Clocking in as one of the most expected games of Bethesda’s Showcase, having been revealed beforehand thanks to Walmart Canada, Rage 2 is an odd mix of the shooting of id Software with the open world expertise of Avalanche Studios. On paper, it sounds like something that could never work to capture the essence that makes id shooters so iconic. And yet, after spending around 20 minutes with a playable build of the game, I can safely say Rage 2 is better than the original in almost every way.
I will be honest, Rage was a game that for me was utterly forgettable. Not that there was anything bad about it, it just did not leave a lasting impression on me. Beyond the name and setting, Rage 2 could honestly be more of a reboot of the franchise than a true sequel. It takes some names and places players may remember from the first installment, but the look, style and gameplay are a beast all their very own.
Rage 2, in essence, has the personality and substance that was sorely lacking from Rage. The use of colour, tone, and gameplay make Rage 2 feel like a breath of fresh air in a sea of drab, bleak shooters. From the first minute of jumping into my gameplay demo, I was greeted by the style oozing from every pore of the game. The team at Avalanche Studios has made their mark on the franchise, and it is all the better for it.
I love a self-serious shooter, don’t get me wrong, but the premise of Rage was so nonsensical, and the light-hearted jabs help made the lunacy feel more at welcome. Sadly, I did not get to experience the open world of Rage 2 for the demo. It was delegated to a confined area, where I had to liberate a station of its new, less than friendly inhabitants. I was armed with an arsenal of guns, a series of powers, and of course, an overdrive meter for good measure.
Frantic gunplay is the name of the game for Rage 2. Taking down the countless attackers as they rush at you with all manner of weapons is a blast. Rage 2 even rewards killing in quick succession with the overdrive meter, giving you a powerful burst of energy, similar to berserk-mode in Doom. With this active, you can make short work of a room full of enemies, all with a colour to the mayhem.
The guns are all you would expect from an id Software game. You have your shotguns, pistols, rifles etc. And anyone who is a fan of the original Rage will be happy to see the Wingstick, a bladed boomerang that tears through enemies in a satisfying way. If you were expecting a Just Cause or Mad Max like experience, you will be disappointed. While the studio’s style is clearly at the core of the game it feels like Doom and id Software games of that ilk are a far bigger influence on everything in Rage 2—at least from the E3 demo.
Rage 2 manages to keep things interesting, giving you a slew of “Nanotrite” powers to make use of during combat. With skills such as a ground pound and a telekinetic push, I quickly mixed them into my combat regiment. The added bonus that they were on a quick recharge meant I never felt restricted with their use or felt that I needed to save them up for a special occasion. Rage 2, like the reimagined Doom, takes what people love about the genre while still keeping things fresh and interesting.
Running through countless gun touting grunts in stylishly brutal ways was a blast. Throughout the demo it was clear Rage 2 does not take itself too seriously. As I tore through enemies, the PA system of the facility would chime in from time to time just to compliment and welcome me to the area by saying “Good day, Mr. President”. It was a great touch of brevity, especially in the carnage-filled hallways, and never failed to bring a smile to my face as I played.
The only downside of the demo at E3 2018 was how short it ended up being. After around 20 minutes of tearing through countless bad guys, I finally reach the space and bring it down to the planet in a hail of dirt and metal. With it finally hitting the ground, the logo for the game splashes across the screen bringing a close to the demo. I was tempted to jump back in and give it another go, I was having that much fun. Alas, there were other journalists waiting, so I had to relinquish my seat.
Even from the short demo Rage 2 outlines how sequels should be made. Taking the core elements fans know while mixing enough personality to make it stand on its own. I am excited to see what Avalanche Studios and id Software have in store for fans, and I know I will be right there when it comes out to see how it all comes together. Bethesda has managed the impossible, they made me care about Rage, and I did not think that would ever be possible after the first game.
Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Brendan Frye’s work such as his interview with EA Motive about Star Wars: Battlefront II, and his in-depth look at the Equifax Hack!