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Bounty Star takes Armored Core to the Wild West

A mech stands in a desert in Bounty Star.
Annapurna Interactive
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

More than any other subgenre in gaming, the mecha game has a very defined look. Titles like Armored Core and MechWarrior both tend to share a lot of aesthetic similarities, with rusty mechs battling in a hardened sci-fi world. The art style may change here and there, but the genre certainly has a uniform so to speak.

That’s about to change thanks to an unlikely indie. Bounty Star is an upcoming title from publisher Annapurna Interactive that’s unlike any mecha game I’ve ever seen. In fact, I didn’t realize it was one at all until I went hands-on with it at Summer Game Fest. While it may not wind up being the tightest or most complex mecha game, its unique Wild West tone gives the genre the aesthetic shake-up it needs.

In Bounty Star, players take on the role of Clem, a bounty hunter living out in the deserts of the American Southwest. She’s hidden away in a modest roadside scrapyard where she spends her day cooking meals out of the local cacti and tending to her giant mech. Before actually jumping into that robot, though, I get a small taste of Bounty Star‘s other side: its base management. My first missions simply have me gathering some materials and cooking a nice meal, which will grant my mech some buffs on its next trip out. I’m not sure how deep that piece of the game goes, but the full release promises farming, ammo crafting, and animal raising.

A robot shoots at another in Bounty Star.
Annapurna Interactive

The meat of the experience, though, is its third-person mecha action. After tending to my settlement, I head over to a board in my base and pick up a bounty. I hop into the cockpit of my machine and customize all my weapons and gear to build a loadout for the mission. After that, I’m dropped into a bite-sized mission where I need to track down a target on a small map out in the desert. It structurally brings me back to Armored Core, with its small objectives that can be completed in a few minutes.

A few handy tutorials teach me the basics of battle. I can aim and fire my gun at enemies, slash them with my melee weapon, or spray out a spinning hail of bullets by pressing fire in the middle of my melee attack string. Those actions will heat up my robot, though, and there’s a consequence for that. If my machine overheats, it’ll temporarily become immobilized and leave it open to attacks from foes.

It’s hard to get a sense of just how deep Bounty Star‘s mecha action really is from the short snippet I played. Battles seemed a bit simplistic, as I had limited tools I could use. I was either shooting or performing the same slash combo depending on my enemies’ resistances to those two damage types. I’m hoping that it’s just a matter of an early game build and that later gear will make a bigger difference to playstyle.

Even if combat does land on the shallow side, I’m happy to see a mecha game with such a unique tone. Bounty Star goes full-on Western, replacing cowboys and robbers with giant robots. That makes way for some more human storytelling built around Clem, a tortured war veteran, as opposed to the headier hard sci-fi of something like Armored Core. The genre could stand to think outside the cockpit a bit more as Bounty Star is doing here.

Bounty Star will launch in 2024 for PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. It’ll release on Xbox Game Pass as well.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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