Just Cause 4 review impressions: A buggy and boring overhaul

Being in an inventive rut is unhealthy, however getting out of 1 isn’t all the time higher. The evidence? Simply Motive four ($60 on Humble), a recreation that might’ve been a senseless retread of outdated concepts however as a substitute opts to do one thing other, with middling effects. Everybody’s favourite explosion simulator has been overhauled from head to toe, however the adjustments right here ceaselessly make for a tedious, meandering revel in even if the sport’s at its most fun.

I’m now not completed with Simply Motive four but. I am most effective perhaps 10 hours into it. I plan to stay taking part in, however it’s value bringing up that the explanation I’ve most effective made it 10 hours in thus far is as a result of I simply don’t experience taking part in it. Smartly, that and an huge serving to of insects.

Each and every minute any other downside

Let’s get started with the insects, simply to get them out of the way in which. That is the stuff that’s maximum fixable, proper? And confidently a couple of patches will repair the issues.

It’s a complete mountain of issues despite the fact that. An hour and a half of into the sport I’d already had it crash on me six or seven occasions. It’s calmed down on me since then, however I’ve nonetheless had two or 3 extra crashes to desktop within the hours since. At one level the sport crashed prior to I’d even made it to the primary menu.

Just Cause 4 IDG / Hayden Dingman

I’ve additionally loaded the sport up on two other machines most effective to have the graphics settings default to 720p for some reason why. Each have been working best of the road playing cards (a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti in a single and an RTX 2080 within the different, I consider). Without boundary lines windowed mode is a large number, once in a while deciding to not lock the mouse to the sport window and wreaking all varieties of havoc within the procedure.

The mouse-and-keyboard controls are a crisis, with some choices so baffling I’ve actually by no means noticed them prior to. My favourite? To open the map you hit the “1” key. Now not Break out, now not Tab. “1.” Then you definately use “2” and “three” to navigate between sub-menus. You additionally use Shift to try down your gun’s points of interest, which—once more, I will’t pressure this sufficient—I’ve simply by no means noticed prior to ever within the historical past of PC video games. Remapping controls may be unnecessarily exhausting, forcing you to first unmap the important thing you wish to have prior to you’ll map it to a brand new command. Additionally the controls are damaged up into a couple of dozen subcategories for some reason why.

You will have to simply use a controller, which is tense for the reason that weapons paintings significantly better with a mouse. Cars are nearly unusable with a mouse and keyboard despite the fact that, in particular bikes and planes. The sport additionally has an tense dependancy of checklist the entire controls at the display—apart from those you may in fact want, like “Throttle Up.” That’s mapped to Shift too, through the way in which.

Just Cause 4 IDG / Hayden Dingman

Then there are the extra problematic insects. The hunt scripting’s damaged on me in 4 other missions, ceaselessly thru no fault of my very own. There are numerous escort missions in Simply Motive four, an issue we’ll discuss in slightly. Escort missions are much more tense despite the fact that when the folk you’re escorting simply forestall transferring and get shot to demise, or run instantly into an explosion, or forestall using as a result of there’s a random pedestrian within the street. Simply Motive four is so chaotic, it’s nearly inquiring for missions to wreck in new and horrible tactics each and every time you load the sport.

I’ll additionally word that I’m penning this two days prior to free up and we’ve but to be informed whether or not the cutscenes are ultimate. A stipulation in our preliminary evaluation information mentioned we weren’t allowed to seize cinematics as a result of they weren’t accomplished. That stipulation hasn’t been lifted to my wisdom. Once more, two days prior to free up. And for excellent reason why, as a result of cutscenes run extraordinarily with all varieties of stuttering, lights system defects, unsightly persona fashions, out-of-sync audio, and a half-dozen different issues I’ve run into in 10 hours.

That mentioned, the sport itself runs k whilst you’re simply meandering round, blowing stuff up and admiring the surroundings. The extent of element doesn’t appear fairly as prime, the movement blur is egregious, and the anti-aliasing will also be tough now and then. However I’ll take clean efficiency on this case.

Just Cause 4 IDG / Hayden Dingman

The draw distance is fantastic, I’m getting a smooth 60 frames per second with everything maxed out on my GTX 1080 Ti even during the most hellish explosion-chains, and that part certainly works better than Just Cause 3’s rough launch. Small miracles.

War games

It’s just not that fun to play though.

Listen, I was pretty tired of the Just Cause schtick by the end of Just Cause 3. The loop was fun, at first—parachute-grapple into the enemy base, blow up all the red-colored machinery, maybe steal a helicopter or a tank to cover my escape. But I petered out after 25 or 30 hours, wishing there were fewer outposts and more to do.

Honestly after Just Cause 4 I wish Avalanche had just made more of the same though.

Just Cause 4 IDG / Hayden Dingman

The entire structure of Just Cause 4 is different. Gone are the hundreds of outposts you’d conquer in the previous game, working your way up to 100 percent in each region. Instead the map is broken into a bunch of large provinces, and it acts as a sort of strategic war layer on top of Rico’s actions. You start the map with a single province, then “conquer” new provinces one at a time.

Sometimes this means a mission to complete, such as capturing blueprints at a military base or blowing up some missile launchers. It doesn’t really matter what the pretense is because all of them are basically the same. Rico goes to a place and either stands next to some computers while his team “hacks” them remotely, or he escorts some people out of a base while they’re being shot at.

But even these are better than the alternative. Around half the provinces have nothing at all in them! Instead, Rico’s destructive tendencies now earn him “Squads” which he spends to unlock parts of the map. One province might take two squads for instance, meaning Rico has to unleash enough destruction to fill the bar twice to earn those two squads. But wait! There’s more! Certain provinces give you squads when you take them over, which you can then spend to unlock other parts of the map and—wait, where are you going? Come back! We’re almost done, I swear!

Just Cause 4 IDG / Hayden Dingman

Suffice it to say it’s not very complicated while playing, but it isn’t especially interesting either. Certainly not as interesting as the old Just Cause, where you’d swoop in and blow everything up. In fact, the way this new system works there’s rarely any reason to actually engage in the rampant chaos Just Cause traditionally encouraged. Missions tend to cause enough destruction to award you the squads you need to progress, and then you just sort of…move on. Not to mention you get points for destroying infrastructure in provinces you already control, which seems completely baffling. Like, none of the rebels want to point out to Rico that they could’ve used the enormous fuel tanks he blew up to score some squad points?

The result is a game that leans heavily on its missions instead of the typical emergent chaos, and missions have never been Just Cause’s strong suit. Worse, the storytelling in Just Cause 4 actually feels like a step down from its predecessor. I praised Just Cause 3’s story, not because it was particularly compelling but because it knew its strengths and leaned into them. It was a goofy story with goofy characters and plenty of opportunity for Rico to go wild.

Just Cause 4 hasn’t impressed me yet. Its characters are mostly forgettable, the story missions even more so, and while the “This dictator is controlling the weather!” gimmick has potential to go some fun places in the future it’s sabotaged by a mission-unlock system that requires way more hours doing mindless open-world chores before you can do any of the fun stuff. The pacing is terrible, and 10 hours in I’ve yet to see any truly amazing setpiece moments. Contrast that with Just Cause 3, which opened with Rico riding on the back of a jet with an infinite supply of rockets.

Just Cause 4 IDG / Hayden Dingman

The only saving grace are the balloon tethers. Joining the standard retractable grapple and the boosters from Just Cause 3, these new additions strap a miniature balloon to any object and lift it up into the air. Goats? Yes. Cows? Yes. Motorcycles? Absolutely. Just Cause 4 feels like it’s missing much of the ingenious sandbox fun I had in previous iterations, or at least downplaying it, but the balloon tethers are inspired. I also like that you can attach multiple effects to a single tether, giving it (for instance) both a balloon and a booster that activate at different times. There’s lots of potential with that system, at least.

Bottom line

As I said, I’m not done. I plan to chip away at Just Cause 4 ($60 on Humble) over the next week or two and hopefully write a definitive review at some point. Between the technical issues, the drab story, and the baffling mission structure though I’m feeling pretty disappointed so far. I didn’t necessarily want Just Cause 4 to be more of the same, but I don’t think this new direction works very well either—not to mention it feels like the game needed another few months of development.

We’ll keep you updated if anything significant changes between now and release, but at the moment this one’s hard to recommend.

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