While most open-world games offer a great deal of side missions as you complete the main story, Just Cause 3 is mostly mayhem and chaos for its own sake. In this game, you can parachute, grapple, glide and generally blast your way through enemies and environments alike, and your destructive potential is directly correlated to your imagination.
I got a chance to play through a chunk of Just Cause 3 ($60), which will debut on Dec. 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on Dec. 3 during a Square Enix press event. The sheer amount of stuff you can do is pretty impressive. During my time with the game, I parachuted into an enemy base, flew around in a wingsuit, got into a firefight with a fascist militia, drove a speedboat, blew up a satellite dish and smashed a helicopter into a fuel tank with a grappling hook — and that was just one optional mission.
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I spoke with Roland Lesterlin, the game's director, who told me that while Just Cause 3 has a story campaign, it's secondary to giving players a big, destructible playground. Gamers can travel to any point they see on the map and, more often than not, blow it up. While not every building is destructible, any structure outlined in red is, which lets you decimate a variety of billboards, fuel depots and even entire highway bridges.
Even just traveling around the world is a delight. While you can walk, run or drive a variety of automobiles, boats and aircraft to your destination, you probably won't want to. Protagonist Rico Rodriguez comes equipped with a grappling hook that lets him zip between any two points on the map. Doing so generates enough momentum to glide into the air on a parachute, which puts you high enough above the ground to glide on a wingsuit.
Using these three items in conjunction takes some getting used to, and I definitely smacked my head into the ground more often than was probably good for Rico's skull. Once I got the hang of it, though, flying around the verdant Mediterranean island of Medici was some of the most fun I've ever had exploring an open-world environment. Flying around in the wingsuit feels satisfying, as getting aloft takes some skill, but it's never challenging enough to deter players from using it.
Challenge is, in fact, something that players might have to find elsewhere. At least during the demo, neither combat nor navigation seemed too taxing, and as the campaign is not the main focus of the game, the difficulty will largely scale based on what the player attempts to do. It's extremely easy to access cars, weapons and ammo, and after you earn them, you can turn mods on and off that increase weapon damage, healing rate and so forth.
Just Cause 3 is an interesting specimen: It's deeper and richer than a physics demo, but much more open-ended and dependent on emergent narrative than most open-world games. I had a lot of fun during my 15 minutes with it, but would definitely be interested in seeing more of the campaign, just to know what will ultimately give players motivation to explore the world and pull off increasingly bizarre incendiary stunts.