it looks inviting, the water in Just Cause 3. With its crystal blue colour and perfect Mediterranean temperature it looks refreshing, but still we hardly ever dove in while playing the main game. It's not that we were afraid the salt water would mess up Rico's fittingly suave hair do. There wasn't anything wrong with the swimming mechanics or the boats either, but there was a lot more fun to be had on land. Or better yet, up in the air. The intent of the developers was clear. Their focus was clear, and truth be told the varied terrain of the island of Medici far outdid the stuff you could explore while holding your breath. And thus our time was spent airborne. With the new wing suit, pared with the grappling hook and the infinite parachute, we had no need for puny ground transportation. Not on the water, and not on land. We were soaring like an eagle in a leather jacket, hellbent on blowing up enemy bases and innocent petrol stations.
The point we're trying to make here, is that the "sea" portion of the "air, land and sea" expansion pass wasn't the one we looked forward to the most. Because of this, it's with a genuine sense of surprise we can declare that the last expansion is the best one. Apparently the third time really is the charm.
That being said, we're not completely blown out of the water here, pun intended. It's not that great. Our primary concern with the first two expansions were drastic frame drops far too often (at least on PS4), and these are still around. However, you don't notices them as much this time, and that makes for a far more pleasant gaming experience.
There are still frame drops, but not at the hair-pulling, waking-the-neighbours-level we saw in expansion one and two. It was a big relief, but we suspect it's mainly to due to the design of the expansion and not a result of Avalanche Studios suddenly having beefed up the game engine.
The thing is, in Bavarium Sea Heist you get access to a brand new boat. That was hardly a surprise. Said boat is fitted with a jet engine, that wasn't a surprise either, and it has homing missiles and powerful gatling guns. It's basically a floating tank, and even though that was to be expected in a game like this, we were not prepared for the power of this floating monstrosity.
You can fire as many as eight missiles in quick succession, and thus become a devastating war machine for the unlucky inhabitants of bases and outposts in your way. In most cases you can completely obliterate all the targets without ever leaving your fine vessel. There's no need to pop out to find that one gas tank or satellite dish you've missed. This makes the experience refreshing compared to the stuff you've been doing earlier. It makes the expansion more focused on the area it's supposed to cover. It also means that you're blowing stuff up from a distance most of the time, which is why the framerate holds up better than before. On top of that we're still enjoying the massive, colourful explosions of Just Cause 3, even though it's been a while since the game launched. Watching the flames and smoke fill the skies just feels wonderful.
On top of everything we suspect Avalanche has toned down the height and frequency of the waves out at sea, in honour of the new expansion. A calm, blank ocean is more common now than before, and it makes your mighty ship easier to control. Your iron seahorse easily does 100+ knots, making this an appreciated tweak.
So, for the most part Bavarium Sea Heist is a nice addition to the game, but like we mentioned earlier it's not spectacular. Your boat for instance, can withstand so much damage that you are never in any real danger of sinking. The amount of hits it can take is down right ridiculous, and something the developers could easily have altered to make this a bit more challenging. We were kind of looking forward to finding an enemy soldier, stare him in the eyes and shout "You sunk my battleship", but they never actually managed to do so.
We realise however, that just Cause 3 has never been a game about providing a meaty challenge. It's rather a game about huge explosions, player freedom and (mostly sadistic) creativity. With that in mind we already have a few experiments lined up with the new boat. How far can we reach if we boost onto the shore at top speed? How will the boat do as a sleigh down the mountainside? How much chaos can we inflict if we transport the boat by helicopter to one of those airbases further inland? It's always fun to try out new toys.
And while we're on the subject of toys, you do actually get another one in the expansion, on top of the rocket boat. You get a spaced out gun that lets you hit targets with lightning from the sky. It works pretty well, but it pales in comparison with the Bavarium Nuke weapon from the base game. Then again, how you top portable a-bombs?
In conclusion the Bavarium Sea Heist expansion, and its rocket-powered, near unsinkable boat, will be a nice addition to the arsenal if (when) we decide to give Just Cause 3 another go. At the same time, this expansions fixes none of the weak aspects of the game. The voice acting for instance, is as weak caricatured and charmless as it's always been. If you never liked the Just Cause 3 formula this will not change your mind, but anyone looking for trouble at sea will be quite pleased. We didn't spot any pirates though. Pity.