Just Cause 4 Review – A plan is a list of things that can go wrong

December 19, 2018

Rico Rodriguez is back for another stab at the Black Hand, and this time they mean business with the help of artificial extreme weather events. Head to Solis, a fictional island with a South American theme, in search of the truth regarding the death of Rico’s father, and team up with some familiar faces as you bring the Army of Chaos to the battlefield that is Just Cause 4. With an all-new customisable grappling hook, extreme weather events, ancient ruins to explore and a movie being filmed in the middle of the war-zone, Just Cause 4 is ambitious, but is it all just a superficial mess?

Just Cause 4

Kicking off the game, you’re quickly confronted with antagonist and leader of the Black Hand in Solis Gabriella Morales. A formidable foe, she basically vows to kill everyone that gets in her way and then disappears on a helicopter when Rico starts killing everyone that gets in his way. The rest of the game is basically a hunt to find her and destroy the artificial weather systems that are plaguing the island. While we thought Gabriella was going to play a more active role throughout the story, she doesn’t actually appear again until the end which was disappointing. There are plenty of other memorable characters along the way though, and though parts of the story are fun with light-hearted jokes thrown in along the way, a lot of it is silly.

The map in Just Cause 4 actually reminded us of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. One large landmass with different biomes around the edges, including a barren desolate area in the north west. All that was missing was a giant volcano in the middle, but instead that’s where you’ll find the snowy peaks of Solis. It is however where the final battle takes place, so that’s another similarity! Players will find hidden caves, small cities, villages and plenty of Black Hand bases to destroy. The singular land mass feels large at first, but Just Cause 4 has a super quick fast travel system so you’ll find traversing the map to be quite easy later in the game.

Just Cause 4

The Chaos bar is back in Just Cause 4, and as you level up you are given more units to take control of parts of the map from the Black Hand. There is always a front line of battle in Solis where you’ll see your Army of Chaos firing shots and taking fire from the Black Hand, and working to unlock the map is required to continue both the main story and side-missions. There are plenty of places to explore in Solis with surprises and Easter eggs around some corners, however the map often feels a bit basic and procedurally generated in some parts, while other sections seem highly man-designed.

There are three different types of side-missions in Just Cause 4, one is basically the game’s tutorial, giving Rico the chance to train new members of the Army of Chaos (where it’s actually just you learning how to use the items), another has you searching the deep forests and mountains of the Eastern part of Solis looking for ancient ruins to uncover the truth about the island, and lastly there are action-hero sequences where Rico is asked to do a bunch of cunning stunts while shouting the names of various women.

Just Cause 4

These side missions need to be completed in order to unlock various modifications for your grappling hook, although you definitely don’t need to unlock them all to complete the game. Just Cause 4’s grappling hook has received an overhaul, and players can now create and customise the way the grappling hook works in the environment. You can have three preset customisations which can be swapped on the fly, meaning you can create some epic moments which we have already started to see online.

Vehicles play a large role again, and this time you’ll find everything from bikes to fan boats to huge warships to all kinds of planes, and even an amphibious tank that also operates on land. The stormchaser vehicle which was featured in some early gameplay trailers is quite memorable, but not all that useful as you soon find that the versatility of Rico grappling around Solis is often more preferred. All your typical rifles and explosive launchers are back, however if you’re wanting some truly epic gear you may want to consider purchasing an edition more costly than just the standard. It’s actually a shame that weaponized wingsuits and other over-the-top weapons are locked behind paywalls, and we also found that there wasn’t much in the way of wingsuit and parachute customisation until very late into the end-game content.

Just Cause 4

Grappling and general movement has received a much-needed overhaul this time around, and players will be glad to hear that it feels a lot more like the fluid movement of Just Cause 2 than the awkward flailing of Just Cause 3. Grappling up mountains, parachuting around and using the new abilities to take full control over Rico really adds to being able to cause an infinite amount of chaos. In mere seconds you can be three kilometers in the air by using the Air Lifter modification, and the freedom to explore Solis really is at your disposal this time around.

Just Cause 4 has been looking great since it was first revealed to us at the Square Enix E3 2018 Showcase, and we also had the pleasure of checking out some live code at PAX 2018 ahead of its launch. What we experienced at launch however was a mixed bag of graphics. While some parts of the game look truly next-gen, with road textures, vehicles, and to an extent the main characters’ models looking great, other parts of the game unfortunately fall behind and it looks like Avalanche has re-used models from the game’s predecessor. It’s hard to speak fondly of the graphics in Just Cause 4 because parts of it just look so muddy and bland, such as the water which you would think would be a large focus given how often you find yourself at the bottom of lakes, rivers and the ocean, but instead we got a flat, bland, unresponsive body of water that looks good from afar but is far from good on closer inspection.

Just Cause 4

With the use of the new Apex engine, which was built specifically for Just Cause 4 to be able to handle the in-game weather events such as the tornado ripping buildings apart and lifting aircraft to the skies, we thought the whole game would have been a step up from Just Cause 3, but some parts have even been downgraded, such as Rico no longer leaving a trail through vegetation. We also experienced frame-rate issues on the Xbox One X not only during every cut-scene of the game but also when there were large-scale battles with many vehicles involved.

The audio in Just Cause 4 is also a mixed bag, with some voice acting being outstanding while other parts being quite cringe-worthy to the point of losing interest. The game seems to have a strange direction (or no direction) when it comes to control of the narrative and life of Solis. NPC’s are very basic, and you’ll find them in strange positions on their cell phones a lot, and a lot of the time it feels like Kevin Collins (Rico’s voice actor) is carrying the mood of the game by himself. The soundtrack and radio channels are far too loud by default, but luckily all of the audio levels are adjustable in the settings.

Just Cause 4

Just Cause 4 is fun. It’s not a game that will win many awards, its story will not appease to everyone, and quite frankly it’s a really easy game to criticise due to parts of it feeling very janky and cut-and-paste from Just Cause 3, but one can’t deny its appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers alike. It offers plenty of hours of gameplay via the main missions, and plenty more by completing the many tasks around the hotspots on the map, but stops short of feeling truly massive like Just Cause 2 did, and also falls short in basically every category when it comes to open-world games, particularly when going up against the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Just Cause 4 isn’t a game to ignore, but with everything else available at the end of 2018 it’s definitely one that can be put on the backlog.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Just Cause 4 on an Xbox One X in 4K HDR. It is also available on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. For more information head to the official Just Cause 4 website.


- So much fun!
- Great new grappling system, albeit a little tricky to master
- The tornado is pure madness.


- Mixed bag of graphics
- Grappling hook abilities are under-utilised through missions
- Solis is more basic than expected.

Overall Score: