I had my doubts about Just Cause 3 while it was being hyped for release.
I’ve dumped unknown hours into Just Cause 2. I’ve played it in 3D, I’ve played it spanning 3 monitors, and I’ve played it on every single computer I’ve owned since I bought the game. It remains the one game that I refuse to delete off my hard drive. Despite having completed the story line (yes, there is one, but it’s B-movie at best) and leveled damn near every building in the game, it remains a joy to mess around in from time to time.
So given my love of Just Cause 2, I was extremely excited when Avalanche Studios revealed that a new installment was on the way. To me, Just Cause 2 was the perfect mix of an open sandbox world and rampant chaotic destruction.. It let you roam the world on your own pace and let you do things at your own descretion. It satisfied a craving in my gaming career that no other game has ever done before or sicne. Adding modern graphics to that same mix of chaos and awesome could only be more amazing, right?
Unfortunately, as more and more was revealed about Just Cause 3, I found myself having mixed feelings about what it would be. Avalanche Studios didn’t seem to be marketing the game based on what I thought to be it’s best trait. Freedom of choice.
The explosions looked amazing and the graphics were truly glorious, but what they were showing took away from what made Just Cause 2 truly wonderful to me. In many of the demos and trailers for JC3, it appeared as though the game had pre-scripted scenarios with limited selections for the way you destroy things. JC2 was all about the freedom of choice. You didn’t have to pre-select the style of destruction. I have to admit; I was losing faith in the game before it was even in my hands.
Now that I’ve had some time with the game, albeit not enough… I’m still not quite sure about it.
You’ll hear more about that in a BASELine I’m working on. For now, here’s what I am sure about: This game looks amazing and it will push your computer like few other games can. It likely won’t live on in infamy like Crysis has as the bar for gaming PC performance, but this game is not meant to be played on a bargain PC.
Just Cause 3 is truly a wonder to behold visually, especially when you have a system that can play it at max settings. I have the privilege of having some ridiculously high-end hardware on hand and I can tell you that the game with nearly maxed settings in 4K looks stupendous. That being said, it will take much more than your average PC to run the game with very high settings, even at 1080p. The graphics technology in the game has the ability to bring even the mighty GTX 980 Ti down to pedestrian frame rates.
Avalanche Studios waited until the very last minute to release the system requirements for the game, and I have a feeling it’s because of the company didn’t want to shock the people who pre-ordered the game. A little bit of a dirty move if you ask me, but the studio hasn’t really been known for making easy-to-run games so longtime fans should be somewhat prepared. Avalanche likes to take advantage of the latest technologies available, especially those from Nvidia. Just Cause 2 was one of the first games to have support for Nvidia’s 3D Surround technology with stereoscopic 3D glasses, and this time around Just Cause 3 is the very first game to use a new technology from Nvidia called WaveWorks. This new set of instructions helps create the most realistic simulated water effects found in anygame today. Unfortunately for AMD fans, the game really doesn’t seem to be playing nice with Radeon graphics cards.
If you don’t have the right gear under the hood, the high caliber of the graphics in Just Cause 3 might prove challenging. People are reporting issues with stuttering frame rates and some are even seeing triangles instead of proper textures. A friend of mine tried to launch the game on an AMD APU and it wouldn’t even boot to the menu, though to be fair, that APU didn’t even come close to the steep minimum requirements.
The game calls for an Intel i5-2500k or AMD Phenom II X6 1075T as the minimum CPUs required to run the game. You’ll need at least 6GB of memory, so if you cheaped out and went with 4GB, it’s time for that much-overdue upgrade. You’ll also need a GTX 670 2GB (a GTX 760 works as an equivalent, but barely) or an AMD Radeon HD 7870 or better.
The recommended specs are even higher, of course. Avalanche Studios suggests using either an i7-3770 or better from Intel or an AMD FX 8350 octa-core as your processor, 8GB of memory, and a GTX 780 or R9 290. These are some pretty exclusive components that only those with deep pockets can afford. The company doesn’t appear to be scared of alienating its fan base. You’ll have to pay for the hardware to play this game smoothly.
I’ve yet to play the game enough to tell you if it’s going to live up to my expectations for gameplay, but Avalanche Studios definitely managed to push the envelope graphically. I look forward to using this game as a benchmarking tool for the foreseeable future.
Kevin Carbotte is Senior Editor, Hardware for aybonline.com. He knows a little about a lot, and a lot about a little. The opinions in his columns are his and his alone, but you are free to have them.