While it is true that Avalanche Studios is famous for making open-World games, Rage 2 is its own beast in this field. The postapocalyptic tone of Rage 2 is full of hyperbole both in its history and characters as in its art direction and color palette. In this particularly insane and delusional world you will be able to explore at your whim and create destruction in unthinkably satisfying ways. But, does Rage 2 entertain for long, or is it just another barren wasteland?
A simple but adrenaline-charged story
Rage 2 takes place 30 years after the first Rage. There is no need to have played the first game, but in case you have, you will find everything that has changed in this world amusing. The basics to understand what is happening in Rage 2 is knowing that a meteor caused life on Earth to fall into the postapocalyptic state it is now living in.
From the starting point, the action is not made to wait. You choose your character, which can be a man or a woman. You can’t customize your character, but you can choose its gender. The story does not change despite the gender you choose, but the the voice of the character does as it is expected. Once you choose your character, the other character is killed right in front of you and you immediately need to take a gun to defend yourself against the threat that attacks your base, Vineland. Vineland is a military base where the Rangers, specialized soldiers dedicated to protecting humanity, live.
The attack on Walker’s home, who is the protagonist of the story (if you selected female gender), is being perpetrated by General Cross. Cross, as expected, does not come alone. Along with him comes a horde of mutants that manages to destroy the base almost completely. While trying to survive the almost certain destruction, Walker has no choice but to take one of the suits of a fallen Ranger. This suit feeds on a special energy called Feltrite that gives you added resistance and superhuman abilities, as more strenght and agility.
Walker and a road of madness
Despite surviving the siege, Vineland is practically reduced to rubble and Cross flees victorious. Due to events I won’t mention in order to keep the story spoiler-free, Walker now has the responsibility to carry out a plan designed long ago by several members of a community that planned to destroy Cross and its mutants once and for all. Rage 2 is a linear story with certain missions and deviations that will make your adventure entertaining. While it is true that it is nothing revolutionary and the characters do not have enough depth to cause emotional attachment, it is a solid story. It is an easy to follow narrative that dully fulfills its function of giving purpose to your journey through the inhospitable yet colorful world of Rage 2.
Shoot, frantic action and neon pink everywhere, repeat.
The gameplay of Rage 2 is satisfactory at all times. id Software, developer of DOOM, was involved in this title and it shows. This translates into unbelievable fluent combat gameplay. That’s the strongest point of Rage 2. As you explore the terrain and find “Arks” that allow you to improve your suit, weapons and skills, the gameplay becomes crazy by the destruction that Walker can cause.
This is where you might have a problem with Rage 2 if you’re not one of those gamers who like to explore. From the beginning, what you have is your standard car, Phoenix, a handgun and an assault rifle. In theory this might be enough to complete the entire Rage 2 campaign without any problems. But if you do so, we assure you this is going to be a dull, boring journey. When you explore, you can discover new weapons and materials to modify them and your skills.
Ease of progression
The progression system is pretty straightforward to understand. The main characters in the story offer you contracts. Each contract is nothing more than a skill tree you can unlock by a point system. The interesting thing is that to earn points in each contract, you must carry out actions related to what that character requires. For example, if you unlock a road that had been taken by bandits, it gives you points for a certain contract, but discovering confidential intelligence in a certain area gives you points for another contract.
In general, this system suffers from the same problem as the rest of the game. It only works if you really like to explore. Rage 2 is easy and entertaining to explore, it´s not an open-world game that haunts you with too many options and mechanics. But, you should enjoy taking your time and exploring each of the places that mark your map to not only progress in the main story, but also enlarge your arsenal and give more meaning to the madness experienced in Rage 2.
Weapons, weapons and more weapons!
Rage 2 allows you to upgrade each of your weapons using Feltrite. After unlocking different optimization options for your weapons, you must have enough materials to activate them. This is a simple thing to understand but finding the materials to achieve it requires you to deeply explore your surroundings and fulfill the missions you find in your path.
In Rage 2 you can’t pick up every weapon your enemy drops. Similar to the system in DOOM, each weapon is pre-designed and in this game the variety and quantity do not disappoint. Each weapon feels unique and in the measure it evolves with the improvements you unlock, the gameplay becomes increasingly frantic and rewarding.The variety of weapons also does not disappoint, from the standard assault rifle to an incendiary revolver and a shotgun that can easily eliminate 5 or more enemies from a single shot, all these weapons are highly entertaining to use.
Navigating the world of Rage 2
Why walk if you can roll down the road in Phoenix or fly on Icarus? The entire map of Rage 2 is perfectly connected, and you can navigate through it easily with your vehicle. These vehicles can be modified with various weapons and fortified with shields. This mechanic is something that remains in the background as something optional honestly.
From the beginning, Phoenix offers you weapons that are strong enough to get out of most of the predicaments you might find yourself into. Although, on the road, these predicaments are not that many. Now and then, you will find yourself against heavily armed convoys on the road, giving place to a good car chasing madness. But this does not happen so often and if your car still does not have the necessary improvements to win one of these battles on the road or you simply want to avoid confrontation, this can easily be achieved. This takes out a little of the relevance and need to improve your vehicles.
Outside of that, it is entertaining to navigate all the various places that Rage 2 offers, either in your loyal Phoenix or on your flying vehicle Icarus. I rarely saw myself using the quick travel option because every time I went on the road some interesting point popped up on the map with a new location or some small event.
This is the most striking thing about Rage 2. Everything is exaggeratedly hyperbolic. The characters are extravagant and grotesque, with enemies sharing the same traits. From the choice of the color palette used to the dialogues that touch the irrational, everything in this world revolves around a particular kind of insanity. It is almost impossible not to think of Mad Max, but if its world was full of neon contrasts in the midst of what would be a post-apocalyptic desert. All this madness sometimes feels a little underused and seems to be there just to give the world around Walker its tone.
There are some characters that stand out in the game. The downside is that these characters can be only briefly enjoyed, since they have few moments to shine given to the pacing of the story. Not as many as we’d like, but Rage 2 has moments where you just think, “What the hell is going on here and what I’m doing with my life.” That shock value and those jaw-dropping moments caused by the insanity of the moment is where Rage 2 shines.
No HDR, no 4K, C’mon!
As you read, that’s correct. Rage 2 doesn’t have an HDR or 4K options for consoles. Our review version was for Xbox One X. I knew that the game was not going to be getting any higher resolutions on console to keep gameplay smooth. This is understandable to some degree, but I would rather have the option than the decision taken for me.
The game runs beautifully at 60 FPS all the time. This can’t be denied. Even when there are dozens of on-screen enemies loaded with explosions, texture details, and lighting effects, the framerate remains solid without dips or hitches. HDR is a miss though. If there’s one game I will always wonder how it looks with a good coat of HDR is this one. The color scheme and the game’s art direction was perfect for some HDR.
Sound on the other hand is great. No complaints at all here. The score chose to go along with the game always kick in at the right times, pumping even more adrenaline in an already action-packed title. Rage 2 has moments in which it wants to be mysterious and even eerie. In those moments the audio mixing is phenomenal, making you feel tense and overwhelmed in some instances.
Rage 2 is so demented sometimes, that you meet with things and scenarios you’re not used to finding in videogames. And no, I don’t mean excessive violence or creative ways to get rid of your enemies. For instance, during my playthrough, out of nowhere I found a merchant who has a store within what appears to be a hot air balloon. This seller gives you the opportunity to buy “cheats”, yes, as you hear it, cheats. These cheats range from being able to eliminate any enemy with just one shot, to two optional narrators who basically make fun of everything Walker does. You can activate these cheats from the game menu. Of course, if these cheats are activated (with the exception of the narrators) you will not be able to unlock any achievements within the game.
BETHESDA, Avalanche Studios, and id Software created one of the most insane and destructive postapocalyptic worlds I’ve ever seen. Rage 2 is not a narrative marvel, nor does it have the depth of an ocean as to its plot. But it has a vibrant, bizarre and extravagant world that despite not being perfect and feeling empty in the beginning, it’s worth exploring. Its story and especially its gameplay have enough to keep you entertained during around its 15 hours of the main campaign. You must explore, but every minute of exploration is worth once you are able to singlehandedly explode a whole mutant base. It is a pity that we can’t see more of certain characters, but what we are given in this entry is enough to recommend Rage 2. Walker’s adventure and the destruction of this postapocalyptic world are worth it!
Looking for more awesome games? Check out our A Plague Tale: Innocence review!