Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer Avalanche Software
Release Date: 05/13/2019
Also Available On
Rage was all the…well, rage back in the day on PC. It featured “super textures” and fantastic gunplay that hadn’t been seen since Doom II or Quake 3 and various other claims from id Software. Upon release, it was a lifeless husk of bugs and glitches, and the only thing that was actually any good was the enemies and shooting itself. The open-world was wasted and devoid of life and forget about the story as it was hardly there at all. Fast forward a decade later and we get Rage 2 developed by Avalanche Software known for the Just Cause series. What did we get? Well, a game that’s playing catch up as this should have been the game the first wasn’t. If this released 10 years ago it would have been a smash hit, but today it feels dated and well, still lifeless.
You play as The Ranger named Walker. There’s something about The Authority trying to wipe out humanity and a General Cross is the big bad guy. There are three major players who have main missions for you to ultimately bring about Project Dagger which is to eliminate the machines and genetic monsters roaming the Earth. Yeah, it’s very paper-thin and the story still barely exists. Some of the main missions have slightly entertaining scripted events, but that’s about it. The voice acting is solid, but the characters are one dimensional and don’t grow or mature, and you literally have no reason to care for any of them ever.
That brings us to the actual meat of the game and that’s the shooting. Yes, Rage 2 feels and plays really well. The shooting is satisfying, bombastic, and there’s a wonderful arsenal of weapons to find and unlock as well as abilities. Yes, I said to find. The weapons aren’t just handed to you. You have to find the intel on where they are, explore the world, and find the Arks that contain these weapons. It’s a neat idea and rather satisfying once you find them, but I played 75% of the game with just the assault rifle and shotgun. That’s not a good thing either. There was no urgency to get new weapons until I finally tired of the same two and I needed more weapons for harder enemies. Each area has a level from 1-10 and this is based on how much armor enemies have, or their faction, and boss health bars.
Once you do start shooting around the game is a blast. Each weapon has an alt-fire mode such as the shotgun having an air blast that knocks enemies off their feet. The Fire Revolver has ammo that sticks and then you can snap your fingers and blow them up. The rocket launcher will lock on to enemies and then the pulse cannon has a manual cooldown mode. I never got all the weapons to be honest. There just wasn’t any need to, but what I did get was pretty cool. Even the BFG 9000 was an absolute blast to use but rarely needed. You have abilities that are also supposed to be found, but I honestly rarely ever used them as the weapons were enough. I had a shield, dash, and push but that was it. Some abilities are passive, but the Overdrive ability is the most useful. This unlocks a third alt-fire for each weapon but you aren’t invincible or anything like that. You just do more damage. For projectiles, you get wing sticks which is honestly completely useless despite being a staple weapon in the first game and grenades. You also get three injectables for health, overdrive, and to recharge your abilities faster. Once you die you get a defibrillation quick time event to gain some health back one time until the next death. So, with all of this combined, there is a decent amount of stuff in the core shooting mechanic. It’s solid, but it’s sad you don’t get the weapons in a different manner that makes them meaningful or makes you want them.
Once you’re ready to drive around the Wasteland there’s not much to do outside of small little side missions. These are all basically the same with different names. You essentially kill everything in each outpost and there are things to find inside them. Containers with cash or filtrite which is used for upgrades, datapads, and Ark chests which hold upgrades for mods and vehicles. These are peppered all throughout the game and honestly make up a bulk of the playtime. If you only did the main story it would be over in about 10 hours. The issue is that after completing maybe 60-70% of the other stuff in the world I stopped caring. You just run in and shoot everything, collect stuff, and move on to the next one. There’s no incentive to do this once you’ve fully upgraded everything. You need cash to buy ammo, mods, etc from shops, but filtrite is used for weapon and ability upgrades and that is taken from enemies. The only really interesting side missions were the Mutant Crusher nests. These are giant bosses, but they are all the same. In fact, every boss in the game is the same. Just blast it to death or blast it until it’s vulnerable and then blast it some more. It’s very one-note with the action and the game heavily relies on it rather than using the action in smart and inventive ways.
I also had no incentive to acquire all the vehicles in the game as what’s the point? Your main vehicle, the Phoenix, is just fine as it has a gatling gun and homing missiles and it does the job. Some vehicles are just for fun such as a giant monster truck, and a hovercraft, but honestly there’s not much out in the world. There are a few towns but these are all static and lifeless. No interesting characters as NPCs repeat often and the dialog is uninteresting. There’s just no reason to care about anything in this game and most players won’t stick around long enough past the main story. It just grows incredibly repetitive and you just go on autopilot driving from one side mission to another just checking them off of your map. One question mark to the next and blasting everything and then doing it again for 50+ hours. Again, the shooting is solid, but you can only do it in this fashion for so long. It works in games like Doom because it makes the world around it adjust to the constant shooting. I honestly wish Rage 2 was a linear story-driven shooter and then it would have worked really well. Rage just doesn’t do open-world right. That was the major flaw in the first game as it was a pointless open world devoid of anything. Shooting caravans every so often doesn’t justify an open world. It’s also way too big for its own good. It can take over half an hour just to drive from one side to the other. It’s part of the reason why it took me an entire year and a half to finish this game. It’s daunting and feels like a chore rather than something I can’t wait to see like The Elder Scrolls or Fallout which have interesting open worlds stuffed full of lore and interesting things.
So, we just get a boring empty and lifeless world with static towns and blast everything to death with a paper-thin story, uninteresting characters, and weapons that are hidden and locked away with no incentive to go get them except out of sheer boredom. That’s not good. Despite all of this though, the game is fairly entertaining for a good 30 or so hours until you explore most of the map, finish the story, and I was just done. There’s a good core here that Rage 3 should keep and ditch the open-world entirely. I liked the enemy design, the graphics are phenomenal and look amazing, but this isn’t it guys. The series still needs a lot of work and fine-tuning to become a top-notch FPS.