by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
We arrived a little bit early to our Gamescom demonstration of Desperados III. While we waited, we had a chance to talk to the developers about how the game progressed since our demo last year. The feedback to the 2018 demonstration had been very positive, which had energized the team, but also lead to the realization that the quality of the demo mission would need to be replicated 15 times to create the full campaign. A daunting challenge but - if the mission we were shown this time was anything to go by - one they met with verve.
This year saw the introduction of the fifth and last character on Desperados III’s roster of (somewhat unlikely but likeable) heroes. If the previous heroes seemed colorful and diverse, Isabel ups the ante with some cool tricks. Where the other characters rely on mundane things like stealth, range or brute force, Isabel adds a fun dose of Blood Magic to the mix.
The demo started with Isabel caged up and surrounded by a number of guards. Not a likely situation to get out off, but Blood Magic is a weapon of the mind rather than steel. Her powers allowed her to control the mind of one of the guards who she ordered to unlock the cage. The other guards, seeing odd behavior from their pal, became alert and started an investigation. As there were too many to handle on her own she needed to thin their ranks. The solution was moving the controlled guard out of sight, luring another guard to his location (using her irresistibly cute cat companion as the lure) and killing him outright. That left Isabel with two guards who had now returned to their normal patrols. This is where Isabel showed off her second ability, which is to link beings (note “beings”, not just people) together so that anything that happens to one, will happen to the other. Decking the closest one from behind, we saw the second one fall too. She tied up the one, and well, you guessed. She was now free to flee the scene.
Possession does not last forever and can not be used infinitely. Like many special abilities in Desperados III, you use up ‘special ability ammo’. Once depleted, you’re no longer able to use them during that mission. Linking, though, is infinite which means we can get very creative with that specific skill. And when I say creative, I mean creative. Linking two enemies, tying one up, and throwing him in the river will mean both end up gasping for air – yes, even the one on dry land.
Shortly after her escape, Isabel walked into a standoff between the rest of the team and a bunch of enemy henchmen. It didn’t look good for our heroes – one pinned down in a stranded river boat, one caged, and a sizable opposition made it look like it was only a matter of time before they’d be overwhelmed. Isabel, of course, could tip the balance.
The devs showed off a number of ways to resolve the situation, all fun, but my interest peaked when they showed off the new pause function that allows players to combine multiple actions. In this mode, you can really work out some cool actions which then explode as you return to real time. For instance, you could have Isabel link two visible henchmen, have Doc McCoy snipe one, and set up Hector to unleash his shotgun fury on the henchmen trying to flee as they realise their fortunes have turned.
These were the more eye-catching things we were shown during the demonstration, but there’s quite a bit more to talk about. I particularly loved the idea of being able to adjust difficulty settings to my exact liking. Do you want your ammo on easy, but your enemies on hard? Done. Another one was swimming. Not all characters can swim – Hector doesn’t like to get his bear trap wet (yeah right Hector) - and most maps feature limited water, but this particular map had lots and we saw Isabel approach unaware enemies multiple times, coming out of the water like a Navy Seal, each time putting the element of surprise to good effect.
Accessible but challenging
Desperados III looked every bit as good as it did last year and I am excited by the idea that the devs created a game that can be more accessible to newcomers, but still every bit as challenging as the originals for its core fans. My only question is whether the linking ability will be too overpowering. The devs said they were aware of that possibility and are working on ensuring that it will be balanced. We’ll see how that works out in the final game when it releases later this year.