Rage 2 is just one day away and what it offers is exactly what we've seen thus far: A loud, colorful wasteland filled with unique dangers and run and gun fun. Though the latest Rage lacks the worldbuilding we were hoping to see from Bethesda, the smooth combat and addictive special abilities more than picked up the areas where the shooter drops off. To say Rage 2 is an experience would be a massive understatement.
The problem with the first Rage that many had was that it seemed to lack any real reason to jump into the game and play. It was enjoyable in small doses, but failed to enrapture fans for the long haul. That's where Just Cause studio Avalanche came into play: taking the design of the first game and making it even better.
When looking at combat specifically, Rage 2 is probably one of the best in terms of recent releases. The interchange between standard combat and weaponry is flawless and the special abilities made taking on this dangerous world enticing and rewarding. From its futuristic guns, to the BFG, there is a balanced variety of what players have to take on the open-world with. Plus, it made me favor a shotgun - which is usually not my go-to weapon type - so that was a pretty big win there because it challenges the player to enjoy playstyles outside of their usual comfort zone.
Where the combat and game mechanics are easily a 10/10, the worldbuilding could use some work. Though the trailers were all color vomit creation, the actual world itself in-game paled in comparison. This is especially true early on, but the good news is that 'drudge' definitely gets better with time, it just takes a bit of work to get to that point. My biggest advice for those scooping it up is to not judge it off of the first hour or so of gameplay, it absolutely picks up in the best way - though overall could definitely use a little polishing.
My personal playstyle is messy - I love going in, guns blazing, and just wreaking total mayhem. The powers in Rage 2 are absolutely perfect for this and made going in and crushing compounds so invigorating that made it easy to keep playing "just five more minutes" until it suddenly turned 5 AM.
We have our handy dandy abilities guide right here for how best to unlock them, which I recommend exploring these options as soon as you can. Ranger suits will be a player's best friend, a piece of tech that makes obliteration so much fun. ARKS are also intricate to the additional ways to pwn, including honing new abilities as well as access to more powerful weaponry.
My personal favorite is the Slam, which feels very Borderlands-esque in its functionality and evokes a sense of power that never really fades throughout time in the wasteland. No matter how upgraded my arsenal was, I always found myself jumping all in with a solid slam to let enemies know I have arrived.
One thing another writer mentioned which was a good point is that even though the game is available for PC, the mb/k settings were a bit awkward. For those playing on PC like we did, a compatible controller wouldn't go amiss, otherwise you're going to be in a constant loop of holding down F in addition to other key settings just for basic aspects of the game. There are also rebinding options as well for players to tailor a bit more to their own style, though it seemed much more adapted to controller input.
But How's the Story?
There is a method to the madness in Rage 2 with a narrative players can take on from start to finish. While some found it "hokey," I thought it was perfectly on brand for what the team marketed it as. It's not meant to be this big philosophical awakening, it's meant for you to go in there and blow shit up. The character interaction was sassy, it was funny, and it honored those sneak peeks we've gotten of the wasteland inhabitants through all of the trailers leading up to launch.
There are also numerous vehicles players can use to get around the open world, which you can learn more about here, which not only provides an easier way to get from point A to point B, but also a very enjoyable way of just mowing everything down in your path. That being said, not all of them were a hit - some were slow, laborious, and just not worth the effort trying to steer the world of Rage 2. Luckily, any vehicle found is added to your collection, so it's easier to find which ones suit your playstyle and which ones are left to collect dust.
Overall, Rage 2 was fun! It was campy, it was ridiculous at times, and it was absolutely on brand. I wish the studio would have invested a little more heavily in the world building aspect because there was a lot of potential, though the teams did reveal a Road Map that shows a lot more content on the way that could help make this feel a little more lustrous.
Rage 2 releases May 14th on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.