I have one overriding memory of Just Cause 3: causing absolute mayhem almost completely at random. You see, I didn’t pursue any objectives or follow the story – that very much came second to the gameplay. Instead the fun came from interacting with the environment, and seeing how much stuff could be blown up.
The setup was pretty standard, and provided little need for context to the orgy of destruction. You played as the series protagonist, Rico Rodriguez, who returned to find his home was now under the control of a brutal dictatorship led by General Sebastiano Di Ravello. Naturally, and with a little help from his friends, Rico sets out to take the relentless ruler down.
Away from this, it was the freedom for the player to discover and interact with the open world which Just Cause 3 got so right. It was that pure sandbox feel, offering the player loads of different ways with which to cause mayhem. The beautiful Mediterranean setting on the fictional island of Medici helped, providing a pretty backdrop to the carnage, especially when you got airborne.
Getting high (vertically speaking) added another dimension to your freedom, making the world of Medici feel even bigger. You could hijack vehicles such as jets, speedboats and sports cars to change things up. However, quite possibly the most entertaining way to get around was using your wingsuit to gracefully glide through the air, and rain down death from above.
As I say, Just Cause 3’s party piece was destruction, on a grand scale. For example, you can demolish bridges, blow petrol stations sky high, and derail trains. It’s sandbox destruction dialled up to eleven, that is pretty much tantamount to domestic terrorism. Rico’s a good guy though, so don’t concern yourself with ethics here.
However, it wasn’t all about causing random carnage. There were “Destruction Frenzy” challenges where you could earn gears for a carefully planned approach to causing maximum devastation. These gears were essentially weapon and ability upgrades, such as glass grenades and precision aim, making Rico an even more efficient bringer of doom.
Of all the methods of causing chaos at Rico’s disposal, my personal favourite had to be the grapple. It wasn’t quite your traditional take on this well-established tool however. Instead it became a ridiculously powerful weapon, allowing Rico to tether all sorts of objects together, including flinging explosive barrels at enemies to blow them to smithereens. What made this even more satisfying were the in-game physics, that allowed you to pull off some very satisfying moves. One that sticks in the memory was grappling an enemy to a barrel, watching them get dragged around in smaller and smaller circular motions, until they made contact and explode in a dramatic, but ultimately hilarious, fashion.
As with any open-world game, of course there were collectibles to hunt down in Just Cause 3. From rebel shrines to vintage parts, hunting these down often came with rewards. However, it was the daredevil jumps that I found most entertaining. In very much the same style as Forza Horizon, this basically involved driving as quickly as possible towards a jump ramp and attempting to avoid crashing in spectacular fashion when hitting the ground below.
However, creating such a vast, open world came at a price. Namely, online multiplayer. There were challenges and leaderboards but no co-op or competitive multiplayer modes, which felt like a missed opportunity for those looking to team up to cause some mayhem. However, the community soon got to work on the PC version of the game, and created a free mod to facilitate this. No such luck for console owners however.
Just Cause 3 built on the series’ way of standing out from the crowd, and very much doubled down on it. The single player campaign was solid enough, however the opportunity to cause destruction on a huge scale was something pretty much unrivalled by other games at the time, and those that came earlier in the series. It’s sequel – Just Cause 4 – continued to build on this theme, but didn’t prove quite as popular as it’s predecessors. For many, Just Cause 3 proved to be the highlight of the franchise.
If you haven’t yet played Just Cause 3 on Xbox, get over to the Xbox Store right now.