Title: Rage 2
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Genre: Action-Adventure FPS
Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Version Tested: Xbox One
Official Site: https://bethesda.net/en/game/rage2
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Where to Buy it: Steam, Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store
In the 2003 book, Masters of Doom, id Software co-founder John Carmack is quoted as saying, “Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.” While this is certainly an arguable position (Carmack himself has backed away from it a little) keeping this philosophy in mind will ratchet your enjoyment of Rage 2 up to 11.
Rage 2 is the follow-up to the 2011 id Software game Rage. I personally skipped the 2011 game because I’d heard it was nothing but a knockoff of Borderlands and Doom. And, to be honest, that’s not far off from the truth. The cheeky humor, bright color pallet, and open world are straight out of the Borderlands series. The character, weapons, and gameplay (and ultra-violence) could be mistaken for the upcoming Doom Eternal. But that description also only scratches the surface of what is a super fun, rich, and truly expansive experience.
The Rage games take place on an Earth that was struck by the asteroid 99942 Apophis (which some of our older readers may remember from the news of the mid-aughts). The survivors of the asteroid strike have congealed into Mad Max style settlements and general disarray. A fascist organization known as “The Authority” is attempting to unite and rule this new world with an iron fist. If you put a gun to my head, I could not expand on the plot any further than that. And that’s ok! Wish fulfillment hardly needs a plot. I doubt there are many people who played GTA 5 who can recall the plot of that game (something about mobsters doing yoga?).
One of the best things Rage 2 has going for it is its open world (based in Just Cause 3’s Avalanche Open World Engine). I have played over 12 hours and I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game. Far Cry 5 had an impressive open world with lots to do, but Rage 2 is somehow even denser with activities and missions. Whether you’re clearing out a mutant nest, searching for Arks, or engaging in a race with a random stranger, there’s always something to do in this game.
All of this is not to say the game is flawless. The biggest issue I have with Rage 2 is what seems like a minor technical issue: it’s menu interface. In a word, it’s laggy. I’m not a game developer or coder, but I cannot imagine why the menu/inventory interface in an offline single player game should have lag. It doesn’t include any particularly flashy animations. It’s, all in all, a very standard menu interface for this type of game. Yet for some reason switching between, say, your mission log and weapon inventory can involve lag time up to a couple of seconds. I honestly feel like an entitled brat just writing that sentence, but that time adds up when you take into account that you are constantly using the menu to check your map and mission progress and upgrade your player and weapons. And again, why is there any lag in a single player game?
This brings me to my next issue that, honestly, I’m on the fence about; this is a single-player-only game. No deathmatch, no racing, no coop (online or couch). Whether or not to include multiplayer has been a tough question in recent years. On the one hand, the single player allows the player to progress at their own pace, pause at leisure, and play offline. On the other, multiplayer is rad. It allows friends to play together and brings an element of unpredictability and competition that playing against an AI simply cannot match.
I used to want everything to be multiplayer, but recently I’ve fallen more into the camp of single player games. This undoubtedly has a lot to do with my erratic work schedule and family obligations. I can barely play with friends because of scheduling conflicts and often need to pause for diaper changes (giving, not receiving). So this is really a matter of personal preference. But it is a little disappointing to see the wasted potential of the wonderful elements of Rage 2 that could’ve been spun out into really fun and interesting multiplayer scenarios. But, then again, the development of those elements would’ve taken resources away from the great game we got.
Another element I’m on the fence about with Rage 2 is the non-stop cheekiness. This was also an issue I had with the second Borderlands. A little humor is fine. A lot of humor is fine. But constant winking can get exhausting, especially in a world that expects you to live in it for the course of months or years.
Many elements of Rage 2 feel like they were written by the creators of Cards Against Humanity, for better or worse. In one town, I witnessed a fight between two dandies over who would have to change their outfit. One was named “Flitwick Mcdimbledick”. Another NPC I came across was named “Placentadrip”. Out in the wastelands, one can pick up junk to sell to traders for cash. While the items go into your inventory as “Junk”, when viewed in the world they often have names like “Bethesda Ceramic Mug” and “A Box of Individually Half-eaten Cookies”. It’s at turns hilarious and groan-worthy. This, again, is a matter of personal preference. So buyer beware.
Verdict: All in all, Rage 2 is expansive, customizable, and fun. It’s a world I can’t wait to get back to.
Have you played Rage or Rage 2? What’s your take? Would you sacrifice some of the single-player elements for a multiplayer option? Tell us below in the comments!
- Nonstop action
- Huge open world
- Beautiful scenery and pallet
- Interactive vehicles
- Lack of multiplayer
- Can be cringe-worthy
Billy is a freelance writer living in Indianapolis with his dog, BoJack. He enjoys TED talks, video games, sunny days, football, and the salty tears of his enemies.