Just Cause 4's Region Strikes are the Definition of Disappointment
In my Just Cause 4 review, I was pretty lenient on region strikes, the secondary missions you undertake to gain control of new regions. Now I'm beginning to think that was a mistake.
This morning, I played three region strikes back to back to back. All three of them had the exact same flow:
- Destroy generators on one side of a Black Hand facility
- Destroy generators on the other side of the facility
- Destroy generators where the first generators were (because more have magically appeared completely out of thin air)
- Drive a vehicle to a hacker hiding in a garage
- drive said hacker to a set of terminals
- Defend hacker as he hacks terminal 1
- Then defend as he hacks terminal 2
- Then defend as he hacks terminal 3
This. I performed this exact sequence three times in a row in three different regions. I've got one word for this tripe: disappointment.
Why Are They So Bad?!
Sometimes, these missions exchange generators for breakers and remove the shenanigans of chauffeuring hackers from Point A to Point B, but this is the computational equivalent of semantics.
There is no difference between the two seemingly disparate objectives in any sense of the word. To hide the fact region strikes are mundane as all hell, Just Cause 4 will sometimes(!) let you push the buttons yourself (woooooow).
All this does is save you from the utterly inane claptrap that is killing 75 infinitely-spawning Black Hand soldiers while also furiously honking the horn of an artillery truck while a halfwit hacker runs from passenger side to driver's side helplessly trying to get in, taking half a bar of damage in the process.
In the handful of cases you aren't escorting and defending said hacker, it's entirely possible to take over a Black Hand facility without firing a single shot in anger -- or even a single shot at all.
You could just use your tether to fly from one end of the base to the other pressing buttons. Eventually, Sargento, one of the game's rebel leaders, will come across the comms and give you an appropriately undeserved "Attaboy!" for your efficient, yet utterly unsatisfying efforts.
Oh yeah, you can also extract hostages sometimes. But this is still escort and defend. It's always escort and defend or press buttons. Always.
My point is this: Just Cause 4 wastes the plethora of zany options at its disposal by pigeonholing every region strike into a paint-by-numbers snoozefest that does a very poor job of engaging the player.
This aspect of the game is just plain lazy, completely laughing in the face of its own creatively wacky ethos. Of course, you get to blow shit up, but that only covers the underlying blemishes so much. It's infinitely more fun to just randomly wreak chaos than capitulate to these missions.
Problem is, you ultimately have to do region strikes to progress and get better gear and vehicles. You have no choice but to submit yourself to this repetitive and mundane test of player will and patience.
I don't mind some defense and escort missions; I don't mind some hacking/stealth/espionage missions. I'd wager you don't mind some either, especially as their inclusion tweaks the blistering action-movie pace of the series in sometimes interesting ways. However, it's downright unacceptable to leave so much on the table and not even give the appearance of trying. It's not just unacceptable -- it's disappointing.
Like, why doesn't the weather system play any part in some of these takeovers. Aside from one (one!) region strike "thoughtfully" placed inside a sandstorm, there's not so much as a single drop of weather in the 40 other strikes. Yeah, you have to do this 40 other times.
Let us control a tornado, for God's sake; let us use it to demolish everything in sight and wipe out mobs of soldiers in glorious tornadic wonder. I dunno, maybe let us use a lightning storm to fry a base's infrastructure like you do early in the game. I mean, let us at least have the chance take over a base in a full-scale assault, putting Frontline squads to even greater (and even more interesting) use.
Nearly anything would be better than the mind-numbing repetition found in region strikes. Anything.
At the end of the day, it's all emblematic of a sad state of affairs for the Just Cause sequel. Since the series is so predicated on user choice and "emergent" gameplay, continually handcuffing players into a singular playstyle undermines the entire experience. Historically, you've been able to use the game's toolset to light the world on fire as you see fit -- or slap rocket boosters on the ass end of a cow and let er' rip.
Once you've blasted a burly bovine into the stratosphere, there ain't no goin' back. Forced into rote mission repetition, it simply feels like in some of its most promising moments, Just Cause 4 chose to leave its "emergent gameplay" on the cutting room floor.
Before setting it on fire.
Then loading it into the deck gun of a Conquistador Warship and launching it out to sea.