True story: I was just about to start the original Rage on the Xbox One X (yay for backwards compatibility) when Rage 2 came out. As in right the day before. I was aware Rage 2 was coming, I just didn’t have the time to play the original.
Which is a shame.
Luckily, Rage 2 made me want to play the original even more! So yay!
What is Rage 2?
Rage 2 is a first person shooter set in a desolate open world. It’s developed by Avalanche Software (the guys behind the Just Cause games), with assistance from id Software (the Doom guys) and released by Bethesda Softworks.
You’ll explore the wasteland of Rage 2 via a host of cobbled together vehicles, all of them looking straight out of Mad Max. You also get your own personal vehicle called the Phoenix (an awesome armored car), which you can upgrade with new weapons and abilities as you progress.
Unlike some open world games, Rage lets you go out into its world as soon as the prologue’s done. No closing off parts of the maps or artificially limiting your progress here.
Rage 2 uses Avalanche’s Apex engine, which was last seen in Just Cause 4. On consoles, Just Cause 4 ran decently, but with issues like object draw distance, shadows and an inconsistent frame rate.
The good news?
The frame rate issue’s been fixed, the draw distance is much better (owing to the lack of vegetation in most areas) though the cascading rendering of shadows is still very much an issue.
On the enhanced consoles, Rage 2 runs at a silky smooth 60FPS. Playing it on an Xbox One X, it handles like a dream. Normal consoles are downgraded to 30FPS, with some hitches along the way. If you can, play it on the enhanced systems.
Rage 2 is also one of the games with the most satisfying gunplay of the year. There’s a certainly weighty feeling to the guns (particularly the automatic weapons) that very few other games have managed to successfully capture.
Doom did, Gears of War did, Halo did.
Rage 2 does. Here’s a slice of gameplay footage I captured.
Firing automatic weapons makes you feel like a total badass as the controller rumbles in tune with the gun, bullets shooting off enemy armor and then the sweet release; a head shot that pops the noggin of the baddie like an overripe pimple!
Guns are sadly a bit on the tame side, despite the post apocalyptic settings. Since your character’s weaponry are mainly ARK relics, they’re a bit out of place with their shiny looks compared cobbled together look of the rest of the game. It’s a bit of a letdown too that the guns aren’t more eclectic in their function, despite most of them having a different secondary function.
For example, the incendiary pistol fires a normal shot that embeds itself in the enemy with the primary fire. Trigger its secondary function and that bullet explodes, setting the enemy on fire.
Mmmm mmmm! Toasty!
It is very, VERY satisfying indeed and Rage 2’s frenetic run and gun style feels eerily reminiscent of Doom and Bulletstorm, the sorely underappreciated shooter by People Can Fly.
Like in those games, you’re rarely static.
Whether it’s dashing through a hailstorm of tracer rounds, meleeing back thrown grenades, throwing your wingstick (think bladed boomerang) to kill enemies or double jumping off ledges to smash down in the middle of your enemies; Rage 2 makes you feel like a superhero; a crazy combination of the Punisher and Iron Fist.
That’s great because Rage 2 also gives you an open playground to let loose all of that pent up aggression and show off your powers, with a story of vengeance to back it up.
The Authority (the bad guys from the original), led by a cyborg General Cross, is back and they’ve decimated your home, killed your foster aunt/ sergeant and promised to do the same to everybody in the land unless they’re stopped.
It’s a simple plot, cliched as hell, but it gets the job done. What other reason do you need to go out into the world and bash some skulls in?
Sadly, there are only a handful of story missions to play through (and all of them aren’t that lengthy), which means you can be done with the game in a couple of hours if you don’t do the optional bits.
The world of Rage 2 isn’t as big as you’ve seen in some games, but it does take awhile to get around in, especially in the early going. Once you’ve unlocked the Icarus (a small, unarmored flying machine), it’s much faster and easier to navigate the terrain.
Completion of the various activities nets you different rewards, all of which you’ll need to upgrade your vehicles, weapons, character or powers. There’s a TON of stuff to upgrade so you’ll definitely want to do as much optional objectives as you can.
Nearly every activity location comes with a secondary objective; nabbing all the collectibles there. You’ll sometimes need to find Storage Containers, Data pads or even ARK crates. Find them all and the location is marked as complete and you get a special bonus.
The open world’s filled with stuff to do, from wrecking bandit camps, to delving into mutant lairs to scouring the landscape for ARKs so you’re rarely far from an optional objective to try.
Still, they do pretty much boil down to the same basic thing; kill everything to get to your objective. No matter if you need to destroy mutant eggs, clear out a mutant den. eradicate a bandit camp, or even access an ARK, all of them require you to murder everything in sight.
I’m not complaining (since the gunplay is so damn entertaining) but for those who want depth in your gameplay, Rage 2 isn’t. It’s unashamedly repetitive and revels in it.
However (you know it was coming), in between the optional content, there’s little to do. Traveling the wasteland is boring. There are randomly scattered pockets of enemies fighting among themselves here and there but the world is largely void of life and emergent gameplay that made games like Red Dead Redemption or the Witcher 3 so fun to play.
Buildings scattered around the landscape are just there for show; you can’t even enter most of them. There’s also very little cause to explore those that are accessible outside of the optional locations; they’re just filled with ammo and cash, things you can already get elsewhere.
The loneliness of the wasteland might seem authentic, but it makes for a needlessly tedious (and boring) journey to get from one point to another in the game.
After all, since there’s noting much to do in between the game’s optional locations, what point is there to explore off the beaten track? You might as well make a beeline for the secondary objectives instead of wasting time running around the wasteland with zero rewards.
Rage 2 also should be ashamed about it’s the crashing. Not the car crashes or other spectacular vehicular impacts that abound in the game. I’m talking about the game itself freezing up and crashing.
I’m thinking the title is referring to all the freezes and crashes I’ve had to endure. The worst part about it is that they seem to be random. I’ve never been able to replicate them, they just hit you when you least expect it. It could be an hour into the game, it could be on hour five.
The end result is the game freezing and kicking you back to the Xbox dashboard. I’ve tried restarting my Xbox One X, even doing a hard reset by turning off the power completely, but the crashing still occurs randomly. I REALLY hope Bethesda finds out the issue and patches this out real quick.
Despite the crashing issues, the game does have a silky smooth framerate on the Xbox One X. It’s not a total lock at 60FPS, but it feels like it rarely drops below that, and even then its barely perceptible.
How it looks.
One of the best parts of the game is the visual feedback you get from all the shooting. Tracer rounds blaze whizz by your head, rockets whoosh and spiral towards you and grenades are chucked with abandon by bandits out for your blood. Battles are rarely tame affairs in Rage 2.
Still, arguably the best part is that armor pieces are destructible.
You can literally shoot them to pieces with sustained fire, which is a joy to behold. Whittling down an armored baddie to his skivvies before shooting him in the head is very much a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s definitely a plus that damage detailing is pretty damn good (especially for headshots)
I’d have loved more enemy variety (especially more mutant types or wasteland critters) but that’s hopefully something that will be addressed in the upcoming content additions detailed in the roadmap.
The title does suffer a bit from problems with its draw distance and object pop-in but it’s surprisingly bearable. It’s nowhere near as bad as Avalanche Software’s last open world game, Just Cause 4, which is a pleasant surprise.
The bottom line.
Rage 2 is definitely a game that’s easy to recommend to pretty much anybody who’s a fan of action. The gunplay is incredibly solid and satisfying and there’s a ton of activities to do and upgrades to aim for. However, the drawback is the open world in between the action is boring and lackluster.
It’s pretty much devoid of life and even when it isn’t, there’s little incentive to even explore because there’s nothing to be gained from it. It doesn’t help that there’s only a handful of main story missions either.
Apart from that nitpick, Rage 2 is great example of how to improve from the original, which is great for both returning fans and curious newcomers.
Great gunplay with tons to do but the open world is boring and needs more life and excitement to it.
– Excellent gunplay.
– Tons of stuff to do.
– Great visuals.
– Boring open world.
– Needs more enemy variety.