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10 Best Video Games Set In The Wild West, According To Metacritic

Rockstar Games has certainly helped revolutionize the open-world format through the western epic that was Red Dead Redemption II, and elsewhere with the seemingly endless (and most recent) re-releases of GTA V. But the western genre and “wild west” setting fills a particular niche that isn’t explored too often.

The 2018 sequel has debatably become the most well-received and popular of its time, but there are other noteworthy titles from years past. Metacritic has ranked the best in this particular setting, from the cult-classic Oddworld series to even the JRPG Wild Arms​.


10/10 Call Of Juarez: Gunslinger – 76 (Xbox 360, 36 Reviews)

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger promo art featuring the protagonist standing over piles of wanted posters.

The Call of Juarez games had a short-lived run from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s, but they managed a couple of solid entries. Gunslinger was the latest release, putting the wild-west setting in a first-person shooter wrapping.

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Its story also takes a creative spin on real-world figures of the American Wild West, from the likes of Billy the Kid to the Sundance Kid and beyond. Critical reception highlighted arcade-style gunplay action and an interesting take on the storytelling

9/10 Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood – 77 (Xbox 360, 77 Reviews)

Characters of Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood wielding their guns in promo art.

Bound in Blood was the first sequel in the Call of Juarez series, and it’s also the most well-received. Taking place 16 years after the original game, Bound in Blood revolves around the story of two brothers who fought on the side of the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

The two later deserted the war to go back and save their families, all the while trying to shake their former commander off their trail. It’s a shame the series has been effectively put to rest, as on top of giving this exciting setting more variety in gaming, they’re also underrated games that’d benefit from modern gameplay design advancements.

8/10 Desperados: Wanted Dead Or Alive – 78 (PC, 12 Reviews)

Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive promo art featuring one of the characters arriving at El Paso.

A PC-exclusive series, the Desperados trilogy of games is an interesting choice for players that want to experience a Wild West-themed game through the lens of a different genre. Games of this nature typically opt for first- or third-person action adventures, if not outright shooters.

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However, the early-2000s Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive has players go through the frontier in a top-down and real-time strategy format. The game was given praise for its use of tactical combat, as well as an engaging western-set story.

7/10 Wild Arms 3 – 78 (PlayStation 2, 30 Reviews)

Wild Arms 3 key art featuring the main cast together at a restaurant.

There are plenty of excellent contemporary JRPGs to play for newcomers and veterans alike that use familiar fantasy or sci-fi settings, but one might be surprised to find out that there’s a western-themed game of this genre in the form of Wild Arms 3​​​​​​. Released for the PlayStation 2, Wild Arms 3 doesn’t take place in a fictionalized version of the real-world western frontier, but it uses a sci-fi planet that draws heavy inspiration from it.

Players play as the protagonist Virginia Maxwell as she seeks out adventures on the vast desert planet of Filgaia. And as most JRPGs (especially of that time) combat involves turn-based action, being praised for it as well as its cast of characters and story.

6/10 Gun – 79 (Xbox, 55 Reviews)

The protagonist of Gun firing two revolvers in promo art.

Red Dead Redemption undoubtedly popularized the concept of an open-world western game, but Gun did a solid job of it a few years before Rockstar’s first mainline game. The aptly titled game takes inspiration from classic Clint Eastwood-style spaghetti-western films for its setting and opted for a third-person action-adventure game format.

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Players could use different types of guns, as well as explosives and bows for combat. Just as well, there was also an option to switch to a first-person camera to engage in combat from an alternate perspective.

5/10 Red Steel 2 – 80 (Nintendo Wii, 73 Reviews)

Red Steel 2 promo art featuring the unnamed Hero wielding a gun and katana with the Lower City in the background.

Nintendo has published some of the most memorable games in the history of the medium, spanning generations worth of consoles. The usual suspects like Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda will understandably be the center of attention, but the Wii had its fair share of hidden gems. That includes the inventive Wild West game Red Steel 2, thanks to its gameplay approaches.

It revolves around an unnamed hero of the Kusanagi Clan as he tangles with the vicious desert-dwelling Jackals gang. But what makes this such a creative game is how it blends the Wild West with a samurai story, which is emphasized in its story premise and fun mix of first-person shooting and hack-and-slash swordplay action.

4/10 Desperados III – 86 (PC, 61 Reviews)

Desperados III promo art featuring John Cooper facing the sunset and his crew in the background.

After the sophomore entry was released to more middling reviews, Desperados III was launched in 2006 to become easily the most critically praised game in the series. Set in the Wild West of the 1870s, this sequel goes on an exploration of the series protagonist John Cooper’s origins, while taking thematic cues from Spaghetti Westerns like Once Upon a Time in the West.

Critics cited the unique personalities of each of the game’s characters to be refreshing while delivering rewarding gameplay by using mechanics that involve meaningful player choice. Likewise, the standout characters helped diversify and make the tactical combat all the more gripping.

3/10 Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath – 88 (Xbox, 65 Reviews)

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath promo art featuring the Stranger in a wasteland.

The Oddworld series was a cult classic from the original PlayStation days, largely using the platformer and action-adventure genres as the basis for its gameplay. The games typically put the player in the shoes of a protagonist fighting off industrial conglomerates from devastating’s Oddworld’s ecosystem. And in Stranger’s Wrath, the game puts a sci-fi Wild West spin on its usual formula.

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The titular Stranger protagonist goes on a series of bounty hunts to pay off treatment for a mysterious ailment. Stranger’s Wrath was highly regarded for its unique experience, using a combination of third-person for platforming exploration and melee combat, with first-person used for shooting mechanics.

2/10 Red Dead Redemption – 95 (Xbox 360, 96 Reviews)

John and Abigail standing next to each other in Red Dead Redemption.

Its sequel expectedly takes the lion’s share of attention for improving on an already stellar foundation, but the original Red Dead Redemption still stands as one of Rockstar’s best games. Much of the game’s acclaim came from the intricate open-world game design, and how the western setting was used to fit it.

Taking on the role of John Marston, the player sets out on a gritty wild-western story that sees the former outlaw get roped back into his life of crime. Along the way, players could shape John’s personality and progression through the world through a morality system that affected how characters would interact with him.

1/10 Red Dead Redemption II – 97 (PlayStation 4, 99 Reviews)

Red Dead Redemption 2's Arthur Morgan in front of New Austin's map.

One of the biggest landmark games in recent years, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption II was a massive step forward both in terms of open-world gameplay and the dynamic systems that comprise it. Though a sequel in name, the narrative is a true prequel.

This time, players follow protagonist Arthur Morgan and his gang – including the aforementioned Marston – as they deal with the dying age of the “western outlaw.” Its world is huge with great mechanical depth to it, with many of the dynamic interactions to be had with characters and changing environmental effects combining for one of the most immersive wild-west games to date.

MORE: 15 Red Dead Redemption 2 Quotes That Will Stick With Us Forever

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