Throughout the initial presentation of Just Cause 4, prior to going hands-on at NYCC, freedom was at the forefront. This was the kind of freedom that lets players go wherever they want, whenever they want, and however they want. And lets players mess up whomever they want, whatever they want, whyever they want. Yes, I know that last one isn’t really a term, but that’s beside the point.
Just Cause 4 is designed to be the most sandboxy sandbox game ever made, and not just because it features a desert filled with sand. The game also contains open plains, towering mountains, and lush rainforests that will force players to adapt to their surroundings. Driving a tank through a rainforest isn’t exactly as viable a tactic as weaving through the trees on foot, and I’m pretty sure driving a tank up a mountain is impossible.
Now, Just Cause has always been about causing as much destruction as possible by whatever means necessary, and this time special attention was given to the grappling hook. Sure, Just Cause 4 will still feature a slew of fantastic weapons both conventional and futuristic (including a wind gun that can knock enemies off cliffs and propel players while they parachute), but now players can mod the ever living hell out of their hooks.
While tethering a jeep to a fuel tank is as viable a tactic as ever to cause mayhem, now players can strap booster rockets and balloons to everything and everyone that isn’t nailed down, and the devs demonstrated that the results are pure, chaotic bliss.
In the demonstration, the presenter attached a bunch of balloons to some explosive barrels, modded the balloons to home in on the player, and then dropped the barrels on unsuspecting enemies. After that, thanks to some well-placed balloons and booster rockets, he turned a tank into a floating fortress of rocket-propelled death. Then he accidentally flew the tank into a helicopter for quite the explosive finish. Yes, accidentally. It was not a scripted event.
When I finally got to play the demo, I found the controls a tad awkward, mostly because I never played a Just Cause game before. I quickly got the hang of tethering stuff together, and making everything fly all over the place with boosters and balloons quickly became second nature. However, the wingsuit and parachute were just awkward for me, probably because they mostly acted like real parachutes and wingsuits. Word of warning: do not go into this game thinking you can glide through the air like Batman. You will crash into a cliff and die.
Anyway, back to the demo. I got to try out two different missions. The first one tasked me with chasing down a tornado in the word’s heaviest truck (it kind of had to be, so it wouldn’t get sucked up like Dorothy and Toto). The vehicle handled like a dream on the road, but the second I tried going off-road, it sank into the dirt. And then the game crashed. But, as soon as I got back into Just Cause 4, I was launched into a mission to destroy giant wind cannons that prevented the tornado from devastating an airport —just roll with it.
While gamers are no doubt aware of Just Cause’s history of requiring players to destroy bases, Just Cause 4 throws a monkey wrench the size of California into the formula thanks to the tornado. In this game game, sometimes the best way to cause destruction is to let Mother Nature do all the heavy lifting. After you give her a nudge in the right direction, that is. In this situation, that nudge was the destruction of the wind cannons.
I mostly shot at the over glorified wind turbines, but at the suggestion of a developer, I attached several boosters to one and watched it unscrew itself into oblivion. And that was just one mission and one example of extreme weather. Players will also have to contend with sandstorms, lightning storms, and all other manner of deadly weather patterns.
Just Cause 4 is touted as a game that’s drowning in freedom, and judging from what I saw, it certainly is. This game is essentially the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild of the Just Cause franchise, and I mean that in the best possible way.