When you hear “Wild West video game,” you usually think of something like Red Dead Redemption 2. But Desperados is in a breed by itself, introducing more of a stealth-based strategy to the mix. And this summer, the series returns for the first time in nearly 15 years with Desperados 3.

The developers at Mimimi Games are going all out with this comeback, as it’s including a lot of the strategy that made the previous games work so well. That said, it also adds some new stuff that fans will surely appreciate.

The unlikely heroes

The demo we tried out at PAX East 2020 took us through a potential train robbery and introduced us to some of the game’s features. In Desperados 3, you take control of a ragtag band of unlikely heroes led by series protagonist John Cooper. Along the way, he and his recruits will have to use their variety of items to take down adversaries. It’s a tale of redemption that is, thus far, told pretty well.

In the game, you control your character in real-time. The keyboard and mouse are the typical controls, but you can use a game controller to handle them directly. This is actually preferred, as you’ll need to make some decisions based on what enemy characters are doing.

At any time on the map, you can press left on the control pad (or a button on the keyboard) to bring up “cones.” These show you the characters’ direction of sight. Enter it too much, and it’ll change from green to yellow to red, depending on alertness. This is key to sneaking up on enemies, taking them out, and successfully completing a mission without taking too much lead.

Desperados III 2

The doctor is in

One cool aspect of Desperados 3 is the different goods each character can use for approach. One particular favorite we were introduced to in the demo is Arthur “Doc” McCoy. He sounds like a physician – and he is – but he’s also a deadly killer. He’s a little slower than Cooper but just as deadly, especially with his sniper rifle. This is where a scope comes onto the screen, as you direct it over your enemies’ heads and fire away. It’s probably the most useful ability in the game, though you need to be within range – and this is where the “cone” system proves rather helpful.

You can switch between characters at any time with a press of the right bumper (or coordinating key function), which can set you up for success. For instance, John can move ahead and shoot someone, all while you position Doc to be his back-up. Other characters join the fray as well, and you’ll need to direct the whole gang at the end of each stage. It’s quite tactical, but Mimimi Games has done really well with the gameplay thus far.

Like previous games, Desperados 3 uses a classic visual style. You see everything overhead, so you can get the layout of the land and avoid mistakes. You can also re-center the camera at any time on your character, just in case they wander off. It’s not as incredibly detailed as Redemption, but it looks great thus far. Desperados fans will be right at home.

Reach for your gun!

Our time with the demo was way too short for its own good. However, Desperados 3 took us by surprise. Its gameplay is deep and enjoyable, even if you’re not necessarily into stealth games. And its visual style embeds itself into the old-school, just like the previous games. If you’re a fan of Western games in general, or you just want something that takes tactics in a fun new direction, this is a game you’ll want to draw for.

Check out the trailer below, and make sure to wishlist the game before it debuts sometime this summer. A closed beta will start soon!

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