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No genre is as iconic as the American Wild West. It’s the only one to blend elements of exploration, establishment, and expansion with a healthy dose of cool cowboy heroism. You don’t need to be an American to appreciate the unique landscape of the Wild West, and it’s a shame that there aren’t many mainstream games based on that time period.

Save for a few outliers, most Wild West video games have been buried beneath the sands and forgotten to the passage of time. However, if you want to inject a serving of the Wild West into your gaming sessions, you really need to check out these awesome games.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood [PC, PS3, X360]

At this time there are four titles in the Call of Juarez franchise, but the one that deserves your attention is Bound in Blood. It fixed all of the shortcomings in the original Call of Juarez and stands as the strongest of the four titles, so play this one if you want an authentic Western experience.

It’s got everything from heroes to outlaws, duels to robberies, even stagecoach chases and feuds with Native Americans. If you ignore the theme Call of Juarez is just like most other first-person shooters, but the theme and the story are what make this game as compelling as it is.

Red Dead Redemption [PS3, X360]

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Red Dead Redemption takes the Wild West genre, wraps it up in a large open-world sandbox environment, and leaves it up to the player to interact with the game however he or she sees fit. There are several game mechanics that propels this title far above every other Western shooter.

First, there’s a morality system that determines how characters in the game respond to the player’s actions. Second, there’s a system called “Dead Eye” which is similar to the Matrix’s bullet time: everything goes slow motion, allowing you to blast multiple enemies. Third, the open-world environment means you can play it for a long while Game Over Isn't An Option: These Games Never End Game Over Isn't An Option: These Games Never End Earlier this month a tale emerged of a Reddit user who had been playing the same Civilization II game for a total of 10 years. While many massively multiplayer games could take a lifetime to... Read More .

If you’ve ever wanted to play Skyrim or Fallout out in the Wild West, this is the game for you. Plus, the story is fantastic.

GUN [PC, PS2, Xbox, X360, GameCube, PSP]

GUN wasn’t an original pioneer of Western-themed games, but it sure did its part in raising the popularity of the genre. Available on multiple systems, and selling well over a million units, there’s no doubt that GUN helped gamers to see that the Wild West is a fascinating setting.

Like Red Dead Redemption, GUN takes place in an open-world environment. There’s a main storyline, but there are also multiple sidequests and minigames that expand on the lore. You’ll face down outlaws and wild animals in shooter style as you play, but you can also be the bad guy and terrorize towns if that suits you better.

Perhaps the most engrossing aspect of the game, though, is its voice acting. There’s a lot of strong talent that went into this game (e.g., Ron Perlman, Thomas Jane, Dave Wittenberg) and they really help to bring the atmosphere to life.

Wild Arms 3 [PS2]

wild-west-games-wild-arms-3

Unlike the other games in this list, Wild Arms 3 is an RPG. Though it takes place in a fictional world called Filgaia, it’s basically the American Wild West, making it a unique title since there aren’t many RPGs that make good use of the setting.

As it originates from Japan, you’ll run into a few of the tropes that pervade JRPGs 4 Things I Hate About Modern RPGs 4 Things I Hate About Modern RPGs Is the RPG genre going downhill? That may be a bit of an extreme suggestion, but there are definitely a few things that make this genre of games a hassle to deal with sometimes. Read More . However, the setting is lively, the characters are easy to root for, the story is engaging, and the gameplay is exciting. Truth be told, it’s the only Wild West RPG that comes to mind, and that should be a testament to how well this game sets itself apart from the rest.

Oregon Trail [Too Many to List]

wild-west-games-oregon-trail

Is there anyone who DOESN’T know about Oregon Trail? For many of us, it was the game that defined our childhoods and taught us that games could be harsh. I can’t count the number of hours I played this back when I was just a boy, and a list of Wild West games would be incomplete without it.

The goal of the game is to travel from Missouri to Oregon by way of the Oregon Trail all the while making sure that your party survives from start to finish. Along the way, you have to hunt for food, avoid diseases, endure the environment, and take care of your belongings.

Life in the West was no picnic, and Oregon Trail didn’t hold back any punches in getting the point across. Itching to play a modern remake? Try the Organ Trail parody flash game for free.

Conclusion

If you’ve played these titles already and want even more, try searching around for free and open source games like Smokin’ Guns Experience A Wild West Shootout Up Close And Personal In Smokin Guns [MUO Gaming] Experience A Wild West Shootout Up Close And Personal In Smokin Guns [MUO Gaming] Smokin' Guns isn't like the usual military-style shooting games like Call of Duty or Metal of Honor. It also isn't like the surreal, monster-filled Doom-esque games that fill the gamestore shelves. No - this game... Read More .

With the oversaturation of fantasy games (and more recently, sci-fi games), I can only hope for more titles that further explore this genre. I’d even be happy with a true space-cowboy type game along the lines of Firefly. One can always hope, right?

What do you think of Wild West video games? Which ones are your favorites? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

  1. Ryan
    March 7, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Really? not even a mention of red dead redemption anywhere?

    • deakul
      March 16, 2015 at 12:13 am

      Are you blind?

  2. Joshua J
    April 7, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Anyone have any suggestions for OSX compatible western games?

  3. Robert K
    April 5, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Oh, I almost forgot about this one, but I have another recommendation:

    If you're aching for a bit of a Western FPS, there's a fairly decent FOSS (free and open source) game out there called "Smokin' Guns", which is based off of the Quake III engine, if memory serves correctly.

    While it doesn't compare to the likes of "Gun" or "Call of Jaurez", it's a fun pick-up-and-play, plus it also offers multiplayer free-for-all shootouts, in addition to the enjoyable single-player mode.

    Also, I played it a while ago while it was still in beta, but I'm fairly certain that it's past the "v1.0" release already, so it should be even better and more polished now...

    Anyway, just give it a shot (no pun intended), as it's free, so you've got nothing to lose!

    • Joel L
      April 7, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Great recommendation!

  4. Robert K
    April 5, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    I know it doesn't technically count a "historic" Wild West game, but Fallout: New Vegas has all the workings of a Wild West themed game, but with just a *hint* of post-apocalyptic madness (well, more than a "hint", but let's not get technical, here, shall we?) :-P

    • Joel L
      April 7, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      I was going to include New Vegas for the reasons you mentioned, but decided against it because it isn't a "true" Western. Definitely worth a play, though!

  5. tony garza
    April 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Red Dead Redemption [PS3, X360] ------ You forgot the UNDEAD version of the game - origialy a DLC pack but its a stand along game as well.... Zombies+ old West = great fun....

  6. Joshua J
    April 5, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Six-Guns on the iPad is pretty fun for an iPad based game. It isn't Red Dead Redemption, but it is as close as you are going to get on the iPad.

    • Joel L
      April 7, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Six Guns does look pretty fun. I'm glad that there's an Android version (I don't have any iDevices) so maybe I'll try it out!

  7. Tanim I
    April 5, 2014 at 1:41 am

    I remember playing Gun and saying "holy shit, this is awesome". Not the greatest game of all time but one of my most favorite

  8. William J.
    April 5, 2014 at 12:34 am

    A fine list, but I'd definitely nominate LucasArts' 1997 FPS classic, "Outlaws." Voice talent included Beau Billingslea (Jet Black from "Cowboy BeBop"), Richard Moll (Bull Shannon from "Night Court"), and John de Lancie (Q from "Star Trek: TNG").

    • Joel L
      April 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      I haven't played it but I'll check it out. It's always nice to find a game with GOOD voice acting. :)

    • Mushrooms
      May 11, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Outlaws is an absolutely brilliant game. I came here looking for something I could replace it with. Brilliant game!

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