Rage 2 is the latest post apocalyptic installment to be published by Bethesda and created by Avalanche Studios and Id Software. You get to immediately jump into the surprisingly colorful and delightfully gory fray. You play as Walker, the last of the Rangers after your home is destroyed by the big bad of the game who goes by The Authority. Rage has colorful characters, some great background story, and a sprawling environment to be explored in your pursuit to fight back.
The world for Rage 2 is quite large, which is usually a plus for a game, but in this case it’s almost a draw back. After the tutorial you’re handed the entire map to roam around in, and it almost gets a little mundane traveling between each objective or even just tooling around looking for fights. The middle part of the map has a kind of canyon/desert vibe to it, the northern section is forested and the east is a swamp which separates you from an actual desert, The variety is bad, but even traversing different environments everything still feels similar. stretches of road with groups of bandits and mutants strewn about, then rest of the landscape is freckled with side activities like bandit dens, shrouded power stations, and a few other locations. Other than that there are the 5 trade towns, two in the starting area, then one in the forest, swamp, and desert. The game does look great and it has that apocalypse feel to it, but it’s almost a little too barren for how long about the apocalypse happened.
To travel between trade towns and the action you have a small list of vehicles to unlock, ranging from cars, motorcycles, a few tanks, and one flying contraption which will most likely end up being your most used ride. The game starts by giving you the best vehicle, which is the Phoenix, and the only vehicle that has multiple guns and you can upgrade. The miniguns work well enough to hang outside any bandit encampment and clear a good amount of them out form the safety of your vehicle. After unlocking the Icarus, everything else becomes irrelevant, because once you hit the highest altitude it flies at no one bothers you anyway and you just zoom across the map, even over some of the seemingly impassable gaps you have to drive around. The vehicles handle about as well as you’d expect from a shooter focused game. I will say that I had quite a fun time with the Chaz Car Derby races, as they were somewhat challenging.
One of my bigger issues with Rage 2 is the difficulty and pacing. They give you a tutorial and then just set you free with a few starting objectives to do. It is akin to being given a piece of paper with the tasks for house sitting a mansion and then given the keys but less awe inspiring. Once you leave the starting “trade town” of Vineland you can travel wherever and whenever to any part of the map, this seems wonderful and freeing but after about an hour you give up on the side missions because they’re all essentially the same thing and you start doing the story missions to get some substance. It is nice to occasionally take a break from story quests, to explore, and I did find it import as you need to travel to locate the Arks that hold your new abilities and weapons. I really enjoyed the weapons’ designs and how unique they each are from each other but at the end of the day I found myself using the same trio of weapons, the assault rifle, the shotgun, and the smart rocket launcher. There are a few which are fun, but just don’t feel necessary aside from adding some variety when you get tired of the big three I just mentioned. All abilities, weapons, and your character are able to be upgraded. The former two have two way to upgrade, a basic one that increases a couple of the main stats, and then a smaller ability tree of sorts inside. The larger ability tiers you unlock are done with feltrite, and the smaller are done with weapon mods and nanotrites respectively. The weapons and abilities do feel more powerful after upgrading, but again, nothing has stood out to me combat wise aside from the main three weapons you’ll end up using.
I like the variety of abilities and if you see fit, you can really use all of them in each combat, multiple times even. My favorites include shatter, slam, defibrillation, and Grav-jump. Shatter blows the armor off enemies and if they’re light enough throws them as well, and sometimes splatters them if you’re close enough to a wall. Grav-jump is essentially double jump that can be upgraded to allow you to float while ADS and can be extended with every kill. Slam is self explanatory, when you use it you leap into the air and come down creating a shockwave that sends enemies flying, it also does more damage the higher up you are, Be careful though, go to high and you’ll end up falling to your death. The last is Defibrillation, when you go down, there is a random button prompt sequence that can be upgraded to four buttons. You have to press each within a certain timing, each successful press returns a larger percentage of health you when you stand up. In my mind these are the most useful abilities you’re given, barrier is pretty good as well if you get pinned down, but I don’t find myself using any of them as much as the four i listed above.
As far as the combat scenarios go, in the base game there are three enemy factions that you’ll be meeting in the throws of combat on the battlefield. They are as follows: The Goon Squad, who are the base enemies in the game, but they’re also the most colorful and interesting to see, The Authority who are essentially just as hard to fight as The Goon Squad, there isn’t really much of a difficulty difference between the two of them. The last faction is the Immortal Shrouded, which is the toughest faction to deal with and they aren’t even the main faction in the story. They have the most health, toughest armor, and they also seem to hit the hardest. The toughest side mission I did in the game belonged to them as well, I had to repeat it a few times with a lot of running away and healing during the fight just to make it though. Thankfully you can craft almost all of your usable equipment as long as you have the materials and the upgrade/blueprint depending on the item. Health infusions you can upgrade to be craftable and that is definitely a saving grace at times. When chaining together abilities and barrages of bullets the game can feel somewhat exhilarating, but not because it’s challenging, but because you’re trying to have the most fun eradicating whatever enemy faction is stinking up the location you’re clearing out. I would even dare say part of the charm of the game is making yourself as powerful as possible so the enemies don’t stand a chance, this unfortunately leads to the game feeling boring as the challenge goes away.
Probably the most impressive part to about Rage 2 is the amount of backstory and other information they have managed to cram in. Almost every location you visit has items to collect, which at times will slow the progress of the game way down and almost completely disinterest you. What I found reinvigorating though were the data pads that you locate at most locations. Each one tells it’s own little story about the location or another close location or people. Some are even one big story located on a few different data pads. I got a lot of joy out of reading each and every one that picked up because it added a lot more color into what could’ve definitely been a much more boring and mundane game. Learning little tidbits about the people who lived in this windmill house before it was ransacked and taken over by the Goon Squad really breathes some much needed life into the game.
Rage 2 starts with a bang, and seems to end with a slightly smaller pop. There is a good amount to see and do in the game, but a lot of it feels the same, even the fights with different enemies feel pretty identical. Some side activities are unique like the Mutant Bash TV brought in from Rage which is just as fun as it’s cousin from the first one. I’d definitely recommend picking it up if you’re a Doom fan or even a Sunset Overdrive fan, but I would wait until it goes on sale to do so.
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