400 Square Miles of Mayhem

Just Cause 3, like its two predecessors, solely focuses on your ability to make use of everything the location has to offer, all the while making the effort to blow absolutely everything up. The game rewards you for this, and if the small snippet of gameplay I played through is anything to go by, Just Cause 3 is going to be an absolute blast.

Developer Avalanche Studios recently made the claim that Just Cause 3’s map, fictional island Medici, is one of the biggest ever in gaming, spanning over 400 square miles. Having played through three small snippets of challenges from the game, I can see this as 400 square miles of absolute opportunity.

I’ve been a fan of the Just Cause games for quite some time, I spent a lot of time with Just Cause 2 on the Xbox 360 and had an absolute blast. I wasn’t particularly excited when Just Cause 3 was announced, as there are other massive games embedded between its unusual December release. Nevertheless, I was still intrigued to see what has changed and how the next generation of technology has allowed developer Avalanche Studios to change things up. It was evident right from the beginning of my first Destruction Frenzy challenge that there’s a lot that’s been changed, and Just Cause 3 is incredibly fun.

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Each challenge I jumped into had a set score to reach, with leaderboards and rankings set out next to me. There were a selection of ranking tiers to meet, all defined by how many points I managed to rack up throughout. Feeling like it was time to test out the game’s destruction, I elected to jump into the Destruction Frenzy challenges first.

The first challenge had me atop of a massive set of pillars high in the sky. Armed with an RPG and an unlimited supply of ammo, I started firing blindly and hoped for the best. I only had 90 seconds to amass a respectable score, and I was determined to achieve a good score in at least one of the challenges.

This challenge in particular was enjoyable because it showed off how gorgeous and vast Medici is, as well as showcasing some of the game’s new features. Everything looks much more defined and the explosions themselves just have a stronger impact and weight to them this time around. Using the grappling hook, I scaled atop of one of the pillars, shot its supporting frame and as it crumbled I shot over to the next pillar. Throughout the 90 seconds I spent blowing as much as I could up, I had a big grin on my face. It’s been a while since a game has openly invited such destruction, and it’s a real staple for the series. Having completed the challenge and ending in a rather disappointing score, I elected to jump to the next Destruction Frenzy challenge to see how it stacks up.

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Instead of an RPG filled with unlimited ammo, this challenge had me jump into a tank and drive around a small section of the map that was overlooking a waterfront. Again, I only had 90 seconds to destroy as much as I could, and as I was situated on a hill that was facing a set of transformers and what seemed to be a small base, I elected to go for that first. As soon as I started firing off rounds transformer sparks were going everywhere, explosions were going off, and I was simultaneously deciding where to head to next to continue the destruction. I found a spot situated a little higher up on the hill, and with only 30 seconds left I thought I’d be able to make it without too much worry. That all changed when I pressed the wrong button at the mid-point of my journey and accidentally got out of the tank. My vehicle then started rolling backwards and the last 10 seconds of my challenge was spent chasing a tank like an absolute fool.

Having felt ultimately saddened by the events that had transpired, I elected to try out a challenge that didn’t require any destruction, instead focusing on Just Cause 3’s wingsuit This challenge saw protagonist Rico jump out of a plane and fly through a selection of targets, each garnering a selection of points. Each target had an outer and inner ring and flying through the inner ring would attain a better score. This was perhaps the most fun I had out of any part of the demo I played, as it was a perfect demonstration of how fun Just Cause 3 is, how great it controls, and how beautiful it all looks. From the reflections on the water to the greenery and the buildings that I flew by, I was taken aback by how everything compliments the tone and themes presented in Just Cause 3. The game really wants you to have fun doing whatever you want to do, and the challenges that I played through are entirely indicative of that.

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I ended up redeeming myself when it came to attaining a score I deemed excellent, as a couple of repeated attempts at the wingsuit challenge oversaw me beat the personal best that had been set by another player throughout the day. The wingsuit is a contraption that will lend itself really well to Just Cause, giving players a better sense of exploration and freedom when it’s finally time to fully explore the island of Medici. I didn’t have a chance to really look into any of the open world elements of the game besides those set by the game’s challenges, but those small snippets instilled a sense of confidence and enjoyment rarely seen in other titles.

Just Cause 3 is shaping up very nicely. While the snippet I played of the game was only limited to trying out a couple of the game’s challenges, it still gave a good barometer of what to expect from one of the most enjoyable open-world series out there. I can’t wait to see more of Medici and explore what it has to offer, and if the majority of challenges are as fun as those I played, Just Cause 3 will certainly be the go-to option for open-world fun for quite some time.

This preview was conducted at the 2015 EB Games Expo. Just Cause 3 is set to launch on the 1st of December on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.