Looks like Just Cause 3 is happening then. Of
course, we’d suspected that may be the case since December of last year, when
developer Avalanche Studios released a rather conspicuous video of the team
scouting locations in Costa
Rica for “future games”. With Costa Rica
comprising the lush, sun-drenched, beach-and-rainforest environments that the
JC series is known for (and certainly not, say, the deserts on show in
Avalanche’s other current project, Mad Max), it was a fairly safe bet that part
3 was at least being considered. But now that publisher Square-Enix has
registered the justcause3.com domain name, a few months before E3, that’s a new
bout of tropical, open-world carnage basically confirmed.
Obviously this is good news on an immediate, surface level.
The Just Cause series, particularly the second game, is pretty damn brilliant.
Sporting rather unique and immensely evocative environments, packed with some of
the most extravagant, creative, player-lead action in the open-world genre,
Just Cause might never have attained the megaton status of a Grand Theft Auto
or a Saints Row, but it has provided some of the most exciting games of its
type ever since it first appeared last-last gen.
But there’s a deeper reason to celebrate here, and it rather
hinges upon that latter sentiment above. First of all, the advent of a series
like Just Cause getting a big budget, triple-A (presumably) next-gen sequel is
a great symbol of health for the industry as we move into a new generation of
hardware. Last-gen, particularly over the last few years of the outgoing
platforms’ life, there was a choking sense that gaming’s roster was rapidly
consolidating into two disparate camps: Big, safe-bets, and cheap, small-scale
For a great but arguably second-tier franchise like Just
Cause to get a vote of confidence like this--when many other much-loved single
and double-A series have fallen by the wayside since the days of the PS2--is a
great sign that there’s still faith in expensive games without the absolute
top-level brand value of the industry’s bigger boys.
Beyond that, it absolutely should not be forgotten that
Avalanche remains a resolutely independent, self-owned, triple-A studio. Those
are a depressing rarity these days. Gaming used to be rife with large scale
indies making big games for big publishers on their own terms, but, much like
the franchises they used to make, we’ve seen far too many of them disappear
over recent years, either folding or being absorbed into publishers, losing
their identity along with their creative control.
Bizarre Creations, Free Radical Design, Pandemic… the list
is far, far too long by now. And I had worried that Avalanche might be going
the same way. The studio’s 2015 Mad Max tie-in looks excellent, but it is an official film license being made
on behalf of a vast multimedia empire, in the shape of Warner Bros. That’s
often the sort of game that acts as a stepping stone to a buy-out and
absorption, but it seems that Avalanche has defiantly avoided that path.
Mad Max is being made by WB, Just Cause 3 (assuming it
definitely exists, because it almost certainly does) is being made for
Square-Enix. And in the middle, separate from both, is Avalanche, still doing
its own thing, and still getting the massive funding and support it needs to
keep doing its own thing. In Europe, of all
places. Not even the mighty IO Interactive has managed that heady feat, having
been bought by Eidos in 2004 and swallowed by S-E in 2009. Strong work,
Avalanche, strong work indeed. Keep it up guys, and bring us some more of that
high-flying, pararachute-packing lunacy as soon as you possibly can.