Hard West 2 Preview: Strategy and style mingle in this occult cowboy caper
A simple train robbery that seemed like a good idea has gone wrong. I mean that literally; The train has received an endless stream of otherworldly legs and heads into the wilderness, and now it’s brimming with ghosts, ghouls, and a devil. The situation is definitely not ideal, but I have a squad full of rowdy frontier fighters to sort things out. As we dash off the train and plunge into a chilling, surreal version of the American West, I’m confident that everything will be fine in the end – until my gang finds themselves in the next bizarre, inevitably violent, Cucumber.
My squad consists of an indigenous exile, a witch who teleports across the battlefield in a crow storm, an overconfident sniper with a penchant for maps, and an undead revenant. Welcome to hard west 2a turn-based top-down tactics game coming to PC sometime this year.
The tutorial with the leggy train mentioned above sets the tone Hard West 2 pretty good. When gang leader Gin Carter encounters a literal devil, he immediately counts on winning a card game against the guy with their souls as a stake. Then he cheats and is surprised when the other cheats too. Gin is a hot mess, and the game gives me the opportunity to engage in it at the risk of upsetting other party members. While it’s nice to hang out and chat with my party members or scour the overworld for side quests, the meat and potatoes of Hard West 2 is his fight.
survival in it Hard West 2 is no picnic; I must correctly position my squad on the map, measure their abilities, and use their action points efficiently while keeping an eye on both my enemies and my surroundings. This is a typical XCOM tariff; Take cover, set up flanks and kill she before they come me. There are a few helpful blessings to assist in this process. one is happiness; If I miss a lot or take a lot of damage, I accumulate lucky points that I can redeem later in the fight to better hit the enemy.
Bravado is another game changer; If I kill an enemy with one of my characters, its action points will be refreshed. This creates wonderful scenarios, such as using my teleporting witch Flynn to swap positions with a rooftop sniper and then shooting down multiple enemies from my new vantage point. Each kill refreshes Flynn’s Action Points, quickly turning the battlefield into a meat grinder.
Or I can have Old Man Bill the Revenant use a trick shot, ricochet a bullet off a saloon’s metal shield and into the skull of an enemy who would otherwise be out of sight, then use Bravado to charge forward and take out another guy . Moments like this feel great, like I’ve won a slot machine, but for chain violence.
After all, characters who go down mid-fight are only after that one fight; you don’t lose her forever. All of these factors, combined with an easily accessible reset button and forgiving auto-saves, make Hard West 2 hard without being sadistic.
An early battle I played takes place in front of a church and quickly turns into a frantic scramble as a gunman flips up the lid of a coffin and uses it for cover while his comrades shoot out the windows. I had to teleport Flynn in and use dynamite and other special abilities to take them down, and even then it was done with the skin of my teeth.
These battles are punctuated by exploring the overworld, taking on side quests, meeting new people, and chasing down the devil behind. I can set up camp and have the party members interact with each other, which is a nice way to relax from all the oddities and animosities out there on the border. The script is full of tropes covered in a thick veneer of utterly bizarre fel magic. The alternate history and focus on devils and magic mean the narrative sidesteps the era’s more problematic clichés.
Developer Ice Code Games managed to create a Wild West that I keep coming back to, even if I keep failing. The heroes have heart, the world is immersive and the combat revels in giving the player the power to mow down the opposition in a series of highly skilled and carefully executed attacks.
If you have played or given an XCOM game wasteland 3 a twist, you will feel at home Hard West 2. But those less familiar with the genre will find an unusually patient and polite approach to turn-based tactics, despite the gloom and occasional grimness of the setting.
A beta for Hard West 2 is in progress. You can register for it on the game’s Steam page.
https://www.polygon.com/23144371/hard-west-2-beta-steam-gameplay-characters-art-preview Hard West 2 Preview: Strategy and style mingle in this occult cowboy caper