Although a number of leaks took some of the edge off of its announcement, Just Cause 4 was officially unveiled during Microsoft’s E3 2018 Xbox press conference. The open-world action game features the return of series protagonist Rico Rodriguez, who will again be fighting against the Black Hand mercenary faction in a struggle to liberate the fictional South American nation of Solis–which is home to some intense weather.
In a behind-closed-doors preview session, GameSpot got an early look at Just Cause 4 attended by Game Director Francesco Antolini and Narrative Director Omar Shakir. Just Cause 4 boasts an upgraded version of Avalanche’s open-world engine, Apex. The engine will allow for a larger degree of physics simulation and add new mechanic variables including wind, extreme weather effects, volumetric clouds, and more nuanced destruction.
The series’ signature parachute, wingsuit, and grappling hook return, and zipping around the island by using these tools in tandem with one another is virtually unchanged from how they were in Just Cause 3. Wind, however, adds a new factor to thinking about how mobile you can be while in the air. Rico will no longer just hang in the air without input from the player in areas with wind.
We discovered that wind becomes a much more serious consideration when Rico encountered a tornado, one of the extreme weather effects. During a mission where Rico’s goal was to manipulate the tornado towards a city in order to destroy it, we saw it tear through bases, swooping up individual objects in the world in the process, including enemies, vehicles, buildings, and passenger jets. Rico’s movement will naturally become more labored when closer to the tornado, so we had to chase it by driving using a tank-like tornado vehicle. The developers mentioned that all vehicles now have their own individual aerodynamics which will play a factor in physics calculation and that you can now change perspectives while driving a vehicle, including to a first-person view. Other extreme weather effects include blizzards, sandstorms, and lightning storms. We didn’t see these firsthand, but they said that lightning storms could be used to your advantage with the hint that lightning tends to hit objects that are higher up.
Rico’s grappling hook has also received a significant upgrade. Boost and retract tethers return, which allow you to propel and draw in objects, respectively. But you can now deploy more tethers than in previous games, and Just Cause 4 also features a new tether: balloons. If you’re familiar with the Fulton recovery system featured in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, then you know what to expect, but the balloons in Just Cause 4 persist in the world and allow you manipulate them in a number of creative ways.
Taking advantage of the game’s new mod system, you can alter the behavior of balloons to inflate on your command, follow you, or follow your crosshair. We experienced a scenario where balloons were tethered to the top of a shipping container, and boosters were tethered to the side of it. Once everything was activated, Rico had a makeshift aircraft to zip around the island with. A variety of mods can also be applied to boosters and tethers, too. The ability to do so many different things with these tethers, in tandem with Rico’s other traversal abilities, exhibited the same kind of ingenuity you’ve likely come to expect from previous Just Cause games, mixed with the craziest Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild community videos.
But for those who aren’t as creative, Avalanche told us that they’re hoping there’s enough in there for a stock-standard action game experience. Enemy AI and shooting mechanics have been improved, with weapons featuring alternate firing modes like grenade launches, multi-shots, and drones. They’re also aiming for the game’s story to be a lot more serious in tone, despite the over-the-top action, with a deeper exploration into Rico’s flaws as a character and the people that have an effect on him. Progression has been changed to suit the game’s expansive open world, which naturally blends different biomes like lush rainforests into deserts and snowy areas. No longer will you have to travel to a specific point on the map to pick up the singular story mission, but there will be multiple missions spread across the world to complete, and these can be done in any order. Avalanche is hoping that you’ll naturally stumble upon these as you explore.
But creative destruction is the core of Just Cause 4, and Avalanche is hoping to at least encourage players to think a little bit outside the box and play with the game’s systems as they get thrown into the game’s challenges, and be inspired by the sheer spectacle of it all–the new physics engine also allows chaos items to be utilized as tools and be destroyed and react in different ways. Avalanche also confirmed that Just Cause 4 would have no multiplayer and no semblance of a battle royale mode.
Just Cause 4 will be released later this year on December 4, 2018.