Just Cause 3 Review

By Dave Horobin,
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.

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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.

Summary

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
Just Cause 3
Positives
  • Explosive fun and destruction
  • Large playground with freedom to explore
  • New gadgets are fun to play with
  • Doesn't take itself too seriously
Negatives
  • Bugs need to be addressed
  • Can be repetitive
  • Lacking in depth
Ethics
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.
Posts on this article have been added to a thread in the Editorials and Features Forum.
  • terrett101terrett101360,643
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 16:29Permalink
    Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 16:31Permalink
    got a lol out of the;
    "The new wingsuit allows you to dart through the air at great speeds" image. Overall looks like a buy, thanks for the review.
  • MattQuin89MattQuin89328,440
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 16:49Permalink
    Surprised the loading screens weren't included in the negatives, considering you mentioned it a few times!

    Looking forward to getting this for Christmas dance
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 16:55Permalink
    GAH CAN FINALS BE OVER ALREADY!?!?!?!
  • HonchoHoncho520,204
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 16:59, Edited on 08 December 15 at 17:03 by HonchoPermalink
    At the current state a 4/5 seems too high in my eyes. I'm currently playing and the framedrops render some situations nearly unplayable. Very frustrating that yet another developer and/or publisher shits on it's customers and wants to cash in for the holidays rather than spending the extra three month of development time this game is in dire need of!

    Edit: Not to forget the constant server drops and log-in screens (yes, I know you can just turn it off by disconnecting your Xbox - great solution roll )
  • matdanmatdan677,369
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:04Permalink
    Weird the frame-rate and loading issues every other site is mentioning are not counted as negatives at the end of this review.

    I am glad I gave this a miss, maybe after a while this will be at a point where it is at a playable level. Don't really fancy any game free-roaming game with extensive load-screens and frame-rate drops especially a game that focuses heavily on action.
    Out of the abyss peer the eyes of a demon, Behold the Razgriz, its wings of black sheath!
  • DaveKineticDaveKinetic580,340
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:07, Edited on 08 December 15 at 17:10 by DaveKineticPermalink
    matdan12 said:Weird the frame-rate and loading issues every other site is mentioning are not counted as negatives at the end of this review. It says "Bugs need to be addressed". I mentioned the various bugs in the review a couple of times and again in the closing summary, so I didn't feel the need to list everything individually again.
    TA Social Manager | TA Newshound | TA Community & Events Team | @DaveKinetic | YouTube DaveKinetic
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:07Permalink
    terrett101 said:Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?My playtime is 59 hours, that includes a few idle hours and a few just messing around. 100% requires you to liberate all regions, find all collectables, collect all vehicles and earn 5 gears on every challenge.
  • terrett101terrett101360,643
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:13Permalink
    The Allslayer said:terrett101 said:Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?My playtime is 59 hours, that includes a few idle hours and a few just messing around. 100% requires you to liberate all regions, find all collectables, collect all vehicles and earn 5 gears on every challenge.Yeah, I think this is going to be a 100+ hour completion for that 100% achievement, not to mention the difficulty curve with some of the tougher challenges.
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:22, Edited on 08 December 15 at 17:24 by TrueAchievementPermalink
    matdan12 said:Weird the frame-rate and loading issues every other site is mentioning are not counted as negatives at the end of this review. I've played this for 20+ hours and haven't seen any of that.

    Good review and echo's my thoughts.

    While the destruction is undeniably brilliant fun, it is starting to get a bit repetitive for me and I'm only at 24% completion...
  • NO1KEVNO1KEV1,741,873
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:25Permalink
    terrett101 said:The Allslayer said:terrett101 said:Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?My playtime is 59 hours, that includes a few idle hours and a few just messing around. 100% requires you to liberate all regions, find all collectables, collect all vehicles and earn 5 gears on every challenge.Yeah, I think this is going to be a 100+ hour completion for that 100% achievement, not to mention the difficulty curve with some of the tougher challenges.Well I like how people on this website put bullshit completion times, its getting as bad as x360a's optimistic completion times! Someone claims they 1000g it in 40 hours! Someone also claims to have 1000g sonic racing transformed in 1 hour! (only if they hacked it!)
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:25Permalink
    terrett101 said:The Allslayer said:terrett101 said:Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?My playtime is 59 hours, that includes a few idle hours and a few just messing around. 100% requires you to liberate all regions, find all collectables, collect all vehicles and earn 5 gears on every challenge.Yeah, I think this is going to be a 100+ hour completion for that 100% achievement, not to mention the difficulty curve with some of the tougher challenges.But he completed it in 59 hours....
  • YDSYDS161,224
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:28, Edited on 08 December 15 at 17:32 by YDSPermalink
    terrett101 said:Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?Definitely possible if you not get distracted by something that's not needed for 100% Completion
    You get used to the mechanics pretty fast, and once you got idea, you'll be liberating some of the small cities within a minute
    The part that took the most time was getting all gears, since there are a lot of challenges you most likely have to play several times which can be a little frustrating (Especially the hardest wingsuit courses)
    My game time is at around 52 hours, but you can definitely finish the game completely within 40-45 hours. I got distracted way to often flying around with the wingsuit, just to enjoy the graphics
    Overall a pretty nice, but a little bit to short in my opinion
    If there were to be a coop or even multi-player mode, that would easily double my playtime

    EDIT: Totally forgot about the collectibles, but they're not that hard either. Took something between 1-2 hours, after liberating all provinces. The game is helping you in many ways doing so, since you can filter anything with your map
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:30Permalink
    terrett101 said:The Allslayer said:terrett101 said:Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?My playtime is 59 hours, that includes a few idle hours and a few just messing around. 100% requires you to liberate all regions, find all collectables, collect all vehicles and earn 5 gears on every challenge.Yeah, I think this is going to be a 100+ hour completion for that 100% achievement, not to mention the difficulty curve with some of the tougher challenges.I've completed it too, forgot to mention that lol. I don't really remember JC 2 but I think it has more stuff to do than JC 3 does.
  • HonchoHoncho520,204
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:32Permalink
    TrueAchievement said:matdan12 said:Weird the frame-rate and loading issues every other site is mentioning are not counted as negatives at the end of this review. I've played this for 20+ hours and haven't seen any of that.

    DigitalFoundry mentioned it ("lowest recorded drop occurs on Xbox One, where a massive explosion sends us plummeting to 20fps, while PS4 plateaus to 24fps in entirely different circumstances") so did Kotaku and IGN - and every single of the six persons I know personally who have the game.

    You must be incredibly lucky to not have these...

    I also had loading times up to 4min for a challenge.
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:39Permalink
    100% on this is way way easier than on 2 there is only 228 collectibles 2 had like 700 or so. The bases are extremely easy to destroy considering there is rocket launchers at every one and if you die you re spawn right next to it.

    Not to mention far less missions easier navigation 40-50 hours if you stick to achievements 60-80 if you meander/suck no way it should take over 100.

    I personally prefer 2 the fact that all the best abilities are locked behind bs challenges that are easy to fail then take forever to load has overshadowed the repetitive fun i was having blowing up bases .
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:46, Edited on 08 December 15 at 17:50 by The AllslayerPermalink
    NO1KEV said:terrett101 said:The Allslayer said:terrett101 said:Do you really think 100% can be done in 50-60 hours? Seems really low for me, given that JC2 required 70+ hours for hitting 75%. Do we know if the 100% is tied only to liberating settlements/provinces, or does it also require 5 cogs in every challenge, and collecting all vehicles?My playtime is 59 hours, that includes a few idle hours and a few just messing around. 100% requires you to liberate all regions, find all collectables, collect all vehicles and earn 5 gears on every challenge.Yeah, I think this is going to be a 100+ hour completion for that 100% achievement, not to mention the difficulty curve with some of the tougher challenges.Well I like how people on this website put bullshit completion times, its getting as bad as x360a's optimistic completion times! Someone claims they 1000g it in 40 hours! Someone also claims to have 1000g sonic racing transformed in 1 hour! (only if they hacked it!)Well it's 40-50 hours and someone has done it in 46 so that's not exactly bullshit. But yes some are just nonsense luckily they're easily ignored.
  • Paper21Paper21343,790
    Posted on 08 December 15 at 17:58Permalink
    I wouldn't even rate it a 3/5 in its current state. It's unplayable half the time. There's more slowdown here than a 1990 NES game.
  • Posted on 08 December 15 at 20:31, Edited on 08 December 15 at 20:36 by Blue n Gold EelPermalink
    Aquily said:TrueAchievement said:matdan12 said:Weird the frame-rate and loading issues every other site is mentioning are not counted as negatives at the end of this review. I've played this for 20+ hours and haven't seen any of that.

    DigitalFoundry mentioned it ("lowest recorded drop occurs on Xbox One, where a massive explosion sends us plummeting to 20fps, while PS4 plateaus to 24fps in entirely different circumstances") so did Kotaku and IGN - and every single of the six persons I know personally who have the game.

    You must be incredibly lucky to not have these...

    I also had loading times up to 4min for a challenge.
    You really shouldn't take notice of what Digital Foundry (they are a joke) says. For starters there are some frame rate drops, but if far from unplayable, and the whole 4 minute load times for challenges is totally BS, it's around 1 minute.

    The longest load times is when you first load up the game which can take up to 2 minutes, but if you don't exit the game when you're finished and just turn off the console, you can auto resume which will take 30sec to sign back into the servers.

    PS...Maybe you and people like you who are commenting on the game should play it first before giving your expert analysis on it based off of other people opinions, just a thought.
    What's a twip? something a wabbit is on when he wides on a twain - Elmer Fudd.
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