Divisiveness in Rage 2

What little promotional material there was for Rage 2 interested me. The idea of a nitro-fueled FPS surrounding an open world and a heavy power fantasy. I wasn’t expecting an enthralling story with deep and rich characters that would stitch me into the fabric of the world created. I was expecting a rip-roaring hail of bullets in the shape of a gun the likes of which I would ride across the map destroying everything that did so much as exhale in my presence. In short, that is what I got but it’s quite mixed. The “boots on the ground” combat, and I use that term lightly, is smooth as hell and lets you the player take on the various mobs and gangs of the wasteland in the way you want. The vehicular combat is more sparse and anecdotal in the sense that they are typically randomly occurring events as opposed to the convoy routes. The world itself is big but not Horizon Zero Dawn or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey “oh my god how did they even fit all this on one disc” big, it’s more than manageable. The biomes are varied and impressive in detail despite some being more vacant than I’d like.  All in all, it’s at the very least better than the bland world of Rage 1, and at best it’s a gorgeous backdrop for the best FPS action since Doom 2016.

Anger Surrounds

There isn’t a lot in the way of introduction and it’s cause the game and it’s creators understand what you’re here for: shooty bang. You literally pick a gender and are handed a gun. After the first big firefight, the world is literally open to you. This exploration is encouraged because you don’t gain abilities or weapons unless you find Arks which are silos scattered around the map. Normally I’d be mad about another icon cluttering the map but it’s at least a way of getting stronger while discovering the hovels and holes your enemies hide in, grabbing some cash and feltrite (upgrade currency) along the way. It’s essentially the best version of the Far Cry towers ever.

The world is very pretty both graphically and from an art direction aspect. Boggy swamps, desert, rocky canyons, and even suburbia is sprinkled into the colorful and sometimes striking scenery of the world around you. Some structures are established like roadblocks, resource stations, or mutant nests, some are just dressing to fill out the world, but the best is the elaborate gang camps that go from close quarters combat to open courtyards that have you working with cover and elevation. Most main and side mission areas appear to be carefully designed to be engaging set pieces that vary from open lots littered with obstacles to break up the battlefield and enhance the functionality of some abilities. If the map itself doesn’t grab you, the way the world is designed to make combat as fun as possible definitely will.

Walker Wasteland Ranger tonight at 9 

Rage 1 very much gave you the feeling of having your back against the wall. In Rage 2 if you ever find yourself in that situation you push off that wall and crush whatever is in your way into misy and gristle. You are the baddest thing breathing and everything in this game is about making you feel that. I can’t tell if the progression is deep or cleverly padded and that might be fine by me, I haven’t decided yet. When you first see how many currencies there are in the game it makes anyone that knows what AAA games have been doing lately sweat profusely. Fortunately, Rage 2 gives you plenty of opportunities to load up on the kind of cash you spend in stores, the kind on upgrades, weapon skins and mods, it’s all here for you to take when you want it you just have to kill a bunch of baddies to get it. Thankfully there isn’t a single gun that doesn’t feel incredible and unique. From the way the rifle spits a volley or the kick from the shotgun; all of them are a dream and when used in tandem with the abilities it makes for very enticing gameplay. The abilities span all aspects of combat and their refresh time doesn’t allow them to be spammed but lets a player that bounces from skill to skill always have one refresh by the time the effect of the current one wears off. They really found a way for the guns to play into abilities and vice-versa which only makes spicing up combat easier. In Destiny when you throw a grenade, that’s it. Did you use your melee? Oh that’s cool but, that’s also it. In Rage 2 I can mix up abilities to create different means of destruction and death in a much more satisfying way. Even the more nuanced abilities like the Rush and Focus are used to bolster the minimal downtime firefights give you.

From McQueen to Mater

The sixteen vehicles are divisive stars of Rage 2 and it really shows, alongside the facelifted combat, that Id and Avalanche tried to not lose sight of what the original game was focussed around. This rendition’s vehicular combat is much better with weighty pit maneuvers and pretty smart auto tracking from turrets. Alongside this, the vehicles simply must be redone Mad Max vehicles Avalanche never got to use or something cause they just work in a way Bethesda hasn’t been able to claim in a long time. The Phoenix, your signature ride, is the best of both worlds with it being quick and tanky with a litany of additions you can make to it. You’ll see vehicles that have no weapons (why would you even), some speedsters that drop nuke mines behind them, a tank that is slower than frozen shit but also practically indestructible and armed to the teeth. There is fast travel but there is also the Icarus which is a hoverbike and though it can handle like a shopping cart with one wing (more on that later). When it does work its nice to get to where you’re going quicker meanwhile not missing out on any points of interest along the way to where you’re going. Vehicular combat is serviceable and engaging once you get the controls under your fingers.

rAGED

I don’t have too many issues with this game, some are typical nitpicks but others are definitely more egregious. The world though colorful and varied is very “basic open world game” format, I was kind of hoping for some kind of expansion on a version of game we are wildly overly saturated with. The mini games like MobTV and races (which make a comeback from the original) are great but the typical icon littered map is a little draining at times. Which brings me to the endgame because with consideration of just how last gen this game seems to be design wise, I fear they didn’t think about something as “modern” as having an endgame model outside of the season pass and totally unnecessary “live service” content drops. I feel like they missed their own mark and could’ve really populated the world with quite a few more enemies but instead, there are a lot of times where it’s actually quite isolated even in some intriguing areas.

Oh, and every situation that yields dialogue in the open world is wildly repetitive like the writers could not be fucked to give the character anything more than the one decent line you get to hear when approaching a mutant nest, gas station, or bandit hideout or the mobile trader oh my god it’s absolutely torturous especially when you don’t feel like returning to a town and they typically come around fairly consistently.

Back to the Icarus flying bike thing. Mother Fuck that thing can be absolutely unbearable. You see the right trigger merely starts the engines with minor altitude control, the left trigger lowers yourself. The vehicle is supposed to identify altitude and the height of oncoming structures and mountain faces on its own and adjust automatically. But it doesn’t and you’re often sitting there like a fucking idiot ramming into every mountain and building you come across. Why didn’t they map an ascend and descend control to the face buttons? How did no one catch how lopsided that thing controls?

Let’s continue to discuss vehicles, shall we? I talked about the good of the actual combat and the weapons it comes with. What I didn’t talk about was how the controls for said vehicles go from tight and responsive to sludgey and “too fast for the game”. It’s like the vehicle is going too fast for your controller. So many times I’ve gone sailing over the cliffside curve or undercutting and completely killing my momentum. The margin for error is really thin.

The progression system for weapons is…suspect. On the surface, it’s deep, you unlock tiers of upgrades with feltrite and then use upgrade/mod tokens to select the actual mod itself. It seems really unnecessary to have to purchase the ability to spend your tokens to upgrade your weapon. Just typing that made my brain fuzzy, it’s too many steps. At least with the skills each tier in itself comes with a boost to that specific skill but with weapons, you’re literally just adding steps for now real reason. Thankfully there’s no connection to monetization or anything like that. What it does have though is a premium currency for weapon skins which….whoopie…but thankfully that really is the extent of it. Not that it’s okay at all.

Conclusion

People are gonna compare this game to Far Cry New Dawn and I don’t believe many should give too much thought to that comparison. Outside of the bright post-apocalyptic setting (an aesthetic Rage 2 established first for the record), I feel like Rage 2 is more consistent in what it sets out to deliver. Not to mention the combat is just head and shoulders better in Rage 2 and if you go in knowing you won’t leave with a story that changed your life or even really impact you at all but instead expect a white knuckle shooter designed to keep you on your toes and keep the kill count increasing. This game is fun and once this goes on sale there will literally be no excuse.

tl;dr I give Rage 2 an 7 but I can’t stress this enough this is one of the best First Person Shooters I’ve ever played from a mechanics standpoint. The game appears to be this good despite the rest of the game design and execution.

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Five Days until Rage 2

Anxious trepidation comes to mind when I see the flashy and almost painfully in your face aesthetic of Rage 2. This game could not be further from the original look and feel, all that and the gameplay seems to has gotten a facelift as well. All this is so enticing, almost too enticing.

Rage one was a little cumbersome in more ways than one, everything was weighty and had a sense of force behind it. Its cumbersome-ness wasn’t a detriment, though it was overlooked when it was released, there were a lot of things Rage did well. It had strong gunplay, it wasn’t the best but it wasn’t poor by any means but it was strangely distinct in that Id Software way. The world was interesting despite the sea of post-apocalyptic settings in pop culture and gaming back then let alone how many there are today, somehow they’ve managed to revamp that unique feel and style without it being too foreign or unfamiliar.

Some things that Rage 2 seems to improve upon is the overall sandbox. Earlier I stated the world was interesting, and it is, but the visuals of that world are bland as all hell. Everything looked the same and was so drab from the first disc to the last. Everything I’ve seen thus far of the open world seems not only vast but varied as well. Swampy bogs, expansive deserts, city ruins, rocky canyons, and probably some more we haven’t been shown. On the optimization side there better only be one disc in that damn case, that triple disc nonsense is just that. It’s definitely more of a minor grievance but I did want to speak on it.

Rage 1 had a pretty baller cast voice acting wise, I was kind of floored by it upon revisiting the game more recently. It was nice but to me, it doesn’t really add all that much to the overall experience, I feel like such a stellar cast can’t be cheap and that money could go to other real voice actors and other avenues in the game’s development but that’s just me.

There are some preorder shenanigans going on with a slew of items and cosmetics that are up for grabs should the buyer upgrade to the more pricey editions. Armor skins, weapons (one of them being the famous BFG), missions and other items are all available for twenty more dollars. I’m avoiding that but honestly, I don’t blame anyone that goes for it, there is a lot of content for the money asked. Whether or not that content should even be for sale is a whole other conversation.

This looks like the kind of single-player power fantasy that I haven’t really gotten to experience in a FPS since Doom, Shadow Warrior or Wolfenstein. I understand those are all recent but dammit they don’t happen often enough and though they are coming back into style one title at a time, I want al my high octane shooty bang bases covered and I’ve got my eye on Rage 2. Hopefully, Bethesda doesn’t fuck this one up and lets the studios do their thing.

Game Awards highlights

Highlights of the awards are as follows: Roger Clark (Arthur Morgan) won best voice actor, God of War stole Game of the Year from RDR2 as well as best game direction. Fear not, Red Dead did take the award for best narrative, score, and audio design. Celeste won best indie. Deadcells snuck away with best action game. Monster Hunter World took best RPG and…I agree but I also think Nino Kuni, Octopath, Pillars of Eternity and Dragon Quest 11 fans are rightfully mad. Dragon Ball FighterZ takes best fighting game. Fortnite took best multiplayer game, shocker.

What I wanted to talk about were the announcements and trailers that came between the commercials and cringe-inducing antics of the event. There wasn’t a lot going on but what was announced was very interesting.

Atlas: Pirates and cannons do not excite me, seafaring and swashbuckling just does nothing for me. All that said…wow Atlas really looks impressive. Made by Wildcard and the team consists of many people who put Ark together. This appears to be a full pirate sim mmorpg that plans to hold 40,000 people on one server. Yes. Forty thousand. Is that MAG level hype? Yeah that and then some. This seems to be one of those situations where a game comes out, it flops, and another studio swoops in to capitalize on the disappointment (see Fortnite to PUBG, 2k to Live, FIFA to PES etc). That game I’m referring to is Sea of Thieves and Wildcard appear to be working hard on making the game Sea of Thieves should’ve been. You can watch a trailer here.

MK11: I am so conflicted by this trailer, lemme tell ya. The actual look of the CG trailer was nice, visceral, even cheeky at some points (awful big emphasis on weapons in that trailer). Another obscure and mysterious aspect of this game is time and how that plays into characters and the story potentially. New Scorpion is killed by Evil Raiden, only to be killed by Old Scorpion himself…hmm. Now that makes me think. It was a quintessential Mortal Kombat trailer top to…wait…is that 21 Savage playing in the background?? The song choice did not fit at all, it was like someone at NetherRealms plugged in their phone last minute to compensate for a glitched audio. Literally, anything would’ve been better, Wu-Tang, Freddie Gibbs, Earl Sweatshirt if you had to go the rap route. Yeah, I could be making a big deal out of nothing but I’ve also seen games make unnecessary focus on soundtrack and losing focus on the actual game. All in all, interesting. trailer here

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Oh boy, oh fucking boy. X-men Legends (stick with me here) was the first of top-down arcade hero brawler type that really got my jimmies jumping. So when Marvel Ultimate Alliance came out it was something of a true actualization of what me and my friends thought up back when Legends came out. Two titles, both of which I owned and played through thoroughly unlocking characters and finding cheats. So imagine my surprise when initially I think this is the Marvel Avengers project by Square Enix. No! Wrong! Bad Chayton! It’s UA3 by…Ninja Theory?! What is going on? We got a little gameplay that unfortunately didn’t look too impressive. I’m still excited and with it being a Switch exclusive…I just have more reason to get one. trailer here. Speaking of reasons to get a Switch…

Joker joins the battle: Hi, huge Persona 5 fan here. Very excited to see our boy join the scuffle. He will be included as a DLC character (meh) but it raises some very interesting questions as to who else could be added. Goku confirmed! really cute trailer here

Far Cry “New Dawn”: This screamed Rage 2 to me. It is a cool idea to play so directly off the last released Far Cry title. I’m sure the games are going to be very different but the trailer seemed to take direct influence down to the shade of pink they used in their cooky-wacky post-apocalyptic looking setting. The game will even have you run into Joseph Seed and this is where I think it will diverge heavily and start to focus more on the Far Cry aspects of the game. Interesting villains as per usual but I’m hesitant. Even if it’s an expansion from FC4. trailer here

Rage 2: Now this is the post-apocalyptic open world I am looking forward to exploring. As I have stated before, Rage was underwhelming but had potential, this new trailer expanded upon what was already explored but didn’t really show off anything new. Regardless of the utter turmoil BGS seems to be in I am still excited to get my hands on this game and rip shit up .trailer here

Psychonauts 2: This is big, many many fans have been dying to see where Rasputin’s adventures take him. The look hasn’t changed much, but the polish of modern tech is doing wonders for the world of Psychonauts. We don’t get much info but just the glimpse is more than enough to get me thinking about the possibilities. trailer here

Dragon Age 4 teaser: this is a teaser trailer for Dragon Age 4… not much more to it. trailer here

The Outer Worlds: This is the big one, Obsidian are coming out the gate hard. In the wake of Fallout76 this was the last thing Bethesda could afford; for another studio to come along and do their games better than them. A space oriented RPG that appears to focus heavily on decision-making and character development. Two staples of Obsidian games that I can’t wait to take part in when this bad boy drops. With Obsidian being acquired by Microsoft I was concerned this would be an exclusive but thankfully they can’t deny the PS4 audience, at least this time. Next gen (or title even) we might not be so lucky. trailer here

Rage 2

Holy moly, as someone that played Rage; this is an entirely new direction. Rage had a bland color palette and an underdeveloped story/concept. The gadget mechanics, as well as some other key RPG elements, livened up the FPS experience. It still appears to be vehicle heavy, we also get a glimpse of the beloved wingstick. The environments look massively more diverse than the first. Enemy variety, another issue with the first game, appears to be a thing of the past as well. Id software helped make the first but Avalanche Studios (Just Cause, Mad Max) is going to lend a hand alongside them this time. Very interesting resume for Avalanche because with the chaotic world of Just Cause and the post-apocalyptic setting of Mad Max; I don’t know who else I’d want to work with shooty-bang gods Id Software. It’s just a trailer, I’ve been hurt before, but it certainly appears to be a step up from the first.