In 2011, id Software and Bethesda released a brand new IP called Rage for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The hype for the game leading up to its launch was palpable winning multiple awards from various outlets for its gorgeous graphics and great gameplay. When the public finally got its hands on it — and after an install that required three discs for the PC and Xbox 360 versions — Rage did not disappoint in those areas.
However, what it did lack was a good story. On a personal level, Rage contains the worst video game ending of all time. It was so abrupt and anticlimactic. Despite that, I will always consider it one of my favorite games last generation but with a big ol’ asterisk next to it.
When our leading provider of E3 leaks, Wal-Mart Canada, uncovered a sequel to id Software’s open-world shooter, as well as a few other games, I was convinced it was fake; why would they make a sequel for Rage seven or eight years later? That conviction was thwarted when the official Rage Twitter account and Bethesda’s SVP of Global Marketing and Communications Pete Hines tweeted some responses to the leak, hinting that this is more than just some gag. Just a few days later, Rage 2 was officially revealed, this time with Avalanche Studios giving a helping hand, reviving a franchise I thought was long gone.
There were a few concerns before I got my hands on it. After id Software’s reboot of Doom released, my expectations for the studio have skyrocketed. There are a few shooters this generation that is better. The potential of having a game with Doom’s shooting mechanics incorporated into an open-world by Avalanche Studios – the developer responsible for open-world games like Just Cause 3 and Mad Max – is pretty exciting. I wasn’t sure that was something this collaboration could pull off. Additionally, the tone of the trailers – the colorful, in your face version of Mad Max – was a bit overbearing. I like Andrew W.K. just as much as the next guy, it was just so over-the-top. After playing for a few minutes, those questions were answered with some satisfying results.
However, it didn’t start that way. The demo began with a tutorial set in a small, closed in space to help familiarize you with the controls and the various powers you have. While it was helpful, it was drawn out to the point that had me bored in the first few minutes. The abilities they were showing me were excellent and I just wanted to get into the world and see them in action. I assume this portion was specific to the demo so you can go into the mission confidently but it wasn’t the greatest first impression.
That quickly changed once I was thrown into the world. My expectations were met. The base mechanics of Rage 2 feel just as good as Doom. The fast-paced shooting and feeling of power are reminiscent of the 2016 reboot with a few, fundamental differences that make this unexpected sequel unique. Since it was just a slice of the game, it remains to be seen if it can keep a steady frame rate within an open-world; if it can, Rage 2 will be the new technical powerhouse of this console generation.
Despite the similarities, Rage 2 does deviate from id Software’s last release quite a bit. The aforementioned over-the-top visuals and attitude that I was worried about actually fit weirdly. The post-apocalyptic setting from the first returns without the drab looks. The various shades of brown juxtaposed with the colors of the enemies’ ensemble that not only let the visuals pop but also have a functional use allowing you to keep track of them easily.
The special abilities and weapons the protagonist possess also help Rage 2 differentiate itself from being dubbed “open-world Doom.” It is still the fast and furious gameplay you expect from id Software but with a distinct feel. Dashing between enemies and using all these weapons and abilities in rapid succession is incredibly satisfying. Using the wingstick – the three-bladed boomerang that most will identify Rage with – was a great tool for crowd control, giving you time to take out enemies while keeping a few pinned down until you have time to take care of them.
My concern after playing that small slice of Rage 2 is how the gameplay will transition into the open-world. All of the combat sections that were in the demo were close quarters or in smaller chambers which we all know id Software is great at creating. What happens when we take those mechanics and put them into a massive open-world though? That may be something we won’t know until the game releases, but I am confident that this collaboration between id Software and Avalanche Studios will make something great.
Rage 2 releases on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on June 2019; the Collector’s Edition of the game is still available on Amazon, packed-in with a singing Ruckus the Crush head mount… for those who are into that.