by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Good times are coming for fans of real time tactical games with a heavy focus on stealth. Back in July word was sent out that a new Commandos game is in the making, and Gamescom saw the announcement of a new Desperados game. Commandos wasn’t quite ready to be demonstrated but Desperados was. Dominik Abé, Creative Director at Mimimi, was clearly eager to share the studios work so far, and they had every right to be excited - the game looked glorious.
Mimimi Studios, of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun fame, are the perfect studio to bring this iconic IP into the modern age. Dominik stressed that they were looking to stay as true to the original formula as possible. The new Desperados III will be evolution, not revolution.
Hide the body in the bushes
The game map felt a bit more… up close and personal than the original games. It’s not that everything looked bigger, or more zoomed in, it was just a tad opener, warmer and of course a lot more detailed. For the demonstration, Mimimi had us acquaint ourselves with Hector, a mountain of a man with a bear trap and a good sized axe swung over his shoulder. The bear trap was put to use immediately. Three guards were barring entry into the town. Keeping a close eye on the new cone of vision - a new introduction for Desperados - Hector shuffled behind a bunch of crates where he set the trap. The cone of vision has two ranges. Close by, you will always be seen passing through. The farther range allows you to sneak through while crouching. Hector did not need to cross through either to set the trap. All he did was wait until one of the guards started on his round. Next, he whistled to lure the remaining guard and hid in a nearby bush. As the guard snapped the trap, blood splattered in every direction. It did not take long for the guard to lose too much blood and topple over. Picking up both the trap and the guard, Hector dragged the latter to the bushes so that the other guard would not key in on the missing man. One down, two to go.
This simple demonstration showed off much of what made the original Desperados games so interesting to play, but not the most important part, which is a high level of teamwork between all of the characters at your disposal. For the next takedown, Hector teamed up with Cooper, who had been hiding nearby and was now scurrying close to a shed behind which the second guard was patrolling. He did not come close enough to take down quietly, so Hector whistled again to attract his attention. At the right moment, a quick, silent throwing knife flew through the air, hitting the guard in the throat. Hector, after approving of Cooper’s skill with the knife, took the lead on the last guard. At this point, Dominik told us how it was important to check out what type of enemy you were dealing with. Some of the bulkier enemies were not taken down so easily, which could mean causing a huge ruckus while trying to. Sending man-mountain Hector would be your best bet. Hector attacked the guard from the side and was able to take him down quickly - goal accomplished!
The next area was what the developers called a Civil Zone. These areas can be traversed at will and unless you start killing people, no one will pay attention to what you are doing. As we entered the town proper, Dominik told us what our mission was on this map. The local townsfolk were being oppressed by White Marge, an unsavoury character working for the train company that was destroying the town one house at a time for the sake of laying tracks. Taking her out would slow down the company’s progress and perhaps stop it altogether.
In most missions you have a choice between using deadly force, openly in public, or make whatever you are doing look like an accident. For the demonstration, our presenters chose for the latter. After observing the goings on for a short while, it became clear Marge was an alcoholic. One of her servants would bring her booze from a barrel in the other room. Using all available characters to gather intel, create distractions and take down inconveniently located guards, we managed to poison the booze. This was a much more complicated puzzle than defeating the three guards earlier and some actions needed precise timing for our plan to work. We were promised that a planning tool was in the making which would help set up the actions of your team, which really sounds like it would come in handy.
A good looking Alpha
Mimimi productions said that the build we were looking at was an early alpha, which sounded like music to my ears. If this polished build was nowhere near finished, the final product is going to blow people away. Maps look amazing and the amount of detail in the stealth mechanics is incredible. Many actions and weapons have a noise radius, showing you exactly how much ruckus you will make. Even water has been given a role in hiding or revealing you - leaving footsteps behind in the soil may betray you and walking through water could hide them, but walking through water is loud, alerting anyone nearby to your presence. Perhaps it is a good thing, then, that the game encourages you to save and load often so that you can try different approaches to solving each puzzle. Either way, Desperados III looked incredibly promising. It’ll be a long wait before the game’s expected release in the Summer of 2019.