So far, Wild West Online is more mild than wild

I've just stepped into a bear trap. It was my own bear trap, and I did it on purpose, specifically because the item description of the bear trap warns you not to step into your own bear trap. Sometimes, I think, when you're warned against doing something, it makes it nearly impossible not to do that thing. The trap has a secondary effect beyond making me lose half my health and gush a lake of blood: it also makes me want to do it to someone else.

I'm playing Wild West Online, currently in alpha. As James noted during even earlier look at the MMO, the sprawling open world dotted with small towns, farms, and campsites looks lovely, but is (currently) a bit desolate. Most of my time has been spent riding hither and yon, and then back to hither, and then over to yon again, because the quest I got in hither needed me to go to yon and vice-versa.

I spent all my money on bear traps and beans.

Most of the missions now available are fetch quests. A guy left his bottle of whiskey by the river and will pay a surprisingly handsome fee if you retrieve it. Someone else is hankering for some opossum meat, and who better to deliver those marsupial steaks than you, a complete stranger? One fella asks me to check out three different nearby locations to see if they're suitable for house-building, and then asks me to personally move all his belongings to a new town. This is all point A to point B then back to point A type stuff, without many distractions (pr players) in between.

This is to be expected in a game that's a work in progress, and gives me time to try making my own fun. After walking into my bear trap and noting the impressive amount of blood that instantly splatters everywhere, I ride to town to buy a bandage, which costs $30. I can't afford it—I've spent my recent quest money on bear traps and beans.

With no bandage to heal myself, I eat all my beans, 10 cans of of them, which I bought for a mission excitingly called "Cooked Beans for Everyone" which has assigned me the task of delivering cooked beans (for everyone) to a man planning a party. A bean party. I have so far only acquired uncooked beans and I can't figure out how to cook them (trying to use a cooking pot at a campground just wound up burning me). So, I eat 'em. The beans keep my health up long enough for me to stop bleeding, though I suspect that dude's party is going to suck.

Since it's clear I can can be horribly maimed with my own bear trap, I set up four more traps on the road outside town. Then I sort of hang around to see what happens if another player rides into them.

This is what happens when another player rides into them:

As you can see, his horse, having blundered into an open bear trap, stops short. After freeing himself, the player rides into the next bear trap, which kills him. I'm not sure why a horse stepping into a bear trap would kill the rider, but it makes me laugh, and then makes me feel guilty. Why am I such a jerk in the old west? I can't remove the traps, so hopefully they'll at least vanish when I log out. Sorry, random player.

This is the second player I've killed. Players can become wanted (presumably by killing other players, though it doesn't appear my trap-based murder has labeled me a scoundrel) and if deputized by a sheriff NPC, killing a wanted player will earn you a bounty. While riding into a town, I noticed a wanted player standing right outside the sheriff's office. So, I ran in, got deputized by clicking a button, ran outside, shot the bandit in the face, then ran back in, collected my $4 bounty, and turned in my badge. 

Shooting politely motionless bandits who clearly are just standing there in hopes of being shot isn't really doing it for me, so after another bout of fetch quests I spend my money on a pickaxe and a gold mining map, which is a consumable that comes in a pack of five. Use one of them, and it'll tell you where you can mine some gold. I gallop all around the world, every now and then stopping to consume a map. Each of the five times I try it, I'm informed there is no gold in the vicinity. That was not money well spent.

A little while later, I'm notified that an artifact has appeared in a certain region, and I rush over to hunt for it, figuring the entire server of players will also rush over and there'll be a big bloody gunfight over whatever this item is, like an airdrop in a battle royale game. I think that's the idea, but I don't actually encounter anyone else in the area, and neither do I find the item myself. Mysterious. Even more mysterious, I come across a tree that appears to be freaking the hell out. Or maybe it's just dancing like no one is watching, until someone starts watching:

Alphas! They're fun. And weird.

And, I have to say, a Wild West Online has seemingly pleasant community of players so far. I shot at one guy repeatedly for no real reason, and all he did was mock my poor marksmanship and then ask (from a safe distance) if I needed help doing anything. Everyone else I came across just went about their business and didn't do any needless killing or griefing (that I saw). Even the outlaws I saw weren't just wasting players at random. I'm not sure what they're doing to earn their outlaw status, but they weren't doing it to me.

While I moderately enjoyed the hours I spent roaming around the early build of Wild West Online, there's just not a heck of a lot to really do at the moment. It's one I would like to check back on in the future, though. After all, I promised a man I'd bring him cooked beans for his party. As god is my witness, I will.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.