Hard West 2 Review

The old American Southwest has proven to be a compelling setting for many games over the years. It’s a time period that lends itself to stories about venturing into the unknown in eerily quiet and dusty lands. Naturally, stories about the supernatural filled with things that go bump in the night become appropriate for such a setting, and many games are beginning to take notice. Hard West 2, developed by Ice Code Games, is the latest game to embrace the burgeoning “Weird West” genre and is the follow-up to one of the first games to embrace worlds filled with cowboys and ghouls. Hard West 2 takes the XCOM-style turn-based combat of Hard West 1 and doubles down on the action, adopting a more “gunslinger” approach to gameplay that rewards high-risk games with high rewards . Ice Code Games has also increased the production value for this title, enhancing the Oregon Trail-like Hard West presentation, creating a unique and exciting package. It’s not the most mechanically complex strategy game out there, nor does it have the most compelling storyline, but it’s just enough to be a rewarding experience. Hard West 2 tells the story of a gang of outlaws chasing a ghost train in the American Southwest. Taking center stage is the straight-faced and stern Gin Carter, leader of a diverse posse of gunslingers whose roster includes witches, a pastor, and an undead cowboy. The gang is specifically after a demon-possessed man named Mammon, who has taken the soul of Kastral Colt, the best gunner of the posse. Every genre trope and cliché is present in Hard West 2, with enough bank robberies and train robberies to satisfy any player looking for a pulpy weird western story lifted from a comic book page. Although, the story generally leans more towards the western aspects than the supernatural and doesn’t take too many detours from the main plot in the beginning. Hard West 2 Story Box The presentation is where Hard West 2 really sells its narrative. Ice Code Games clearly loves its comic book inspirations, and it shows in the beautifully drawn artwork throughout the campaign. Often, single-frame cutscenes at key moments in the storyline steal the show with their exceptional color and detailed characters. Those elements are also well transferred to the in-game dialogue boxes, meaning that Hard West 2 is never lacking to look good no matter what’s going on. Additionally, some notable voices are driving the dialogue of Hard West 2, including work from Kevin Conroy, best known for voicing Batman, and Darien Sills-Evans, who voiced Weaver in Days Gone. Hard West 2 delivers its story in text panels in a choice-based text adventure style where it combines excellent voice-overs on top of descriptions of the game’s environments and character expressions. Lacking big-budget animation, Hard West 2 surprisingly leaves a lot to the player’s mind and headcanon as they grow to identify with these characters and control them in battle. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but its old-school text-based approach to storytelling is certainly refreshing for those who enjoy this style of game. As the story unfolds, players can make important decisions for each posse member in numerous side missions, giving the narrative a slight role-playing element. These decisions will award Loyalty Points to the designated crew member, opening up more conversation options and more combat skills as players build their relationships. However, most of these side quests are straightforward and have little value beyond clicking the right dialogue option and choosing which posse member will receive Loyalty Points. Decisions lack weight and consequence, amounting to a shallow sense of player agency. All in all, combat is what will keep players hooked on Hard West 2. Hard West 2 Combat The original Hard West has tended to be compared to the popular XCOM series of strategy games. It can be hard not to notice their similarities, even in hindsight. From the outset, Hard West 2 has had no reservations about where it gets its UI and visual language inspirations from. The game also sticks to the tried and true rigid rectangular level design of XCOM as opposed to the looser design of Gears Tactics. Mechanically, Hard West 2 has most of the staples of the genre, including the use of action points, a cover system, and percentage-based attacking mechanics. Success depends on knowing how to best use these mechanics in any combat scenario while mastering positioning and finding the best lines of sight for the best chances to hit. It all plays out like a big puzzle where the player has to determine what the next best move is going to be. Hard West 2 executes these strategy concepts well and understands how to make the process of learning, adapting, and reinforcing very useful. However, the game has some tricks that make it stand out from other strategy games. RELATED: Civilization and XCOM Devs Build New Studio Bit Reactor Hard West 2 differentiates itself as a more action-oriented strategy game, leaning its gameplay systems toward short-term, high-risk gaming rather than long-term strategy and pre-planning. It does this by reworking the Luck mechanic of the previous game and introducing the Bravado mechanic. In Hard West 2, every time a player misses a shot on an enemy or takes damage, the player accumulates Luck points. Once the player has accumulated enough Luck, they can cash it in to get a guaranteed hit on an enemy. Additionally, the Bravado mechanic ensures that whenever a player defeats an enemy on the battlefield, they get all of their action points back and effectively get another chance for free. As long as players keep killing, they keep getting turns. Hard West 2 Bravado Bravado opens up the game in new ways, challenging players to think outside the confines of traditional strategy, creating a freer combat system in the process. Often, the best strategy in a combat scenario might be to stand in the middle of the battlefield, cash out some stored Luck and drop everything on the field after the posse has relieved the attackers enough. This is about as close to high octane gunslinging as a strategy game can get. When everything lines up for the player and the opportunity to destroy a whole group of enemies at once arises, it is an amazingly satisfying experience. However, the combination of Luck and Bravado can also feel like a crutch at times. While Luck and Bravado give Hard West 2’s strategy gameplay a unique twist, it often feels like a replacement for the game’s other systems. Many players may find themselves just trying to farm Luck in their shootouts just to pay them all at once to end a scenario. Ironically, the combination of Luck and Bravado can be so powerful that it often becomes the safest option on any given turn, wasting fewer resources and guaranteeing that a turn is successful. When paired with a shallow set of general strategy mechanics, the gameplay loop can feel a little stale after a while RELATED: Tactics Ogre: Reborn Release Date and More Leak Online The only combat options that players have player in Hard West 2 is to move, shoot, use an item, or hide. Special abilities also exist but are usually very situational, and few characters have powers that can significantly slow down the pace of a battle. The game lacks overwatch states, reload mechanics, and proper class specializations for characters. All of this is standard for the genre and can significantly expand the tactical skill set of this game. Currently, the battle comes down to finding the best lines of sight and using Luck and Bravado. Additionally, the enemy pool in Hard West 2 is relatively small, mostly relegated to humans or humanoid demons without introducing any new enemy types beyond the first chapter. Disappointingly, the only mythological creature players will fight is the occasional Wendigo. It feels like a real missed opportunity to fight some interesting ghouls and fiends in a setting that has as much potential as the wild west. Map of Hard West 2 Outside of combat, players can expect to find a more fleshed-out world than in Hard West 1. The game takes place in three different settings, each with a new climate and a new set of landmarks that contain side missions, bounties, and weapons. These areas look sparse and function more like an interactive map rather than any solid and engaging open-world experience. Still, it’s a big step up from the first game’s starting map and makes Hard West 2 even more compelling to play. Hard West 2 is a solid experience despite some shortcomings and missed opportunities. Ice Code Games has created a unique and action-packed battle system while retaining much of what makes this type of strategy game so engaging. It may not have the production values ​​or depth of either XCOM or Gears Tactics, but Hard West 2 still manages to be an addictive and enjoyable turn-based strategy experience. Hard West 2 is now available for PC. Today Technology was provided a PC code for this review. MORE: The 5 Most Iconic Video Game Cowboys

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