Just Cause 4 has a darker tone than its predecessors, but it’s absolutely still an enabler for any shenanigans you’ve got in mind — a far cry from the other dour, self-serious open-world games that have come out of late.
Storywise, protagonist Rico Rodriguez is on a personal mission to see the truth behind his father’s death — a more personal note for the series. Still, the key to this year’s game is on the shed-load of new destructive tools on offer — and a weather forecast predicting gaming’s best tornado and a 100 percent chance of hilarity…
One of the key measurements in a Just Cause game is how much trouble you can make in the shortest amount of time possible. Avalanche is giving players outlets for mischief thanks to a bunch of new enhancements to Rico’s signature suite of bat-gadgets. As always, you can get about by alternating between grapple hook, parachute, and wingsuit — three mechanics that work remarkably well in tandem with one another. The biggest change, however, is how your grapple launcher has been taken to insane new levels of customization. You’re basically your own Q Branch now.
At any time you can pause the game, bring up a menu, and apply a ridiculously large amount of behaviours to the grapple pods shot from your wrist. You might want to deploy a balloon that lifts up a tank but stops at a certain altitude before exploding. Hell, you could strap a tank with non-lethal balloons, slap some rocket boosters on its butt, and hover that thing into an enemy outpost like the world’s weirdest gunship.
Alternatively, if you’re a sadist you might opt to create a gadget that rapidly reels two objects toward one another before detonating on impact (such as, say, two hapless civilian NPCs). There are millions of gadget combinations to try, too — you can effectively make any in-game object lift, pull, or push as hard as you want. You’re limited only by your creativity and nefariousness.
The Weather Literally Shakes Things Up
JC4 offers one other source of emergent fun for you, too. For the first time in the series, this physics-heavy open-world is being plagued by extreme weather, like blizzards, sandstorms, tornados, and electrical storms. Fitting in with a narrative that is more or less “bad guys are controlling the weather,” this extreme weather is a wild card that respects nobody and can be spotted from miles and miles away. It shreds about on its own AI routines and, rather amusingly, the NPCs in the world show it nowhere near the respect it deserves.
During our playtime, we spent a good hour alternating between watching pedestrians drive right into a tornado, only to be whipped around and then pinged a postcode away. We also deliberately tried to punch through the beast in an attempt to find an eye of the storm we’re not even sure exists. Honestly, we’ve played every single Just Cause entry in the series and this self-imposed challenge proved to be the most fun we’ve had in years. We want the whole game — every racing challenge, every stunt event, and every firefight — to be set in and around this thing.
We commandeered an enemy gunship in our first experiment and tried dropping directly down through the clouds. End result: The rotor blades shredded like tinfoil and the bird exploded, sending our ragdolling (and flaming) body around and around the vortex. It took a minute to let go of us. Upside: a new “skydiving record” was set. Bonus!
Unperturbed, we next attempted to brute force through using a stealth microfighter that was going 360 km/h with its afterburners cranked. End result: the tornado turned us aside and more or less used our own momentum to judo flip our 30 million dollar ride into a nearby mountain.
There were so many attempts, dear reader. A civilian bus full of people driven flat chat into it? That got sent cartwheeling into a forest, then death by explosion. 747-sized airliner doing 400kmh/hr, flown upside down for extra style points? Wings caught on fire, then the fuselage got sucked up into the chute and spat out onto some buildings. Damn it.
Beaten but not unamused, we rounded off our playtime by pranking The Agency plane that delivers Rico all his air-dropped vehicles and gadgets. We ventured as close to the vortex as possible and then ordered a shipping container full of stuff, taking care to make delivery vector intersect with mother nature’s angriest storm.
Sure enough an A380-sized dropship barreled in overhead and was shredded into gobs of fire and a hail of twisted Mechano parts. We stood below it all, awestruck by the carnage.
Just Cause 4 launches December 4 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.