Why add all new extreme weather? Why add twice as many chaos objects, with new bits and physics for each of them? Why allow Rico to upgrade and customize his grapple with multiple loadouts swappable on the fly? Just ’cause.
The Just Cause series, best known for its open-world destruction, didn’t need any kind of heavy refresh. The development team simply needed to double-down on what Just Cause did best, that is to say, find ways to blow shit up more creatively and entertaining than we ever have before.
We were first shown Rico’s brand new grapple gun, which allows for multiple gadgets and customizations. Booster rockets are back, but this time tied directly to grapple usage. A massive pulse shock creates an explosion as two objects get tethered together. There are even air lifters, strangely reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid V’s Fulton system. Within each of the grapple customizations there are additional mods that can entirely change the way you play. For example, one mod allows all of the air lifter balloons to follow you. Get yourself an army of floating red barrels and wreak some destructive havoc on the nearest base.
On top of that, Rico can quick swap among three loadouts, meaning that all of these systems and abilities can work together. Create a flying car with booster on the back of it and just watch it take off. It might not always work out for the best (in our demo, the flying object ended up spinning in circles for a few seconds before flinging the player off), but it’s a game that is designed to let players succeed through some trial and error. It’s all about experimenting with those combinations for the most destructive fun.
The biggest new feature of Just Cause 4 is dynamic extreme weather, marking the first time in a while that Just Cause has has added a whole new feature that will fundamentally challenge the core gameplay loop. Weather is dynamic, with each of the four biomes in the game holding one “extreme weather” for players to tackle and master (and possibly more, as hints during the trailer might reveal).
The tornado tears through the environment, sucking up anything that’s not nailed down. It’s entirely dynamic, so if you end up encountering in the open world, there’s a certain amount of danger and unpredictability to that situation. All of the objects in the tornado are being acted on by realistic physics that make them fly through the air, collide with other objects, and sometimes get spit out a little ways away from where it started. We were mostly only shown the destructive force of the tornado as it ripped across the landscape, but it seems like there are ways that Rico can actually use the extreme weather to his advantage.
One big concern I’m on the lookout for is creating meaning behind creative destruction. Often I have found that, while Just Cause’s sandbox might be a lot of fun to play around in, usually the most effective and efficient methods of blowing up the various objects in the area don’t really collide with the methods that hold a little bit more of a fun factor. If Avalanche really wants to drive home creative experimentation, there ought to be challenges or some similar in-game thing reward that is tied to choosing fun over efficiency. That, or choosing fun should still be as efficient as less fun methods of destruction.
Aside from that one simple concern, Just Cause 4 has me very excited for the next chapter of Rico’s adventure. The opportunity to battle and harness the elements for destruction seems like a brilliant move that really adds a whole new layer to the traditional formula. Add to that Rico’s customizable grapple gun with quick-swap loadouts, and you start entering a place where suddenly those fun-factor moments are a lot easier to perform. Just Cause 4 takes a decidedly darker tone, but also feels like it will have those moments of humor and levity throughout. I’ll be keeping this one on my watchlist leading up to release, just ’cause.