As if Just Cause 3 didn’t already have enough ways to make things blow up in spectacular fashion, Avalanche’s trio of DLC expansion packs take things to even further and more ridiculous heights. A confused look passes over Francis Paulsson’s face – the animator at Avalanche credited with Rico’s Bavarium Wingsuit animations – when I ask him if they’ve ever thought it gets a bit much.
“Hmmm,” he replied, “No, I don’t think we actually have. I can’t remember any case where we actually thought that this is too over the top.” And it kind of shows. The middle part of the Air, Land, Sea season pass, dubbed Mech Land Assault and coming out this week on June 3rd, is probably one of the more outlandish ideas that they’ve come up with. In a lot of ways, it makes giving Rico a Bavarium powered Wingsuit in the Sky Fortress DLC feel tame.
When you picture a mech in your mind’s eye, what appears in this expansion is not exactly what you’d expect. The most common mental image is going to be something that takes on the human form, like a Gundam mobile suit or a Transformer, but the mech in Just Cause 3 has much more in common with a tank. While it has four legs, these aren’t used for walking, but provide active suspension for the main body of the vehicle, as it rolls around on multi-direction wheels. You can move in any direction, as a consequence, moving and strafing around targets with outstanding mobility thanks to its unique design.
“We wanted to create a new type of mech that was kind of like a mix between a character and a vehicle,” Francis said. “Basically we wanted the helicopter mechanics, to be able to strafe and yaw and pitch. We wanted that, but we wanted it on a tank, to be grounded and agile.”
Of course, you’ve got a ranged weapon, with a Bavarium minigun or a slower firing autocannon mounted on top, but really, it’s the mech’s Gravitational Remote Influence Projector, or “GRIP” which makes it a joyous toy to use in combat. To put it another way, it’s a gravity gun a la Half Life 2, that lets you grab objects, vehicles and enemies out of the world and then propel them at high speed in a direction of your choosing. Ever wanted to smash two guard towers into each other? Now you can.
Those two abilities, to grab and to forcefully push, are surprisingly flexible. In the demonstration, Francis showed off the ability to call in a friendly drone, grabbed it with the GRIP and drive around as it fires at anything in sight. At the same time, you can force push dozens of shipping containers and objects in one go, forcing the game to suddenly calculate a lot of new physics objects in flight, or perform a force punch at an oncoming vehicle.
Relating one of his favourite things to do with the mech, Francis said, “One of the hardest things, that looks not so good 90% of the time but is bloody amazing when you actually succeed, is when there’s a helicopter and you jump up and do a rising dragon punch underneath it! It’s so hard to pull of, but when you do it… ‘Yesss!'”
It’s not really a tool for much finesse, but it can be used quite delicately. Instead of throwing, you can gently place things, perhaps creating a tower of shipping containers. I personally took it upon myself to pluck naughty enemy helicopters out of the sky and try to put them in helicopter prison – basically any building or hangar big enough to hold them. I invariably failed, as I forgot that you needed to press a different button to place items and not brutally smash them into the floor.
“I love that,” Francis laughed, as I related this fancifully silly idea to him. “When you do something really meticulously. ‘OK, I’m just going to place it here,’ and then you release the trigger and, WHUMM! It just flies away!”
There’s a nice feedback loop from the community, where Avalanche watch and see the kinds of antics players are getting up to in game. Francis explained, “The Jenga tower thing, where we put containers on top of each other, that’s kind of one of the reasons why you’re able to just drop things with the mech, so that you’re able to stack things on top of each other.”
Just as Sky Fortress added a huge flying aircraft carrier to visit, Mech Land Assault adds a new island to the game. You can use the mech all the way through the main game and revisit Medici, but the island of Lacrima plays home to an abandoned eDen research base and a prison camp that holds a number of your rebel allies. There’s new story missions to follow, as well as new challenges. They’ll see you face off against the Black Hand, some of whom might be in mechs of their own.
None of that really matters though, as I sit grinning from ear to ear as I see yet another train coming down the tracks toward me and start to charge up my force punch…