Desperados 3’s gameplay is very similar to Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun – the studio’s previous game – which in turn was inspired by the original Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive. This is a tactical real-time strategy game in which the player is presented with complex tasks, the solution of which is achieved by combining the abilities of five very different characters:
John Cooper is the team leader and first playable character. Carries a knife with him that can throw at an enemy from afar. Cooper also has counterfeit coins, with which he can temporarily avert the eyes of opponents, attracting their attention with the sound of falling. He knows how to shoot with two revolvers at two different opponents at the same time.
Doc McCoy is a physician and part-time bounty hunter. Doc has a revised revolver that allows him to silently kill enemies at very long distances. Carries a bag that can be thrown into the enemy’s line of sight, forcing him to come up and examine him. When trying to open the bag, the enemy loses consciousness from the vapors released by him. He knows how to throw flasks with swamp gas, temporarily lulling opponents who fell into the affected area. McCoy also knows how to heal his comrades.
Hector is a trapper and an old friend of Cooper’s. Armed with an ax and a shotgun that can area targets. He carries with him a huge bear trap, which he gave the nickname “Bianca”, and into which he can lure opponents with a whistle. Can carry two defeated opponents at a time and even run with them. The only one of the five who can cope with opponents, called “cloaks”, alone.
Kate O’Hara is a country girl who killed her fiancé after learning that he sold her family ranch in secret. Carries a derringer pistol with him, which has a little noise. She knows how to dress up in women’s outfits, which can be found at the level, allowing her to walk unrecognized among the guards, but can be revealed by cloaks. While Kate is not revealed, she can distract the guards with conversation, or temporarily withdraw some of the guards from their position. Can throw perfume bubbles to temporarily reduce the line of sight. Keith is the only one of the five who does not know how to bind stunned opponents.
Isabelle is a follower of the voodoo cult. The only one of the five who does not have a firearm, using voodoo magic instead. In particular, she can spiritually bind two enemies, allowing, by killing one of them, to kill the other at once; she can also take mental control of any enemy other than cloaks, allowing them to perform certain actions on their behalf. As a cold weapon, he carries a sickle with him. Has a Siamese cat, which can briefly distract the attention of the enemy.
At each level, the player must complete some storyline task. Usually the game involves doing this covertly by looking for weaknesses in the defense of opponents. The player can always find out where the enemy is looking and how far he sees. If the player does not act carefully, then a lot of guards can run up to the noise, from which it will be very difficult to fight off.
The player can turn on the planning mode, in which he can give one order to each character. When leaving this mode, the player can execute the given orders at the same time, or in a certain order.
The action takes place several years before the events of the first part of the game in the Wild West, in the 1870s. The main protagonist is the bounty hunter John Cooper, who is looking for the notorious leader of the bandits, a certain Frank, who is responsible for the murder of his father. Upon learning that Frank will appear in the small town of Flagston, Cooper follows there on the train, which is rounded up by a bandit along the way. Here Cooper meets and rescues Dr. McCoy, hired by the influential DeWitt company to guard the train.
Having fought off the bandits, the train ends up in Flagston, where Cooper meets his longtime friend Hector, who must inform him where Frank is now. From Hector Cooper learns that he is now at the estate of the local mayor, where preparations are now underway for his wedding. Meanwhile, mayor-to-be fiancée Kate O’Hara learns that her fiancé has sold her family ranch to the DeWitt family. During an argument, Kate shoots and kills the mayor. At this moment, Cooper appears, looking for Frank, and helps Kate get out of the estate.
Kate offers Cooper, for information about Frank’s whereabouts, to help her and her uncle recapture the family ranch from De Witt’s men. Cooper and his team manage to recapture the ranch, but Kate’s uncle is killed in a shootout and she joins Cooper in avenging DeWitt for his death.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Frank also works for DeWitt and is now on his way to New Orleans. On their way to New Orleans, the group is captured by De Witt’s men. A woman who practices voodoo magic, Isabelle Moreau, rescues them from this mess. Isabelle asks to help her find Marshal Wayne, who disappeared while investigating the DeWitt company.