GameByte Reviews: Rage 2

After 8 long years, the sequel to the much loved Rage has finally made its way to PC, Xbox One, and PS4. A lot has changed in the world of gaming since then, and Rage does a lot to take advantage of the latest advancements in technology, whilst avoiding some of the latest shortcomings of the industry, such as squeezed in microtransactions or forced multiplayer.

Rage 2 is ultimately a singleplayer experience, focused on a post-post apocalyptic open world. By that, I mean that the world has gone past apocalyptic, and it’s developed this Mad Max esque society with settlements, crazed vehicle driving goons, and all sorts of trademarks of a society gone mad.

From the design of the generic goons you fight to the characters you inevitably bump into, Rage 2 is placed in a world filled with chaos and, in some moments, humour. It can be hard to create a world that you get immersed in so easily, but that’s what Rage does with a surprising ease.

Now, it’s not so much the story that gets you gripped. The storyline is as basic as it comes, but its the world building, the random encounters that happen outside of the story, and the little events that happen in between driving to different missions that draw you in. For example, on my way to meet a character to help develop the main storyline, (no spoilers here!) I bump into a roaming pack of vehicles that looked like an excellent way to test my newly owned weaponized buggy of my own.

I quickly found out that I was no match for these enemies so early on in the game, so I fled, and somehow ended up fighting my way through a bunkered down collection of enemies. Then, after that, I browsed my way through the rickety junk to find a number of hidden supply boxes.

I was thankful to find these, because later, I managed to pull over a roaming trader on the road and purchase some much needed ammo whilst selling all the junk that I had acquired after taking down a squad of goons.

It was then that I realised, hang on a minute, I haven’t even started that first mission I originally planned to go for. I was two hours into the game and I felt like I had barely touched the surface. Onward I drove, until I came across a roaming stranger challenging me to a race.

Whilst each of these events isn’t groundbreaking in game design, they flow together so well that, at least for your first play through, you’ll easily be taken away by the number of options you have to take in terms of engaging content.

Now, that does lead me to one concern I found about Rage. At times, I was a little too blown away. I was thrown so many upgrade screens and progression systems all at once that I just felt a bit unsure of what to progress and why. I think the upgrade systems for your vehicles, weapons, skills, and other tidbits are great mechanics, but they’re a little full on for a new player that may be unsure of what exactly matters.

I found myself holding on to my collected resources because I felt unsure it was even worth upgrading my current weapons and vehicle when more exciting, more fun weapons and vehicles were just around the corner.

I think that the developers could have done a little more to ease players into the content that’s available and all of the different systems and what their main purpose may be.

Speaking of fun weapons, though, Rage 2 does a great job here. Despite moving to the Avalanche engine, the weapons still feel very much like they belong in an ID Software game. You have the Wingstick, which is essentially a deadly boomerang that can rip through enemies.

Then a Shotgun that just feels ever so like something from Doom. What about the Firestorm revolver? This can shoot beams and then pull players into it, sending them pulsing into the air. Or my personal favourite, the Grav-Dart launcher – an excellent physics defying tool. You shoot in one location, then shoot your enemy, then activate the gravity and the enemy will go flying towards your first location.

You can also get access to a range of superhero-like powers. To begin with, you get Dash, a very simple tool to phase in the direction you’re facing. Great for throwing enemies off or getting out of the way of danger. You can get a ground-pound like slam attack, or use a force push style ability called Shatter.

Vortex is one of my favourites – you can throw a vortex down and enemies will be pulled towards it, then you can have them hanging, helplessly in the air. There’s an overdrive meter that builds up when you use your weapons and abilities in quick succession. With Overdrive activated, you deal more damage, regain health, and more importantly, each ability and weapon has even more unique features.

To gain new gear and powers, you have to find Arks scattered around the game world. Interestingly, most Arks aren’t part of the main quest line, so you need to explore the world, find them yourself, or speak to in-game characters to learn of their whereabouts to gain access to some of the fun powers and weapons.

The environments and game world for Rage 2 is stunningly beautiful and immersive, too. Everything from the dirt track roads to the foliage slowly growing back into existence. Then we have the rickety settlements and cities that are teeming with life and activity.

If you want to be immersed into a fun, engaging world that draws you in with its environment and unique game mechanics Rage 2 is certainly for you.

There’s just so, so much on offer with Rage 2 that it can often be a little overwhelming at first. I’d suggest that you take the time to learn the upgrade systems, understand how everything works, and go find all of the Arks so that you can try out all of the abilities and weapons for yourself.