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The Cliffford Mercenaries are a paramilitary organization led by the Cliffford AI, and its creator, Avon Hertz, appearing as antagonists in The Doomsday Heist update for Grand Theft Auto Online. Based on their behavior, tactics, and "ideology", they could be classified as terrorists.
It is unknown where they originally came from and whether or not they had secretly been active prior to the events of The Doomsday Heist.
All Cliffford Mercenaries look identical/very similar to each other, dress in the same attire, and speak with the same accent. It is speculated by Lester Crest that they are clones.
The mercenaries have two unit types. The first type are infantrymen that wear body armor and are equipped with neural implants in the backs of their heads. The second type are cybernetic juggernauts armed with miniguns that wear rubber masks over their "faces" to trick people into thinking they are human.
Events of Grand Theft Auto Online
Clifford Mercenaries are speculated to be cyborg clones "created" during the mission The Bogdan Problem by the Cliffford supercomputer after it successfully takes control of all systems aboard the Ramius (Bogdan's submarine), the International Affairs Agency, a nuclear missile base inside Mount Chiliad, and the entire San Andreas defense network.
Their rise to power is made possible because Avon Hertz successfully manipulates Lester Crest and the Online Protagonist into uploading Cliffford to the Ramius' mainframe, creating a path for Cliffford to hijack everything without resistance. The mercenaries make their first appearance toward the end of the mission where Avon and Cliffford dispatch them to kill the protagonist. Ultimately, they fail and the protagonist escapes.
Cliffford Mercenaries next appear in the mission Setup: Rescue Agent 14 where their heavy juggernaut units lead an attack on the Pacific Allied Shipyard armed with sophisticated cloaking devices that render them nearly invisible to the naked eye. The protagonist has to rely on thermal vision in order to see them.
In the mission Setup: Escort ULP, a group of Cliffford Mercenaries is dispatched to hijack a Chernobog missile truck guarded by some IAA agents for the protagonist to use in their mission to protect Agent ULP while he's attempting to escape from Avon and Cliffford. The protagonist travels to the construction yard in Paleto Bay to stop them and then takes the Chernobog on an escort mission southbound towards Sandy Shores. More mercenaries appear over the course of the mission to try and hinder the protagonist's efforts.
In the mission Setup: Barrage, Cliffford Mercenaries spring into action immediately following the protagonist's successful hijacking of Avon and Cliffford's prototype Barrage. They relentlessly pursue the protagonist throughout Blaine County all the way to Sandy Shores Airfield where the protagonist succeeds in destroying a strategic supply depot the mercenaries are guarding. Afterwards, the Barrage is successfully delivered to the IAA to safeguard it from Avon and Cliffford.
In the mission Setup: Khanjali, Cliffford Mercenaries are found at the Thomson Scrapyard guarding some military R&D as well as Avon and Cliffford's prototype TM-02 Khanjali. When the protagonist destroys the R&D and hijacks the tank, the mercenaries aggressively pursue until Lester manages to scramble their communications and cause confusion within their ranks. Afterwards, the Khanjali is delivered to the IAA.
In the mission Setup: Air Defenses, Cliffford Mercenaries attempt to defend the summit of Mount Chiliad and Avon and Cliffford's SAM defense network from the protagonist in a Volatol. Once again, they fail.
In the mission The Doomsday Scenario, the sole objective for the Cliffford Mercenaries is to defend Avon, Cliffford, and their plans to launch a nuclear missile from the protagonist's attack. The juggernauts return (without the cloaking devices), and unlimited waves of mercenaries spawn at a certain point in the mission until the protagonist successfully deactivates the missile to prevent the launch.
Cliffford Mercenaries make a minor reappearance in The Diamond Casino Heist as part of the preparation side-mission Heist Prep: Vault Lasers. As of 2019, their remnants appear to have reorganized themselves into something of a paramilitary cult and are operating independently because Avon and Cliffford were killed during the events of The Doomsday Heist. The mercenaries are in possession of some military-grade lasers that the protagonist needs in order to break into the vault of the Diamond Casino & Resort with minimal noise. They are required to eliminate the mercenaries, break into their lock-up, steal the lasers and escape. A few of the Cliffford Mercenaries are carrying sniper rifles and are extremely accurate with them. A single juggernaut can also be found guarding the entrance to the lock-up.
In The Agency Deal finale, a dead/inactive juggernaut can be found inside the underground IAA facility of their headquarters, upstairs from the interrogation room where the dealer is held. This is an Easter egg.
Members and Associates
Other vehicles at their disposal include Buzzard Attack Choppers, a black Cargobob, beige and black Valkyrie MOD.0 helicopters, a matte gray RM-10 Bombushka, Hunter helicopters, Akula helicopters, Insurgent Pick-Ups, V-65 Molotok jets, and a black and purple Barrage and TM-02 Khanjali which both sport Cliffford logos.
During the mission Setup: Rescue Agent 14, the mercenaries send a total of three black and white Maverick helicopters to airdrop reinforcements at the Pacific Allied Shipyard after the Online Protagonist defeats the first wave of juggernauts. This is the only instance where the mercenaries are seen using Mavericks.
During the mission Setup: Barrage, the mercenaries are found guarding a lone Armored Boxville at the Sandy Shores Airfield. They never use this vehicle themselves, but the protagonist needs to destroy it.
During the mission Setup: Khanjali, the mercenaries are found guarding several black Anti-Aircraft Trailers and a couple of black Barracks trucks at the Thomson Scrapyard. They never use these vehicles themselves, but the protagonist needs to destroy them. Also, during said mission, the mercenaries can be seen using a couple of Rhino tanks if the Sandy Shores Airfield is driven on during the getaway. The tanks will only appear on the runway and cannot be found anywhere else.
During the mission Heist Prep: Vault Lasers, the mercenaries are found with a matte black Mule Custom parked just outside Zancudo Treatment Works or Palmer-Taylor Power Station. However, they don't actually use it themselves.
Prominent Appearances in Missions
Grand Theft Auto Online
The Doomsday Heist
- The Bogdan Problem
- Setup: Rescue Agent 14
- Setup: Escort ULP
- Setup: Barrage
- Setup: Khanjali
- Setup: Air Defenses
- The Doomsday Scenario
The Diamond Casino & Resort
The Diamond Casino Heist
Los Santos Tuners
- The Agency Deal
- The Agency Deal (Corpse only)
- Cliffford Mercenaries are one of the most well-armed and dangerous gangs/factions in the Grand Theft Auto series. Each of them is a fairly skilled marksman and their large assortment of vehicles and armaments make them a force to be reckoned with.
- Cliffford Mercenaries are also supposedly the first non-human gang/faction in the Grand Theft Auto series.
- It is difficult to determine whether the Cliffford Mercenaries are led/controlled by Cliffford, Avon Hertz, or both. The neural implants and purple and black uniforms would imply that the mercenaries "follow" Cliffford. However, in the mission The Doomsday Scenario, Avon says to the Online Protagonist, "Why don't you just stop shooting my men and we can hash this out?" Later, after the protagonist "kills" Cliffford, the mercenaries appear to be unaffected, but when Avon is killed the mercenaries are seemingly wiped out and they make no further appearances until The Diamond Casino Heist.
- Cliffford Mercenaries are unique in that they are a gang/faction which comes into "existence" thanks primarily to the mistakes made by two people: Lester Crest and the protagonist. They are also notable for being one of the only gangs/factions in Grand Theft Auto Online to appear almost exclusively in missions and not in Freeroam. Only Bogdan's Crew has similar exclusivity.
- Cliffford Mercenaries can make appearances in Freeroam under certain scenarios. The first is the preparation side-mission "Test Site Intel", the protagonist has to infiltrate a house in Los Santos being rented by some of Avon's employees. If the player alerts the security guards, the LSPD will get called in along with a few mercenaries that arrive in pairs of Dubsta 6x6s. The second is the mission Heist Prep: Vault Lasers.
- Whenever Cliffford Mercenaries and the LSPD (or even the military) cross paths, they will immediately open fire on each other, with the mercenaries usually losing the fight. These little skirmishes seem to place further emphasis on the mercenaries being terrorists as they have shown that they will not hesitate to shoot law enforcement, much less anyone else who gets in their way.
- The game mode, Nuclear Silo Survival features Cliffford Mercenaries as enemies. Interestingly, not all of the juggernauts that appear in this mode have miniguns. Some are also carrying Combat MGs.
- Although they aren't referred to as such in The Doomsday Heist, in The Diamond Casino Heist, their name was officially revealed to be "Cliffford Mercenaries." Before then, they were simply referred to as "Avon's Security."
- If players can get close enough to perform an unarmed attack on a Cliffford Mercenary juggernaut (without dying), they will discover that the juggernauts are actually incredibly advanced cybernetic machines with AI capabilities wearing rubber masks over their "faces" to sell the deception that they are human. As soon as the protagonist successfully punches a juggernaut, its mask will fall off, revealing a host of complex cybernetic circuitry and machinery beneath.
- This helps explain why the juggernauts have their "faces" almost completely exposed and are so incredibly tough in missions that they can easily withstand several headshots (or an explosion) before they are killed.