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West of Dead beginner’s guide

West of the Dead is a cover-based shooter with roguelike elements and the entire experience is narrated by Ron Perlman. If the name sounds familiar, Perlman is the actor playing the iconic character of Hellboy in the movies. In West of Dead you are stuck in purgatory and if you want to know what happened to you before you died, you must collect your memories piece by piece as you progress through the levels. In this beginner’s guide we will give you some tips that helped us progress through the game.

1. How does aiming work in the West of Dead?

The description on the Steam store page reads “Descend into the grim and gritty world of Purgatory in this cover-based shooter which combines the fluidity of twin-stick controls and tactical cover usage.” Based on this statement it seems that the game assumes or implies that the best experience is with a controller. No need to worry though, West of Dead plays perfectly fine using a mouse and keyboard.

West of Dead aiming
West of Dead aiming [Image Credit: Upstream Arcade]

One thing I noticed was when I wanted to aim at an enemy, I encountered an unnatural mouse movement mechanic. Rather than trying to click on the enemies, use the mouse to turn your character towards them. The rest of the aiming happens automatically, when you see a yellow lock-on the indicator at the enemy’s feet you can fire away.

2. What do I do with Iron?

Iron is a currency you use to buy items you find in each level. Each level has a vendor, but don’t expect to find the vendor in the same place because every level you play is procedurally generated. As with most roguelike games, you lose something when you die, and Iron is one of the resources you lose when you die.

West of Dead vendor
Time to spend that Iron! [Image Credit: Upstream Arcade]

3. What do I do with Sin?

Sin is used to buy permanent items for your character after every level you complete. You collect Sin when you kill enemies on your way through each level. Sin is more scarce than Iron and you won’t pick up massive amounts during a run. We averaged about 10 Sin per level. The items that you can purchase with Sin are expensive, so spend it wisely. Although it was a tough choice, we spent our Sin on a healing flask as our first item.

4. Can you dodge enemy attacks?

Yes, you can dodge enemy attacks, and with some tougher enemies, it is crucial that you do. When you play West of Dead, you will face both melee and ranged type enemies. You can dodge both of these types of attacks. When an enemy has locked onto you, there will be a yellow indicator at your character’s feet. As soon as the yellow indicator turns red, press “Spacebar” to dodge the incoming attack.

West of Dead dodge
Dodge! [Image Credit: Upstream Arcade]

5. How to hit your targets when using a rifle

When you have a Pistol or Shotgun equipped, you can pretty much spam away and hit most of your shots. It is a different story with a rifle. If you want to hit your shots with the rifle, you must hold down your “fire” button, in my case, left mouse click. As you continue to hold the button, you will notice the reticle getting smaller as the accuracy increases. When the reticle settles and stops moving, you have 100% accuracy and you can release the button to fire the shot.

6. How do I use the cover in West of Dead?

Your character will automatically get behind cover as you approach it. Don’t be afraid to shoot from behind cover because the enemy’s bullets always hit the cover first. The cover can take a couple of shots before it breaks, leaving you exposed for incoming attacks. Once your cover has been broken, you will have to find some new cover to continue the fight. When I first started playing, I thought I could just run and gun similar to Hotline Miami. Turns out that cover is crucial to your success in West of Dead. Another thing I noticed was when enemies throw bombs at you while you are behind cover, the telegraph on the floor makes it look like you will get hurt, when in reality the cover will soak up the damage. The bomb has to be on the opposite side of your cover to soak up the damage, so if it you and the bomb are on the same side we would suggest running away

West of Dead cover
When the enemy breaks your cover [Image Credit: Upstream Arcade]

7. Enemies have two bars, what are they?

Enemies have two different bars, the one is a shield-like bar and the other one is their health. Let’s talk about the shield bar first. The shield bar gets depleted when you shoot enemies, when it is depleted, it explodes leaving the enemy stunned for a moment, giving you a breather or an opportunity, depending on the situation. The health bar is what you expect, when it gets to 0, the enemy will die and drop Iron or Sin.

8. Why is the West of Dead so dark?

When you enter a new room, you won’t be able to see exactly what you are up against. Most rooms have a lantern hanging dormant, waiting to be activated. When you approach the hanging lantern and you activate it, it will light up the room and briefly stun all enemies within the light’s radius. This is a great way to light up a room to see what you are dealing with. Once you know what you are up against, you can decide if you retreat a bit and face the enemies one-by-one or storm for cover and start clearing the room.

West of Dead light
Let there be light! [Image Credit: Upstream Arcade]

9. How do I reload in West of Dead?

The simple answer is that you don’t have to worry about reloading in West of Dead. Every gun has a reload time. After you take a shot, a certain amount of time passes before your character starts to automatically reload his gun. You can see the amount of bullets left to shoot on your character’s HUD. Best advice I can give is to shoot your guns until they’re empty, take cover, wait for your guns to reload and head back into the fight.

10. Do I have to start all over when I die in West of Dead?

Yes, because of the roguelike nature of West of Dead, when you die you will lose all your progress and you will start from chapter 1. When you defeat a chapter’s boss, they drop items to make the chapter easier on subsequent runs. You gain access to shortcuts in the chapters you completed. Luckily the items you buy with your Sin are persistent, so when you start over you at least have some items to make your life easier.

We hope this guide helps during the early stages of West of Dead. Don’t get discouraged after dying multiple times, learn the mechanics and see if you can help your character unravel his own story. 

Good luck!

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