Just Cause 3 Preview

Just in time!

In my head, Nathan Drake and Rico Rodriguez must be related or at least Best Bros Forever—somewhere behind the scenes of the video game multiverse in a Wreck It Ralph kind of way. They both can expertly wield whatever gun they're holding, toss grenades like a champ, have witty one-liners, and like wearing that tight-shirt-with-jeans-and-shoulder-holster combo that seems to be all the rage for what cool action heroes are supposed to be wearing these days. I imagine that if they ever had a conversation, it would happen after multiple buildings have exploded in the background with Nathan tilting his eyebrows at Rico and exclaiming, "You're crazy!" And Rico would simply reply in his signature accent, "I know, right?"

But before this preview delves into slash-fic territory… Just Cause 3 is, in one over-the-top nutshell, about Rico Rodriguez making so many explosions and wreaking so much havoc in the Mediterranean that he makes Michael Bay films seem quaint. Apparently, the serene island nation of Medici, with its azure skies, undulating mountains, and aquamarine coastlines, needs some smoke-charred reds and blacks to balance it all out. But if adding some new colors to the scenery is just a side effect of taking down General Di Ravello, the heartless dictator of Rico's homeland, then that's all the excuse he needs for wanton destruction. Besides, given how gorgeous the island is, maybe General Di Ravello shouldn't have such nice things. Maybe it's time for the rebels to take it all back.

With over 130 settlements spread throughout Medici in 3 separate regions, Rico has his work cut out for him if he wishes to achieve complete liberation. To reclaim every city, every province, every region of Medici from The General's hands, he'll need to blast every last piece of propaganda and military installment with the despot's name or face on it. Billboards, speakers, projectors, monitors, statues—essentially, anything that has red and white stripes all over it justly deserves some C4 (an infinite resource this time around) and several well-placed rockets for good measure. 

In my hands-on time with an early build of Just Cause 3, at a Square Enix event during pre-E3 week in Santa Monica, it's clear that subtlety isn't in Rico's vocabulary. He's not the type to dwell on political ramifications, the ugliness of war, or the socio-economic impact of calling in a Dionysus PLDS-H airstrike to bomb the living crap out of a tourist attraction. No, for him Medici merely serves as a picturesque playground for irresponsible, carefree, trigger-happy behavior, a place where he can parachute into an enemy encampment, aim a grenade launcher at a gas station, extend a grappling hook to a nearby building, and parachute back into the air at high velocity as the grenades start a violent chain reaction behind him. Sounds like the perfect shot for a postcard, really. Wish you were here!

In terms of fidelity, where Avalanche Studios has focused its attention the most since Just Cause 2 is in the fluidity of Rico's movements. It takes time to understand how to use the grappling hook and parachute in tandem, as Rico never wants to be caught walking on the ground in a firefight, but here the ability to switch between the two has been made more seamless. Over time, players with learn the skills needed for Rico to pilot a helicopter thousands of feet above the ground, suspend upside down from the helicopter, leap out in a death-defying freefall, open his new wingsuit, parachute to a nearby town, and use grappling hooks to propel him forward with enough force to keep him in the air indefinitely.

On top of that, as RIco completes various challenges like checkpoint-based racing or shooting galleries with specific weapons, he can earn a set number of gears. These can be used in turn to grant him perks and bonuses from everything from enhanced guns to improved parachute physics. As Rico explores the archipelago, he can discover tapes and other goodies spread throughout the environment.

For more shenanigans, Rico can tether two objects together and have them collide into one other, like slamming two trucks together to create an terrible traffic jam, or perform one of his signature moves of tying a soldier to the ground and flinging him like a slingshot into the air. Any vehicle that Rico secures (or steals), which includes motorcycles, sports cars, and sea vehicles, can be delivered to the garage for easy storage. If he ever runs out of gadgets or ammo, he can call for a supply drop of pretty much anything he wants (he can unlock more weapons and vehicles by liberating certain towns) and . I called for a bundle that included a bona fide tank and the Fire Leech, an RPG that splits its rockets into smaller ones, and within seconds a box fell out of the sky and opened in a cloud of confetti with the presents inside.

That's just one example of the tongue-in-cheek smorgasbord that Just Cause 3 promises. In just an a half-hour of play, it is now easily one of my most anticipated games for E3 2015. Currently slated for a Holiday 2015 release, Just Cause 3 will be exclusive to current-gen consoles PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.