Hands-On With ‘Just Cause 4’: It’s Like ‘Minecraft’ For Murder

Square Enix

While there is no shortage of open-world, open-destruction sandbox action-adventure games dominating popular culture at any given moment, one of the genre’s longest-running franchises is set to return. Just Cause 4, the latest installment in a franchise that first launched all the way back in 2008, will be released on Dec. 4.

UPROXX was able to attend a hands-on event presented by publisher Square Enix and developer Avalanche Studios. We played through the first couple of missions in the game proper and checked out the full, unlocked open world that players will experience near the endgame. The game takes place on the island nation of Solis, which is plagued by civil war and extreme weather. We do mean extreme weather, as each of the distinct climates on the island has its own specific, roving meteorological nightmare to either avoid or interact with, including tornados, lightning storms, sandstorms, and blizzards.

The hero of the series, Rico Rodriguez, finds himself on the island investigating the cause of the extreme weather and the death of his father, and accidentally finds himself assisting a group of guerrilla soldiers against the remorseless Black Hand, which controls Solis. That’s the necessary backstory, but the meat of the matter is that you’ll use Rico to kill and explode everything in sight with your shockingly versatile grappler tool. Causing as much mayhem as possible is actually part of the point of the game, as your chaos meter fills as you wreak more havoc, emboldening your militia and unlocking more troops, squads, and upgrades.

In addition to flying from place to place and crafting the most diabolical concoctions of mayhem you can — and, we assume, playing through the actual missions that advance the story — you’ll instruct squads to capture different points and force the Black Hand back. There is a lot to do in this game.

Square Enix

If you’ve never played any of the other installments in this game before, it can feel awfully overwhelming at first, but the learning curve is not too steep and there’s joy to be found in finally perfecting the travel system you piece together using your grappler, wingsuit, and parachute. Once you finally get to the highest point you can and drink in Solis, you can really see what a breathtaking world the developers have put together. And then you’re encouraged to blow it all to hell.

Getting back to your grappler, you’ll receive a wide range of upgrades and modifications, which can all be fine-tuned in what amounts to over four million different permutations, and will be able to quick-swap between three loadouts. The developers demonstrated, for example, that you can link a booster grappler tether to a motorcycle, link the motorcycle to the top of a sign or side of a building, get on the motorcycle, then manually retract the tether and manually hit the booster at the top of its ascent. Finally, you find yourself on a flying motorcycle.

Another possibility they showed was airdropping a tank onto a mountain peak, attaching indestructible balloons all over it and boosters to the back of it, and … flying tank. ALERT! THERE IS A FLYING TANK.

As I’ve said, the absolute point of the game is mayhem, and Avalanche has given you nigh-endless tools to enact that mayhem in the most creative and convoluted ways that you can imagine. I imagine millions of hours of modding and experimentation will eventually be poured into this game by fans, and I’m already looking forward to the YouTube compilation videos of Rube Goldberg destruction.

In this not-yet-final build, the game handles well and looks amazing, particularly the landscape and fully-destructible scenery. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on the final product.

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