Tag Archive: Rico Rodriguez


It’s hard to believe it’s been about nine months already since Just Cause 3 launched, but time flies when you’re blowing up parts of an oppressed nation. Because of the episodic release schedule of the Air, Land, & Sea Expansion for the game, we’ve been causing chaos pretty consistently over that period of time. And now, with the release of the Bavarium Sea Heist DLC—the third and final chapter in that expansion—we can say there’s not much of Medici left for us to decimate at this point. Much like the previous chapters in the expansion, however, Bavarium Sea Heist just doesn’t hold a candle to the main game.

The DLC opens with Rico getting a call from Annika (his mercenary buddy from the main game) as she’s planning on putting together the heist of the century. It seems Stingray, an old eDEN research facility in the middle of the ocean that was trying to harness the power of lightning and mysteriously disappeared into a portal after their last experiment went haywire, had amazingly reappeared. Annika wants some Bavarium devices that were being developed there and calls on Rico, Tom Sheldon (Rico’s American handler), and Looch (Medici resistance member) to help her out, as the Black Hand—the evil mercenary group Rico has dealt with countless times before—has already established a base of operations there. With promises of new weapons and a new boat from Looch, Rico can’t refuse.

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That new boat just so happens to be the Loochador (named after its creator), a vessel loaded up with machine guns and rocket launchers that’s twice as fast as any other ship already existing in the game. Since release, the sea gameplay for Just Cause 3 was always lacking. I’d often forgo all the boats available to me and use helicopters instead to wreak havoc on the oil refineries that I’d need to obliterate in order to liberate certain regions of mainland Medici. The Loochador finally makes splashing around in the waters of Medici tolerable. It’s a boat that can withstand the offense of most any enemy at sea—a necessary given the DLC adds five new watery outposts along with the Stingray base. And, since you can take it back with you into the main game, I’m sure the Loochador will be a great tool in finally getting all the gears in those pesky water challenges and boat races.

Unfortunately, the Loochador doesn’t solve every problem. It’s still difficult to aim and control the ship, especially in the middle of a firefight with other vehicles or soldiers stationed on the platforms you need to destroy. Bouncing up and down on the waves is not conducive for battles. The worst of it all, however, is that when you’re stuck inside the Loochador, trying to cover the ridiculously huge distances between objectives as quickly as possible, you’re taking me away from one of the best parts of Just Cause: traversing with Rico’s grappling hook and parachute. Just like the other DLCs leading up to this, you’ll spent the majority of your time within the new super vehicle. That’s fun for a little while, but gets tedious rather quickly—which is saying something considering the DLC as a whole should only take two or three hours to beat.

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There’s also the new “eDEN Spark” lightning gun that you get at the very end of the DLC. It’s basically a Gears of War Hammer of Dawn rip-off, but with the much clearer sightlines of Just Cause 3, it’s a more viable weapon when trying to eliminate enemies from a distance—even if it does wreck the balance of the main game.

The best thing that Bavarium Sea Heist does do is it adds 18 new audio logs for Rico to discover. These audio logs fill in the backstory for not only this DLC, but the entire expansion pack, detailing the rise and fall of eDEN and fleshing out some of the characters in much the same way Di Ravello’s audio logs did in the main game. Just Cause 3 may never be known for its story, but it’s nice when a little effort is made to round out and give more depth to the characters in this insane, over-the-top universe.

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Bavarium Sea Heist looks to bring our time in Medici to an end, but does so not on the best of notes. When compared to the main game, it ran into the same problem as all the other DLC in that it weakened what were some of the game’s strengths. At the very least, though, this one makes my time in the water a bit more palatable.

Developer: Avalanche Studios • Publisher: Square Enix • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 08.18.16
5.5
Bavarium Sea Heist runs into a lot of the same problems as the previous DLC packs for Just Cause 3. It confines you to the new super vehicle you acquire, nullifying Rico’s grappling hook and parachute, and is already over by the time you start getting warmed up. At least here there’s a little more story than before, but it’s not enough when comparing this to the main game.
The Good The most fleshed-out DLC in the expansion pack in terms of narrative.
The Bad Just Cause 3’s water combat is one of the weakest aspects of its gameplay, and it only gets slightly better with a tricked-out boat.
The Ugly All that bouncing up and down on the waves made me seasick.
Just Cause 3: Bavarium Sea Heist is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Square Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.
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With the final piece of Just Cause 3‘s three-part DLC expansion, Bavarium Sea Heist, on its way, we took the opportunity to chat with Marcus Andrews, the lead designer on the entire Air, Land, & Sea Pack. We discussed with Marcus what challenges the water theme brought to the dev team, what that meant for Rico Rodriguez, and what new weapons and vehicles he’ll get to use and how they will affect the world of Medici.

EGM: Just Cause 3‘s previous DLCs seem to have been building to this final add-on. What can you tell us about the story of the Bavarium Sea Heist?

Marcus Andrews: While the packs can be enjoyed stand alone, it’s true that the overarching narrative reaches its conclusion in the Sea pack. We even felt we had more to say about eDEN and The Black Hand than would fit in the mission narrative so we included audio logs in this pack. I really recommend finding and listening to them. They conclude the narrative and will hopefully give rise to some theory crafting.

The story revolves around the last of the eDEN stations, “The Stingray” and how the character Annika has a plan to cheat The Black Hand on some valuable tech in a daring heist. Rico is not hard to persuade when he realizes he will get the prototype weapon “eDEN Spark” as a reward for his contribution.

EGM: Will most of the DLC take place in the water? If so, could this be a hindrance to Rico’s grappling hook/wingsuit/movement abilities? 

MA: Water in videogames is notoriously unforgiving. It often sounds great at first when you throw around ideas for water gameplay, but bread and butter stuff like what Rico can do, how enemies move, what you can interact with, and all the explosions and stuff become problematic if you don’t have solid ground. All that led us to take an approach with a combination of sea combat and normal combat in a sea setting. I think the new outposts are a great example of water gameplay in Just Cause. You have a powerful and agile boat to do lots of the heavy lifting, but you get out of it and do some complimentary work on foot/wingsuit/parachute/hanging upside down from your companion drone or what have you. We didn’t want to disqualify that type of gameplay just because this was the “Sea” theme.

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EGM: What went into crafting a DLC primarily around the water region of Medici? How difficult was it?

MA: There were a lot of novel challenges to overcome, that’s for sure. One particular headache is that water is flat. If you think about Medici, it has very varied topography with mountains and valleys. Even small hills and buildings will obscure the horizon and hide objects behind them. On the sea there’s none of that; you see everything from everywhere. Part of the reason why the new boat is so insanely fast is because the drive from point A to B on a flat sea becomes quite boring. This is also part of the reason we increased the size of the waves during the driving sections of the mission, to basically create something resembling a landscape.

EGM: What new gameplay will the Sea Heist introduce? New vehicles? Weapons? Gear challenges? 

MA: The pack includes two new missions, 18 audio logs, the Stingray base, five new outposts, and the eDEN Spark, an insane new weapon that brings down a lightning beam from the sky that follows your crosshair around. There’s also the Loochador, the fastest, by far, boat in the game capable of going over a hundred knots for extended periods of time. It’s also equipped with machineguns and homing missiles that target all vehicles and chaos objects. And finally, there’s the new Boat Invaders challenge, which allows you to hone your skills with the eDEN Spark and mod it with gears.

I think this adds primarily two new experiences to the game. The fact that you can be really competent with the boat and defeat air, land, and sea enemies without leaving it is fresh. The eDEN Spark is the obvious new thing though. A giant death beam from the sky!

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EGM: Did the team ever consider going underwater with Sea Heist? Like with submarines or other submersibles?

MA: During the concept phase everything was on the table in one way or another, but we decided against underwater for the reasons I brought up earlier. If we ever go underwater, this wasn’t the time or place for it.

EGM: Was there anything that you wanted to include in the DLC but couldn’t fit in?

MA: It’s the nature of making games that you want all the cool things, and each thing will be mind-blowingly awesome. What separates a good team from a bad is the ability to adapt the scope to the realities and pick the right focus.

EGM: The other DLC packs allowed you to bring vehicles and weapons over to the main game. Does Sea Heist do the same? Were there any balancing issues that came up trying to make sure everything could fit properly into Medici? 

MA: Yes, all the things you get in Sea Heist will be useable all over Medici. We decided that the DLC vehicles and equipment would be allowed to be very powerful but HEAT is a very good mechanic in this regard because even if a vehicle is very powerful, you rack up 5-star HEAT and you will eventually be outmanned regardless.

We thought a lot about how the new toys would integrate with Medici, but balancing power was only a part of it. Making sure that main missions didn’t break and that the main game content reacted properly to them was also part of that.

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Understanding the gravity of the situation

After an unfortunately low bar was set with Sky Fortress—the first piece of Just Cause 3’s three-part expansion pass—I admit I wasn’t expecting much from part two, Mech Land Assault. A lot can change over three months, however, and it seems that at least some of my issues with the first part have been addressed—although this DLC add-on is still far from perfect.

Mech Land Assault opens up with Rico stumbling across a cargo plane being loaded with prisoners (as evidenced by their orange jumpsuits), and gets word from his old buddy, Tom Sheldon, that international mercenary group The Black Hand have been rounding up prisoners like this for weeks. Knowing the Black Hand can’t be up to anything good, Rico stows away aboard the plane and uses it to sneak through the protected airspace of an island just to the north of Medici. Here, Rico will uncover a Black Hand plot that involves an abandoned eDEN research station (bringing back unsavory elements from the last DLC), as he tries to free the Black Hand’s captives and get to the bottom of the illegal operation.

As usual, the story is really just an excuse for you to blow more stuff up in the open world Avalanche Studios has created. The true main draw for this DLC is that, as part of Black Hand’s operation on this new island, they’ve retrofitted advanced gravity-wielding construction equipment with auto-cannons, and are using them as makeshift walking tanks. Early on, Rico gets his hands on one of these new mechs—and, suddenly, you have your greatest chaos-causing weapon yet.

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Each mech can send out a powerful shockwave, as well as rip objects up from the ground (like prison walls and trees), turning them into deadly projectiles. My personal favorite, though, was lifting up a goat and launching it several hundred feet off a cliff—a great ride, at least until you get to the landing. This is the kind of mindless fun that has always been at the core of the Just Cause experience, and I’m always amazed at the new goodies Avalanche Studios continues to come up with, not to mention how seamlessly they are integrated into the game’s pre-existing open world.

Another plus with Mech Land Assault is that, while the gravity gun may seem all-powerful, it is actually very well balanced with the world around you—especially when facing off against other gravity tanks. Unlike Sky Fortress’s jetpack, which made you almost god-like in that DLC (and actually still comes in handy at several points here), your mech is still susceptible to the ever-present danger posed by the Black Hand and their occupying force. The new island Rico finds himself on may be full of plenty of things to wreck with your new toy, but this vulnerability provides a challenge that only makes the experience more enjoyable overall.

Where Mech Land Assault begins to stumble is reminiscent of where Sky Fortress also ran into problems: a clear lack of content being offered. While you do get the benefit of being able to take your mech tank back into the main portion of Just Cause 3, one new vehicle and a small additional island are meager offerings in a for-pay DLC pack. All told, Mech Land Assault does add a dozen or so new outposts to be liberated, but with only two story missions and two gear challenges, you can one-hundred percent this add-on in two and a half hours maximum. There’s also then the fact that the few cut scenes presented for the story missions are, once again, just art stills accompanied by voiceover.

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Just Cause 3: Mech Land Assault is a fun little add-on for Avalanche Studios’ latest sandbox adventure, but considering the overall lack of content and its relatively steep price point, you might need to be really desperate to get back into Just Cause 3 if you’re using this as your excuse. Still, what is here is enjoyable, and much better balanced than what we saw in Sky Fortress, showing Avalanche Studios is at least moving in the right direction with this post-launch content—and giving me hope for the final chapter in the three-part DLC season pass.

Developer: Avalanche Studios • Publisher: Square Enix • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 06.10.16
7.5
More fun and better balanced than the first DLC in Just Cause 3’s season pass, Mech Land Assault suffers from the same issue of having just an overall lack of content to hold your attention for very long.
The Good The gravity mechs are fun new vehicles for Rico to play with and don’t mess with the balance of the game.
The Bad A lack of overall content.
The Ugly You ever try discus-throwing a goat?
Just Cause 3: Mech Land  Assault is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Sqaure Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

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Fly like an eagle, then fall like Icarus

When Just Cause 3 came out at the end of last year, it delivered all the insane, bombastic action the series is known for and then some. New tools for Rico Rodriguez coupled with another island nation to obliterate meant I ended up sinking close to 40 hours into this game over winter break and not regretting a single second of it. So, when the Sky Fortress DLC expansion—the first of three coming to the game—had finally been added, I was thrilled to have an excuse to take control of the maestro of mayhem once again and blow up a little bit more of Medici. Just how little that bit would be came as something of a shock, though.

The Sky Fortress DLC starts off like some of Rico’s other missions over the course of the game, with him getting a call from his shady friend and government handler, Tom Sheldon. Countless Medicians have been slaughtered by robotic drones that belong to the eDEN Corporation—a tech start-up that fell out of favor with many world governments decades ago—and the drones are now mining the explosive mineral Bavarium from various parts of the island. Rico will have to track the drones to their airbase located off the coast, stop eDEN from killing any more civilians, and force them to cease their mining operation.

In order for Rico to defeat an enemy that defies gravity, he’ll have to do the same. So, Tom provides him with a new Bavarium-powered wingsuit. The suit is actually more akin to a jetpack, giving Rico upwards boost that recharges when he levels out for a brief time courtesy of the actual wing part of the suit, and also straps a rocket launcher and machine gun to Rico’s back, making him more fighter jet than wingsuiter really at that point.

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Just Cause has never been known for a great story. Like french fries serving as vessels for various sauces, the loose narrative around Just Cause games is just an excuse to blow up as much stuff as possible. The Sky Fortress DLC is no different, centered on demolishing drones and the titular airship that eDEN Corporation is based out of. As epic as that may sound, unfortunately, it all falls surprisingly flat, especially in the shadow of the main game.

All told, I beat the entirety of Sky Fortress, optional side missions included, in about 90 minutes. That means if you focused solely on the narrative content, you’d probably be looking at an experience that clocks in at an hour long, if you’re lucky. Three main missions, four outposts to liberate, four Bavarium wingsuit oriented challenges, and then roll the credits again. Avalanche Studios couldn’t even be bothered to give us full cutscenes. Instead, we get what amounts to a few pieces of concept art stills of the main characters with voiceover dubbed over it.

One small saving grace for Sky Fortress at least is that you can carry over your new wingsuit and a couple of new guns over to the main game if you haven’t beaten it yet. And if you’re just getting started in Just Cause 3, the DLC missions unlock about one-third of the way through the primary campaign, meaning you’ll be even better equipped to overthrow General Di Ravello and his army. Just like the lack of content devoted to your new toys, however, there’s an unfortunate catch that comes with all of this.

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For as fun as it is to fly almost limitlessly around a hugely destructible open-world with a rocket launcher strapped to your back, the Bavarium wingsuit also makes your old tools almost null and void. Why bother with a parachute when you can air brake and come to a soft landing? Why worry about how many rockets Rico can carry when you have an unlimited supply when flying? And why even bother with a grappling hook when you can literally soar from point A to point B both vertically and horizontally now?

The Bavarium wingsuit takes away any sort of challenge for the game. There’s even a barrel roll maneuver when flying, which breaks all missile locks on you. This means it’ll be near impossible for you to ever take damage as long as you keep moving. It is basically like turning on god mode and removes the little skill it once required to get around and destroy stuff in the game. Just Cause has never been a punishing game, but a little bit of challenge can go a long way to having a good time, and this new wingsuit snuffs that out pretty swiftly.

Just Cause 3’s Sky Fortress DLC sounds amazing when you look at what it entails. But from the second it begins, it comes off more as a hastily thrown together weapon pack than a fully fleshed-out expansion. It is held loosely together by minimal content, and mitigates what already exists in the main game. There’s nothing inherently broken about what Sky Fortress does, but it adds so little to the overall experience of Just Cause 3 that you’d be just as well off if you had never played it at all.

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Developer: Avalanche Studios • Publisher: Square Enix • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 03.15.16
5.0
Any excuse to return to the world of Just Cause 3 is welcome, but by the time you just start getting warmed up and comfortable with the new weapons, gear, and enemies, this new chapter is already over and you’re left asking where the rest of it is.
The Good The Bavarium wingsuit is the natural evolution for causing chaos in Just Cause.
The Bad New gear largely nullifies need for grappling hook, parachute, and conventional weapons. Largely removes all difficulty from the game.
The Ugly You can 100% the entire experience in less than two hours.
Just Cause 3: Sky Fortress is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Square Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

I played Just Cause 3’s Sky Fortress DLC, the first of three post-launch DLCs for Just Cause 3. In this video, I tackle the Taking Control Mission which will unlock the “Break a Leg!” achievement and show off the new Bavarium wing suit! Just Cause 3’s Sky Fortress DLC is available March 15 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, unless you have the season pass and then it’s available March 8.

I had a chance to go hands-on with the brand new Just Cause 3 Sky Fortress DLC recently and was able to put Rico’s new Bavarium powered wingsuit through its paces. As you can see in the hands-on video above, the wingsuit is equipped with a jetpack, rocket launcher, and machine guns, basically turning Rico into a mini-fighter jet. You can also take everything you acquire in the DLC into the main game of Just Cause 3, meaning that new wingsuit can be used to take out bases on land as well as the new Eden Airship over the western skies of Medici.

The Sky Fortress DLC is the first of three DLC packs for Just Cause 3, and will be available on consoles and PC sometime in March. It will be followed by the Land and Sea DLC featuring mech-suits and a heist on the high seas—completing the Air, Land, and Sea expansion pack for the game—by the end of the summer.

A new video from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios shows the team conducting research for future game environments in an area that can’t help but remind us of a certain grappling-hook guru.

While part of their research from their trip to Costa Rica will be used in the studio’s upcoming Mad Max title, such as cloud formations, I don’t imagine Max will be spending too much time in a dense rainforest or on a tropical beach—which, along with their continued support of non-profit organization Toucan Rescue Ranch, was Avalanche’s primary focus for the video.

Enter the possible connection to Rico Rodriguez, protagonist of the Just Cause series, and the fat kid on ABC’s Modern Family. Wait. Ignore that last part.

Rico’s adventures always take place in areas of the world full of rich vegetation and wildlife, and the video, which you can check out below, makes constant reference to what the team was able to do in Just Cause 2’s environments.

The video description even mentions that although Just Cause 2 was a convenient example, “the reference material collected will prove useful in many of our upcoming open world games.” And while this may be true, it’s hard to ignore how the music played throughout the video is also part of the main theme from Just Cause 2.

I still fondly remember playing Just Cause 2 and flying a helicopter up to a blimp, landing it on there, and then parachuting a couple virtual miles down to the island below. When you couple this video with the holiday card sent out by Avalanche Studios last year, I’m sure I speak for many fans of the series when I say we hope this will lead to a much-anticipated sequel announcement.

The studio has expressed interest in doing a third Just Cause game, and Square Enix, who handled distribution of Just Cause 2 and owns the company that handled publishishing, Eidos Interactive (now Square Enix Europe), registered domains for Just Cause 3 and Just Cause 4 in June 2012.