It was likely a surprise to most gamers to see an announcement trailer for a sequel to 2011’s RAGE drop on Bethesda’s Youtube channel in May 2018, given the mixed reception and rather forgettable nature of the original title, but the developers have certainly managed to generate some interest for the second installment. RAGE 2 has been given a splash of neon pink and yellow, a voiced protagonist, more lighting effects than a 3am rave, and as many guns as you could think of.
RAGE 2 is set a couple of decades after the first title with the protagonist, Walker, being the last living ranger on the planet (his colleagues having been wiped out by The Authority, the main opposing faction in the game). There are also various other human and mutant factions to fight and interact with during your time with the game. The lack of interesting story was a major criticism of RAGE, and there is little detail about the story of the second title thus far. Given the change in style, it will be interesting to see if the main story takes on some comedic elements, or tries to remain completely serious. Regardless, Bethesda has acknowledged the lackluster narrative of the first game in a self aware trailer, so hopefully things will be better this time around.
As well getting some new pink and yellow shades thrown in to the mix, the natural environment has had a splash of colour as well. Ecopods have terraformed the planet, in some cases creating areas of thick vegetation, giving much more variety to the environments than the first game. You will also have more opportunity to explore these areas, as the game is now a fully open-world environment, rather than a series of connected hubs to drive between. There are some activities other than the main story to keep you occupied, including the return of the races and Mutant Bash TV from the original title, as well as opportunities to undertake side missions given by your allies, or interact with convoys or bandit vehicles out in the wilds.
A big draw of the RAGE franchise has been it’s engaging combat and weapon variety, and it looks like the devs have upped the ante for RAGE 2’s arsenal. In addition to the usual FPS staples, we now have the Firestorm Revolver, which fires rounds that can be detonated moments later, and the Grav-Dart Launcher, which fires rounds into enemies which can then launch them in a direction of your choosing. We also have new nano-trite abilities, including a deployable shield, a ground and pound, a directional dash, and a few others. From the various trailers and gameplay videos that are available, the combat looks fantastic. Hopefully the enemy types will be varied enough to keep the combat interesting, and we see something similar to the excellent enemy AI we had in the original.
RAGE 2 certainly looks the part, and what we have seen demonstrates some awareness from the creators about what made the original good, as well as acknowledging its flaws and attempting to rectify them. To be a game of the year contender, it still has some expectations to meet with its story, and ensuring that enough PC players will be able to handle running the title effectively on their machines. RAGE did not have a particularly smooth launch, being hit with graphical issues, including major texture pop in. If these issues can be avoided this time around, and the final product matches the hype, RAGE 2 could be a major franchise comeback story.
RAGE 2 releases on PC, Xbox One and PS4 on May 14th 2019. System requirements can be found here.