Just Cause 3 Review

By Dave Horobin, 10 months ago
It’s been five years since Rico Rodriguez’s last appearance in 2010's Just Cause 2, but thankfully the "dictator removal specialist" is back with a bang in Just Cause 3. Complete with a handful of upgrades and new tools, and a whole arsenal of weapons and vehicles to wreak havoc and mayhem with, developer Avalanche Studios have created a destructive sandbox where freedom and fun are the main emphases above all else.


Just Cause 3’s campaign sees the one man wrecking machine Rico Rodriguez return to his fictional Mediterranean home of Medici which is under the oppressed rule of the evil dictator General Di Ravello. Not intent on ruling Medici alone, Di Ravello wants to take over the world, and to assist in his plans he is mining a highly volatile mineral that is unique to the islands called Bavarium, which provides his army with everything from impenetrable vehicle armour to devastating Bavarium bombs. Of course, Rico sides with the rebellion and it’s your job to help free the island one small piece at a time through brute force rather than diplomacy. It’s a threadbare narrative that is as predictable and shallow as they come, but it’s not trying to be anything else. There are amusing moments throughout and more than a few interesting characters that you will meet on your journey to liberation, but Just Cause isn't trying to wow you with its storytelling. Its strength is in the simple gameplay mechanic of allowing you the freedom to blow things up in as many possible ways as you can, and making the ensuing explosion look good.

Much of the campaign is largely forgettable and there are more than a few genuinely annoying parts such as escort missions that will have you tearing your hair out as failure results in overly long loading screens of up to two minutes. Progress is also gated which requires you to clear more of the map before you can move forward, but thankfully those hurdles are minimized by some outrageously silly set pieces that will have you grinning from ear to ear - none more so than the game’s opening mission which sees you stand atop a plane firing RPGs at SAM sites below.

What evil dictator would be complete without a white military uniform and moustache?What evil dictator would be complete without a white military uniform and moustache?

To assist with Rico’s destructive nature, Avalanche provide you will a full suite of tools very early on in the game. This includes the improved grappling hooks which allow you to tether items together and smash them into each other in hilarious ways. Shoot a gas canister which has an enemy soldier attached to it and they’ll fly off into the horizon. Tether a helicopter to another enemy vehicle and watch gleefully as they collide in a huge fireball of death. Experimenting with different methods of taking out enemies in explosive ways is really the essence of what Just Cause 3 is all about, and the game does a great job of giving you the freedom and choice to be as creative as your imagination allows.

In addition to the grappling hooks, Rico also has a well-stocked supply of weaponry at his disposal, with new weapons and vehicles being added to the collection as you liberate new areas. With so much to destroy and kill, the game allows you to constantly switch up your weapon and vehicle of choice in the form of rebel drops. These allow you to select a choice of two-handed weapons, side arms, specials and even vehicles which can be dropped at your feet so that you never head into a fight feeling under powered.

Experimenting with different ways of taking out enemies in explosive ways is really the essence of what Just Cause 3 is all aboutExperimenting with different ways of taking out enemies in explosive ways is really the essence of what Just Cause 3 is all about

Another new addition to Rico’s set of tools is the wingsuit, which when combined with the tethers and endless supply of instantly opening parachutes allows you to traverse around the map's 400-square mile radius in fun and imaginative ways. It does take some getting used to initially, and you will most likely face plant into the ground on more than a few occasions, but there is a real joy to be found once you learn to chain moves together. Using the tether, you can catapult Rico into the sky before switching to the wingsuit to dart through the air making you feel like a super hero as you take down enemies from above before quickly retreating to a nearby rooftop to avoid taking too much fire.

Of course there are more traditional forms of transport you can use as well, with a whole host of cars, planes, boats and helicopters there for the taking. Cars handle smoothly enough, although they all seem to handle in a very similar way, but thankfully piloting helicopters and planes are particularly forgiving, allowing you to quickly become accustomed to their controls in order to begin raining down fire on your enemy from above.

The new wingsuit allows you to dart through the air at great speedsThe new wingsuit allows you to dart through the air at great speeds

Aside from the campaign missions there is a lot of gameplay to be had and you are given the freedom very early on in the game to switch between liberating areas, taking part in challenges and returning to the campaign when you feel like it. Liberating the many army bases, outposts, and settlements is where the majority of your time outside the story missions will be spent. While there is a lot to do it terms of the sheer number of areas to be liberated, it mainly revolves around the same principle of simply blowing things up. For a good while it’s extremely fun to work your way across the map and destroy each of the shiny red objects that symbolise Di Ravello’s control, with fuel tanks, generators and other large items often exploding in spectacular fashion, but after a while it can grow repetitive and no matter how many different weapons and ways you find to make thing go boom, it doesn’t hide the fact that there's not a whole lot going on besides the destruction and it lacks the depth of other open-world games.

This feeling of annoyance when liberating these areas repeatedly is further intensified by the sheer number of enemy forces that will be dispatched to disrupt you. If you’re spotted - and let’s face it you will likely be seen when you’re firing rockets from helicopter in an army base – you’ll have to contend with waves of enemy soldiers, tanks, helicopters and even AA guns and SAM missiles. This wouldn’t be too hard given the fact that Rico is built like a bullet sponge and has plenty of firepower at his disposal. The real problem comes when the game’s frame rate suddenly starts to drop when there is a lot happening on the screen. It makes deaths seem unfair as you have no chance to react, and to add insult to injury you’ll have to contend with the overly long loading screens again before you can get back into the action

Blowing thing up in spectacular fashion is what Just Cause 3 does bestBlowing thing up in spectacular fashion is what Just Cause 3 does best

The monotony of blowing things up – yes blowing things up does get tiresome after a while - is broken up a little with liberated areas rewarding you with a variety of challenges to try out. These range from chaining together destruction within a time limit to timed wingsuit courses, and when completed each challenge will provide you with gears which can be used to unlock mods and upgrades to further assist you in your mission for liberation. After each challenge you will also be shown how you well scored in comparison to your friends and other players, which makes the challenges strangely addictive as you try to earn the maximum five gears awarded and reach the highest leaderboard position possible.

There are also a number of feats such as how long you can fly using the wingsuit, how many enemies you can kill without reloading your weapon, and how long you can drive above a certain speed which you will accomplish through normal gameplay without even realising it until a small leaderboard appears on screen showing you overtaking a friend’s score. If you do well in a certain feat you can challenge your friends to try and beat you, and notifications will appear on screen each time someone beats your previous best, meaning even simple tasks like traveling around the map turn into a mini competition as you try things again to regain superiority amongst your peers.

Feats and challenges allow you to compete against friendsFeats and challenges allow you to compete against friends

The game awards a large percentage of its 47 achievements for completing the campaign, taking part in challenges and picking up the many available collectibles, culminating in the time consuming open-world staple 100% completion achievement. Unfortunately for a game which allows so much creativity in how you go about causing destruction, the achievement list do very little to encourage it, the only exceptions being the This was Supposed to be a Western and ...Without Bullets! achievements for liberating a base without getting out of a vehicle and without using any weapons, grenades or explosives respectively. Completionists will be looking at around 50-60 hours in order to unlock everything.


Just Cause 3 delivers in everything that it set out to do and doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. It’s a solid and light-hearted game that offers a sprawling open-world playground for you to explore and destroy in as many creative and humorous ways as you can imagine. There are bugs that need to be addressed, it lacks the depth of other games in its genre, and it can be repetitive over long periods of play, but in short bursts of a couple of hours or so there’s no hiding from the fact that being given the freedom to blow things up to your heart's content provides some of the most chaotic fun you’ll find on the Xbox One right now.
4 / 5
  • Explosive fun and destruction
  • Large playground with freedom to explore
  • New gadgets are fun to play with
  • Doesn't take itself too seriously
  • Bugs need to be addressed
  • Can be repetitive
  • Lacking in depth
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 30 hours blowing up everything he possibly could in order to help liberate Medici, earning 28 of the game's 47 achievements along the way. An Xbox One download code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Dave Horobin
Written by Dave Horobin
Dave is the TrueAchievements Social Manager and has been a Newshound since 2010. When he's not chasing developers and publishers for early review copies, he can usually be found on the TrueAchievements social pages discussing all things TA related.