It’s rare that strategy-based games ever have high maturity ratings from the ESRB, but recently Desperados III received a M for Mature from them. Their site has it categorized as such because of uses of blood, strong language, suggestive themes, and violence, but they went into more detail in their Rating Summary.
Before getting into that though, the reason why this is so shocking needs to be addressed. Most strategy and simulation games never reach more than a T for Teen rating. A lot of them even use violence and suggestive themes. Games like XCOM and Age of Empires are more focused around killing, while other games like The Sims use heavy amounts of suggestive themes. However, after reading the ESRB’s reasoning for the rating, it starts to make a little more sense.
The summary of their rating from ESRB website can be read in full below:
“This is a strategy game in which players assume the role of a cowboy (John Cooper) on a quest for revenge in the Wild West. From a top-down perspective, players traverse the wilderness and frontier towns to battle enemy bandits and rival gangs in turn-based combat. Players use pistols, shotguns, and stealth attacks (knives, traps) to kill enemies; players can also employ indirect kills (e.g., poison) to dispatch enemies. Combat is accompanied by realistic gunfire, screams of pain, and blood-splatter effects; fallen enemies can be seen lying in large pools of blood. Cutscenes depict additional acts of violence: a man shot in the head; a man executed at close range by a villain. The game contains references to suggestive material: dialogue referencing brothels (e.g., “She on the first floor of the Flagstone brothel, drinking whiskey and watching the girls dance”; “Fanciest whorehouse in the quarter. Girls there will make your dreams come true.”) and allusions to sex (e.g., “That was one hell of a night…What’s wrong darling? Lost something in the heat of the night?”). The words “f**k,” “sh*t,” and “a*shole” are heard in the game.”
Now that is a lot to unpack, but it should be clear to see why they went with the M for Mature rating. Concepts such as large pools of blood and realistic death animations are a good reason to bump up the rating. Other things like referring to sexual acts and extreme forms of swearing are also some reasons.
It seems the creators of Desperados III wanted to make it stand out among all of the other strategy-based games that are on the market right now, and this is one way of making that happen.
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