I've got plenty of questions about Just Cause 4—most of them relating to the mission structure, and whether it can improve on the sheer, grinding repetition of the previous game. Despite that, I've no qualms about this sequel's ability to offer a selection of ridiculous ways to blow a bunch of stuff up. The Just Cause series never fails to deliver when it comes to wildly destructive toys. Based on the hands-off demo I was shown at E3, Just Cause 4 will be more absurd than ever.
Boosters are better and more numerous
Rico's grappling hook is, once again, the primary source for shenanigans, and here it's had an upgrade. Your hook can be customised with a variety of effects. One effect, Pulse, causes an explosion when two tethered objects collide, propelling them back outwards, which… OK. I guess that could be useful in certain situations.
Another grapple mod lets you attach boosters to objects. Rocket boosters were introduced as a C4 upgrade in Just Cause 3, but as a grappling hook modification it's far easier to attach loads of them to a physics object. In the demo, I see them liberally placed on a crane and its attached shipping container. When activated, the boosters turn the crane into a wrecking ball, spinning around, smashing things up.
You can attach balloons to anything
If boosters aren't your thing, how about balloons? Another grapple mod adds Airlifts—large flotation devices that attach to objects to raise them into the air. You can then pop the balloons with a button press, causing everything you've raised to come slamming into the ground. Again: it sounds of limited use except in the most contrived situations, but Airlift can be further customised so that the balloons follow Rico around. That means you can Airlift explosives and other useful objects, and escort them towards a group of enemies.
Grappling hook mods can be combined, too. Avalanche attaches an absurd number of boosters to a shipping container, and then stands on it and activates the booster. The whole thing spins violently in the air, and Rico falls off. The point is you can do it: it doesn't need to make sense.
It's easy to create makeshift missiles
Once again, Rico is leading a rebellion against a tyrannical force. It's his thing. In Just Cause 4, that rebellion is shown as an ongoing war that plays out across the map. As you progress through the game, a frontline will emerge as rebellion soldiers battle the military. The more you do, the further the rebellion will push the frontline back across the map.
It's a neat way to show your progress, and also gives you a chaotic space in which to mess around. In the demo, Avalanche used this war to show off the more advanced physical properties of Chaos objects—the red and white coloured structures you need to destroy to lessen the military's foothold. Airlift balloons were attached to a fuel tank, which was then shot, causing a single jet of fire to come spurting out. It became a makeshift missile, shooting off into some nearby soldiers.
There's a massive tornado
If you've seen any of Just Cause 4's trailers, you won't have failed to notice the massive tornado ripping up everything in its path. This is one of many extreme weather effects found in the game—Avalanche is pretty psyched about the level of physics simulation enabled by Just Cause 4's proprietary Apex engine.
It definitely looks impressive. Rico has to fight against the pull of the tornado when hang gliding near it. If you shoot a rocket towards it, it will get caught by the current and spiral up into the abyss. Very little escapes the tornado's destructive force, and it's impressive to see so many physics objects flung up into the air as it passes by.
You can control where the tornado goes
In the mission I'm shown, Rico's enemies, the Black Hand, have deployed a number of wind cannons, designed to direct the tornado away from their base. Naturally, then, he decides to destroy the wind cannons, redirecting the twister back towards his foe. This is a pretty standard Just Cause mission, in which you go to an enemy base and blow a bunch of things up.
More exciting though, is the suggestion that Rico himself will at some point be able to deploy his own wind cannons, letting the player use the tornado for their own elaborate schemes. The demo ends with the Black Hand base thoroughly destroyed—first by Rico and then by violent winds. As the demo fades to black, it's revealed that the tornado is now headed directly for a nearby city. Now that's a level of wanton destruction I can't wait to see.