Audiences didn’t expect it until the Walmart Canada leak, but id Software’s Rage 2 is finally here! It took quite a while, but after nine years we finally get to see the franchise pushed to its limit in 2019. Id Software and Avalanche Studios have created an immersive and exciting new experience while maintaining the appeal of the original. Id Software tapping Avalanche Studios (Just Cause series) to develop this was a brilliant decision. The beautiful way the physics and explosions present themselves testify to this. Rage 2 is explosive and exciting on almost all fronts, making you want more while never stopping the action.
In Rage 2, you take control of Walker, the last Ranger of the Vineland Wasteland. You’re tasked with surviving in a world devastated by an asteroid known as the 99942 Apophis. The game’s main antagonist comes in the form of a military group known as the Authority. The Authority hunts for nanotechnology to establish a dictatorship, and it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen. A few characters from the original make appearances here, but unless you were already a Rage ran, there isn’t much for you as far as plot goes. The campaign is about 20 hours long and none of the characters carry any emotional weight. Despite this, it’s hardly a bad thing for a series like Rage. The quality lies within the destructive gameplay as opposed to gripping story moments, and it makes sure you know it.
The best way to describe Rage 2 is 2016’s Doom on purple, studded steroids. Your journey is built on pure destruction, given effective and devastating guns a plenty, and a variety of fun and unique abilities to assist you in your voyage across the games hostile open world. Your weapon, health, and ability upgrades come in the form of a crystalline substance known as Feltrite. Items and weapon upgrade schematics are purchased with money found while scavenging the game world. This can be done by raiding bandit camps, destroying Authority sentries, winning races, or just completing story quests. You can also unlock new abilities and weapons by locating Arks around the game’s world. Arks are essentially beacons that you can inject yourself into in order to gain a new ability.
Unlocking a new ability or weapon is undeniably the most rewarding part of the Rage 2 experience. This is due to the fact that every ability that you unlock does something more insane than the last one. For instance, the ability Slam stood out as a favorite of mine. You execute it by jumping as high into in the air as possible, then click a couple buttons for a massive area of effect attack. Slam can decapitate multiple enemies in one blow depending on how high you jump.
As for weapons, my favorite is the combat shotgun due to its stopping power and reliability. One blast from that thing can send an enemy in close proximity back a good distance. It can also often make for great one hit kills. You start the game with a sidewinder pistol and a ranger assault rifle, but I seldom find myself using the other weapons. The shotgun is just too fun to ignore.
While you feel incredibly powerful, make no mistake; things can become very difficult very quickly. From the very beginning, the enemies are ruthless. The A.I is aware of how powerful you are as you progress and will adjust their strategies and fire power accordingly. Playing the game on the normal difficulty still became a struggle when trying to clear the same bandit camp multiple times before success. The contrast between power and challenge feels very fulfilling in Rage 2. It’s too often in a game where you’re a lot stronger than your enemies and you’ll grow bored by your adversaries, never really challenging you. While the enemies in Rage 2 aren’t quite as strong as Walker, they can definitely pack a considerable punch. This helps to keep you engaged in what the wasteland throws your way.
While an incredibly exciting experience at its core, Rage 2 falls short in its open world and racing mechanics. The world is incredibly vast, stylized, and pleasing to the eyes, especially the aesthetically satisfying day-night cycle. However, this doesn’t count for much when there’s so much empty space in between the points of interests in the game world. Every so often, you’ll find a group of five or six bandits fighting each other in that empty space. I often found myself running them over with my vehicle while on my way to do something more gratifying. There are a lot of bandit camps to raid, Feltrite asteroids to mine, and plenty of races to do. Even so, everything aside from the main story is few and far between. At least the developers try to keep things interesting with timed community challenges.
The car mechanics are functional to say the least. Each car comes with a boost meter that has a short cooldown period, making for faster traversal across the large landscape. The races are pretty basic and don’t really provide any incentive aside from getting auto parts to upgrade your vehicle. Only some of the vehicles carry weapons, coming in the form of mini-nukes, pulse cannons, and your good old-fashioned mounted machine guns. Vehicle weapons can run out of ammo, so it’s important to be weary of how much you’re using in vehicular combat.
In the end, Rage 2 capitalizes on the insanity and grit of the first in a way that really scratches that itch for destruction in first person shooters. You have all of the power, but none of the mercy at the same time. With a short plot and side activities that leave more to be desired, the game isn’t without its flaws. That being said, it still manages to bring the post-apocalyptic wasteland to your fingertips. Rage 2 is a buy simply because of where it shines; fun, destructive, gripping, and exciting balls-to-the-wall gameplay.