The western is one of the most popular movie genres, and the image of a cowboy is one of the iconic symbols associated with the USA. There have been more western movies than one might have the time to watch, but oddly enough: the genre isn’t quite as populated in the realm of video games.

It feels wrong, doesn’t it? One would think the vast prairies, the pioneers, and stories like the life of Wyatt Earp or any of the famous bandits would inspire dozens of games… and yet it’s not quite the case. With that in mind, let’s celebrate the western games that we do have, because each of them is worth attention, even if some of them are a bit old now.

Let’s ride together into our list of…

Western games worth checking out
GameReleaseGenreDeveloperSale
12 Is Better Than 6 2015-11-20 Action & Shooter Ink Stains Games 78% Read more
Call Of Juarez 2007-06-12 Adventure Techland 76% Read more
Desperados 3 2020-06-16 Strategy Mimimi Games 89% Read more
Red Dead Redemption 2 2019-11-05 Adventure Rockstar Games 73% Read more
Gun 2005-11-17 Action & Shooter Neversoft 44% Read more
Call Of Juarez Bound In Blood 2009-06-30 Action & Shooter Techland 90% Read more
Call Of Juarez Gunslinger 2013-05-22 Action & Shooter Techland 86% Read more
Call Of Juarez The Cartel 2011-09-07 Adventure Techland Read more
Desperados Wanted Dead Or Alive 2001-07-23 Strategy Spellbound 82% Read more
Desperados 2 Coopers Revenge 2006-05-02 Strategy Spellbound 85% Read more
Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition 2010-10-21 Adventure Obsidian Entertainment 76% Read more
Hard West 2015-11-18 Adventure CreativeForge Games 87% Read more
Red Dead Redemption 1 (Xbox) 2010-05-18 Adventure Rockstar Read more
Hunt Showdown 2018-02-22 Action Crytek 25% Read more
West of Dead 2020-06-18 Shooter & Indie Upstream Arcade 95% Read more
Weird West 2022-03-31 Action & RPG WolfEye Studios, Raphaël Colantonio 45% Read more
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD 2010-12-20 Adventure Oddworld Inhabitants 92% Read more
West of Loathing 2017-08-10 Adventure Asymmetric Read more

        

West of Dead

Release date:2020-06-18
Genre:Shooter & Indie
Developer:Upstream Arcade

One of several examples of the “weird west” fiction on this list, West of Dead takes place in Purgatory. Not the afterlife, no, it’s Purgatory, Wyoming.

You’re playing as a dead guy called William Mason who has to clear the place or demons, witches, and other occult problems which took residence in Purgatory. It’s a great premise for a fantastic gameplay.

West of Dead

While West of Dead might look like a classic twin-stick shooter, it’s more interested in you approaching things tactically than with overwhelming firepower. Taking cover, using the environment, and other tricks will serve you well. All of that is presented using a deeply stylized aesthetic reminiscent of comic books, and a gravely voice work by Ron Perlman.

Key features
  • Tense, tactical twin-stick shooter
  • Cool setting and a great cast of enemies
  • The protagonist looks like Ghost Rider and is voiced by Hellboy (Ron Perlman)
  • Looks stylish as hell
        

Desperados III

Release date:2020-06-16
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Mimimi Games

This installment of the classic Desperados series (we talk about the original later on) wasn’t developed by the original studio.

Instead, it was made by people who created Shadow Tactics, a tribute to the playstyle of Desperados and Commandos, so the game was in very good hands. In fact, Desperados III is downright EXCELLENT, sitting at 96% approval on Steam at the time of writing.

Desperados III

DIII isn’t a sequel to the original games, instead: it’s the origin story, showing how Joh Cooper got first met some of the series’ mainstays. Desperados III is a fantastic mix of real-time tactics, stealth, and learning how to use each character’s unique skillset. Whether you want to relive your Desperados memories or want Shadow Tactics-but-Western, get this game, and never look back.

Key features
  • The origin story of John Cooper’s gang of bounty hunters
  • Tight real-time tactical gameplay
  • Each character has unique abilities and expertise
  • Developed by creators of Shadow Tactics
        

Weird West

Release date:2022-03-31
Genre:Action & RPG
Developer:WolfEye Studios, Raphaël Colantonio

Weird West isn’t just the name for the fiction genre, it’s also a title for a game developed by co-creators of Dishonored who reformed as WolfEyeStudios.

Weird West certainly keeps the immersive sim elements which characterize Dishonored, but instead of a whalepunk cities it takes a trip to the monster-ridden Old West and tells a story of several bounty hunters.

Weird West

Weird West’s general gameplay is similar to twin-stick shooters, with very interactive environment for you to exploit in fun ways. But that’s just a part of the story: WW has also solid RPG elements, mostly expressed by lasting narrative and gameplay choices which can bite you in the future. You’ll also find a lot to love if you liked the original, isometric Fallout games.

Key features
  • An interesting take on having multiple playable characters
  • Weighty choices and plenty of consequences
  • A great twin-stick immersive sim
  • Set in a mystical reimagining of Old West
        

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath

Release date:2010-12-20
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Oddworld Inhabitants

While not set on Earth by any metric, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath ticks many of the boxes required to call it a cowboy game.

For one, you’ll be playing as the titular Stranger, a bounty hunter with a very western attire: a cool hat, a vest/poncho mix, high, riding boots, the works. The setting itself has strong Old West vibes as well, but sprinkles in science fiction and modern elements.

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath

The story involves standing against villainous Sekto, whose operation harm a tribe of Grubbs, one of the species living on that world. It’s not particularly deep, but is well-paced, and it’s easy to get invested in the Stranger’s struggle. In terms of gameplay, it’s a first-/third-person action game with plenty of shooting powered mostly by a crossbow launching cute elemental critters at your foes.

Key features
  • Become a bounty hunter on an alien planet
  • A cool main weapon – it shoots tiny living creatures causing all sorts of effects
  • It originally launched in 2005, but got a remaster a few years later
  • A simple, but fun western-style story
        

West of Loathing

Release date:2017-08-10
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Asymmetric

A big change of pace, but it would be rude to have an article about Western games with cowboys and NOT include West of Loathing.

It’s not an epic tale of revenge, nor will it wow you with photorealistic sunsets. Instead, it’s very likely to make you laugh, and its visual side is a whole lot of simple monochrome drawings, including stick figure characters. Looks can be deceptive, though!

West of Loathing

WoL is a wild mix, as wild as the wild west is presents to you. It has, by its own admission, slapstick comedy, apretty complex RPG layer, a large world you’re to explore, deep customization, and many, many elements of a proper Western setting and story. There’s also a fair bit of the weird west vibe that rears its head every so often on this list, in case you want to more of that dish.

Key features
  • A very obviously comedic and silly take on the Wild West
  • You can customize your stick figure to an impressive degree
  • Robust RPG mechanics and turn-based battles
  • Low system requirements
        

12 is Better Than 6

Release date:2015-11-20
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Ink Stains Games

12 is Better Than 6 is a game with a title that’s hard to argue with. It’s a top-down shooter with a great, hand-drawn aesthetic.

No, really. Characters and environment are drawn, and color comes into the game pretty much only when the blood start’s spilling out of lead-induced wounds of your enemies or, just as possibly, your own.

12 is Better Than 6

Shooting in the game feels authentic despite the aesthetic, because you need to manually cock your gun before firing, and the guns are as authentic as can be given the game’s format. You can also find metal breastplates, which give you some survivability, a move taken straight out of Sergio Leone’s westerns. The protagonist also has a really nice hat, so that’s a plus too.

Key features
  • Tense, fast-paced gunslinging
  • A unique hand-drawn aesthetic.
  • Authentic arsenal of guns… and a rat with dynamite
  • Interesting story
        

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Release date:2009-06-30
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Techland

A prequel to the 2006 game Call of Juarez, Bound in Blood tells the story of Ray and Thomas, two brothers, one of which we met in the original game.

Two years after they deserted from the army, they hear the story of the famed Juarez Gold and they make some questionable alliances to find it. All the while their old commander is hot on their tail.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Bound in Blood perfected the original game’s already solid gunplay, and this time around both playable characters were of value and fun to play. Ray is a force of nature: strong and deadly with his dual six shooters, while Thomas is faster and more adept at long-range combat. Both brothers, however, are proficient in using chairs as an improvised weapon.

Key features
  • An Old West tale about brothers
  • Prequel to the original Call of Juarez
  • Each of the two playable brothers has a different playstyle
  • Strong storyline
        

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Release date:2013-05-22
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Techland

Breaking away from the unpleasant story of the dysfunctional McCall family, Gunslinger is a good bit cheekier, following a story spun by its protagonist, a bounty hunter known as Silas Greaves.

A very fun feature of the game is that as we play through each of his stories, the scenes change as Silas’ audience catches his bluff and he has to quickly amend his tale.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Gunslinger is a very entertaining game, too. Silas can specialize in dual revolvers, rifles, and shotguns, for example, because this game gives you experience and skill points. Every now and then you can even dodge bullets in a dedicated QTE, and the series’ duels make their inevitable comeback. There’s even an arcade mode, which allows you to just let loose.

Key features
  • Unreliable narration as a game mechanic
  • You decide which weapons skills you pick up first
  • The protagonist who seemingly encountered a bunch of historical figures
  • Two endings
        

Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive

Release date:2001-07-23
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Spellbound

Desperados was a clear western-themed rip-off from the Commandos games, but at the same time it was a really good game.

And since we’ve already discussed the prequel by Mimimi Productions, it’s a good time to reminisce about that one time gunslinger John Cooper enlisted a few friends, including Doc and kate from Mimimi’s game, to take down an infamous bandit going by “El Diablo”.

Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive

Cooper’s crew has a diverse array of skills, which the player needs to learn how to utilize in real-time scenarios. Like its successors, the game is geared towards stealthy playstyle, with a lot of options allowing you to create a diversion, eliminate enemies quietly, or simply sneak around. There’s a lot of room for creative solutions, and in the worst case you can always try to shoot your way out.

Key features
  • Several characters with unique skillsets
  • Creative tactical scenarios
  • Captures the western atmosphere really well
  • Lived to see a few sequels, and an origin story by the creators of Shadow Tactics
        

Fallout: New Vegas

Release date:2010-10-21
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment

Is there really any doubt that Fallout: New Vegas is a western game?

Sure, it might have the stylings of a 50s-themed science-fiction post-apocalypse, but if you could give the protagonist a horse, the differences would blur. Like Eastwood’s Man with No Name the Courier arrives from the outside world to break the status quo of conflicted factions while trying to do his (or her) job.

Fallout: New Vegas

Drop in a stylish duster or two, a hat, and a lever-action rifle and the cowboy image is complete. There’s a lot of room for roleplaying, so you can run caravans, be a gruff gunman, or try your luck in a casino and count on some mysterious stranger to save you in a gunfight. You also have a harsh Mojave desert to journey through, and there are plenty of wrongs to right and rights to wrong.

Key features
  • A large postapocalyptic open world to explore
  • Evocative mix of 1950s aesthetic, retrofuturism, and western trappings
  • Distinct factions
  • Lots and lots of dialogues influenced by your skills
        

GUN

Release date:2005-11-17
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Neversoft

Gun was, in a way, Red Dead Redemption BEFORE RDR. It was an open-world game, back before they were the industry standard, and it was unmistakably a western game with a cool cowboy protagonist.

It did have a terribly unhelpful title, however, which might have contributed to the fact that this shooter called “Gun” didn’t make much impact on the industry despite acclaim and awards.

GUN

Many aspects of RDR you grew to expect were there, except maybe not as polished as Rockstar’s games tend to be. You can deal with bandits, test the patience of towns you visit, and chase bounties if you want to. Of course, there’s also a quickdraw mechanic, which switches you into an FPP mode to make aiming easier. The graphics didn’t age too well, but the concepts and execution are great.

Key features
  • A solid Wild West open-world game from the mid-2000s
  • Exciting storyline full of twists and turns
  • Several notable actors voicing the characters, including Ron Perlman and Thomas Jane
  • A couple of historical figures make an appearance
        

Hard West

Release date:2015-11-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:CreativeForge Games

Until the arrival of literal Weird West, Hard West was the only option for someone who wanted a video game version of the tabletop RPG Deadlands.

It has magic, it has dark deals with who’s obviously the devil, and there may even be a zombie gunman shambling around. It’s a solid, atmospheric western game with a good supernatural bent in more than a few places.

Hard West

It plays out as a series of short stories with some common elements, and most events end up playing out as a turn-based battle, usually pitting the player-controlled characters against overwhelming odds. Death is cheap, and if you run out of Luck (which is a resource), you’re toast. On the flipside, good items and a good poker hand can give you interesting bonuses, just like in Deadlands.

Key features
  • You can collect cards to build mystically beneficial poker hands
  • An even better sequel launched in 2022
  • Turn-based combat with some interesting and thematic options
  • An anthology of stories
        

Hunt: Showdown

Release date:2018-02-22
Genre:Action
Developer:Crytek

It’s not a western in the “man in a poncho rides into town” sense, nor in a “white-hat sheriff holds out against bandits” one, but it’s a PvEvP set in the very late 19th century Louisiana, and features period-appropriate guns and clothes.

It also represents the “weird west” theme that is a running motif on this list, and here it’s reflected through monster hunting.

Hunt: Showdown

The main task of Hunt: Showdown is tracking down and killing a monstrosity located somewhere on the map, but there’s a trick to the match: there’s a huge bounty for the beastie, and you and your pal aren’t the only ones trying to get it. Before you extract with the trophy in hands, you’ll have to handle other hunters who won’t hesitate to put a bullet in your head to get the money.

Key features
  • Plenty of authentic period weapons, some modified for monster slaying
  • Tense matches where monsters aren’t the only danger
  • Late 19th century setting
  • Character progression comes with a risk-reward system
        

Red Dead Redemption

Release date:2010-05-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption isn’t the first in the series, being preceded by Red Dead Revolver, but it’s undoubtedly one that made the biggest impact.

John Marston’s story tugged at similar heartstrings that Eastwood’s Unforgiven did, perfectly capturing the twilight years of the Old West and its depictions in the genre, viewing them through the eyes of a man with troubled past.

Red Dead Redemption

In addition to its western storyline, Red Dead Redemption was easily one of the best open worlds of its generation. Rockstar took to creating the prairies and the settlements of the old West with the same aplomb they make cities and counties for GTA, and RDR was just as filled with things to do, even if the tone was generally more serious.

Key features
  • It is to western video games what Unforgiven was to western movies
  • Tonnes of things to do outside of the main storyline
  • John Marston is a phenomenal, strongly defined protagonist
  • A fantastic Quick Draw mechanic
        

Red Dead Redemption 2

Release date:2019-11-05
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption 2 had been expected for years, as RDR’s fans were quite clear in their desire for another Rockstar romp through the Wild West.

Eventually Rockstar started teasing RDR2, and there was much rejoicing even before the actual reveal. And when it finally came in late 2018 it turned to be a beautiful, detailed to a fault game that once again delivered a great story.

Red Dead Redemption 2

RDR2 takes place well before its predecessor, and although John Marston is an important character, we’re playing as Arthur Morgan, another member of the, at the time still very active, Van der Linde gang. Don’t worry, Arthur is at least as fleshed out and identifiable a character as John was, and tons of customization option can help you make Arthur unique.

Key features
  • The level of detail approaches simulation
  • Arthur Morgan is a great protagonist
  • We meet Van der Linde’s gang before the fall
  • John Marston plays a large part in the story, as he should

Definitely not our first rodeo

So there you have it: our list of western-themed games about cowboys, outlaws, high noon duels, and all that… jazz? Country music? You get the idea.

We got some classic westerns, a healthy dose of weird west fiction, even a trip to another planet and an irradiated future which looks like 1950s and behaves like 1850s. Any enthusiast of western stylings should be able to find something worth checking out. The only thing missing are literal cowboy games about herding cattle, but who knows what the future has in stock?