Jagged Alliance 3 is the newest game in the series developed by Haemimont Games and published by THQ Nordic, and launches on July 14, 2023, on PC. The country of Grand Chien is thrown into chaos when the elected president goes missing and the paramilitary force known as “the Legion” seizes control. The player takes control as the commander of a mercenary group that has been hired to liberate the country from a ruthless figure known only as ‘The Major’.
1999’s Jagged Alliance 2 was a big hit, and some say it’s possibly the best turn-based tactical game ever made. But that’s a conversation for another day. After JA2, there were a few other Jagged Alliance titles released but they didn’t quite have the punch as JA2. When I heard JA3 was coming, I got damn excited but also a little apprehensive after seeing the last offerings of the series. As a big fan of turn based tactical games, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best and Jagged Alliance 3 has not disappointed.
Starting off you have limited funds to hire a few mercenaries to start the initial deployment. You look through the lists of available mercs to carefully choose who you want to use for the mission. There are a variety of mercs to choose from and each one I have used seems to have their own unique personality that adds laughs and dynamics to your team which can make for some interesting gameplay. In the field they react differently when certain events happen, or a particular merc you want to hire may not join your team because they dislike another mercenary that you have already decided to employ.
You can hire a bunch of recruit level mercs, but the mission may become more challenging due to the lack of experience amongst the team. Alternatively, you can hire legendary mercs at a much higher cost of course, that can blaze through an area without getting a scratch. The choice is yours if you have the finances. I employed a merc called ‘Steroid’ to my team. He has very close resemblance to a popular action star of the 80’s. The voice overs have a lot of cheesy one liners and banter between the mercs, but I love it and got some laughs out of me.
Each merc offers a skillset that can be useful in the field. You can hire all-rounders, mechanics, medics or explosive experts for example that open up different ways of completing your objectives to your missions. Your mercs start off with basic gear but as you progress, you can find better weapons and gear to equip your mercs with. Some do better with different sets of gear you find that can add that much needed advantage to your team. Each merc gets limited action points to move, or shoot, or heal, as per standard turn based strategy games.
Another part of Jagged Alliance 3 that I enjoyed playing with was upgrading gear. You can use a mechanic to have a better chance of adding mods to weapons or enhancing your gear. If you use the wrong merc to upgrade or one that has no skill in that area, you can cause that piece of gear to break and be unusable until you get it repaired. I always like games where you can customise all sorts of details to make your team or character more unique and personable.
The user interface is fairly straight forward with map deployments and the various commands you can employ to get your team through the area. Players are able to freely move their team around the mission area to find their objective and collect some glorious loot on the way. Once you locate enemy soldiers, you can attempt to sneak attack them for bigger damage, then once you are spotted the gameplay reverts to the standard turn based tactics. There was one mission where I liberated a village from enemy troops. Once I saved everyone, the game allows you to help manage that village. For example, if you have a merc that can train a militia then you can set up a training program and teach the villagers to protect themselves.
I have managed to survive a few encounters by the skin of my teeth, but the chance to hit mechanic in this game is rage worthy. As an example, one of your mercs is standing next to an enemy and fires his pistol. By all rights a merc should not miss from point blank range because they have exceptional weapon handling skills. Missing from point blank range in a game is just ridiculous. It brings back PTSD of having 98% chance to hit in XCOM2 and missing! This could be something the developers need to tighten up a bit but even with moments like this, the tactical gameplay is challenging and makes you really think about how to systematically take down all the enemies in the area.
Jagged Alliance 3 is visually quite beautiful. The mission areas with Grand Chien and the various characters have a great level of detail and interactivity. Moving a merc into various objects for cover from enemy fire is another aspect of the game that’s interesting. Position your merc behind a big rock or brick wall, odds are you are going to be in a good cover position. However, put a merc behind a wooden fence, well there is a good chance that merc is going to eat some lead from the enemy a lot easier.
Overall, Jagged Alliance 3 is a well-designed game with in-depth tactical gameplay and plenty of great banter and is a worthy successor in the series. While some slight tweaks could imrove the experience, Haemimont Games are on fire with this release following on from Stranded: Alien Dawn earlier this year.
This review utilised a key provided by Gametomb and Jagged Alliance 3 will launch on Steam and GOG on July 14, 2023.