You could be forgiven for not being able to remember id software’s post-apocalyptic FPS from 2011. The game came and went without a great deal of fanfare, and whilst it was considered a competent and enjoyable shooter, RAGE’s forgettable nature meant it was devoid of a fan-base clamouring for a sequel. It was somewhat surprising, then, to see an announcement video for RAGE 2 crop up on Bethesda’s YouTube channel in May, almost 7 year’s after its predecessor’s release.
The announcement trailer is loud, colourful and shouty, something akin to a cross between Borderlands and Mad Max. This will be of particular interest to those who played the original as, although the first game was also set in a post-apocalyptic environment, it had a much more subdued overall tone. This was one of RAGE’s criticisms, but it seems like either Bethesda and id are trying to learn from their feedback, or are taking a risk by mixing things up with a more vibrant game setting. Regardless of the reason, bringing more character to the sequel could go a long way to making the game more interesting to play and more likely to catch the eye of potential buyers who missed the original.
We got to see the first gameplay trailer at E3, from which we can glean a few details. The game’s protagonist is called Walker, but more importantly, and unlike the first game’s protagonist, he has a voice. Walker talks back and forth over radio to another character, and in a situation where he acquires a new ability, shows some verbal shock when he first uses it. The trailer also shows off some terrain, which seems to be more varied than the original game, including some Jungle and swampy areas, changes which should help create a more interesting overall world. Where the original game excelled was its combat. A great variety of weapon options were available, and weapons had alternative ammo types that changed their function. For example, a shotgun could be loaded with pop rockets to change it into a small grenade launcher. We get to see a few weapons types in the trailer including Wingsticks, the boomerang-like blades that were great for decapitating enemies make a return, and we also see some kind of gravity grenade that launches and suspends enemies in mid-air.
We also get to see a few nanotrite powers. There appears to be a dash ability that allows Walker to move short distances instantaneously, as well as a ground pound attack. We also see our protagonist acquire the Shatter ability as part of a mission, which appears to be a charge attack that sends the unfortunate recipient flying backwards. It’s nice to see some new additions being added on to what was already a fun and fluid combat system. What we don’t have an example of is how the AI of the enemies will work, which was considered one of the best features of RAGE. Different enemy types would adopt different methods of fighting you, and would make use of blind firing, slides, climbing to different levels and jumping off terrain to make themselves harder to hit. In the trailer the enemies don’t seem to show much of this off, and many of the enemies Walker comes up against have a tendency to run into open ground right in front of him, or cross into his line of fire from off screen. The trailer contains pre-alpha footage, and is perhaps designed more to show off your combat options and the game’s tone and pace rather than the subtleties of the AI, but here’s hoping that id have not forgotten how significant the AI was to making RAGE’s combat so much fun.
Although its still early days in terms of the information we have, RAGE 2 could end up being a surprise hit of a game that nobody was really asking for. Both the announcement and gameplay trailers seem to demonstrate the developers building on the strong points of the last game whilst also identifying the problem areas and making changes, such as the world design and main character. If id can create a story worth investing in, and can properly execute the features they have shown off in both their trailers, RAGE 2 could be a fantastic singleplayer FPS for 2019.
RAGE 2 releases in 2019 for PC, Xbox One and PS4