Just Cause 3 had some issues, but it also had some of the best video game flying I’ve experienced in a long time. The game’s fun, brief new jetpack-centric “Sky Fortress” DLC manages to improve that flying, with a twist.
The DLC is the first of the three-part “Air, Land, Sea” series that will be coming to Just Cause 3 throughout 2016. The new content is currently available to anyone who bought the season pass (which costs $US25 [$33] on Steam, $38 on Xbox One and PS4), and will be out next week as a standalone purchase.
You access the DLC from the main game. Hop in, and a mission pops up that gives Rico a new wingsuit with rocket propulsion. So, basically a jetpack. If you hold down the Y button, he’ll blast straight up into the air, and before you know it, you’ll be fly-gliding to the horizon.
It’s remarkable (if not entirely unexpected) how completely the jetpack changes how it feels to play Just Cause 3. The base game encouraged a carefully controlled flow of gliding with your wingsuit — you’d use your grappling hook to pull yourself forward, then pop out your parachute to slow down or take corners. It worked well and felt great when you got into a groove.
The key to the system’s success was that you couldn’t actually fly. You had to figure out the interplay between the three tools and had to practice to get it right. It made flying consistently engaging. The jetpack also requires skill — it doesn’t offer unlimited boost, for example. It’s engaging in a different way, and while it’s very empowering, it also renders a lot of the base game’s techniques and gear upgrades obsolete. You no longer need to grapple to things in order to maintain momentum, and you can fly up and over mountains and other objects with ease.
Now, I don’t mean to knock the jetpack! It’s really, really cool. I spent an hour ignoring the missions included with the DLC and instead just flew around the map, blowing shit up with a huge grin on my face. But Rico’s new powers of flight really do upend the careful mechanical balance of Just Cause 3‘s gliding.
The jetpack also comes with a heavy machine gun and rocket launcher, which further changes the way things feel. Rico now controls more or less like a smaller, more agile version of one off the game’s fighter jets. It’s exactly as neat as it sounds: You can plan strafing runs on towns and enemy outposts, launch heat-seeking missiles and decimate ground forces from range. I may never use Rico’s piddling machine guns or rocket launchers again.
As for the rest of the DLC, I gather that the Sky Fortress missions themselves go by quickly. People on Reddit and the Steam forums have reported finishing them in an hour or two. I’ve almost finished liberating the airship, which I believe already puts me near the end of the new stuff. Dogfighting my way around the sky fortress feels baaaasically like playing as Iron Man during that part in The Avengers where the bad guys attack the SHIELD helicarrier, so, even if it’s short, it’s pretty sweet. There are also some new side challenges which quickly unlock gear mods for the new jetpack — those mods let you boost more often, fire more rockets, and generally do everything better and more often than you could. And of course, you can take the jetpack with you out into the rest of the game.
As for a recommendation, the jetpack is the clear star of the Sky Fortress show, but the DLC probably is only worth getting if you still screw around with the game and want a fun new toy to use. As usual, the season pass is the cheapest option for getting all three pieces of DLC, but I don’t know if the land and sea expansions have anything as cool as the jetpack. I’m actually sceptical, given how much better Just Cause 3‘s air-based gameplay is than anything on the ground or in the water.
If you already like the game and want something new to play with, well… it’s a jetpack in Just Cause 3, and it works! I shouldn’t really have to say any more than that.