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Here's 11 minutes of cowboy battle royale Grit's technical test in action

I'm always happy to see another cowboy game—aside from Red Dead, I don't think I've played one since 2009's Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, which was a delightfully over-the-top shooter. Recently I spoke to the developers of Grit about their plans for a wild west battle royale, and in Grit's technical test today I played a few hours of their very early version of the game. It definitely feels incomplete, and will hopefully look and run better by the time it enters Early Access sometime this year. There were a few things I liked in this early version, though.

The best thing about Grit is its dust and smoke. Well, not the giant dust storm that serves as the battle royale circle—that's pretty bland. But I really like how firing Grit's weapons emits big puffs of smoke, serving as a glaring indicator of where you are. It's a nice, natural way to trace whoever's shooting at you. The same goes for horses: if you ride at full speed, your horse kicks up a big dust cloud that's visible from very far away. Slow down to a trot, though, and that cloud dissipates, letting you travel a bit more stealthily.

Grit sounds good, too. Shotguns really roar, and you can hear horses galloping through canyons from far away. The world right now feels too still and lifeless, but the sounds of other players moving and firing from a distance do a good job of selling the old west setting.

I wouldn't say the few hours of Grit I played were a lot of fun—it's hard to get a good sense for the feel or pace of the action when most matches in the technical test topped out at about 20 players on a map built for 100. If you aren't interested in the development process, I say wait for Grit to hit Early Access before saddling up.

When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.