Best Wild Arms Games: Every Title Ranked & ReviewedThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Among the many experimental games that marked the beginning of 3D gaming, there was one that surprised everyone with its marriage of classic JRPG concepts and the American Wild West. It was something that had never been done before and has never been successfully recreated since.
Yes, I’m talking about Wild Arms.
The original game was developed by Media Vision for the PlayStation to showcase the console’s power and the possibilities it offered, but it went on to become much more.
It was finally released in 1996 and shocked audiences with its unique Weird West setting, along with its 3D combat sequences and fascinating story which tackled complex concepts such as mankind’s effect on the environment and whether firearms can be used for good.
The latest release in the franchise for Western audiences came in 2008, and since then fans have been waiting hopefully for something new.
Replaying the games, re-watching the anime… even looking at playthroughs of the Japan-only Wild Arms: Million Memories. Being a fan is tough, so to keep hope alive I want to look back and rank every Wild Arms game(released in the West) and reminisce about the mysterious realm of Filgaia.
7. Wild Arms 4
One of the shakiest releases in the franchise has to be the fourth entry in the series published in 2006.
Although it made an effort to revitalize the franchise by introducing many new elements to combat such as the HEX battle system and more action-packed dungeons, it also sacrificed some of what makes the series special in the first place.
The whole point of Wild Arms is being a wacky Western JRPG, and this game dumps half of that out the window.
It sacrifices the Wild West-inspired setting for something more modern, mostly sci-fi, which coupled with bland characters and a somewhat pointless story made it an easily forgettable title among other RPGs from the same era.
With that said, I have to say this PS2 title is still pretty enjoyable. It’s really fun to play through and it has some amazing music in the soundtrack.
What it loses in uniqueness, it gains in polished graphics and genuinely fun gameplay… if you’re willing to overlook the many bugs on the English version, that is.
6. Wild Arms XF
If one had to choose a patron saint of JRPG franchises, it would be the Final Fantasy series. If you look at it like that, it stands to reason that when FF does something it’ll heavily influence other games.
And this is primarily evident in the 2007 release of Wild Arms XF for the PSP.
The game was released in Japan around half a year after Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, and to say it was heavily influenced by it(or the original) would be an understatement.
It may as well be called Wild Arms Tactics with how similar their gameplay is.
Wild Arms XF follows Clarissa Arwin, the leader of the Chevalet Knights as she struggles to win control over the tyrannically-ruled Kingdom of Elesius by impersonating their recently deceased princess… Except she’s the real princess because they were swapped at a very young age.
It’s a complex story with political undertones. And despite the classic anime-style turn of events, it might be one of the best stories in the series.
Much like Final Fantasy Tactics, Wild Arms XF features class-based RPG mechanics where the player has to manage an army by recruiting and training random mercenaries.
Positional advantage and choosing the right formation for each mission are key to winning. But one overall difference is that while the maps in FFT are divided into squares, XF divides them into hexes.
I’m not saying Wild Arms XF is bad, not at all. In fact, in several ways it’s much better than FFT.
War of the Lions is a remake of a game released 10 years prior and there are several minor improvements to the formula in XF that Tactics just doesn’t have.
But when comparing XF to the rest of the franchise… it still feels like a spin-off of the true Wild Arms flavor.
5. Wild Arms 2
The franchise’s second installment is by far the worst-reviewed, but it’s a tad undeserved.
It was released among some great games and perhaps that affected how well it was received at the time.
This PS1 game came out in the year 2000 as an indirect sequel to the original, sharing the same world of Filgaia and the general Weird West aesthetic. While gameplay remained mostly the same, graphics were somewhat improved by adding 3D backgrounds to towns and world exploration.
All of this on top of the original’s 3D combat made for quite a fun game.
The puzzles in each dungeon were considerably more interesting and there were more playable characters as well.
The biggest improvement, however, was in its narrative.
WA2 has deep characters with fleshed-out backgrounds and motivations that were much more relatable than those of the first one. Especially the protagonist Ashley Winchester.
The story, which follows the protagonist and the anti-terrorist group ARMS as they attempt to counter a terrorist plot to take over the world, feels generally more grounded. It also has some nice plot twists that keep you on your toes.
All that said, the game still fails to innovate much and competing with contemporary masterpieces like Final Fantasy IX and Vagrant Story it lagged behind to leave its mark on the genre of the time.
4. Wild Arms 1
On the other hand, the original Wild Arms was ahead of the competition… at least for a while.
It came out in 1996 some months before Final Fantasy VII, and until that dropped it was the best RPG the console had seen to date.
As I said before, it was commissioned by Sony Computer Entertainment to show off the console’s capabilities and Media Vision delivered with a beautiful & colorful world to be explored.
This world was full of action-packed 3D battles that blew a lot of minds back in the day.
The Weird West aesthetic was inspired in part by an anime called Trigun, from which the game pulls a lot of aspects such as the somewhat environmentalist undertones and even a character nicknamed “Stampede” like the anime’s protagonist.
It also got a lot of inspiration from Japanese and Norse mythology which made for one wild cocktail of influences.
While not specifically unique or memorable, the story of Rudy, Jack, and Cecilia being contacted by the Guardians and going on a quest to stop the end of the world was compelling. It gave you a good reason to keep playing.
It also introduced most of the concepts that would go on to shape series, such as Ancient Relic Machines (ARMs) and the ravaged world of Filgaia.
It’s a game that contributed a lot to shaping the industry and it’s widely loved by long-time fans.
3. Wild Arms Alter Code: F
After the success of Wild Arms 3, the game’s creators developed a remake of the original game for the PS2 by improving graphics and adding some combat elements from its sequels. These additions included the ability to cancel random encounters which was a godsend.
The script was also expanded, adding new characters, dialogue and even more dungeons to explore.
It’s definitely the most complete version of the original and while it may not have the same revolutionary value, it’s the version you should get if you want the best experience.
But it may not hold a candle to WA3 if you grew up with it and loved that game for all it had.
2. Wild Arms 5
The latest release in the Wild Arms franchise came out in 2007 for the PS2 and it was a blast.
Developers improved upon the HEX battle system from Wild Arms 4 making it more complex and churning up the game’s difficulty.
Having learned from their previous mistakes, they also went back to the Weird West aesthetic in full force.
Instead of a reduced world-map version of the world, locations were featured in their actual size.
Exploration was seamless which felt much better for the times. Dungeons were also much more action-oriented as they required you to jump and slide around to get across.
The addition of shooter segments served as a refreshment between the game’s many puzzles too.
Other than that, the characters are also quite charming and the narrative feels much less generic than the usual JRPG style Wild Arms had followed so far… although, of course, you do end up trying to defeat an evil force trying to destroy the world.
Overall this new take on the Wild Arms formula is perfect for someone who can’t stand the much more dated graphics and mechanics from previous entries. If you want a more modern Wild Arms experience then try WA5.
I think you’ll walk away satisfied having experienced the full extent of the franchise’s charm.
1. Wild Arms 3
However the quintessential Wild Arms experience in its most refined form has to be the third installment, which came out for the PS2 in 2002.
It kept the core gameplay and setting of Filgaia intact, while making considerable improvements in both the game’s methodology and narrative.
Equipment management was replaced by a Personal Skill system governed by invocations, setting the game apart from JRPG mechanics just enough to make it feel fresh and exciting.
Combat in general had some minor but meaningful improvements that made it feel considerably more fluid.
Not to mention the way the game handles exploration, forcing you to gather information in each town to find new locations, makes talking to NPCs more meaningful than before.
Virginia, the main character, is one of the best in the franchise and one of my favorites in the RPG genre.
Her quest to find her long-lost father gets eventually derailed into a full-blown quest to save the world from a Dream Demon, and the stakes keep getting higher the more you progress into the story.
It’s probably the most engaging storyline in the whole series.
And if you don’t trust me then go see for yourself! WA3 is available on the PSN for the PS4 and presumably still for PS5 too. Give it a try and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.