Be a hero of liberty (and destructive bastard) in Just Cause 3

I know a few things about the town I'm currently destroying. It's somewhere in the sun-kissed Republic of Medici, a tranquil and fictional Mediterranean nation dreamed up for Just Cause 3. I know that I, as series protagonist Rico Rodriguez, am supposed to be liberating it from a tyrannical dictator so the people here can live in peace. And I know that I'd doing a pretty shoddy job of it, as I stick several grenades to a vital water source and run over no less than seven pedestrians as I flee the military police on a stylish motorbike.

Yet, nobody's cowering before my destructive glory. In fact, when I tumble off my ride and grapple onto a moving car, the driver greets me excitedly before I vault away, leaving him to get clobbered by the fireteam on my tail. I'm not the bad guy here, but a native liberator doing what needs to be done to bring a hateful regime to its knees. And apparently, that involves a lot of grappling across the countryside, stealing cars, and destroying every inch of an oppressed nation's infrastructure.

Granted, that isn't unusual for the Just Cause series, which consistently positions gruff and gritty Rico on the right side of history, and any action he takes to thwart a tyrant is justified (it's all right there in the name). But this time it's personal as he returns to Medici, his homeland, which has been stuck under the boot of a Mussolini-Stalin amalgamation named Di Ravello for twenty years.

The plan is to dismantle his forces and reduce his control over the populace by destroying radio towers, military resources, statues made in his image, and anything else that could cripple his operations. It's an unapologetically gung-ho framework to drape the rest of the game around, and since everything technically belongs to the regime (you won't end up blowing up any community water towers, for instance, since those towers are all located on guarded military bases), you're given clearance to do basically whatever you want. You're doing it all for a just cause, just 'cause.

That level of freedom is replicated in the makeup of the world, where nearly every place is reachable and all the best structures are destructible. New and upgraded tools at Rico's disposal put even the most inaccessible places well within your range, including a parachute that can be deployed at will and a grappling hook that latches into just about everything; I personally found that the best way to evade military drones was to shoot the hook directly into the ground, dragging Rico through fields of grain at super speed, before rocketing onto a nearby roof and parachuting into the sunset. Rico also has a brand new wingsuit that lets you cross vast distances at high speed, provided you have something high to jump off of.

The result is movement that feels seamless and simple, where you can go from parachute to wingsuit to grappling hook and keep moving forever. The open world is so expansive that you'll find no invisible walls or obtrusive shrubbery getting in your way, and Rico has more stamina than any gauge can handle, so you can keep right on going to your heart's content. Even enemies have a hard time keeping up or stopping you when you're on the move, which does remove any real sense of threat from the world. Still, you'll probably forget that the next time you jump on a moving truck, grapple to a tower (that you immediately blow up) and parachute to the deck of a speedboat (which you immediately steal).

Along with toys focused on mobility, Rico has an arsenal of shockingly destructive weapons, including powerful explosives like C4 grenades that are automatically replenished if you run out. That way not even a lack of resources will get in the way of you turning a fuel reserve into a fiery inferno, or bringing down a communication tower by crippling its support structure.

But bombs and guns aren't your only options either - you can also rip the heads off Di Ravello's statues with your grappling hook or run over operatives with everything from a vespa to a humvee (one of the few parts of the game with limits, as you have to complete specific tasks to get each vehicle). There are admittedly some structures that refuse to crumble - I almost blew myself up trying to take down a lighthouse - but you're never far from an alternate target.

We're still not sure how the full story campaign will be structured - for example, if it will have linear missions outside flagrant destruction or if Rico's old comrades Sheldon and Kane will join him at some point. But, ultimately, I believe we've already seen where the development team has focused the bulk of its efforts: a humongous, easily traversable world that dares you to find something you can't do. You have only the most basic of restrictions, like the law of gravity and the fact that bullets hurt (though Rico has the skin of a rhinoceros and can survive a grenade going off in his ear). Otherwise, you have absolute freedom to do as you please no matter how destructive, and God help any dictator, military bunker, inattentive speedboat captain, or economy car that gets in your way.

So if you pick up Just Cause 3 when it comes out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC this holiday season, see what heights of absurdity you can reach in your campaign of destruction. The game will cheer you on for doing so, and so will everyone else in it. No need to thank me, folks! It's all in a day's work.