One of the most memorable leaks from all of last year, was Walmart Canada’s listing leak prior to E3. While many games were outed, likely the most notable was Rage 2. Given that Rage was a near decade old game that nearly everyone had forgotten about, it seemed very odd to see a sequel at the time. But the leak was accurate and during E3 2018, Bethesda promoted the game heavily.
As you would imagine, Rage 2 is still a post-apocalyptic setting that is most reminiscent of Mad Max. To realize the setting for the sequel, Bethesda looked to mix the best talents of two studios; ID and Avalanche Studios. ID, famous for their FPS prowess and the excellent Doom reboot from 2016, would handle the shooting mechanics. Meanwhile, Avalanche Studios, who became well known for their Mad Max game from 2015, would handle the open world elements and vehicle play using the Apex Engine. So how well did this mash up come together? In the end, it’s a mixed bag.
Likely the most enjoyable aspect of Rage 2 is the gunplay. When you hear ID you think of fast-paced action with outrageously fun shooting mechanics. And on that front, Rage 2 delivers in spades. Shooting is fluid and intense, and once you get into a rhythm, you will often finish a battle on an adrenaline filled high. In this vein, it does feel very similar to the most recent Doom and that’s a very good thing. Weapons are able to be upgraded thus allowing you to unlock more potential with your favorites, and each one has an alternate firing mode as well thus allowing you to approach situations as you see fit. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the shotgun. We’ve seen many marvelous shotguns in our decades of gaming, but Rage 2 stands among the best ever implemented into a game. It’s incredibly satisfying to use and I never tired of it right through the end.
Where Rage 2 begins to falter is in the open world design. The formula used is pretty commonplace nowadays in that you have a large map with small objectives spread throughout. To progress the main story, you have to tackle a variety of them which sounds like many other games. However, there are no story elements to be found with them and thus you can’t even classify them as “side missions”. Rather, they are simply more areas for you to kill bandits whether it’s one of their camps, a roadblock, a convoy, etc… While having more reasons to shoot and blow things up isn’t a bad thing directly, when it’s the only reason you have for completing anything on the map, it does become repetitive rather quickly. After a few hours I found myself just trying to finish as many as I had to quickly to progress the main story.
Compounding this lack of direction is a rather barren open world. While there are many icons where you can have a battle, there’s really nothing else of interest in the world. There are no truly interesting locations, no hidden areas for unique items, and really no special missions or characters to meet. It really becomes a point A to point B affair most of the time and while the car combat is serviceable, it’s definitely not a pillar that the game can stand upon. And sadly this has a trickle effect on the rest of the game as well. While there are several town-like areas to visit with vendors and people to talk to, there’s very little need to do so given the shallowness of the objectives and interactions.
While I’ll try not to sound like a broken record, the core story of Rage 2 is well…serviceable. You are introduced to the main antagonist right at the outset and your entire goal becomes taking him down as he wants to erase humanity from existence (naturally). As with the rest of the game, each core mission is primarily about reaching a location and having a big battle but again variety is lacking and there’s really not a lot of meat on the bone. Finishing the game is rather easy and even with some side content completed, it only took me about 10-12 hours when all was said and done.
At E3 last year year I played a slice of Rage 2 and left incredibly excited. Sadly, what I played was a short mission that highlighted the combat and well, that is where the game shines without a doubt. As an overall experience, it’s enjoyable but shallow. If you’re looking for a fun romp to simply kill some time and blow up some baddies, you’ll have a blast with Rage 2. Just don’t expect much anything beyond that.
Final Verdict : 7
Fun Factor : 8
Technical Prowess : 7
Time Investment : 12-25 hours
Replayability : 5