Just Cause is probably the stupidest video game series in the world, but Just Cause 4 mods is possibly the smartest stupid video game I’ve ever played. If all you want out of games is glorious, cathartic destruction, Just Cause 4 makes GTA 5 look like papers, please. Few games revert to this primordial urge to watch things burn so vigorously, and few offer so many tools to make it happen. It’s the new tools that are wreaking havoc and making Just Cause 4 both stupid and very smart at the same time. Carry it with me
I played Just Cause 4 for a couple of hours last week and left three overwhelming impressions: For one, Avalanche Studios should just give up weaving a narrative through their demolition simulator. The second is that floating in your wingsuit at the height of a tornado is one of the most relaxing experiences in video games. The third is that Just Cause 4 could become something of a Minecraft for carefully planned violent stupidity in the hands of a dedicated community.
All you need to know about the conspiracy is that Rico is fighting to thwart a private army called the Black Hand. I played through a couple of story missions and felt the same turmoil that the Just Cause 3 campaign created in me. It’s possible to skip cutscenes and go straight to the action, but there’s no getting around the fact that the Just Cause mission design, as far as I’ve seen it at least, is a bit boring. Go here, blow up a certain number of these things, flip a few of these switches, shoot these barely competent enemies: rinse, repeat.
I enjoyed a mission where I had to fake the death of an American documentary director. I’m not sure why she needed her fake death or what her documentary was about, but it was extremely satisfying to command her vehicle through the thick mountains of Solis before spinning through the air onto a ferry filled with explosive barrels . Overall, the mission design and storytelling is competent. It feels like an obligation fulfilled. The creative destruction, on the other hand, is extraordinary.
Storms and Ricos
The key novelties here are the Storms and Ricos customizable grapple hooks. The grappling hook can act as an air lifter (think of Metal Gear Solid’s Fulton extractions), a booster (think of missiles), or a retractor.
The rate at which retractor hooks pull objects together can be changed, as can the length of the retractor and the force of the inevitable collision. The booster mods are particularly fun: They serve as mini rocket propellers.
While I’ve only had a while to tinker with this stuff, the way the grappling hook mods can interact with vehicles and destructible terrain is just a justification for a new just cause. As fodder for creative YouTubers, Just Cause 4 is a much more flexible and creative sandbox than its predecessor, and I can imagine spending ten hours orchestrating increasingly ridiculous explosions.
The weather systems seem fun too, although I only encountered a single tornado during my session: luckily, I was on a fighter jet at the time. To know it sounds weird, but the eerie silence inside the tornado, coupled with the oppressive, water-blown environment, was beautiful. I was fascinated.
I keep my fingers crossed that many of Just Cause 4’s most powerful tools aren’t behind the story mode milestones, but realistically. This is a full price blockbuster video game, and it would probably be unwise for Avalanche and Square Enix to send out a demolition sandbox without some form of campaign. It’s disappointing that Just Cause 4 doesn’t offer instant cooperative play – modders will correct this – but for what it’s worth, the joys in Just Cause 4 are closer to the Kerbal Space Program or Defeat than GTA or Far Cry. I’ll have fun playing it when it releases next month, but I’ll probably have even more fun watching animated gifs of it.