Avalanche Studios has some lofty ambitions with Just Cause 4. The Swedish studio has previously stated their intention to make this game the best sandbox game ever. While your main goal in Just Cause 4 is to take down Gabriela Morales and the Black Hand, you have a bit of leeway to accomplish that goal. I recently had the opportunity to get my hands on it at New York Comic Con, and I have to say that one thing is for sure: this world truly is your sandbox.
Learning the Ropes
Before playing Just Cause 4, director Francesco Antolini led a quick presentation for this title. First off, we watched two Just Cause staples in-person: the parachute and grappling hook. The wingsuit also returns from Just Cause 3, giving protagonist Rico Rodriguez another way to traverse the world. But traversal is only half the fun here.
When it comes to tethering, expect much of the same from Just Cause 3. One of my personal favorite features (and one I used most often during my demo) was attaching balloons to any given object, pulling them up into the air.
As you mess around in the world and cause destruction, you will fill up a chaos meter. Somewhat similar to a notoriety meter a la Grand Theft Auto, the chaos meter will instead inspire the oppressed citizens of Solis. Cause enough chaos, and you may inspire others to rise up against the Black Hand. While your ultimate goal is to take down this criminal organization, you can’t do it alone.
We also got a brief glimpse at the dynamic weather of Just Cause 4. While I had a firsthand experience with some dangerous weather during my hands-on, we got to see how it can affect gameplay. In the middle of a thunderstorm, you better be careful with your parachute and wingsuit, lest you be struck by lightning.
All Heck Breaks Loose
Following the presentation, I was then put to the test of experiencing Just Cause 4’s open-ended nature during a mission. The goal was to destroy four wind cannons that were, well, creating a windy mess. True to Just Cause, you had your pick of how to get rid of them. While I tried to lift one into the atmosphere, my aiming wasn’t quite up to snuff. Instead, I decided to go with the old standby, simply blowing them to bits. I had two weapons at my disposal, each having a primary and secondary shot.
One of the weapons I had equipped had a charged shot, and I had a jolly time using it to dispose of those cannons. After shooting at it once or twice, I had exposed to the turbine. Hit that turbine square-on, and that cannon is gone. Rinse and repeat three other times, and those cannons are history. Oh, and there are enemies firing at you this whole time, but you don’t need to pay them any mind. Unless of course, you want to go after them. This is Just Cause, after all; you play how you want to.
It’s probably worth mentioning that this whole time, a tornado was approaching me. Zipping around with your grappling hook was a must to ensure you wouldn’t get caught in the middle. Once I destroyed all of the cannons, however, I was advised to fly right into the tornado, to see what it was like to be in the middle of the vortex.
So, I opened up my parachute, immediately put on my wingsuit, and attempted to fly right into the danger zone. Well, I’m either very good at operating the wingsuit, or very bad. I managed to avoid getting sucked in altogether, and flew right past the thing. You win some, you lose some.
While my time with Just Cause 4 was brief, it was eventful. The developers weren’t lying when they say you can do almost anything. You’re encouraged to be as creative as possible when faced with a problem. I didn’t experience any story beats during my time, so I don’t know how the narrative and open-world elements are balanced. That being said, however, Avalanche looks to be fulfilling on their promise of creating the most ambitious sandbox game out there.
Just Cause 4 releases on December 4, 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.