We got to sit down with Avalanche Studio’s Senior Producer Victoria Setian, who is overseeing all of the DLC for Just Cause 4. Under her expert guidance, we got to check out the 3rd DLC, Danger Rising, and holy hoverboards, Batman, what a ride it was! Check out the video above for some real-time gameplay and check out our full interview to see just how how much chaotic content the hoverboard brings to this destructive sandbox game.
Victoria Setian: DLC 3 is our biggest DLC to date. It’s Danger Rising, the third of the Daredevils, Demons, and Danger expansion pass. What’s just happened, that we’re quickly going to cut ahead in, so we can start you in the middle of things, is basically Rico and Sheldon–Sheldon got a tip, he and Rico go to a pier, and they get ambushed by the Agency. They are now coming after Rico, but this time, for the first time ever in Just Cause, the agents actually have their own grappling hooks, coming after Rico. So we’ve got new enemy types, new ways for them to traverse, but if they’re gonna have new ways to traverse, so are you.
So we’re introducing, for the first time, a brand new mechanic: the hoverboard. This is all about using the hoverboard–and ours can work on water!–to take on the submarine bases that have moved in off the coast of Solís. If they’re coming for you, you’re gonna come right back at them, so you’re gonna go and take down these bases. So yeah! That’s kind of the quick high-level setup.
Gaming Trend: Great setup, thank you.
VS: Something you’ll notice is that we had a similar sort of shopping list in the JC3 style, we did hear a lot of feedback from the fans that they were interested in bringing back Liberation, so this is sort of like a call to that; bringing back the spirit of that system with our shopping list.
In this mission, you have a couple things you’ll have to do in this base, you’ll have to destroy infrastructure, destroy a couple critical systems, and submerge these crates. So we’re not just giving you a new traversal mechanic, we’re giving you a whole new arsenal of weapons and vehicles, and the weapons and vehicles that we provide are also gonna help you to do these things.
So the hovercraft is one of our new vehicles, it can go on land and sea, and it’s a brand new vehicle type in general for Just Cause. Once you’re on a magrail, the hoverboard will just go, go go. You can change direction using the grapplehook–sometimes the pads will branch, and you just use the thumbstick to choose the branch you want. But really you just want to keep moving, and use it almost like a rail shooter, basically. You’re just constantly moving, which is especially good against the agents with their grappling hooks, when they’re moving around, and having the hoverboard to keep you moving really really helps with strategy.
GT: A Just Cause rail shooter, never thought I’d see the day.
VS: You can take the hoverboard whenever you want. When we were considering what new traversal mechanic we wanted to introduce… we know we covered air pretty well between wingsuit and parachute, and grappling hook really helped you get around any obstacle, but we knew that water was a thing that… you can get across it using wingsuit and parachute, but it’s not as straightforward as going through the air. So we knew that a hoverboard would be something that we really really capitalize on, especially if you could reuse that on land, too. So it changes up the entire game, because you now have this huge feature.
One part of this mission is that you have to take out these conduits, but you have to take out these conduits in order, while on a hoverboard, in a certain amount of time. Once you destroy all the conduits, then you get this final, beautiful moment of destruction, and one of our ‘Destroy the Critical Systems’ boxes is checked off.
GT: Can you do any fun, impressive Tony Hawk tricks that you can do on your hoverboard?
VS: So the animations that we did–we did have dedicated moves so that it really feels satisfying sometimes to flip it in the air. We actually have some skateboarders in the office who were looking at it and going over–like they brought in their skateboards so we can take a look at, you know, what are some moves that we can add in here?
One of our other new vehicles is a hovercraft. This is a brilliant thing, because our turrets can be super annoying to tether down, because you have to get close, but they can hit you with an impulse or with rockets, but you can just lock on it from afar using the hovercraft and just bombed it, it’s great.
GT: He just bumped into a piece of metal, that hurt!
VS: That’s the other thing, unlike other open-world games, ours is a physics simulation, which I think sometimes gets missed when we get compared to these other titles. Because we’re physics-based, momentum matters when you’re on this hoverboard. You have to keep grappling to things to keep your momentum up, otherwise you’ll come to a standstill. We purposely make it so that when you deploy it you start with a burst of speed, so it feels really smooth and slick, but then it’s up to you as the player to keep up momentum–or even when objects destroy, they break into pieces and they fall everywhere, and they actually will fall. It’s a really interesting balance of meeting player’s expectations of what real-world physics are versus making sure it’s game-y enough, and fun enough and not interrupting an experience when things get too real.
There are two, technically three enemy types, one you see here is the typical agency guy running around with no grapple hook, and then we have our ones with the grapples. All of them have new weapons–there’s five new weapons total, in addition to the two new vehicles, which also have their own new weapons. The sniper rifle that they’re hitting him with is an automatic sniper rifle, and the secondary fire–because all of our weapons have a secondary way of using them–fires a drone that you can control. So a lot of times you’ll see–not as much in this base, but in other bases, the agency operatives will fly in on drones, coming after you. But then you can also fly around on them, too!
GT: I love the Spider-Man action of those agents.
VS: Just a heads up, the little red things are part of debug, that will not be in the final code. One of the new weapons we’re introducing is the magensus gun, which is similar to the gravity gun from JC3, but we’re bringing it back. We’ve changed it a little bit-
GT: We get to be Magneto?!
VS: Basically! So that’s another way to–you can pick things up, move them around, and blow them way, or just do an impulse and throw them away. So, we gave you the retooler already in-game, and it has all those thousands of different options on how to use things, and you can use that to get rid of those crates. Or you can just blow them away with a shotgun and with the Magslug, or use the Magnesus gun to just really make things fly. There’s just something so satisfying about it.
GT: The crossovers with The Legend of Zelda are going to be excellent.
VS: I like to think that they were inspired by our wingsuit for the glider.
GT: And then you did their magnetics.
VS: Mmmhumm! Well they have a whole… it’s not a physics system, an elements system? It’s super interesting!
There’s also an all new story here, I think it’s technically eight missions total. I think this is my favorite boss fight… I feel like maybe I can’t say that, because I should love all of my boss fights equally, sorry team, but I really really love it! It’s really cool! This is the biggest expansion, so I feel like we really just, really put as much as we could into it.
GT: Did most of your ideas for DLC come out of fans wanting to do things, or were they ideas you couldn’t fit into the base game?
VS: It’s kind of all of the above. Like, the harbor was actually something we considered early on in the development of the main game, Just Cause 4, but we weren’t quite sure about the tone of the hoverboard in the main game, so we kind of put it on the shelf. And then we were like, “DLCs allow us to get really creative!” So we pulled it back off the shelf and were like… this would be great, because we wanna do these bases off the coast, and it’ll make the water gameplay really really fun!
And… we definitely read what our fans say, like, maybe too much. We’re constantly on Reddit, posting “Hey, did you see this? Hey, did you see this?” So we saw you know, the Liberation thing people wanted, and just seeing what people are doing. Or, sometimes it’s just about seeing what’s on Youtube, what they’re playing, what sort of things that they’re setting up, and we’re like, what would be a cool thing that I can imagine they’d pull off? What would be this great stunt that they could set up? So it’s really… this is a game about… do whatever you want. It’s a sandbox, we give you tools to play in that sandbox however you choose. So, without that feedback from the fans, I don’t think it would be as strong.
This is one of my favorite things about this mission; you have to ride the magrail to charge this thing to slowly rise, and as it rises, you want to blow it to smithereens. There’s nothing more satisfying than a giant, electrical explosion.
GT: The music here is really good, too! It really builds the suspense; it’s a little Star Wars-y!
VS: It’s actually very different from a lot of the other music that we’ve done throughout the DLCs and the main game, but it’s the same composer. He’s just really versatile and really focused on the sci-fi.
GT: That felt like Rogue One, the look, the sound…
VS: Oh awesome! That’s a big compliment!
One thing I want to point out, because I’m really excited by this, is every time you beat a base, you’re going to unlock a hoverboard course. So you’re talking about Tony Hawk–you wanna get through all the bases, and you’re going to have to get very creative about how you’re going to get through these, combining it with wingsuit, going back into hoverboard–and once you complete all bases, there’s a couple [parks] that we put on the mainland. And they are like, the top of the alpine all the way to the coast, so it’s really really fun.
GT: Are players going to be able to lay tracks themselves and make their own skateparks?
VS: Unfortunately no, but I would love to do that!
GT: I know that’s the first thing that Reddit’s gonna ask me, so I at least have to have an answer.
VS: I know! It’s tough, too, because our supply drop is physics-based, so anything you have to drop… it has to work in away that if that thing bounces and moves… So that leads to potential collisions and everything, so… I would love to do it, but…
GT: This looks crazy fun. When is it coming out? Can you share that yet?
VS: Can we say when it’s coming out? We can? August 27th! So it’s super soon!
GT: Are you planning any more DLC after this?
VS: So we do have a couple of other things coming up… more for the black market. There’s a couple things coming but the thing I’m most excited about–that I think I can talk about, yeah? The thing I’m most excited about, and this is not even the most traditionally exciting, I know–but we’re doing this thing called the Shark and Bark Pack, which is like, a dog car and a shark car, and the shark can go in go in water. And we were talking, and we were like, “You know that phrase ‘shark with a frickin’ laser beam’? Can we do that? … I think we can do that!” So we’re doing laser beams and a machine gun on the shark car.
GT: I was lucky enough to get to play this at a preview night before it came out, and they kept encouraging us to play the mission, but we honestly spent most of our time trying to make a sharknado. We were trying so hard to get sharks into the tornado, and they kept telling us we couldn’t do it, but we just didn’t believe them.
VS: See, like, that’s an example of a thing where like… people want to make a sharknado! We try and anticipate what people would do, but you guys always end up surprising us.
GT: Do you have a favorite surprise?
VS: I mean lately I’ve just been kind of blown away by the amount of fanart of this dog that we feature in the game, called Scramps. So one of our developers, Brian, he brings his little dog, Scramps, into the office, and he’s just this weird little dog that meanders everywhere, he eats garbage, super cute, and he was in JC3, and we put him in JC4, and it’s shocking to me how much the community wants and loves this dog, and keeps drawing pictures of this dog, to the point where I’m like… “It’s gotta be someone in this studio, right?”
People just find things, and fixate, and get excited and passionate, and it makes all of us just like, freak out and get excited. Oh, and another thing! Everyone gets so excited, going “Who’s Dean the goldfish?” I see this post on Reddit, and everyone’s been asking the question. That was one of our developer’s goldfish that we like, memorialized forever. And it’s so funny to see people’s theories, and people’s ideas, and their own passions about these things that we care much about. And it just makes it, when we see it, it’s just electric in the office! Everyone’s freaking out and, “Oh my gosh, did you see this?” I think our community’s one of the greatest communities.
I think what’s so exciting is that we give to them, but they give back to us in a way, if that makes sense.
GT: Do you have a favorite explosion in the game?
VS: Favorite explosion… I mean… DLC2, Los Demonios has the most beautiful particle effects, like… these explosions are gigantic, and like, it’s bombastic, but there’s something about it that feels almost like fireworks? I told our VFX artist, who is super talented, and I told him he knocked it out of the park, I don’t know if he can top this any further. Although, then he made the generator we just saw. It’s almost like a Kiss concert, like shower of sparks.
GT: That’s a great description!
VS: We were really inspired by that, actually, for our first DLC, Daredevils of Destruction. It was a lot of that cool, fun concert feel, and we took that and pushed it even further with DLC 2, because we just wanted to be so colorful, especially with the atmosphere, and these weird demons and everything, so yeah.
GT: Pie in the sky, unlimited time and budget, what would you add to the game that you just can’t right now?
VS: Can I answer that? …I can? Okay! I’d make Mira a playable character. I’d love for her to have the wingsuit, and you just tear it up and Rico’s like, “Here’s my grapple!” Or maybe she makes her own, because she’s super smart.
Our thanks to Victoria Seitan for taking the time to give us a guided tour of one of the missions, and for answering our questions. The April 27th release of the third Just Cause 4 DLC, Danger Rising is not very far off; are you ready to get your Marty McFly on?