E3 2018: Avalanche Studios Dissects Grappling Hook Customization, Weather in Just Cause 4

The Just Cause series has always been known for its large maps, tools of destruction and the large amounts of explosions players can make. Just Cause 4 looks to follow in the series’ tradition but with a few new twists. With the inclusion of weather and a customizable grappling hook, Avalanche Studios is looking to inject more gameplay options into the sequel. We sat down with Adam Davidson, Executive Producer at Avalanche Studios, to learn more about how the new features empower players’ destructive creativity.

[Hardcore Gamer] Where does Just Cause 4 pick up from the events of Just Cause 3? Rico is obviously back, but what’s going on with him this time?

[Adam Davidson] We’re not delving to deep into the story stuff at the moment as we’re holding it back for later reveals. What I can tell you is that Rico has wrapped up overthrowing Di Ravello in Medici and something has come up with his family that compels him to travel to the island nation of Solis to face an enemy different from his previous adversaries.

Solis appears to be very different from Medici. What kind of obstacles will Rico face on this island?

The enemy is the Black Hand, who we’ve kind of seen in JC2 and 3. This time they are the main opposing force. What we’re trying to bring to the table for them are new kinds of enemies that are more challenging to fight. Not like they’re bullet-sponges, but more like they have their own abilities and are elite compared to normal soldiers.

We’re also adding different types of environments. One of the reasons we based Solis in South America was because we felt it offered the different biomes and variety we wanted to offer in Just Cause 4. With South America you get deserts, rainforests, and big mountains with alpine regions. Each region has its own extreme weather event that is unique and creates fresh new gameplay opportunities.

What type of weather events can occur? We’ve already seen tornadoes, sandstorms, blizzards and tropical storms, but are there more? How does each affect the gameplay?

A: I’m not sure to what degree I can talk about all of them, but I can say that with tropical storms we’re dealing with lightning strikes and heavy winds. Now, wind is an omnipresent thing throughout the game this time, and not just when, say, a tornado rolls by. There’s always a wind current throughout the game with the speed determined by a continuous simulation. So, for example, when a tornado rolls through, Rico popping his chute is a bad idea because he’s going to get sucked in. When dealing with heavy rains and wind, it plays a factor in how you behave. A sandstorm will affect your vision and ability to move around the environment.

We view weather as a different gameplay mode when you’re in those engagements. Of course, there’s not always a tornado nearby, but when they are it is a big X factor to how you play the game.

What makes Just Cause so special is the experimentation its tools allow. What tools are your bringing back and what’s new?

We did set out to not take away many things from players. We wanted to bring back just about everything from Just Cause 3 that everybody loved. We were able to watch gamers on Twitch and YouTube to learn what worked and what didn’t. It gave us a window into what thousands of players liked. What we learned is that people didn’t like the devices that made them slow down or stop, so we wanted to keep them on the move. So, with boosters, we decided to add it to the grapple so that you could just attach it to anything in the world.

No core function from JC3’s movement system was removed. Instead, we decided to allow players to customize their grapple. For example, you can mess with things like tension and strength for the airlifters. We tried to give players as many variables possible to offer additional creativity. While weather is the big scene stealer, one of the most exciting things is what you’ll be able to do with this upgradeable grappling hook.

With Just Cause, the most exciting thing has always been the grappling hook and the ways you can use it to manipulate the environment. As such, the firearms are typically overshadowed by it. Are you bringing any kind of crazy weaponry to the table to better compete with the hook?

We have about the same number of weapons as we had in Just Cause 3. However, in effect, we have double because every weapon has an alternate fire. Those secondary fires can range from obvious things like a grenade launcher to an underbarrel shotgun. Then some of the other abilities are more out there like the ability to launch a drone. We also have big weapons like the railgun.

There are a few weapons that I can’t talk about yet that are big departures from the previous games and aren’t standard military affair. We needed to have ordinary weapons that players would feel familiar with, but also include weapons that give the player the tools to do crazy stuff.

How big is Solis? How much play area are players getting on this island?

If you look at it from straight down it is about the same map size as Just Cause 3. The land mass, however, is bigger and takes up more of the map space at around a thousand square kilometers. The big difference in volume and size comes from the verticality of the map.

One of the biggest criticisms of Just Cause 3 was performance on PS4 and Xbox One. The framerate was a huge problem. Even when playing on the Pro and X the game’s framerate was never steady. How have you worked to ensure the same doesn’t happen with Just Cause 4?

We definitely heard that loud and clear. We have much stricter internal processes in terms of maintaining key framerates throughout development rather than trying to get it to work at the end. It’s something we’ve really put an exclamation point on as we go through production. Now, we aren’t done optimizing the game, but it has been a major objective since the beginning of development. We need to do better and hopefully our new approaches to development will allow us to bring the game to market in a proper state.

One feature fans have been asking about for a long time is multiplayer. Will Just Cause 4 have a co-op or multiplayer mode?

At this time, we’ve just been focused on the single player game. There may be ideas for the future, but there’s nothing planned. Our goal is making this experience the best it can be.

When can players get their hands on Just Cause 4?

We launch December 4 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Be sure to check out our preview to learn more about Just Cause 4.

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