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.
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.
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.
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.