Evil West PAX East 2022 Hands-on_02

The Outerhaven’s PAX East 2022 Evil West Hands-on Preview

Evil West is shaping up to be a must-play title

When I first arrived at PAX East 2022 and was finally let onto the expo, I noticed a banner for Evil West. I didn’t even know that the game would be at the show. So, I had to make a beeline over to the booth to check it out. And while there were already several people ahead of me, I got a chance to check it out, and damn, it is fun. For those who may not know about Evil West, the title was shown off at The Game Awards 2020 show and is a title I was interested in checking out. But one that got buried under all of the other games that have since been released.

Sadly, capturing footage was a big no-no, so I don’t have anything to share. I did ask for some b-roll, so we’ll see if that turns up over the next few days. As for this writeup, I’m still in awe with the Evil West gameplay, but I wanted to get this out while it was all fresh in my mind.

The best way to describe the game is Remnant from the Ashes, but with a more significant emphasis on melee attacks and with visuals looking considerably better. Much better. It seems more… Soulslike than anything else. I mentioned this to one of the persons running the booth (I’m sorry I forgot your name), to which he smiled. I’m guessing that perhaps that was the goal.

This is the first time a playable build of Evil West was seen at any convention, and it did run a bit rough, but still, it was enjoyable. My time with the game allowed me to run through the short level that gave me an idea of what the game was about. Aside from the story elements that told, well, the story. The game features ranged and melee combat. While ranged combat is how you do most of your damage, melee attacks require you to get in close and punch the crap out of enemies. While doing so, you’ll also perform nice-looking execution attacks and heal yourself.

While doing ranged combat, I kept finding myself trying to hit the reload button. To my surprise, there wasn’t one. Instead, your ammo is on a cooldown. Once you fire off a specific number of shots, you have to wait for the cooldown to return your ammo. Until then, you’ll have to rely on melee attacks to do damage and a kick to put some distance between you and them. At first, it didn’t seem ideal, but it allowed me to also play around with the melee attacks. Something I likely wouldn’t have done if all I did was fire shots at the enemies.

A dodge/evade button was also available that let me move out of the way of attacks, and it also doubled as a “do this thing” button. Grappling over jumps and dropping down to other levels, that sort of thing.

Getting back to the combat, there were a few things that I liked. While ranged combat was easy and felt natural, there were also weak points that would occasionally show up on enemies. Shooting these weak points would do more damage to enemies and sometimes instantly kill them. While shooting them outside of weak points would either kill weaker enemies or put them into a stunned state. You can either shoot them again and kill them or punch them and heal yourself. You can tell Flying Wild Hog was developing this, and the game has the developer’s DNA all over it.

Evil West also includes RPG elements, and you will be able to assign different skills after leveling up. With the playable build at PAX East 2022, I could only level up once. I did get a good look at the skill tree, and it did look like there was plenty to choose from, and it was quite expansive.

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The demo wasn’t very long, yet it did give a good look at several enemies and the various ways to kill them, ending it off with a boss fight that didn’t allow me to damage it with ranged attacks, initially. I had to figure out the pattern and damage it enough to progress to the second phase. Only then could I use ranged attacks, but as the boss progressed, it also summoned other enemies to get in my way while the boss could sit back and heal. I had to circle back and hurt the boss, get rid of the mobs, then back to the boss. It felt like a proper boss fight. My wife saw me playing the game from a distance, and when I finished, she said it looked like I was having fun. That’s because I was.

My only concern with the game is that the keyboard and mouse controls felt janky and not as precise as using a controller. Still, this is the first playable public build, and I’m sure it will improve. Despite that, I enjoyed my time with Evil West, and I plan on waiting in line for as long as it takes again tomorrow to try it again.

Evil West releases on November 22nd, 2022, for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. I’m just counting down the days now.