Sandbox games offer players fully functioning worlds in which characters go about their daily business until somebody starts lobbing rockets or blowing up bridges. But what happens if you just, well, leave NPCs be? In Just Cause 3, things still find a way to go topsy turvy — fast.
ThingsWePlay decided to just stand still in Just Cause 3‘s Mediterranean paradise — or “paradise” — of Medici. The goal of their experiment? To understand how the game’s NPCs behave when you’re not blowing everything to tropically scented smithereens or soaring around at a million flying squirrel kilometres per hour or pressing a single button. Would civilians keep things civil? Would they get confused?
Turns out, the answer was none of the above. Instead, it took them only a couple minutes to go completely nuts. Seconds in, there were already multiple traffic fatalities and some confused drivers. Gunshots followed shortly after. It wasn’t long before cars were swerving all over the streets, leading to copious accidents, fights, and fatalities.
It’s not entirely shocking to see that Just Cause 3‘s illusion of peace (or at least brief sanity) is positioned on an extremely precarious precipice. Still, it’s interesting to see just how quickly everything crumbles into madness and automotive insurance catastrophes regardless of whether or not Rico’s actually involved.
Rare is the video game NPC that doesn’t do something strange when the player isn’t directly involved. What I like examining is the differences between them. Grand Theft Auto‘s tend to be kinda like Just Cause 3‘s — prone to violence and nonsensical havoc. In Bethesda games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim, NPCs behave a bit more realistically in that they stick to schedules and determine who they attack based on factional influences… unless they’re Dogmeat, who enjoys carving a path of suicidal carnage on the way back to your settlement for no real reason. Oh, and then there’s The Witcher 3‘s NPCs, who reveal their true mutant sludge monster forms as soon as Geralt’s out of eyeshot. It’s like my grandmother always used to say: video game technical limitations make monsters of us all.
Sometimes, the best parts of games are the things the developers never meant for us to see. It’s so much fun to peek behind the curtain, especially when “backstage” is as explosive and ridiculous as it is in games like Just Cause 3. What’s your favourite weird thing you’ve witnessed an NPC character doing when they were pretty sure you weren’t looking?