to moment gameplay is not enough to inspire me to play through it again… well at least not so soon after finishing it.
Maybe I’ll revisit it in a few months. Also, don’t get me wrong. Weird West is NOT a bad game by any stretch. It’s just above average and I don’t think it’s worth $40. And while I recommend playing it, you should wait for a sale (at least for now).
- Combat is enjoyable
- Intriguing story & setting
- Supports varied playstyles
- Choices make a difference
- Repayable to see other outcomes
- Persistent world between characters
- Ragdoll deaths never really get old
- Various bugs
- Inventory management
- Camera issues in small spaces
- Repetitive bounties
- Skills & abilities could be more interesting
- Duplicated locations
- Repetitive travel events
- Easy, even on harder modes
- Money & ammo cannot be transferred across characters
Windows 10 64-bit computer using an Intel i7-12700k, 32GB Ram, and an nVidia RTX 2070 Super graphics card