Wild West Duels: Slot Overview
Hey players, get ready to saddle up for a… wait; actually, there's been so much saddling going on courtesy of all these Western-themed slots, we might start chafing in the crotch area soon. Why don't we make the journey on foot this time? However you choose to venture forth, today's destination is Wild West Duels, an online slot from the prodigious Pragmatic Play team. Now, being prodigious doesn't always mean being original - Wild West Duels is a classic example of 'borrowing' others' ideas. We won't give the name of the prior game up just yet, but if you're willing to risk a bit of saddle sore, players familiar with Western-themed slots should be able to pick it pretty soon.
Wild West Duels' setting is none other than a dusty frontier town that looks like it might have been abandoned a while ago. Perhaps the local mine tapped out, or the train barons refused to build a stop here or any number of things that would lead to a town's demise. Then again, perhaps the population are too scared to venture forth onto the streets for fear of banditry? Whatever the case, Wild West Duel's town feels kinda desolate, its streets filled with tumbleweeds, dust, and a couple of cacti. A twangy soundtrack has been supplied to fill the audio side of the bargain, which is pretty darn good, though also a little spoiled by the xylophone-like sounds for win count-ups. It's good, audio-visually, but nowhere near as uniquely atmospheric as the slot it's trying to be.
Wild West Duels is played on a 5x5 game grid, where 15 lines cross the gaming area for landing winning combinations on. That'll happen when three or more of a kind hit along a line from the leftmost side over consecutive reels. Highly volatile and rather unforgiving at times, no matter how players approach the game – buying bonuses or betting on individual spins, the RTP remains the same. It tops out at 96%, though two lower settings have been produced, so a quick check of the paytable will clear up which version you've got. If it all looks okay, then stakes of 20 p/c to $/€100 per spin can be selected to get the duelling going.
On the symbol side of things, Wild West Duels comes with 10 regular paying symbols and a bunch of specials as well. Regular pays start on the lower side with a wanted poster, necktie, drink bottle, boots, and a hat, while the high pays include five various character symbols. Hitting a winning line made up of five matching symbols awards 1x the bet for the lows or 5-20x the bet for the premiums. Appearing on all reels to help link symbols is the regular bag of gold wild, which substitutes for any normal paying symbol. In the base game or in the Duel feature, wild symbols can randomly expand to fill the whole reel, and two gunslingers duel it out. The winning dueler adds their multiplier of x2 to x100 to the wild. Expansions only happen if at least one win will be formed.
Wild West Duels: Slot Features
That brings us to three special symbols which are used to trigger Wild West Duels' three bonus rounds – the Beer Game, the Duel, and Lost Relics.
Hitting 3 or more Beer Game scatters triggers 10 free Beer Game spins. In the Beer Game, when the wild beer mug symbol hits, it gets a random multiplier of x2 or x3 and sticks to its position until the round comes to an end. Multipliers are applied to any wins they are part of, and multiplier values are added when more than one wild is involved. Expanding wilds are not part of this feature, which cannot be retriggered either.
When 3 or more Duel scatters land in view, players win 10 free Duel spins. During this bonus, expanding wilds are present, and at least one wild symbol is guaranteed to land in a random position on each free spin. This round also cannot be retrigged.
The last scatter is the Lost Relics scatter. Landing at least 3 of them triggers the Lost Relics round – starting with 3 free spins. Before the spins begin, though, players pick 9 out of 25 shovels shown on the screen to reveal either guaranteed wilds or random multipliers. Wild values are 1, 2, 3, or 5, while multiplier values are x1, x2, x3, or x5. Once the picks are done, the free spins are played. For each spin, the picked number of wilds is guaranteed to land in random positions, and each win is multiplied by the initially picked multiplier. Expanding wilds do not feature, and the round cannot be retriggered.
Buy Free Spins
If possible in your country, players are able to buy any of the three bonus rounds. The cost of buying the Beer Game is 100x the bet, the Duel costs 200x the bet, while Lost Relics has a price tag of 400x the bet. As mentioned, the RTP for all of them is the same as when non-bonus buy playing.
Wild West Duels: Slot Verdict
Okay, it's not pixel for pixel the same, but yeah, Wild West Duels is, for all intents and purposes Hacksaw's Wanted Dead or a Wild by another name. Wanted Dead or a Wild's crushing portrayal of the West came out around a year and a half before Wild West Duels was scheduled for release. Perhaps Pragmatic Play was banking on memories of Hacksaw Gaming's popular slot dwindling since then, and maybe no one would notice. Then again, maybe Pragmatic Play cavalierly steamed ahead with its version without little to no regard for what other people might think. Hardly a new move. In the world of online gambling, imitation isn't just the sincerest form of flattery, it's a fairly common occurrence.
Putting that to the side for a moment, what we've got left over is an exciting Western slot, though be warned, one which displayed moments of cruel brutality. Its bonus rounds have the ability to pull its parts together to create something special, but they could easily go practically nowhere as well, making buying them a precarious proposal. At least, it could be during our test sessions. Winning potential is massive, though, and at 20,000x the bet, there is more on offer here than there was in the original Wanted Dead or a Wild slot by quite a wide margin. Perhaps big numbers will be the bait that hooks prospective players over from Wild West Duels?
It might have to be because the rest of the game feels like a distant second. Wild West Duels lacks the originality (in regards to things like artwork, gameplay and oppressive atmosphere) that Wanted Dead or Alive exploded on the scene with. It's hard not to class Wild West Duels as a cracking good game, but only really because it nabbed its best ideas from a competitor.
When viewed in a vacuum, Wild West Duels is a classy Wild West bonanza; however, it loses a few cool originality points since most of it is borrowed from another game.