Jump to content

Hard West - the game (opinions?)


Darkpriest

Recommended Posts

You're going to be waiting at least 2 weeks.

 

I mean, I can tell you that I'm interested and that it seems like X-COM minus base management in a wild west plus supernatural setting, but I can't give an opinion until I play it, and it comes out on the 18th.

Edited by Keyrock

rowsdower_sig.jpg.0f13980282a9229af0f1609eb6dee060.jpg
I wonder if there is beer on the sun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

X-com in the old west with supernatural overtones and no base management? Hmmmm. You guys who buy it keep us posted. I'm thinking I might pick this one up. I picked up The Long Dark on ol' H-shot's recommendation and that's been great even if only in sandbox mode so far.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, it's a few bucks off right now on Steam, so I've been thinking about pre-ordering it.  

You can usually pre-order and get the discount until literally seconds before it releases, so maybe some reviews come out before then, with any luck.

rowsdower_sig.jpg.0f13980282a9229af0f1609eb6dee060.jpg
I wonder if there is beer on the sun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seems like it could get repetitive fast. I mean there's only so many ways you can shoot a pistol or a rifle at a another human being before you've seen it all.

 

I will however check it out once people start streaming it, just to make sure I don't miss a rare gem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

With the game coming out really soon I've been scouring the net.  No reviews yet, but I did find this on the codex from Gamescom a couple months ago:

 

 

Hard West

 
I attended this presentation on Friday morning at the Cosmocover booth. When I announced myself to the receptionist, he greeted me with a slew of Game of Thrones-related puns about my name before recommending that I perform a dropkick through the door to the presentation booth to make sure that I get a seat. Cosmocover were clearly working hard to be the zaniest PR company at Gamescom. By contrast, my presenter Kacper Szymczak from the Polish developer CreativeForge was a reasonably serious sort of guy, who managed to suppress his base potato nature for long enough to conduct a professional presentation. Kacper was the lead designer on Hard West, and he began by laying out the main features of his new game: Hard West was a turn based squad combat game with strategy elements, not entirely dissimilar to the new XCOM. It was set in the "Weird West", a version of the Wild West that was "full of supernatural elements, ghosts, demons, **** like that." The player would lead a squad of up to four characters through eight story-driven scenarios (a better term might be "mini-campaigns", since each scenario contains multiple missions) that all had different plot hooks. As one example, he mentioned an "expedition scenario" that involved leading a group of explorers on a search for the golden city in Latin America. The scenarios would feature a variety of protagonists; the gameplay would be focussed on combat, but it would also offer resource management and a healthy amount of choices&consequences.
 
To demonstrate some of the more complex mechanics, Kacper fired up a mission from one of the scenarios: the player's squad had hurried to rescue the seer Cassandra from a public execution in the main square of a small western town. When the group arrived, the game did not immediately switch to combat mode. Instead, the characters could scout around the map and try to find the best vantage points and best places for cover before they launched their rescue operation. However, if you moved a character into the vision range of one of the enemy guards, the guard would gradually become suspicious; if you loitered too long, they would eventually recognize you as a threat and shout out a warning to their colleagues. Kacper offered two basic approaches to work around this problem: option one was to send in a squad of "small, wimpy guys" with easily concealed weaponry. This kind of group had "low heat"; they could avoid detection by enemies more easily, which gave them a chance to explore more of the map and find the ideal vantage points before launching an assault. Alternatively, you could send in a "high heat" group of dangerous looking brutes with big guns; these guys would be more effective in combat, but they could also be discovered very quickly. To compensate for the lack of scouting ability in high heat groups, the game offers a "threaten" mechanic: a squad member can walk up to an unsuspecting guard and hold them at gunpoint to prevent them from sounding the alarm, which opens up additional tactical possibilities for the rest of your squad. Your group's ability to threaten people scales directly with their heat; holding somebody at bay with a pea shooter is simply less effective than pointing a big shotgun at them. A well-managed high heat group can threaten a lot of enemies at once: Kacper claimed that you could rob a well-defended bank without ever raising the alarm if you managed to equip and position your guys correctly. Of course, you can only keep people threatened if you keep them in your line of sight at all times, which will greatly limit your positioning options. Thus, a low-heat group that sneaks through areas should still be able to position itself more effectively than a high-heat group that relies on threatening enemies.
 
Once combat starts, the characters have a variety of tactical options at their disposal. Most weapons have a different firing mode; revolvers, for example, can be fanned to produce faster shots with lowered accuracy. You can also look around the map for visual clues about an enemy's position. In the demo, Kacper showed us a suspicious man-shaped shadow that was cast from a position outside of our line of sight. Now that our presenter knew where the bad guy was, he could use his character's special "ricochet" ability to bounce a bullet towards the enemy's location without having to reposition himself. These special abilities are managed through a very neat looking system that was based on playing cards. When your squad finishes a mission or explores a location, they might be rewarded with one of 24 "cards". Each of these cards can be assigned to one of your characters to unlock a special ability for them. Furthermore, these cards can be arranged into poker hands that give extra bonuses to a character based on the rarity of the hand; for example, if you outfitted one of your squad members with a card combination that amounted to a royal flush, he would gain an extremely powerful passive boost. However, you would have to keep all of these ability cards on the same character, which would limit your build choices for the rest of your squad. I'm not quite sure if this downside will be sufficient to compensate for the big passive bonuses from a complex hand, especially with so many cards available in the game; we'll have to hope that the developers will be able to balance this mechanic.
 
The active abilities in Hard West seem nicely varied and extremely powerful. One of the cards grants the aforementioned "ricochet", another grants an ability that gives the user a few extra action points, and a third temporarily lowers the hp of all friendly and enemy units on the map to 1, so that every hit is a kill. If you used these three abilities together in one combat round, you might be able to kill all your enemies without even allowing them to take a shot: "you can finish the combat in the first round." These ability combos seemed rather powerful to me, so I asked Kacper at the end of the presentation how he was planning on balancing them. Only then did he mention a rather important aspect of the combat system: the "luck" meter. In practice, the luck mechanic works like this: every time you use a special ability, you lose some luck. Having low luck makes you easier to hit and also makes it harder for you to hit enemies. If you want to replenish your luck during combat, you have two main options: you can either try to pull off a chain kill (which will be more difficult if you are already at low luck), or you can take damage, which will also make you luckier. Since losing luck has such drastic consequences, you might be tempted to simply avoid using abilities as much as possible, and instead remain at high luck to reap the passive benefits. But no, this has also been accounted for: every successful hit you make also decreases luck, and being missed by enemy attacks makes you more unlucky as well. Now, I'm fully supportive of artificial and "gamey" design elements when they stand in the service of balanced gameplay, but this whole mechanic just seemed tremendously strange to me. Where did such an idea even come from? Thankfully, all was revealed in the end, when Kacper asked for my contact info and I mentioned that I was from the Codex. His face lit up like the morning sky on a fresh spring day, and he proclaimed that he was very happy indeed to make my acquaintance. He asserted that we were a great community that had offered a lot of constructive criticism to the developers; we had really helped them to make a better game. As evidence for that claim, he mentioned the luck mechanic in particular, which had been designed "based on Codex input." Is this yet another feather in our most prestigious Codex Cap, or merely further evidence that the posters in Strategy Gaming shouldn't be allowed to talk to strangers? We report, you decide.
 
The developers are also attempting to bring some spice into low-health situations that might otherwise prompt an automatic reload from players. When a character in Hard West drops to low hit points, he will receive an injury. This means that he will be severely weakened for the remainder of the battle, and if he survives, he will sustain a permanent stat loss based on the injured body part. For example, a character who was shot in the foot would never be able to move at full speed again. But even injuries have their positive side: the character is now a "survivor", which gives him more grit and confidence, and increases his aim in combat. This is another feature with a fair share of potential problems; if the bonus for surviving is large, then it might actually be useful to let your characters get injured in low-priority body parts once or twice just to reap the rewards. Imagine, for instance, a sniper type character who picks the best vantage point on the map during the scouting phase, and then stays in that one spot for as long as possible – how much would an old foot injury really matter to him? On the other hand, if the survivor bonus is low, or the downside very large, then I suspect most people would either reload upon receiving an injury, let the character die and move on, or save them for story reasons and then replace them with another, healthy crew member who would be superior in battle. It seems to me that this system will need to maintain a delicate balance to work properly, and I am not sure if it is interesting and useful enough to justify that effort.
 
Hard West also features an overworld travel map. Some locations are unlocked as part of the main story in each scenario, while others can be unlocked through exploration – think Wasteland 2, only prettier. The final game is supposed to have "dozens of locations" to discover. Many of these locations are going to feature non-combat events that are presented through text windows; in the demo, the group stumbled upon a grisly scene by a riverbank, where dead bodies were lying splayed out in the sun. The corpses had not yet been looted, and one of the companions wanted to fill his pockets. However, looting dead bodies was considered to be "bad luck" in the world of Hard West. Therefore, the group leader had a choice to make: should she allow the companion to rummage through the bodies with the promise of finding useful loot, but risk bad luck for the group (presumably, this means losing luck points), or would she play it safe, but alienate her companion in the process? These small decision events should add a lot of colour to the game, even though the magnitude of their consequences is still unclear. Kacper also mentioned other types of decisions that will emerge during the scenarios. For instance, Cassandra has a special ability that allows her to see into the future. This can be used to predict ambushes and scout out maps, or it may simply be used to cheat at poker. Unfortunately, using this ability tires her out, making her less effective in combat. Thus, you need to carefully consider when Cassandra should use her ability, and when it might be better to keep her in top fighting shape instead. The main quests are supposed to offer multiple solutions as well; Kacper mentioned rooting out the members of a secret order, which could be accomplished by either gathering clues and talking to people, or by simply killing all the suspects.
 
Finally, the presenter showed off a "bank robbery" map; he noted that the bank manager had made a deal with demons, whom he would summon by telegram (obviously) as soon as he noticed danger. However, the crew could cut the telegraph wires to stop the demons from arriving. Kacper explained that all the maps and mission objectives were handcrafted to avoid repetition. With these words, he scrolled over to a part of the map that was under "demonic influence": everything was slathered in gore, and a "corpse cart" stacked with human body parts lingered balefully in a corner. Clearly, the developers were not aiming for subtlety. One of the major decisions on this map involved determining the fate of a prisoner: "he's called the Child Eater, for a very good reason." The player could choose to release him as a powerful ally, but this act might have dangerous consequences down the road. By this point, I had noted down two potential major issues with Hard West: firstly, that the various abilities and passive bonuses from poker cards could cause the gameplay to devolve into a repetitive, unbalanced mess, despite the developer's best efforts to prevent that. And secondly, that the presentation of the game's horror themes was simply too over the top to be horrifying in any way. I don't know if meeting a guy called the "Child Eater" on a map littered with human viscera was intended to be funny, but I really struggled to take this stuff seriously. The combat animations in the demo also looked quite silly to me, with every successful shot causing veritable fountains of blood to gush out of the target. If Hard West is actually meant to have a pulpy, over the top atmosphere, then I'd say the devs have done a pretty good job of realizing that. If, however, this game is supposed to evoke a genuine sense of horror and terror, then, in my opinion, it has missed its goal by miles.
 
Hard West is scheduled to be released later this year on PC, Mac, and Linux. Apart from my concerns about balance and atmosphere, the game seems to offer a fun variety of scenarios and an impressive range of interesting combat abilities, which is a rare combination in today's gaming landscape. I'll be keeping a cautious eye on it.

rowsdower_sig.jpg.0f13980282a9229af0f1609eb6dee060.jpg
I wonder if there is beer on the sun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, I guess I'm the lab rat here.  I got the game today and started playing.  Here are my initial impressions.

 

The game is indeed much like XCOM.  You have 2 action points and can move a certain distance (depending on what items you have) with each action point.  You can move 1 action point's worth of distance and still fire your weapon, or move both action points' worth of distance and not be able to fire.  There is half cover and full cover.  Certain objects like trees and canvas obscure vision, but do not provide cover and can be shot through, so long as you can see a person's shadow you can figure out where they are and shoot them through those objects.  There are different weapons and items your characters can have.  Sturdy boots, for example, give you increased movement range.  There are consumables that have different effects like healing or improving your aim.  Some weapons have unique abilities in addition to their regular firing action, for example, a revolver can be fanned to fire multiple shots at a target with an aim penalty.  The game's unique mechanic is luck.  Each character has a pool of luck they start with.  Whenever an character has a shot miss them they lose some luck.  Whenever they get shot they gain luck.  There are cards you acquire during the game that grant special abilities.  Special abilities require consuming an amount of luck to use.  So far, I have not seen an overwatch ability, maybe it's an ability on one of the cards?  Besides the XCOM style combat, there is some resource management and a little bit of choose your own adventure, for lack of a better term, gameplay on the overworld map.

 

Rather than a single campaign, the game has a bunch of different scenarios to play through, each scenario is like a mini-campaign.  I don't know yet if the scenarios are connected with an overarching story.  The music seems decent and the rhaspy voice narration seems to go very well with the pulpy spaghetti western feel of the game.  Visually while the game won't win any awards for graphical fidelity, I think it looks nice enough.  I may try forcing some AA with nvidia-settings in the future to smooth out some jaggies.  I had flickering in the game.  Lowering shadow quality seems to have mostly gotten rid of that for me, not sure if that's a Linux-specific issue.

 

So far, I'm quite enjoying the game, though it's far too early to make any sort of judgement of it.  I love spaghetti westerns and I love XCOM style combat, so keep that in mind when taking my feelings into account.  [shameless plug] Here's the game in action, if you want to see for yourself:

[/shameless plug]

  • Like 3

rowsdower_sig.jpg.0f13980282a9229af0f1609eb6dee060.jpg
I wonder if there is beer on the sun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds even more like miniatures than XCOM. Small band, kind of like Mordheim, though, not the large scale warhammer battles.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So far, I have not seen an overwatch ability, maybe it's an ability on one of the cards?

This is a design decision. Let me quote the answer I got back in august:

 

No, there is not. We wanted to make the game more dynamic than XCOM, so the game does not reward this careful-style approach (move as little as possible, spam Overwatch, spend 10 minutes looking for the enemy).

Instead, the game promotes mobility and allows you to setup the best conditions for attack. Positioning is key.

"only when you no-life you can exist forever, because what does not live cannot die."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, so the player characters can't have overwatch, but the enemies can because I've run into a couple already that most certainly did have overwatch.  That's fine, though, the player characters can have other special abilities to work with.

rowsdower_sig.jpg.0f13980282a9229af0f1609eb6dee060.jpg
I wonder if there is beer on the sun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Overwatch sets your character in a guarding mode, they will automatically fire upon the first enemy that moves into guarding cone (typically about a 90° cone in front of the character) during the enemy's turn.

 

Is the combat as good as Jagged Alliance 2?  No, but then what is?  That game set the bar insanely high and I'm not sure any game has matched it since.  To me the combat seems extremely similar to XCOM (2012).  Enemy variety might be a concern, all the enemies I've faced so far were pretty basic, but I've only done 3 battles so far and the enemies were quite basic in the beginning missions of XCOM too, so I won't be able to judge that until I get deeper.  To me, so far, the combat seems about on par with XCOM (2012).

rowsdower_sig.jpg.0f13980282a9229af0f1609eb6dee060.jpg
I wonder if there is beer on the sun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I finished the first scenario, Hard Times.  I guess I'll soon get to see if the scenarios are connected with and overarching story.  My hope is that it's Pulp Fiction style with several stories, with some of the same characters and some new characters, at different points in time, with the stories crossing paths and the pieces of the story falling into place over the course of the 8 scenarios.  That would be cool.

 

One thing I didn't notice before is that the playing cards which give your characters special abilities can give your character another extra bonus depending on what type of poker hand you make (2 pair, straight, etc).  That's pretty damn neat, in my opinion.

  • Like 1

rowsdower_sig.jpg.0f13980282a9229af0f1609eb6dee060.jpg
I wonder if there is beer on the sun

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finished the main campaign. It was good and I'm probably going to replay it in a higher difficulty setting. But first I'll check out the other remaining episodes.

 

Some folks were complaining about the lack of free saving, but IMO this feature would be totally useless in this game / against the point. Also each campaign episode is way too short to justify free saving, imo.

Edited by Lexx
  • Like 1

"only when you no-life you can exist forever, because what does not live cannot die."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...