Soon it became apparent that iD and Avalanche identified their strengths of Arena FPS gameplay and open-world wasteland backdrops respectively, then channelled said strengths into a great FPS experience. Whilst I’m a massive fan of arena shooters, the ‘Max Max’ style of traversal deserved a final polish.
Rage 2 pits players in a direct sequel to the original Rage with a familiar antagonist rising up once again to control and dictate the way of the wastelands. Players are faced with a variety of skill trees and upgrade menus that are easy enough to navigate and understand but can be daunting on the first inspection.
Are you Paying Cash or Feltrite?
Players can earn either cash (which can be used to upgrade and buy vehicles) or Feltrite (A Crystalised energy source used to upgrade abilities and weapons). Skills systems aside, players can seek out space pods named ‘Arks’ which allow players to unlock ‘Nanotrite’ abilities which are essentially superhuman abilities. Creating vortex’s and high speed dashes are just a taste of what players can unlock with just this mechanic.
Another ability players can utilize in Rage 2 is ‘Overdrive’, iD’s current generation answer to ‘Quad Damage’. By hitting both bumper buttons when available, all of a player’s stats are temporarily increased to make quick work of wasteland grunts.
It’s safe to say that Rage 2 is packed to the rafters with unlockables. With Arks, Ark Chests (which hold rarer loot) also standard chests holding various items hidden around the game world, treasure hunters will be happy for as long as it takes to track them all down (there’s an ability for that too!).
Levels to write home about
The level design in the first instance are very well structured, Rage 2 players can look forward to taking down well-designed outposts/strongholds to wiping out a gang of mutants and the like in abandoned factories and cave systems. It’s clear that this game is indeed a Bethesda title and bears all the necessary hallmarks.
Unfortunately, travelling from one objective to the other is a bit pants. Roads are mapped out for players with the optional neon pink road navigation available if one chooses, but the navigation mechanic lacks the gift of foresight which can often turn into a game of reverse and finding sharp corners.
But why stick to the roads? Surely it’s more fun to go cross country and explore for a while? Well, Rage 2’s settlements and quests, in general, are very spaced out. This leads to boring car rides with the odd raider popping up from the side of the road to give players a dose of rocket lead and the like. I would have sooner settled for a smaller open world with fewer canyons and more traversable terrain to keep gameplay tight and interesting.
Carry On My Pink Haired Wayward Son…
For me, this is the one area where Rage 2 fails massively. The control scheme is well mapped out and is more responsive than a bitch on heat whilst also making great use of the Xbox One controllers HD Rumble feedback. The overall story arc isn’t exactly a massive achievement in storytelling, but let’s face facts. We don’t all go into FPS titles initially for the story, surely? We want to shoot things, we want it to feel good, we want to blow stuff up, get rewarded for it and get a decent 20+ hours of gameplay from it. Rage 2 ticks all of these boxes when it behaves like the arena shooter it so obviously is.
Graphically, the game runs well with no noticeable frame drops on a standard Xbox One model. There seems to be liberal use of Halo: Reach style motion blur, but not to an insane extent. I think all of my readers will agree that with FPS it’s performance over graphical fidelity every time. With that being said, the textures mostly behave and stay mapped bar the odd face texture bugging out from time to time. It wasn’t a lasting issue and it didn’t hinder gameplay or emersion.
The sound engineering in Rage 2 is another job well done, featuring pounding yet crisp weapon effects contrasting against the development teams firm grip on Sci-Fi based attacks and skills. Whilst I’ll always praise DooM for it’s most excellent OST, Rage 2 does come close. the OST for Rage 2 frames the unpredictable rebel wasteland setting perfectly.
Overall Score: 8 / 10
Rage 2 is a brilliant FPS with well-structured skill trees, upgrade systems, various hidden treats which are complemented by a brilliant array of level designs and arena style FPS gameplay mechanics. The travel system can make some parts of the game a chore, but in no way does it stop Rage 2 from being potentially one of the best shooters of the year!
Format: PS4, Xbox One (reviewed), PC
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: iD Software / Avalanche Studios
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 14/05/19
Review copy provided by publisher