At first, Desperados seems like an unusual franchise to revive. When Desperados 2 launched thirteen years ago in 2006, it failed to match the positive reception of the original Desperados, and though a spin-off called Helldorado launched a year later, the series faded into relative obscurity.
But that wasn’t the end of the road for the Desperados franchise. With the success of tactical stealth titles like Shadow Tactics, it seemed like a natural fit to bring one of the original franchises in the series back to life.
The original developer, Spellbound Entertainment, went bankrupt in 2012 and eventually relaunched as Black Forest Games, now a studio in THQ Nordic developing the remake of Destroy All Humans!, while responsibility for Desperados III fell to Shadow Tactics developer Mimimi Productions.
I had the chance to speak with Desperados III creative director Dominik Abé about his vision for reviving Desperados.
“I was always a huge fan of the mood of the series,” Abé said. “It was one of my childhood memories.” His passion for the original franchise came through in the demo I got to play, which walked us through an early mission and then showed us a sneak-peek of an impressive late-game city level.
Desperados III is a prequel to the original games and offers an origin story for series lead John Cooper. The campaign, which will have around twenty-five hours of content, features two parallel timelines: one shows Cooper as a fourteen-year-old kid, learning the tricks of the bounty-hunting trade from his father. The game jumps around locales and timelines, but we saw demos set in New Mexico and New Orleans.
While the other timeline shows Cooper as an adult, it still takes place before the events of the other games in the franchise. Not dissimilar to Red Dead Redemption 2, it shows how Cooper meets other returning series stars Doc McCoy and Kate O’Hara.
“We were confident enough to work with an existing IP,” Abé said. As he walked us through the demo, we got to see the range of new and returning abilities. Showdown Mode is a highlight: while playing as Cooper, players can pause the action to rapid-fire and take down two targets.
Doc McCoy can distract enemies with his bag, which will release a noxious gas to knock out enemies. And while more info is forthcoming on O’Hara’s abilities, her espionage-focused skill-set will feature the ability to disguise herself.
This is the first time the Desperados franchise will be coming to console, and the game has been impressively adapted for both controller and keyboard and mouse with virtually no compromises. During the demo, we seamlessly switched between keyboard and mouse, where a classic menu bar with hotkey shortcuts allowed for ability changes, to a weapon wheel for fluid controller support. While this type of game will always work best with a keyboard and mouse, it felt surprisingly comfortable with a controller.
While I asked Abé about a potential Nintendo Switch port, he suggested it wasn’t possible because of how much CPU performance the game’s AI demands.
This game is heavily inspired by the first game of the franchise, Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive and is being developed by Mimimi Games, creators of the critically acclaimed 2016 hardcore stealth hit SHADOW TACTICS: BLADES OF THE SHOGUN.
Expect Desperados III to launch on Xbox One, PS4, and PC by the end of 2019.
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