Avalanche Studios, I’m not sure you and I see eye-to-eye on what makes Just Cause 3 interesting.
Just Cause 3: Mech Land Assault DLC (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
MSRP: $11.99 ($25.99 for Season Pass)
Released: June 10, 2016
Mech Land Assault, the “Land” portion of Just Cause 3‘s “Air, Land, and Sea” DLC package, starts off when protagonist Rico Rodriguez is told the Black Hand terrorist organization is up to no good. Naturally, it’s up to him to stop whatever it is they’re doing. So, he sneaks aboard a plane (unfortunately told within a still-image cutscene) and infiltrates their base of operations.
After shooting some dudes, Rico is pitted against the eponymous mech. It’s incredibly powerful and I died few times before realizing I’m an idiot and could just hold it in place with tethers and throw grenades and explosives at it. Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve been in the Just Cause mindset!
The first mech is just a tease, though, and soon enough Rico is piloting one of his very own. Well, after stealing it, of course. This introduces the first problem. In order to steal a piloted mech, Rico must first shoot it with a specific heavy-weapon — an energy gun that can only be obtained from destroying another mech. This means that, in order to hijack a mech, players will need to find a pair of them. Sometimes this isn’t an issue, but it still provides a high barrier of entry just to get control of the one thing people will want out of this DLC.
There are alternatives, at least. While it’s a limited resource, it is possible to summon a mech using the Rebel Drop system. There are also various unpiloted mechs hanging around the island free for the taking. I found myself using one of these two acquisition methods 100 percent of the time, since happening across the required two mechs was very rare in my experience.
Actually piloting mechs is a blast. They can pick up just about anything with their gravity guns and then launch it in any direction. They also have an electro-magnetic ground slam ability that I never use because the gravity gun is so useful. Each mech is also mounted with a traditional gun, which varies depending on the mech.
Mechs do make everything way too easy, though. Liberating areas now consists of driving around and using the mech’s gravity gun to pick things up and throw them away. Despite the lack of challenge, however, I ended up turning off the game in complete frustration after the first mission.
The mission itself was fine, but in order to unlock the next one, players have to liberate the entire goddamn DLC island. I thought it was pretty clear most everyone’s least favorite part of the core game in Just Cause 3 was being forced to liberate place after place after place, and yet here we are. Admittedly it’s much easier this time when piloting a mech, but that doesn’t prevent it from feeling like complete filler.
There is a plot-related reason to do so, at least. Liberating the island involves freeing prisoners and their rebellious leaders who eventually all pitch in during the final mission. This also forces Rico to be on foot to release the prisoners, but I always killed everyone before stepping outside of my mech, so leaving its friendly confines was never much of a risk.
After liberating everything, the second and final mission is unlocked. Yes, there are only two missions in this DLC. Neither of them are particularly long, so an entire playthrough lasts somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours. Anyways, the second mission involves killing some dudes, blowing stuff up and, well, that’s it. Then the story ends on a cliffhanger to set up the next add-on.
There are also boring wave-based mech challenges thrown in with the ability to unlock gears to upgrade mechs in uninteresting ways. In fact, I’d say I spent more time waiting for the next wave to begin than actually taking out the waves. The challenges technically award “style” points for destroying the vehicles in cool ways, but that’s a lie. It gives style points for using the gravity gun, but no extra style points for using the gravity gun to launch a tank into a helicopter to destroy them both. In fact, if you launch anything into another vehicle, it gives you no bonus points, apparently because the game can’t really detect that stuff.
Mech Land Assault falls completely flat. The mechs are great, but they also make missions and liberating towns way too easy (the same way the jetpack made flying way too easy and thereby less interesting). There are only two missions, both of which are completely bland. Oh, and also you’re forced to liberate the entire DLC island because if there is one thing that people were clamoring for, it was more town liberations. Good lord, is this season pass over yet?
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]