The Just Cause series has long been a franchise built around wild stunts and explosive action set across large sandbox worlds. With Just Cause 4, Avalanche has taken everything players loved about the previous games and gone so over the top it's hard not to admire the devotion to the chaotic creativity on display. Based on what SYFY WIRE saw during New York Comic Con this week — including landscape-ravaging tornadoes you can ride and "drivable" flying tanks — Just Cause 4 is going to push limits and imaginations to the brink.
Just Cause 4 takes place in the fictional country of Solis, a South American region with numerous ecosystems at play. There's an arid desert, a lush jungle, and severe mountains to name a few, and all of them bring something slightly different to the way Just Cause 4 plays. These locales aren't just different visually, they're also home to varied extreme weather systems. In Just Cause 4, you'll encounter deadly lightning storms, blizzards, and tornadoes throughout your adventure with Rico. What's more, they're all dynamic (save for mission-specific instances), and you could find yourself battling it out with the enemy forces of the Black Hand in the middle of a sandstorm if you aren't careful.
Not that it would necessarily be a bad thing. With this evolving weather comes the ability to use it to your advantage. During our hands-on demo, Rico was tasked with leading a tornado through a Black Hand airfield to diminish their forces. A player with a focus on achieving the objective (smashing wind cannons keeping the tornado at bay) would have quickly made it through the base and dealt heavy damage to Black Hand's operations. But another player may have been more interested in flying into the tornado with a wing suit, staying up in its currents with a parachute, using the ravaging winds to their advantage, and slowly picking off Black Hand agents.
It's all part of Avalanche's focus on player creativity. There's no one way to accomplish anything in the game regardless of your level of expertise, as Game Director Francesco Antolini told SYFY WIRE.
"For accessibility, we never force players to do things our way," Antolini says. "You can complete the game from beginning to end without ever switching attachments. You don't want to spend time in the menus and going deep in the system because you are more interested in maybe exploding things. For other players, to make it interesting for those who want to be creative, it's built layer by layer. With the attachments, the mods, the possibility to modulate the force in which they act and how you control them makes up more than four million possibilities."
The idea of letting players run wild with physics-based gameplay in Just Cause is something Avalanche has honed in on over the franchise's life, but the new engine allows for even more wild situations. Evolving Just Cause 3's tether system to be customizable is one way this sequel promotes player creativity, giving them a chance to control how each of the different elements interacts with one another and the objects to which they're attached. For example, you could attach balloons to a crate and watch it lift high in the air, or you could attach balloons, a tracking beacon, and burst fire rockets to that same crate to use it as a floating shield in battle.
A large part of Just Cause 4's evolution may have come from the engine's ability to grant the world more impressive physics and weather, but Avalanche was also inspired a bit by the streaming community. While the team worked on bug fixes and other updates on Just Cause 3, they also spent time watching streamers get imaginative with how they played the game. One of Antolini's favorite series featured a player using inventive ways to park Just Cause 3's many vehicles on top of buildings that wouldn't be possible to reach without ridiculous contraptions.
With that aspect of entertainment in mind, one of Avalanche's goals for Just Cause 4 became making it a place where players could do unbelievable things that couldn't be achieved outside of the game. "In Just Cause 3, the world was built with the idea this could be a plausible location in the real world," Antolini explains. "With the ecosystem here, what we did is try to make it more fun. You never use things the way you would use them in reality."
There wasn't enough time to show off more than a few of these examples, but turning a portable radar dish into a human catapult was certainly not something we expected to see in action. It opens up a realm of possibilities not just for what players will be able to mess around with, but how these items might actually offer new ways to complete objectives. If you're having trouble storming a heavily-guarded base, why not just turn the enemy radars to your advantage? Or maybe find a hot dog cart in the world, slap some balloons and boosters on it, and fly it over your destination, raining street vendor justice down on the Black Hand.
Even in just the sliver of Just Cause 4 we tried out this weekend, the uses for thinking outside the box were overwhelming. There are just so many different options beyond running in and fighting that it looks like we'll never run out of new ways to fend off the Black Hand. Add in the violent weather, of which we only witnessed a small sample, and you've got a game teeming with chaotic potential we can't wait to exploit.