I enjoyed the time I spent with Just Cause 3, but by the time the end credits rolled I must confess I was ready to part ways. Having liberated all of Medici, completing enough of the challenges spread throughout the game so that I had unlocked a range of gear mods to help me on my way, the fun was beginning to wane and I was ready to press eject and move on to pastures new – so what does Sky Fortress do to reinvigorate Rico on his quest for freedom? One word – Jetpack.
Sky Fortress is the first of three planned DLC drops for Just Cause 3, each having a different theme based around Land, Sea and Air as alluded to by the Season Pass. Sky Fortress covers the Air of these three themes, and begins when Rico receives a call from Sheldon, the cowboy wannabe from the main campaign. Starting up the game for the first time in a matter of months, I was relieved to see that the game jumped straight in to the DLC, with Sheldon’s icon popping up the minute I pressed continue game, foregoing any need for me to jump through metaphorical hoops in order to unlock the DLC campaign. Heading to the big yellow icon on the map was a simple enough task, made trickier by that age old gamer problem of having forgotten the bulk of the controls, but the short trip allowed me to reacquaint myself enough for the time being.
Arriving at the marker the first thing that yelled DLC was the intro movie. During the main campaign the scenes that set up each mission were mo-capped using the in game engine, which is not the case for Sky Fortress. Choosing to start the mission at the designated point, I was met by something more similar to a cartoon or motion comic. Now this isn’t a complaint as such, in fact I quite enjoyed this short scene that introduced Sheldon’s dilemma and launched me straight into the first mission, but I can see it being a bit jarring for those people who have jumped straight into the DLC after the main campaign. This is a minor gripe, and for me it was something that I was able to overlook – all the missions throughout the DLC are introduced this way using this motion-comic style, and overall I found them to be more cinematic that the clips in the main game.
During this intro, Sheldon introduces the DLC’s big bad – eDEN, a futuristic company producing drones and other military tech that has been terrorising parts of Medici, as just on cue one such drone turns up. Sheldon then tasks you with following said drone, but not before he gives you Sky Fortress’s saving grace – the aforementioned Jetpack.
The Jetpack is a lot of fun, and it does manage to reinvigorate a lot of what had started to feel boring concerning traversal in the first game. The first mission serves as a tutorial on how to use the new Jetpack controls, launching from standing, boosting, and dodging, before shifting up a gear and introducing the shoulder mounted machine gun and homing missiles. Zooming around the island using the Jetpack is great, performing barrel rolls and launching shoulder mounted missiles – the option to replay some of the main campaign’s missions seems to be a big miss, but perhaps an obvious one considering the amount of space required to manoeuvre once up in the air.
Once the first mission is over, the Sky Fortress from the title becomes available, serving as a new area to liberate some 2km in the air above Medici. The Sky Fortress itself is huge, made of two areas, the Bow and Stern. Each has a range of new objects to destroy in order to liberate it, which must be done in order to access the next mission. At first this is quite a daunting task, as anti-aircraft missiles and drones pursue you and every bump and graze can knock you out of the sky, meaning navigating the fortress is a chore until you are fully aware of how the Jetpack moves, turning and boosting through the sky. This baptism of fire very quickly forces you to get accustomed to the Jetpack controls, and I soon found it great fun zooming up and over and under the giant flying fortress, taking out drones and Bavarium refineries as I flew past. Whoever designed this DLC must be a Marvel comics fan, as the similarities between the Sky Fortress itself and the Helicarriers from Captain America – The Winter Soldier are striking, and even zooming around using the Jetpack and firing my weapons made me feel like the Falcon, and neither are bad comparisons to make.
Upon liberating each section of the Sky Fortress, new, Jetpack based challenges are unlocked alongside themain mission. Just like in the main game these challenges unlock gear mods that further enhance the Jetpack, such as reducing cool down times or allocating an extra missile, and this served as enough of a distraction to pull me in to enhance my abilities, for 20 minutes or so any way. Once I perfected each challenge there was little in the way of re playability, with the Jetpack becoming unavailable within the main game’s challenges, which is a shame but an understandable one.
As for the add on campaign itself it is extremely short – three missions that are each unlocked by liberating areas on the map, which in itself does feel like poorly disguised padding in order to lengthen the amount of time it would take to complete the campaign. Having already ploughed through the main game and having unlocked a variety of powerful weapons at my disposal the campaign did not take long at all to complete – in fact, the most time I spent with Sky Fortress was in trying to 5 gear the 4 challenges in order to boost the capabilities of my Jetpack. For all the fun that flying around using the Jetpack adds, it does feel unfairly balanced out by how short Sky Fortress takes to complete, which does raise the question of value for money. Priced at a reasonable enough £9.49 ($11.99), for some this price point might be worth it for the Jetpack alone, but for others it may put them off a campaign which took me no more than a couple of hours to complete – even less if I exclude the time spent attempting challenges and messing about with the Jetpack. Sky Fortress does come bundled with the Season Pass, and for that reason alone it might push others towards putting that extra cash down in order to feel a bit better about value for money.
Did I enjoy my time with Sky Fortress? Yes, the Jetpack does add a boost to the gameplay, and you do feel badass swooping around as Rico, but the overall experience does feel a tad too short – as soon as you begin to get into the game it is over, and this does feel like a real shame. Perhaps it is best to keep it short and sweet, but hopefully the next two content packs will make good use of the Jetpack but at the same time stretch out the campaign that bit longer. If you enjoyed Just Cause 3 then you will be sure to enjoy this short excursion back to the island of Medici.
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