Just Cause 3 is just as ridiculous as we hoped it would be.

Avalanche Studios’ Just Cause 3 is finally coming out, slated to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Dec. 1. It answers the call of its dedicated fanbase, which has remained loyal to the tongue-in-cheek open-world action franchise since its first game launched in 2006. The first two games continue to sell, and an active mod community continues to attract players on the PC side. But a new one is long overdue (Just Cause 2 shipped in 2010).

Game director Roland Lesterlin showed games media a live gameplay of this highly anticipated release at a pre-E3 event in Santa Monica, focusing on the destructive power that main character Rico possesses. He returns to his home following the events of Just Cause 2, a place that has been under an evil dictator’s rule for two decades. Armed with the experience of his previous adventures, as well as some new tools and tricks, he returns to overthrow the dictator, bringing peace to his home.

You chute into the action in Just Cause 3.

Above: You chute into the action in Just Cause 3.

Nonsense island

Just Cause 3 is set on an Mediterranean-inspired island nation, though Avalanche has played with terrain and proportions a bit to accentuate the exaggerated destruction mechanics. While it looks nearly photorealistic at first glance, cliffs and bluffs are oversized, and cities have nonsensical placements of structures. Buildings are too tall, and explosive payloads are placed conveniently alongside them.

If the player approaches this world as intended, everything in sight will explode and be destoryed. Avalanche stresses that you can blow up everything visible. The island nation’s many towns provide ample opportunities to chain explosions to create scenes that look like they came straight from a Hollywood blockbuster.

Relaxed controls

Learning from the last two games, Avalanche opened up the movement mechanics completely, giving player the freedom to do almost anything they’d like to accomplish missions. Grappling has always been a core movement mechanic, and with these changes, players can grapple onto anything to navigate the world. These hook lines also work for tricks, like pulling enemies closer or bringing down buildings and landmarks. They are also handy in the fight against propaganda — statues, loudspeakers, and other objects fall to tethers.

Parachuting is the other core movement mechanic in Just Cause 3, and it can be tied to the grappling system to pull off some fancy acrobatics. Rico can float down to anything in sight and use that height advantage for top-down attacks. Avalanche stabilized chute floating for combat, encouraging players to fly around and attack from the air.  Add to this a wing suit that lets players essentially fly from either a grapple or from chuting and Rico has nearly limitless air mobility.

Wingsuit? Why not.

Above: Wingsuit? Why not.

Players use these mechanics against the dictator’s forces that man the cities and the surrounding areas of the island’s towns. Taking them on from the ground has Just Cause 3 playing like a standard third-person shooter. But taking to the air changes the feel considerably. The player has a tactical advantage, but more than anything, attacking from above opens up the potential for explosive ridiculousness.

As an example of the potential, a demonstration had Rico strapping C4 (explosives are unlimited in Just Cause 3) to towering silos on a shore side town. He was able to grapple to a nearby helicopter (the pilot went flying out the door), blow it up, jump out, and fly toward a mountain just in time to turn around and see it all explode and fall inwards. Real-world physics had things crashing into the water or bouncing off other objects realistically. Again, it looked like a scene from an action film.

Silly sandbox

This all takes place in a seemingly endless sandbox where anything can happen, especially when the com link retreival system comes into play. Players acquire gear through missions, and they can summon any acquired weapons, gear, and vehicles to any point at any time after that. I saw a load of guns and a sports car drop from the sky in a burst of confetti, and then watched as the demonstrator drove off a cliff, sending the car crashing into a bundle of explosives as Rico bailed out that the last minute, floating to safety via parachute.

This is a mission-based game, but just like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto, players are more likely to goof off and try to see what craziness they can pull off. If this all sounds ridiculous, it’s supposed to. Lesterlin says that the absurdity was a goal for Just Cause 3, noting that the studio strived for an experience where players would find themselves laughing throughout.

That was certainly my experience.


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