Rage 2 Preview – It’s Not Your Typical Open-World Shooter

For me, open-world shooters, and even open-world games are always exciting to explore and play at first. With most open-world shooters, there are usually several missions to complete, hordes of enemies to take down, and plenty of abilities, skills, weapons, items, and pieces of equipment to use and acquire — which all sounds exciting, right? In my experience, even though there was quite a bit out there, I often found that the worlds I was exploring in these types of games just felt so shallow, unfocused, and aimless. After playing the open-world shooter, Rage 2, from developers id Software and Avalanche Studios and publisher Bethesda, for about two hours at a recent id Software press event in San Francisco, I can tell you that Rage 2 is not like other open-world shooters. Rage 2 is shaping up to be the structured but open-world shooter I’ve been looking for, and I seriously can’t wait to play more of it.

The Rage 2 demo opened up with the lead character and heavily-armed ranger, Walker, who’s in the corrupted city of Wellspring to chat with the city’s mayor, Lossum Hagar. Walker gets to the mayor’s tower, but things go awry as right after a security guard tells Walker that he can’t meet with the mayor, a slew of thugs break in and start causing a ruckus. Right then and there, Walker quickly has to start taking down baddies to survive and make his way to the mayor’s office. Once in the mayor’s office, Walker goes over who exactly is Lossum Hagar, gets intel on how Klegg Clayton, a scumbag rich guy, has been causing some problems with Walker and Lossum’s “Dagger Project”, and Walker is told to uncover details on Klegg. The problem is with Klegg, though, is that Walker is basically a “nobody” and in order to be in the presence of Klegg, Walker needs to prove that he’s a “champ” by winning Mutant Bash TV, a mutant killing gameshow, and a car derby. With two main missions to complete, the vast and thrilling open-world, mission-filled gameplay of Rage 2 truly began.

Before I go deep into gameplay and the rest of the demo, I want to say how I loved the opening of the Rage 2 demo I played. Briefly exploring the corrupted city Wellspring was a treat because the city itself burst with personality — it was so full of life. As I made my way through the city, multiple conversations were happening around me, I could interact with various odd city folk, and every building was a sight to see as they shined with neon lights that captured my attention (kinda like how a fly is mesmerized by bright light bug zappers).

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What also piqued my interest is that just like how previous id Software shooters like DOOM (2016) didn’t begin with a handholding introduction, I loved how the Rage 2 demo started with me going right into an action-packed, blood-splattering, fast-paced battle for survival. In only after a few minutes of being introduced to Walker and Wellspring, it was just me, as Walker with an arsenal of guns and abilities, against a horde of ruthless thugs — and it was such a badass, straight-out-of-an-action-movie moment. The remainder of the demo continued to give me all the badass feels you’d get from playing any id Software game.

From taking on the main missions to going off the beaten path to complete side missions, the Rage 2 demo was a blast to play since it basically was like playing in a bloody, chaotic playground because of its fast-and-furious, adrenaline-pumping combat and vast, seamless open-world exploration gameplay. No matter which enemies I was up against, whether it was a massive, rocket launcher wielding mutant or a horde of grunt-type enemies, combat constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. Combat had me juggling between firing a primary weapon, throwing my handy-dandy wingstick (I’ll explain what this is in a bit), unleashing devastating, superhero-like abilities, and keeping track of and using helpful items.  The primary weapons in my arsenal seemed like they weren’t anything special at first glance — I had a trusty pistol, an automatic assault rifle, and a powerful shotgun — however, they had a few kinks to them that made them really unique. For instance, the pistol had explosive bullets that could stick onto enemies and could be exploded with just a press of a button.

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Along with main weapons like the pistol, there was the deadly boomerang-like wingstick that really came in handy when I had to quickly clear out enemies in an instant. It has the power to lock onto enemies, slice them up all nicely, and then make its way right back to you. If you’re thinking that sounds epic, trust me, it is. There were also other sub-weapons to utilize, like explosive grenades, but they didn’t wow me as much as the wingstick.

To go along with all the weapons in my arsenal, there were abilities, called Nanontrite abilities. One of these abilities is the “Vortex” ability that lets you unleash a dark hole ball that sucks in enemies and then has them slowly soar about in the air, which lets you easily shoot enemies to bits. Another ability is the “Slam” ability that’s an epic ground pound that can clear out a group of enemies in a flash. Using all the Nanontrite abilities took me a bit to get used to, but once I got the hang of them, they were all fun to use. Masterfully pairing up these abilities with expert gunplay definitely led to some wicked combos, and also saved my noob-shooter-bum plenty of times. When the going gets tough, and when you kill enough enemies, there’s also the ultimate ability, “Overdrive”, which has you become an over-powered powerhouse as every attack you unleash gets stronger and you regenerate health.

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Even with all of these weapons and abilities of destruction, though, enemies did not go down without a fight in the demo — and this was especially the case during the Mutant Bash TV mission which had me fight wave after wave of enemies that progressively got more difficult in the Mutant Bash arena. All the enemies I came across didn’t just stand there and be bullet sponges, they constantly moved about, and they even snuck up on me every now and then. I admit I died about three or four times in the arena — so I can imagine that Rage 2 is going to be pretty tough.

Aside from intense combat, the Rage 2 demo also let me explore the game’s vast and fun wasteland. There was never a dull moment exploring Rage 2’s world as there was constantly something that caught my attention. In just the two hour demo, here’s just a little bit of what I experienced:

  • I ran into a massive, fully-armed, and dangerous vehicle convoy — that had fast-and-furious bikes to even cars with turrets — that wanted me dead. After quickly going right behind the convoy, I was able to put a stop to it by shooting it down with a slew of missiles.
  • Got a nice reward after helping a helpless, alone guy take down a group of menacing bandits.
  • Raced in a car derby and got in first place. Shortly after, while driving around, a driver challenged me to pick-up race, so I accepted, and I won, of course. Side note: Driving did feel a little stiff and took some time to get used to, however.
  • Did some bounty hunting and took down mighty enemies.  
  • Soared across the world with a futuristic, hovering gyrocopter and got to see just how massive Rage 2 is (shoutout to Anne Lewis, Global Content Manager at Bethesda, that made that happen!).

I never knew what to expect while playing the demo, and that’s what made Rage 2’s open-world so enjoyable to explore.

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As soon as I was thrown into Rage 2, I not only noticed that it was chock-full of things for me to discover and do, but also how oddly yet beautifully colorful it was. Every area in the demo had a mix of colors that mushed so well together. Instead of the bleak, barren, and brown deserts in id Software’s first Rage title and in Avalanche Studios’ flawed-but-great gem, Mad Max, Rage 2 has lush, emerald green plant life, a wide array of cities like the neon-lit city of Wellspring, magnificent mountains, and so much more that make it a joy to explore. Rage 2’s world isn’t what you’d expect from a post-apocalyptic game as it’s sprawling, captivating, and imaginative — and according to the developer, you can discover it all right in the beginning of the game.

From what I played, I absolutely had a great time with Rage 2. After playing the demo for it, my fears of Rage 2 being just another empty, soulless open-world game have been completely washed away. My only concern is that Rage 2 won’t have an engaging story. However, it definitely seems like with id Software’s furious and fun gunplay expertise and Avalanche Studios’ vast open-world experience that Rage 2 will end up being a must play open-world shooter.

Rage 2 launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on May 14, 2019.


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Brad Crespo

Editor-in-Chief - On a quest to play as many new games as possible while trying to finish an endless backlog.