Drug Cartel Game Concept: Part 1

I’ve just started watching the Netflix original series, Narcos. It tells the story of drug cartel kingpin, Pablo Escobar, who became a billionaire through his distribution of cocaine to the USA. The series focuses round Escobar’s interactions with other drug lords, DEA agents and corrupt officials. It was a great watch, exploring the notoriety and arrogance that led to his inevitable downfall.

I couldn’t get out of my head the thought of a game based Narco’s premise. An officer of the law landing in unfamiliar territory, with the goal of taking down a group of drug cartels. They would begin with nothing. No contacts, no colleagues, no evidence and no real means of fighting back even if they were to stumble across the drug bandits.

I’ve started with a few ideas of how this game would work. Check them out below to get an idea for my thoughts on the backdrop, intel gathering and resource management.

1. Backdrop

The Just Cause series are open world third-person action-adventure games set in a fictional Mediterranean island. The world is filled with a Mediterranean inspired colour theme of golden ochre versus teal blue. The Just Cause team looked at Monaco and the Southern Mediterranean, inspired by the emerald water and the beautiful big skies.

Far Cry 4’s Kyrat is set in a fictional Himalayan country, ruled by a self-appointed king and his dictatorial regime. The locations switched between luscious forest environments, to the white blizzards of the Himalayan mountains.

Far Cry 4’s Kyrat

Both games shared similarities in setting the player in a living, breathing world filled with random interaction, and a means of traversing the many kilometers of varying land.

Backdrops similar to Far Cry and Just Cause would be well suited to the drug cartel concept, giving our hero plenty of land to explore and the bandits plenty of places to hide.

2. Gathering Intel

Your character is new to the environment, he has few contacts and no leads. Our protagonist would be introduced to a few introdyctory concepts, but they are not overly enthusiastic about a foreigner coming in to sort out the work they can’t quite accomplish. Within the small police station would be a selection of contacts, some corrupt and others swearing by the law. They would all come with advantages and disadvantages, with varying levels of allegiance that would determine the intel available on the drug cartels.

Our protagonist would also choose how they get this intel. Stakeouts, stealing, bribery, torture and by the book gathering info would all be available as a means of gathering vital information on how to find the drug cartels. Our characters’ choices would alter future decisions, such as how many people can trust them and whether or not they attract the unwanted attention of additional parties.

3. Gaining resources

There is a brief scene in Narcos that shows the DEA receiving a bigger budget and resources to take out the Columbian Drug Cartels. Resources gained included soldiers and vehicles, finally giving the DEA a much needed advantage in taking out the drug cartels once and for all.

This game concept would introduce a resource mechanic, where additional resources would be available to the protagonist, based on the intel they gather and how they gather it. Playing by the book and gathering intel the safe way would gain government support, providing armed troopers, choppers and the like. Playing as the bend cop won’t get you the chopper, but could gain the alliegiance of rival gangs and their street troops. These resources will become necessary in the hunt for the bigger cartel bandits, as they remain in heavily fortified areas with plenty of armed resource at their disposal.

Chopper supports incoming for the DEA in Narcos

Part 1 Conclusion

I’m keeping this one short for now. I’ve got a few more ideas I’d like to flesh out more, and source some appropraite materials as examples. That will come in a part 2 follow up. Just wanted to get this one out there as my weekly gaming blog post. If you haven’t already, check out Narcos on Netflix. It was an excellent watch. Smooth plot points and some spectaculary filming choices make it a stand out series of last year. See if you agree with any of my suggestions for a game based the concept.

Cheers for reading

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