I don't envy Avalanche Studios. Just Cause 2 seemed to have come out of nowhere, was much more fun than it had any right to be, and my affection for it only grows over time. Just Cause 3, by contrast, will have to meet and exceed great expectations based not only on the success of Just Cause 2, but the many advancements made in open-world games since it was released in 2006. These are some of the things it could do to make us happy.
A "better" story
Just Cause 2's story and characterization got a pass because I could derive some humor from how thoroughly terrible it was. To be fair, I doubt that anyone is anticipating Just Cause 3 for its story or expecting it to tell a gripping tale, but we can set our standards a little higher than rock bottom.
Given the silly, over-the-top nature of its action, I'd love it if the series looked to Saints Row for inspiration and pushed things into the absurd. We got a taste of this in Just Cause 2's missile-hopping final sequence, and with a ridiculous, muy caliente protagonist like Rico Rodriguez, Just Cause 3 only needs a bit of a nudge to embrace its inherent humor fully.
Native cooperative and multiplayer modes
Just Cause 2 became a super interesting multiplayer game, but only a long time after it was released, when only the most dedicated fans and purveyors of PC gaming oddities like PC Gamer were there to appreciate it. If Just Cause 3 will get a strong multiplayer mode and, better yet, a cooperative mode, it could gain a strong and special following.
Avalanche Studios already said we won't get multiplayer at launch, but seeing as how it eventually adopted the crazy multiplayer mod and made it official, there's reason to be optimistic that the developer recognizes the potential in letting multiple players run wild in its world at the same time.
Steam Workshop integration
Speaking of mods, it'd be great if Avalanche encouraged fans to create their own content for the game, and, more importantly, make it easier to peruse, download, and install it with Steam Workshop integration.
The multiplayer mod and custom servers have done wonders for Just Cause 2 years after release (just check out Wes' tour of Build World), so imagine the kind of legs Just Cause 3 will have if it makes the whole enterprise easier.
I'm not going to pretend that there's any shortage of things that go boom in Just Cause 2. Its absolutely filthy with red barrels and plump oil tanks begging to be exploded with rocket launchers and C4 packs.
However, it'd be nice if the aftermath of these explosions was a little more dynamic and meaningful than switching between two states: unexploded and exploded.
I'm not asking for Red Faction: Guerrilla levels of destructibility here (though that would be amazing), but maybe something more on the scale of a Battlefield. Let me make my own entrances into buildings or demolish them entirely. If I could use Rico's grappling hook to take out some pillars by tieing it to a truck and driving away, even better.
An interconnected world
After playing Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, I kind of want a Nemesis system that allows me to mess with the hierarchy of bad guys in every open-world. It's probably a little too late in the game for Avalanche to add a system that's truly inspired by Shadow of Mordor, but I sincerely hope it finds a way to make side missions and other typical open-world activities more interconnected to every other part of the game. Completing a mission or killing a big bad guy should ripple through the world, not just give you another upgrade.
That's the best part about the Nemesis system. It makes what used to be filler content in other open-world games (like Just Cause 2, for example) into little stories you write as you play.
My mild interest in Grand Theft Auto V was purely educational until I saw the addition of the first-person mode, which we'll get to play on PC later this month. It's amazing what a change in camera perspective can do for a game. The little we've seen of Just Cause 3's world looks beautiful, and I would love to see it in the first person. Rico's grappling hook and parachute mode of travel might not suit it, but I would at least like to have the option to switch to first-person while in vehicles.
Someone of course already modded-first person into Just Cause 2, and it's as crazy as I'd hoped it would be, if a little broken. I'd love to see Avalanch do it properly.