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Wild Bastards Preview – Shootin’ The Rogue

The wild stands for neon bonkers

It’s been a long while since a first-person shooter has really taken me. Traditional shooters just don’t cut it anymore, going through the same grind, and as much as I always enjoy Destiny 2, there are peaks and troughs. Void Bastards is the exception to that rule, a British humour laden roguelike that made you stop and consider your surroundings instead of just blasting through. Now we’re on the verge of a new group of bastards, albeit with less alien goop and more cowboy shenanigans.

Wild Bastards follows a similar path to its predecessor. Your crew of intergalactic outlaws must travel from one planet to the next, fighting off gangs and recruiting new members in the process of evading capture. The path you take is yours, whether you decide to visit every location or go the optimal path to the goal, though you’ll be taking turns to decide as the enemy is on the board will be moving around too. If you take too long, a bigger bad may show up on the field to block your path back to your ship. If you can avoid them, you’ll collect cash and items that can aid you along the way, or shops to spend hard earned loot, otherwise it’s a good old-fashioned face-off.

Once you get into the action, it’s your usual first-person shooter experience with some well-placed twists. You can switch between each member of your squad at any time, each one harnessing their own unique weapons and abilities. Each outlaw also has a Stunt move, potentially clearing the field of nearby enemies in a flash, that can be powered up by finding juice pickups. Clear out the level and you’ll be able to move on, allowing you to progress further through the planet and eventually return to your ship. If all your available team members die, you’ll head back to the start and lose any temporary upgrades, weapons or items you may have found along the way. It pays to be smart, then, and not go in headstrong.

Finger guns for days

Whereas Void Bastards had you playing as random characters, Wild Bastards’ ragtag bunch are more personable, with a sprinkle of relationship building thrown in for good measure. There’s a large assortment of characters, though my early hands-on time only allowed me to recruit four of the potential 13 the full game will include. Of what I’ve played with so far, the shootout experience is a fun and engaging one, with a solid assortment of abilities that keeps things fresh. My only gripe so far is how little each character’s health pool is to begin with, forcing me to switch rapidly between each one to ensure a successful venture. No doubt that will improve the more time you put into each character, and there are plenty of mods and upgrades you’ll come across randomly that can buff every available stat.

Each character feels solid, though maybe all my time spent in Destiny made me yearn for a more accurate layer to each gun. It’s hardly bad, though I seemed to whiff more than I’d like for an FPS. It’s a methodical pace, using boxes and barn doors as cover, and I’m appreciative of that think-before-you-act approach. The levels themselves are small, cramped spaces that allow for more visceral movement and combat scenarios, and the overworld maps provide an added layer of strategy in selecting your path.

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I’m liking every other facet of the game so far. It takes everything I enjoyed about Void Bastards and ramps things up to a more interesting level. It’s a different kind of experience, despite the visual similarities, as you’re no longer exploring vast ships for loot and instead fighting for survival at every turn. Those visuals, though, remain chef kiss perfection. It’s so colourful, unique and vibrant that it makes most FPS titles on the market seem like the PS3 gritty brown era. It’s an evolution, not a revolution, and I’m gleefully excited to see how much deeper and more random things will get in the late game.

Release the herd … of justice

Wild Bastards is set for release September 12 on PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. There’s also a demo you can hit up on Steam to try it yourself, or by all means go hunt down Void Bastards while you’re waiting.

Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher

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Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.


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