RAGE 2 is a Manic, Exhilarating Dose of Post-Apocalyptic Carnage
While 2019 might be the year of the colorful post-apocalyptic shooter, RAGE 2 looks like it will offer players a thrilling world to explore.
So far in 2019, one of the emerging trends of the year has been a steady release schedule for The Wacky, Colorful Post-Apocalyptic Shooter. In February it was kicked off with Far Cry New Dawn, and now RAGE 2 will be coming up this May with its own take on what a “fun” post-apocalypse can look like. And while there has been a playful rivalry between RAGE 2 and the other titles it happens to share some similarities with (including this past weekend’s reveal of Borderlands 3), RAGE 2 still seems like it will have plenty to offer players with its gleeful post-apocalypse through fast gunplay and a huge world to explore.
During PAX East 2019 in Boston, I got to go hands-on with RAGE 2 and spend some time inside its colorful wasteland for about 20 minutes or so of gameplay. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a whole lot of time in a game that seems like it will be big (at least from what I saw on the world map), but it at least gave me a sense of what to expect from RAGE 2 as far as gameplay and how its open-world feels.
For some context, I had only ever played a few hours of the original RAGE back when it first debuted, so I’m coming to RAGE 2 largely new to the series. However, given the nearly eight-year-long gap since the original’s release, I mostly got the sense that RAGE 2 will seem easily accessible to those that may not have played the original (but probably with some nods for series’ fans that have stuck with it).
From what I played from the game at PAX East, RAGE 2 really feels in a lot of ways like two distinct experiences between its fast-paced, first-person shooting combat and its more exploratory, open-world segments. Much like a blend of 2016’s DOOM and the open-world titles that Avalanche Studios has delivered over the years (such as the Just Cause series), on paper it sounds like a match made in heaven, but at certain points I wasn’t quite sure that everything was working together for me as intended.
Coming in part from developer id Software, RAGE 2 clearly seems to have taken some of its DNA from 2016’s DOOM by enveloping its gameplay with shooting that’s all about speed and mobility. RAGE 2 is certainly no different as you can largely zip around areas and wail on baddies with a barrage of guns and special powers, but the more open structure is something that I felt that I needed more time to really get a grasp of it.
In the beginning of the demo, I experienced this the most when I tried to complete a few objectives that mostly revolved around combat, such as taking out a sentry turret and some enemy scavengers out in the wilderness. With so many weapons and powers at my disposal, I could tell that RAGE 2 seems like it will give players a lot of options in how you can approach situations. But being thrown into the middle of things without an understanding of how all these powers and abilities worked (and especially how they all worked together) sometimes felt a little overwhelming.
This was also compounded with the fact that I just didn’t quite have a feel yet for how to successfully utilize the environment in RAGE 2 during combat encounters compared to what I experienced from DOOM. Given that DOOM mostly took place in contained, linear areas, it was much easier to get a feel for the game’s aggressive tone and gameplay because it was always pushing the player forward. By comparison in RAGE 2, there were moments in gunfights that I felt a bit more like a sitting duck due to having a lack of cover or options to properly engage, leading me to scramble for a way out of an overwhelming situation.
Granted, this is all just coming from a brief slice of RAGE 2 where I (presumably) was put into a section that was later in the game, and I imagine that playing the full game from the beginning will give a better sense of the flow of combat and traversal. Though RAGE 2 had the excitement and punchiness that I (and so many others) liked from 2016’s DOOM when it came to the actual shooting, I think I just need more time with it down the line to see how it all plays out in a bigger, more open setting.
But in the second portion of the demo where I took to the road with a vehicle, that’s when I really felt that RAGE 2 started to click for me. Specifically, that feeling came in when I embarked on a Convoy mission, where I was tasked with taking out a roaming caravan of enemy vehicles with my vehicle’s gatling guns and missiles. This not only involved staying on track behind the vehicles and trying to take them out one-by-one, but also dodging incoming lasers and explosives trying to throw me off-road, making for an exciting car chase sequence in true Mad Max fashion.
That shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise given that Avalanche Studios–the makers of 2015’s Mad Max video game–are co-developing the project with id Software, but it especially feels that the promise of that game is being delivered even more effectively here in RAGE 2 when it comes to vehicular combat and encounters. The vehicular combat pretty much came to me immediately, and I had a blast driving out in the world and taking on objectives, especially when it came to the vehicle’s mobility and weaponry.
While the combat and open-world structure feel like solid culminations of what id Software and Avalanche Studios have been known for, one of the more surprising elements of the demo to me were the amount of different areas and environments that players could explore. Given that the original RAGE was mostly composed of desert areas, for the majority of my time in RAGE 2 I instead saw lush rainforests and jungles, with the green of the trees contrasting vividly against the pink waypoint markers that were guiding me to my next objective. RAGE 2‘s use of color is certainly a nice touch that helps it to stand out from other post-apocalyptic titles, and I’m curious to see just how varied that its biomes are in terms of design.
From the brief amount of time that I spent with RAGE 2 at PAX East, I came away excited by the potential of its more light-hearted take on the post-apocalyptic. By trading in the doom-and-gloom of the end of the world and making it a little more zany and wild, RAGE 2 seems like it will offer high octane fun in a world that is packed with challenges. Though I need to get a better feel for how it will adapt fast-paced DOOM-style combat in a much larger setting, so far RAGE 2 seems like it is on the right track to take players on a thrilling ride.
RAGE 2 will release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 14, 2019. If you’re looking to hop on the crazy post-apocalyptic ride, you can pre-order the game now over on Amazon.
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