Straightforward, explosive and wonderful. Just Cause 3 offers you a huge playground where you can wreak a lot of chaos.

I like Just Cause. Since the first part, which admittedly still lacked the finishing touches in many corners. The kind of tweaking Just Cause 2 got a few years later. I like it because of its simplicity, because you can just let the pig out and put the bad guys in their place by any means imaginable. And especially because it doesn’t take itself seriously in the least. In Just Cause 3, too, gaming fun comes before realism – and that’s a good thing because it simply fits like a fist on the eye.

The opening sequence alone shows that. With his old buddy Tom Sheldon, Rico Rodriguez is in a propeller plane on the way to Medici, a fictional island group in the Mediterranean that is also Rico’s home. Here the dictator Sebastiano di Ravello rules with an iron fist and Rico has made it his business to support the local rebels in the fight for freedom. However, they are received by di Ravello’s fighter jets and anti-aircraft positions, so Rico simply climbs onto the roof of the aircraft and from there shoots a rocket launcher at said positions on the ground.

The just cause way of boarding a plane.

It’s not the only daring stunt you’ll do in Just Cause 3. The game insists that you do that – and it lets you do just that as you please. Among other things, Rico can hang upside down on the fuselage of a helicopter à la Batman and target opponents from there. Rico’s useful toys help with this endeavor. Its grappling hook has evolved and is a deadly weapon in and of itself. For example, you can connect two points with a rope and then make sure that they attract each other at the touch of a button.

You can use it to drag soldiers across the ground, bring down fuel tanks and the whole thing is also quite useful for car chases. In one mission, Rico stands on the roof of a vehicle and has to keep opponents away. Just connect the vehicles of your enemies to the ground and with a little luck they will fly meters high through the air. Likewise, you can use it to get helicopters or fighter jets out of the sky if you use it at the right time. Simply connect two helicopters together and give them a little surprise when they slowly crash into each other and explode in a large fireball – an extremely satisfying feeling.

At the same time, Rico has a parachute and a wingsuit in his outfit, which he can use again and again at any time – that’s not realistic, but it’s a lot of fun and just goes wonderfully with this game. Without a parachute and Co. it would probably be very frustrating because you save yourself from certain death more than a few times, for example if your hijacked helicopter crashes and you quickly jump out of the ___pit before hitting the ground to get you to safety with a parachute, wingsuit or simply with the grappling hook.

You can see a lot of explosions in the game.

If you’ve been with Just Cause like me since the first part, you will notice that Avalanche has further developed and refined the game concept with each part. This is no different in Just Cause 3 and accordingly you shouldn’t expect more when you dedicate yourself to this game. Evolution instead of revolution is the motto, which in this case is not a bad thing. Avalanche gives you as much as possible a free hand in what you do on Medici.

Again, the country is divided into various provinces, which you can liberate by clearing the bases and settlements in them of enemies. To do this, for example, you have to destroy all “chaos objects” in an opposing military base. These include fuel tanks, power generators, satellite dishes and the like you carry), it will explode in the end one way or another. So: If you like explosions, Just Cause 3 is exactly your thing. Alone these screen-filling fireballs with high cloud of black smoke after the explosion of a huge fuel tank are just wonderful . And that 1,308 of 1,832 enemies killed in the course of my game died from explosions, also speaks volumes about what to expect here. In the end, however, the fact remains that you can usually only destroy these special chaos objects, here a few watchtowers, but otherwise the settlements remain intact. You are supposed to free them too, not destroy them.

So no complete, but partial destruction of the objects intended for this purpose. But there are more than enough of them and it is always a lot of fun to blow it all up, to see how something explodes every few meters next to you, while Rico fights its way through the country as a one-man army. By the way: if you don’t want to, you don’t have to conquer all the provinces. Only for a handful of story missions you have to liberate two or three other provinces in advance or bring a control tower of di Ravello’s military under your control in order to continue with the story. Most of the missions can be tackled without any restrictions.

Again Avalanche has created a wonderful environment.

However, it is definitely worthwhile that you also deal with the rest of this by the way very wonderful, natural and lively game world. On the one hand there are several different collectibles that you can find, on the other hand you unlock optional challenges with pretty much every conquered settlement or base. You have to cause as much chaos as possible, complete a race with a vehicle or fly a certain route with a parachute or wingsuit. The better you do, the more gears you get.

The gears can in turn be used for the new mods. With these modifications, Rico can improve his skills. You don’t need them to finish the main story, but they definitely make your life easier. They are available for different categories and gears for the respective category are obtained by completing the associated challenges. You can then, for example, unlock a “clever fuse” with which the timer of thrown grenades is reduced if you throw them close to enemies. With the “long fuse” you in turn extend the time until they explode. Furthermore, the number of possible connections that you are allowed to establish with your grappling hook can be increased to a maximum of six, and you can also increase the strength of the connection. Basically you could then attach six soldiers to a gas bottle, shoot at it and it will take off into the air with all the enemies on a leash. In short: The liberation of the game world and the fulfillment of the challenges has a reasonable playful sense that makes your life on Medici easier.

By the way, you can basically have new weapons and / or vehicles delivered to you wherever you are. To do this, select the desired object from a corresponding request menu, throw a small signal transmitter on the floor and your delivery will be dropped in a large container. However, this only works with restrictions. You always have to get the corresponding transmitters again in settlements or bases and you cannot request the same combat helicopter over and over again in quick succession – there is always a cooldown for individual objects.

However, this does not always work perfectly. It happened several times that the helicopter I had requested did not survive the drop and immediately went up in flames, leaving only a freshly delivered wreck in front of me. Unfortunately, even the fast travel option is artificially limited in this way. You have to get yourself a new flare in a settlement or base before you can be transported to the desired destination. It seems a little awkward and I’m not sure why you had to solve it that way. A simple cooldown between two deliveries or a fast trip – say five or ten minutes – would have done it instead.

While Rico is liberating the island, he is wreaking havoc.

But before you assume the worst: at least over short to medium distances, Rico can move at a very reasonable pace. And you don’t even need a car for this, with a parachute and wingsuit you can make better and faster progress if you know how to use them correctly. In fact, outside of the main missions, I’ve rarely used any vehicle because Rico doesn’t necessarily need it – and you can also let your gaze wander over the beautiful landscape while doing so. But that also depends on your preference. Hijacking vehicles is really child’s play, even for helicopters and airplanes. Fasten the grappling hook, pull it in and get in, before throwing the pilot out if necessary. By the way: you activate vehicles for a request by airmail, by taking them to a garage, where they are effectively stored. But why you can’t request a vehicle directly from a garage yourself … I don’t know. One or the other little thing doesn’t necessarily make sense in Just Cause 3, but doesn’t have a negative effect on your fun.

Finally, a few numbers so that you can estimate how long Just Cause 3 can keep you busy. Steam shows me 19 hours it took me to complete the main story. Subtract another three or four hours from that, in which the game was minimized in the background or in which I dealt with some things apart from the actual story and you know roughly how much you will need for this alone. But as I said, the game has even more to offer. My overall progress is now 43 percent, there are still various provinces to conquer, challenges to unlock and collectibles to be found. The latter are not difficult to find, by the way. If you liberate a province, they are marked with question marks on the map.

Avalanche has again dispensed with a multiplayer mode, although the fan-created multiplayer mod for Just Cause 2 is quite popular. Nevertheless, you can in a certain way compete with others, namely there are different leaderboards, for example for the longest wingsuit flight, the largest number of explosions that you have caused with a single explosion or as many hits as possible with a magazine. There are also separate leaderboards for the individual challenges, in which you compete with other players.

A normal day in Just Cause 3.

The console versions are currently both struggling with some major problems, especially with regard to the frame rate. The Xbox One version suffers more and falls to 20 FPS, the PS4 to 24 FPS. In general, however, the Xbox One version is more unstable than the PS4 version in terms of frame rate, and there are problems even outside of the battles with explosions and their numerous effects. You can find more about this in the first performance analysis for Just Cause 3. Since we are taking a closer look at the whole thing and want to consider any short-term patches, our final conclusion on the console versions will follow shortly. However, they are certainly not in optimal condition at the moment and I hope that Avalanche can still make some helpful optimizations here.

If you ignore the problems of the console versions for a moment, with Just Cause 3 I got exactly what I expected. Avalanche has refined the underlying game concept in recent years – there are worlds between parts 1 and 3 – and again created a really great-looking playground for you, on which you can wreak a lot of chaos. And since five years have passed since the last part, this series has not shown the slightest signs of fatigue. Sure, the story might not win an Oscar, but it’s good, funny action cinema and manages to motivate you to the end. So if you’re in the mood for this kind of uncomplicated and entertaining action that doesn’t necessarily stick to the limits of realism and doesn’t take itself seriously, you’re definitely not doing anything wrong with Just Cause 3. It is simply a pleasure to free Medici from the dictator’s henchmen while experimenting with the numerous possibilities and deadly weapons that the game offers you. I already know where I’ll be spending my Christmas vacation. But first please quickly touch up on the consoles, dear developers.

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