Just Cause 4 was, by a dramatic margin, the weakest game of the franchise. It had so much potential and a long established fan base, but it nevertheless squandered its gifts and wound up being a beige and underwhelming experience. There are enough solid ideas behind the franchise that one bad game can’t kill it entirely, and so to bring things back on track I’d like to talk about five ideas I have had that would be extremely beneficial to Just Cause 5.
Just Cause 3 had a well balanced difficulty curve, though this was proved unnecessary earlier in the series. When starting a new game in Just Cause 2 you were invited to set your own level of difficulty, so new or returning players knew right off the bat exactly what to expect from their game-play experience.
From what I endured of Just Cause 4 there were instead, random difficulty spikes that popped up unexpectedly to ruin certain missions, making seemingly simple objectives controller-crunchingly difficult for no reason at all. It shouldn’t be too difficult to return to the ‘choose your own difficulty’ from Just Cause 2 and in doing so invite back a lot of players who were put off by the franchise’s disastrous fourth installment.
Don’t Hide Late Game Perks Behind Challenges
This is a truly mind blowing design choice issue that Just Cause 3 and 4 were rife with. If you want to unlock the best weapons and mods you would have to complete an unnecessarily complicated challenge that didn’t even unlock until very late in the game. There must always be a natural progression in games such as these, as giving all the best toys at the start would only result in a bland experience throughout, but there has to be a better way than withholding the best weapons until they are essentially no longer needed.
And no, I don’t mean hiding them behind a paywall.
Instead, I would suggest unlocking the best weapons gradually from a selection offered at the end of key story missions, returning the power of choice to the player and giving us the ability to feel like we are working towards something rather than just the liberation of a fictional state. This would also benefit different play styles, as I am more of a rocket launcher and close combat shotgun player, so asking me to grind to unlock an assault rifle isn’t going to score any points with me.
Just Cause antagonists have never been overly interesting characters, except for the eccentric Baby Panay, and I feel it would benefit the series to take a leaf from Far Cry’s book and really invest in a captivating villain. It may also be beneficial to have more than just one, and instead of having them sit patiently waiting for the end of the game to have a showdown with Rico, different antagonists could appear at points through the story. They could then be used to challenge the player, potentially by introducing new weapons or technology we haven’t seen prior to them, that will eventually be required to beat them.
More Active Revolutionaries
This is one thing that Just Cause 4 got right, as the revolutionaries Rico was assisting in the liberation of Solis were always active and battling the forces of the oppressing rival army, the Black Hand. I always found the native forces in previous Just Cause games far too willing to kick back and let Rico handle their problems, or even worse, to blindly rush into combat and die as nothing more than mouthy cannon fodder.
It is important that Rico remains front and centre stage in any gunfights happening throughout the Just Cause games, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to give those in supporting roles the illusion of doing something helpful other than barking orders at Rico over the radio or dying off-screen.
If All Else Fails, Reboot / Remake!
Failing all else, the Just Cause games have always been a lot of fun, and if the developers decided to reboot the franchise and remake the original games with the power and support of next generation consoles then I doubt many players would want to oppose them on that.
The explosive and stunt filled adventures through San Esperito in the first game back on Playstation 2 were some of the best on the console and are thoroughly deserving of the remake treatment. Granted, around 90% of the map was full of empty hills but with the benefit of fifteen years of advances in game development technology, this and any other issues with the original game could be resolved with relative ease.
A Just Cause 2 remake would be a day one purchase for me if remade for current consoles, as its setting on the glorious tropical islands of Panau looked stunning even when the game launched in 2010 and still holds up to this day in 2020. I, and many others, spent hundreds of hours combing it for 100% completion and not a minute of that time wasn’t well spent or lacking in breathtaking moments.
My personal preference for the next Just Cause game is for a remake of Just Cause 1, but let me know in the comments what you hope this franchise will do next.
Despite my clear hatred of Just Cause 4 I would definitely still play any following titles thanks to the hundreds of hours of enjoyment from its three predecessors. Just Cause 4 is evidence of trying something new and completely ruining what the franchise had already worked so hard to establish since it first graced our consoles in 2006. I hope the above ideas can be used to get the franchise back on track, but please do let me know in the comments what other features you would add.
Thanks for reading and I will speak to you again soon.