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Rage 2 Hands-On Impressions

The fact that a sequel to Rage is in the works is still shocking, but a good kind of shocking nonetheless. Trailers and screenshots have shown that Rage 2 won’t be as much of a slog as its predecessor, adopting the fast-paced gunplay id Software is known for as well Avalanche Studio’s massive world-building. Going hands-on with the demo was a pleasant experience, but it also provided me with some concerns.

First the good, Rage 2 is nothing short of action-packed. I was highly impressed with what id Software put out two years ago with Doom (2016) and I was hoping it would translate well into Rage 2. I was both right and wrong in that regard. The combat in the game doesn’t feel as much like Doom as I was hoping, but my own expectations are to blame for that. The goal with the combat is to rack up as many combos as possible using every weapon at your disposal as well as your supply of Ranger Powers.

You play as a character named Walker (can be male or female) and they had their home destroyed by The Authority, an evil military force. Being a Ranger, they are equipped with special abilities and weapons only they can use. Powers include Shatter, a telekinetic blast that either throws enemies or blows them up; Vortex, which sucks enemies up before exploding; Slam, a powerful ground pound; and much more. Those were the three powers I really got to play around with in this demo. By using each and every gun and power in a set order, you can get really creative with your kills. For example, you can propel yourself upward with Vortex, rain hell on your enemies with Slam, and then take out the only survivor with Shatter, and that’s just a simple combo.

Personally, I found it very hard to achieve good combos. This could have been because I was thrown in a few hours after the beginning of the game and didn’t have time to learn the controls fast enough. It’ll be interesting to see how different my experience will be when I play the game from beginning to end in the comfort of my own home.

One thing I didn’t get to try out was the car combat, a staple of the first game as well as this one. I was driving cars throughout the wasteland that didn’t have weapons equipped and there was one part in the main quest that lead to a race. You could tell Avalanche Studios had a hand with making Rage 2 if you’ve played their Mad Max game from 2015. Driving feels great, and no time did I feel out of control with handling my rides.

By far the most interesting part of Rage 2 is its world. Yes, it does draw similarities from the Mad Max universe like the first game did, but this time it’s taking the craziness even further. Set much longer after the first Rage, technology has gotten better and cities have more life to them. However, sometimes the craziness is a bit too obnoxious. One section of the main quest tasks you with joining a popular TV show, hosted by an older, theatrical lady who loves dancing with her companions (slaves?) as well as drink their blood as they slit their hands right in front of her. And yes, there are also giant mechs piloted by dwarfs. I do hope that in the final game, there is a balance between the crazy and serious moments.What really concerns me about Rage 2 however is how repetitive the game is shaping up. After completing the main quest, I got to go out and explore the world more with all location markers on the map. I found vaults that gave me sweet weapons like the rocket launcher, but also a large abundance of enemy outposts I have to clear out. I worry that I might also have to find radio towers to unlock parts of the map. Even though I couldn’t explore the huge map entirely, all I wish is that the tasks the map gives me will have more variety to them.

Despite my concerns, I’m still optimistic for Rage 2. If it just so happens that the game does have the repetitive tasks, maybe the weapons and powers will make each task feel different. At this rate, I don’t think Rage 2 will be a perfect game, but a good one nonetheless. The game will be releasing on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 14, 2019.

Oh, and I asked Studio Director Tim Willits about a Nintendo Switch port, he jokingly said they’re exploring new technology.