Well, this is all very exciting, isn’t it? E3 2018 and the lead-in thereto already feels like it’s produced some honest-to-goodness surprises, of which Rage 2 is one. This is a sequel to a game that is almost eight years old which, while not exactly bad, was flawed enough to earn a lukewarm reception and then vanish without a trace.
Now in the hands of Avalanche, the developer behind the Just Cause series and the open-world Mad Max game that released around the time of Fury Road, Rage has become more manic and colourful. It’s taken on a whole new style.
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We got to play a short segment of Rage 2 and have plenty of coverage going up on the site based on our hands-on time with it. But there were a few tidbits that wouldn’t fit anywhere else – and we’d rather not wait until the Rage 2 release date to tell you about them – so we thought we’d rip off every YouTuber’s favourite format and see if it worked in prose. Here are seven interesting things about Rage 2.
You have a voice now
In Rage 2 you play as Ranger Walker, the last survivor of a settlement called Vineland, which has just been destroyed by The Authority. They were the antagonists in Rage 1: an organised, militarised, and well-equipped group of fascists out to remake the world according to their vision, with no tolerance for deviants.
As former marine Nicholas Raine, you thought you’d defeated them, but 30 years have passed, and they’re back. Unlike former marine Nicholas Raine, the mute protagonist of the original, Walker has a voice, which id boss Tim Willitts says will add depth to the story.
It’s green – in places
Willitts describes the world as a post-post apocalypse – a lot has happened in those 30 years, including the revivification of the Earth’s soil thanks to some orbital seed pods. That means a range of new biomes in the open world, including wetlands and lush green vegetation with some plants and weird mutant animals that no one has ever seen before. If you’re a Mad Max fan though, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of brown desert.
It’s pink – in places
After Wal-Mart spoiled everyone’s fun and ‘leaked’ seemingly every game that’s at E3 this year – and several that aren’t – Bethesda leaned into the skid by releasing several bizarre teaser images liberally splashed in hot pink.
If you’re wondering if any of that is in the game, it is – though it’s mainly in the UI. It makes elements of the head-up display really pop, especially when you activate Overdrive, which triggers a puff of vibrant fuschia cloud. Overdrive, by the way, is a bit like a Destiny Super or an Overwatch ult. You’ll charge it up by – what else – killing, and when you trigger it, you’ll enter a powered up mode that lasts about 20 seconds.
During this time you’ll move faster and all your weapons will hit harder. For instance, the assault rifle shoots much faster, its bullets take on a white-hot look, and it makes a pleasant rapid-fire pinging noise, like a hundred friendly Windows notifications.
You have lots of ways to kill
Obviously there are guns – I got to play with a fairly standard pistol, shotgun, and assault rifle, but there will be plenty more. As well as your weaponry, though, you’ll be able to kill enemies with nanotrite powers such as Shatter, which slaps thugs into walls with such force that you’ll mistake them for paint. Rage 1’s exploding razor-edged boomerangs, Wingsticks, also return. You’ll be able to upgrade your weapons and powers through a streamlined crafting system.
You have lots of ways to move
Obviously you can sprint, but you can also slide along the ground, and through the powers of nanotechnology you get a short-range directional dodge and a double jump. Willitts tells us with childlike enthusiasm about skill kill videos made in games like Dishonored, and says that comboing Rage’s guns, powers, wingsticks, grenades, jumps, dashes, dives, and dodges will give plenty of fodder for content creators – as well as make you feel like a badass if you’re skillful enough to master it.
It’s in the Apex engine
Id has always used its own in-house technology to make games, and given that its specialty was always gloomy corridor shooters with claustrophobic spaces and atmospheric lighting, you might think that an open-world game with vehicles would be pretty ambitious, from a technical perspective. And you’d be right – the original Rage did well the sort of stuff id had always done, but its open world was partitioned by long load screens and its vehicles were somehow clunky and floaty at the same time.
Sensibly, id has partnered with open-world experts Avalanche for the sequel, and is using the Apex engine – the first time id has made a game entirely with someone else’s tech. We’ve yet to see the results, but we’re told this means a seamless experience with wonderfully weighty vehicles.
It’s more crazy than Rage
Willetts says he brought those exact words – more crazy than Rage – to the first design meeting with Avalanche Studios, and that they became the filter through which the two teams would pass every decision they took on the sequel. The explosions are bigger, the mutants are bigger, the AI is crazier.
If you couldn’t already tell from the bonkers trailers – which have already won me over by reminding me how kickass Andrew WK’s I Get Wet was – then here’s your notice: Rage 2 wants to be a big, bold, bodacious game in the finest traditions of id shooters. It’s just now you’re in a sunny sandbox, not a gloomy corridor.