I quite often find myself walking off into the world of imagination as I attempt to conjure an MMO genre that hasn't been overused to oblivion, and more often than not, I revert to my childhood passion of Cowboys and Indians. In my most recent Critical Hit article I touched on the severe lack of Sports MMO's but in this case there's plenty of Wild West themed MMORPG's available but again, there's a lack in quality.
We've got the aptly named Wild West MMORPG, Wild West MMO and arguably the most popular The West. All three are browser-based MMORPG games and following typical browser-based style, they lack any seriously appealing combat system and mechanics.
The Wild West has long been an obsession of the modern day era. The lawlessness, the battles of pride and honor and in true heroic fashion, the damsel in distress. However, we've yet to see an MMO that has been able to capture all of these elements in true AAA style. Splitscreen Studios recently released their adaptation of the Wild West in the form of Dino Storm but however appealing the visual setting of the Wild West may be, throwing in dinosaurs and laser guns is not exactly what I had in mind.
Imagine the free roam aspect provided in titles such as Red Dead Redemption with the in-depth character progression and customization of Guild Wars 2, minus the magical abilities of course. The option of exploring the deserts hunting animals and discovering new settlements or staying in town and living the life of an average citizen under the watchful eye of the Sheriff and Deputies. Players could choose different factions such as Indians, Cowboys and Citizens, each with different job prospects, abilities and in-game responsibilities.
The duels at high noon, the drunken bar fights, crafting, it all fits so perfectly with the Wild West setting. It's the very core of MMORPG games, everything we see in today's fantasy MMO titles could fit within the historic Wild West with ease, but yet again it's an area of the genre that developers seem to avoid. Every time New Year's rolls around I sit and hope a developer will announce something truly unique, something we've not seen before, something we've all been waiting for. Are we waiting in vain?
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