The bigger changes are under-the-hood tweaks you’re unlikely to notice, like the prevalence of physics objects. Rarely is your best strategy “shoot a thing until it explodes” anymore. Car chasing you? Shoot out the tires and it’ll flip over. Water tower soaking up bullets? Take out a few of the support struts and it’ll come crashing down. Helicopter gunning for your head? Attach a tether from the rear rotor to one of Di Ravello’s statues and solve two problems at once.
The map also gets a basically unnoticeable overhaul, adding quite a bit more layering—tunnels, caves, subterranean military bases, ravines, quarries, et cetera—to an expanse that’s otherwise about the same size as Just Cause 2. It’s not as immediately awe-inspiring as its predecessor was at the time, but it’s a bit more satisfying to explore.
My main issue is with the pacing. Just Cause 3 is split into three main island regions, and while you’re able to go anywhere you want from the outset, the game has a clear idea of where it wants you to be at any given moment.
But the third region is larger than both the first and second combined, so you end up feeling like you’ve played an overlong tutorial in the first two zones. It took approximately fifteen hours for me to reach the third area—which I’d say is where the game really lives up to its full potential, with massive mountain ranges and mining settlements and cities. I found myself wishing for Just Cause 2’s mission structure, which was a bit better about shoving you between the islands.
I also found myself (predictably) missing Just Cause 2’s hacked-in multiplayer. Just Cause 3 is a game tailor-made for crazy moments, but those moments are better when shared with friends/strangers. I’m hoping we’ll see a similar multiplayer “mod” from Avalanche down the line.
A note on performance
Heed Avalanche’s minimum and recommended specs, lest it be your doom. Just Cause 3 is a fairly intensive game, with hundreds of explosions and physics interactions taking a toll on both your graphics card and your CPU. With a Core i5-3570K and a GeForce GTX 980 Ti it’s been common to see the game drop from 130+ frames per second while roaming around to 45 frames per second during particularly chaotic moments—and I’m only running on Very High settings, one step down from the top. It’s still playable, if we take 30 frames per second as the baseline, but a drop of 90 frames per second is pretty damn steep.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.