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There aren’t many Western games out there, so when I saw one in Steam Early Access, I couldn’t just pass it by. However, with Early Access titles, you often get a hit-and-miss kind of deal, which sometimes turns out for the better and sometimes – not so much. I am happy to say that Sunset Rangers [Steam] has all the building blocks of an Early Access success story.
But, let me start from the top. What is Sunset Rangers exactly?
Sunset Rangers is a Wild West sandbox survival game for PC. In fact, as far as I know, it is the only survival game with such a setting that’s being actively worked on. At its core, it is very similar to Rust, ARK: Survival Evolved, and the rest of the survival titles out there. The goal is to stay alive, collect loot, and become the most powerful player on the server.
However, Sunset Rangers offers something a bit different. There are no zombies, monsters, or dinosaurs. The world is not post-apocalyptic or set in a sci-fi realm. Instead, it’s a new frontier for players to discover and populate. It’s the Wild West in its infancy, a place of endless possibility.
The basic features provide players with procedurally generated maps for each server, basic gathering and crafting, and player base building.
Other than the features described above, players will have to loot various buildings and random containers, found throughout the desert. These can range from a full-blown Western town to a small safe in the middle of nowhere.
Every container and enemy will provide random types and amounts of loot. For example, dead bandits will drop random low-quality guns, Union generals could carry valuable rifles, and containers in Confederate forts can provide you with much-needed crafting materials.
The ultimate goal of the game is to outfit yourself with the best gear possible. In order for this to happen, you will have to spend a lot of time looking for (or crafting) new weapons, clothes, and tools.
Of course, since Sunset Rangers is a survival game, you will have to fight the environment as well. During the day, you run the risk of overheating and dropping dead. At night, you could easily freeze. And you will also have to monitor your hunger and thirst at all times.
Soon, you will find that the best way to combat the elements is by having your own base of operations. However, in order to build that, you will need lots and lots of wood. Building your own structures is quite costly, mostly due to the scarcity of the resources. However, I believe that’s exactly how it should be. After all, surviving in a desert wasteland is no easy task and I believe that Sunset Rangers recreates that struggle pretty well.
You’re probably thinking that it would be horrible if someone managed to destroy your hard-earned base after that. Thankfully, that is not possible. While players can raid your base on PvP servers, they can only unlock your doors and containers and steal the items inside. Damaging the structures themselves is not an option. This makes for a far more enjoyable experience than most other multiplayer survival games out there.
Graphics and Sound
The game is still in early stages of development, and this does show at times. For example, for the first few hours, I thought that guns have no sound effects. Turns out that the SFX slider in the sound options was all the way down.
However, when I turned it up, I did get some effects. While they are somewhat samey and repetitive, they do help with keeping you immersed in the game. That being said, I wish different guns didn’t sound exactly the same.
When it comes to the music, there isn’t much there. However, the handful of tracks that would play every now and again are pretty nice and carry that old Western movie vibe.
When it comes to the graphics, they do look quite polished and pleasant, even at Low settings. The one issue I have with them is the draw distance. While I do understand that the game has yet to be fully optimized, I wish we had the option to turn the draw distance up a bit.
The desert features a lot of open terrain and when you are looking for trees, for example, it would be good if you can see all of them that are nearby from the top of a hill. That being said, NPC and player buildings are rendered from quite far away, which helps when you are looking for a place to loot.
Of course, there are stutters and FPS drops. But we cannot expect an Early Access game to be without its problems. I am sure that those will be fixed before the official release.
Right now, Sunset Rangers is still early in its development. All of the features are there, but there are plenty of bugs and glitches that plague the game. Still, it is playable and it is enjoyable.
The developer, Aymar Fisherman, is very active and always seeks feedback from the community. This makes for quick and on-point updates that are sometimes just a few days apart from each other.
What I would like to see improved next is the economic balance, though. It is quite easy to gather huge sums of money by selling just some of your crafting ingredients to an NPC auctioneer, which allows you to buy just about anything you might need.
Another addition that would be appreciated by the community would be more diversity in player models. For example, there are no female models that players can choose at all. The only female I have encountered in the game is the NPC auctioneer.
But, let us get to the point here. Is Sunset Rangers worth your money as it is right now? Definitely. It employs a proven base concept and a setting that most developers shy away from. The end result is an Early Access game with great potential that I would love to see grow further.