Hands-on With Just Cause 4
A series like Just Cause could simply churn out a new game every year. Adding a new map and some new missions wouldn’t be exciting, but it would be sufficient to keep the franchise alive. Fortunately, the team at Avalanche Studios isn’t satisfied with the bare minimum. Just Cause 4 is familiar, but certainly not stale. Rico is back with a new cast of friends and foes, ready to cause chaos all over the island of Solis. This remote island is plagued by a ruthless army, the Black Hand, and even more destructive weather. It’s an over the top story, but that’s the perfect setting for over the top mayhem.
Rico is singlehandedly the best person suited to carry out chaos, namely due to his signature grappling hook. In previous games in the series, this item enabled countless explosions and toppling statues. It was limited with its utility but the amazing sandbox environments would enable emergent gameplay with the hook. In Just Cause 4, Rico gets a major upgrade to his grapple.
Players now have three independent gadgets they can use to customize how the hook behaves. The most notable addition is the balloon utility. When you fire your hook, a small balloon is attached to the hooked object. Think back to the octorok balloons from Breath of the Wild but now you can attach them from range. Immediately, you can imagine attaching balloons to an enemy jeep following you and watching them float away. If you couple the balloons with another new attachment, the booster, you can even direct which way that jeep goes. In my playthrough I was able to lift a mortar emplacement into the air and use the boosters to crudely navigate across the map. I had just created my very own personal airship! The last addition to the grapple family is the retraction tool, very similar to how to stock grapple worked in previous games. What makes it different this time is how you can tune the tension and speed at which it retracts. In fact, you can fine tune all of the utilities in order to give yourself the exact behavior you want. Multiply that across three loadouts and you practically have hundreds of combinations to choose from.
All of these mods aren’t available right out of the gate, however; you need to complete objectives for your rebel leaders. One of the biggest complaints from Just Cause 3 was the process of unlocking upgrades for the grapple and explosives, but that feedback was heard loud and clear. The unlocks should feel much more organic, something you unlock by simply playing the game and not by completing an asynchronous challenge course.
A Living World
Aside from the enemy army that will attack you on site, the island is home to suspiciously frequent inclement weather. While driving through the middle of the island you might notice road signs telling you to watch out for the tornado. While the NPCs don’t seem to heed that warning as they will blindly drive into the swirling column of debris, the tornado is not a force to be taken lightly. It will unapologetically sweep up anything in its path no matter what side of the war it belongs to. In fact, this is true for all of the mega-storms on Solis. If you’re caught flying around in your wing suit during the massive electrical storm, you will be struck. If you drive a bit too close to the tornado, you will be pulled up into the air. I didn’t experience the blizzard or sandstorms first hand, but I’m told the visibility drops to almost just in front of your face. Rest assured, each of the biomes on Solis has its fair share of dangers that keep the combat fresh throughout the game.
Just Cause 4 is shaping up to be a great contender in this super stacked back half of 2018. It brings all of the mayhem and destruction you would expect from a Just Cause game, but it does so with a swath of customization for creative purveyors of chaos.
Just Cause 4 is scheduled for release on December 4th for Xbox One, PC, and PS4.