Just Cause 4
Rico’s enemies are about to have a thunder blunder
Rico can never catch a break. Whenever he goes somewhere new, things start exploding around him.
“Something unexpected ends up happening. but it always makes sense within the rules of the world”
During our hands-on session with Just Cause 4 we sit down with the man himself, the game’s director, Francesco Antolini. As he shows us the game, he’s constantly talking about his love of open world games – Just Cause 2 is the one that got him to join Avalanche Studios, after all. He speaks with passion about some of his recent favourites: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild; Metal Gear Solid V; and Assassin’s Creed Origins (the man himself used to work at Ubisoft). “There is actually one thing I’m seeing, where all good open worlds are going,” Antolini notes. “It’s this attempt at making the world itself more plausible and more able to communicate about status and what’s happening without the need for an interface telling you. We’re going in a direction of trying to get rid of the hand of the designer.” That’s the biggest takeaway you’ll have from your first sit-down with the game. You just explore, experiment, and mess around in the sandbox, and everything just feels right.
There aren’t huge checklists of areas to liberate. Instead Solís feels like one connected space, with the war Rico and his army are fighting sweeping across it, pushing forward literally as he progresses with the frontline system. Rico’s no longer fighting his way through a collection of small conflicts, he’s tackling one big one, on a grand scale, and it’s filled with things to blow up and mess around with. Rico’s three-in-one grappling hook allows him to link objects together, add boosters to things, and attach balloons to them – all at the same time if he wants. And that’s on top of just using it to pull himself towards things,
employed in tandem with the returning parachute and wingsuit to allow him to glide effortlessly over JustCause 4’s huge map. It’s all about giving you options. There’s plenty to do to gain Chaos, and unlockables can be acquired to customise how you play by completing challenges. And they all have a reason to be there. All of Just Cause 4’s systems are folded into the game. The way each type of grapple works can also be modified and customised — for instance, you can set objects with air lifts to follow Rico around (keep red barrels around and drop them for explosions), or you can set a booster to only propel objects horizontally or vertically if you want.
“There is a certain degree of randomness,” Antolini tells us of the world’s physics systems, “just because the things that interact with each other are so many that your brain cannot just compare the possible outcomes, so what happens is that something unexpected ends up happening. But it’s always something that makes sense within the rules of the world.” That’s what makes playing around in the world so fun. You want to see what you can make work within the rules of the game.
For us, picking up the controller for the first time, it’s the simple joy of just seeing what can happen using the grappling hook. We’re simple and easy to please: we see a goat, we attach a passerby to the goat, we put a balloon on the person, we put a booster on that balloon, and watch the show. Having learned something there, we move effortlessly through the following mission, where instead of just shooting our way out (which is still fun), we blast through enemies using the power of physics.
And what better way to throw real spanners into the works than with the new extreme weather — perhaps nature’s ultimate physics derailer. With real weaponised wind in the game (watch out for tornadoes), what happens when you put boosters on a mounted wind-firing gun, and let it spin wildly? The four biomes’ extreme weather conditions can be learned and mastered. Go too high during a thunderstorm, and lightning will strike you. If only you had some balloons that could lift your enemies into the air and… ah… we love the smell of barbecued bad guys in the morning.