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Wild Bastards Key Art

Wild Bastards preview: Strategy and shootouts

Set for release later this year on PC and consoles, we’ve spent some hands-on time with Wild Bastards, Blue Manchu’s spiritual follow up to the intriguing Void Bastards. And while it does have some familiar traits, ultimately we’ve discovered that it’s its own beast: it’s more than just its predecessor with a Wild West theme.

A roguelike strategy game with first-person shootouts, Wild Bastards put you in control of the titular team of outlaws. They’re down on their luck, however, having being targeted one by one and taken down. Now there’s just two left – Spider Rosa and Casino – and together, along with the assistance of a sentient spacecraft called Drifter, they’re going to reassemble the crew and hopefully find a way back to their homestead.

Like many roguelikes, Wild Bastards has you navigate a series of maps. Here, each map is a planet for you to explore, and you’ll move from location to location, collecting loot and powering up your crew before hopefully recovering the helix of one of your fallen members. Should you survive, you can return to your ship and resurrect your crew member, making them available for your future exploits. Fail and you’ll be set back, having to start again from the beginning of the area.

Wild Bastards - Desert No HUD
Image: Blue Manchu

Needless to say, there’s a decent amount of strategy involved, especially when it comes to managing your resources. Do you take a route that looks like it has a good loot but throws up more enemy encounters? And when you have finally unlocked more members of your team, how do you pair them when it comes to exploring? These choices, along with things like how you distribute the stat-altering mods you acquire, can ultimately determine whether your efforts are in vain.

What stands out about Wild Bastards is its combat, which finds you fighting against groups of enemies on bite-sized maps from a first-person viewpoint. You’ll be in control of one or two Wild Bastards, able to instantly switch between them with the push of a button. Each has their own unique loadout, as well as special quirks and abilities for you to make use of. It’s a little basic and admittedly hasn’t set our world on fire, but it makes a nice change from all map-based strategising.

While we haven’t loved our time with Wild Bastards we have at least enjoyed it, and we’re keen to give the full game a try. We think its art direction is brilliant, and we like that it has permanent upgrades for characters in the form of Aces — cards which you can pick up that boost things like damage output, max health and so on. We just have an inkling that, like Void Bastards, it soon might become a bit of a slog. Although unlocking new characters to play as you progress might work to address that. We shall see.

Wild Bastards launches later this year on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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