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Wild West Online alpha testing will begin in September

Wild West Online, the open-world PvP MMO that we all briefly thought was Red Dead Redemption 2, will hold its first alpha test on September 15, developer 612 Games announced today, with access granted to everyone who owns either the Pioneer or Collector's edition of the game. 

Both editions of the game are currently available at a fairly hefty discount—$40 for the Pioneer edition (which includes alpha but not closed beta access) and $60 for the Collector package—but "this offer is not for everyone," the purchase page warns. 

"Before you decide to preorder, we encourage you to be absolutely sure you want to play and support this game in its Alpha and Beta stages, when all the kinks are still being worked out and features won't be complete. We'll need your positive feedback to help make the game even better, so we want you to understand what you're getting into. Otherwise you can wait until there is additional gameplay information, or you see your favorite streamer playing it, and then decide." 

We recently laid eyes on an early preview build of WWO and even though it's still in a very early state, it seems at least potentially promising: If "basic interactions" like farming, panning for gold, and treasure hunting can be made interesting, "it feels capable of fulfilling certain aspects of the Western fantasy," James wrote—although he ultimately recommended holding off "until we can see and experience the raids, firefights, property ownership, and in-game economy at length."

The first alpha test will run over three weekends: September 15-22, September 22-25, and September 29-October 1. A second alpha test, which will see a "major upgrade" to the game with persistent gameplay and a new map, will begin on October 10 and run until November 15. A closed beta is expected to begin sometime thereafter; dates haven't been announced, but given how late the second alpha is scheduled to run, the previously announced plan for "mid-fall 2017" is probably off the table. 

As lead news writer during ‘merican hours, Andy covers the day-to-day events that keep PC gaming so interesting, exciting, and occasionally maddening. He’s fond of RPGs, FPSs, dungeons, Myst, and the glorious irony of his parents buying him a TRS-80 instead of an Atari so he wouldn't end up wasting his life on videogames.