Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: June 6, 2019
Rage 2 is an open-world first-person shooter available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. The first Rage was developed specifically by id Software; releasing on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in October 2011. However, Rage 2 has the rare distinction of being co-developed by one of the world’s leading development teams in their respective fields with id Software developing the first-person shooter gameplay and Just Cause creator and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios developing the open-world environments. Can id Software and Avalanche Studios’ collaboration successfully fulfill the potential of the original Rage?
The story is set decades after the original Rage; revolving around an asteroid hitting Earth instigating a barren post-apocalyptic wasteland. The Authority wanted to create what they believed would be a stronger population in the form of a part human part creature part robotic lifeform; however humans that went underground prior to the time of the asteroid’s impact rose to the planet’s surface sooner than the Authority anticipated. Humans defeated the Authority, then human factions began battling against each other, but the Authority deliberately allowed humans to believe that they were defeated, while they had mostly went underground to plan and prepare for an onslaught to defeat humans and making the Authority a new dominant species on Earth.
Main mission objectives involve finding and talking to a major allied character that provides a set of individual step-by-step mission objectives that are all relevant to progressing the story along such as John Marshall situated in an area called Gunbarrel wanting you to defeat the mutants in the sewers before moving onto the next main mission objective he has for your character. Elsewhere, Loosum Hagar in Wellspring and Doctor Anton Kvasir in Sekreto Wetlands also have a range of main mission objectives. There is a strong quantity and diversity of secondary mission objectives including missions that become apparent as you explore the wastelands or starting a conversation with a civilised character or ally such as destroying a refuelling depot for bandits; bounties; destroying bandit dens, sentry turrets and Crusher nests; and much more besides. A further form of secondary objectives are referred to as projects that involve talking to a specific ally and gathering enough project points from completing locations and activities to create it. The first project is courtesy of Lily who provides your character with their first combat vehicle named the Phoenix, while the following project can only be unlocked after creating the previous project.
Character design is diverse as the player can choose to play the entire story campaign as a male or female character, while there is a range of male and female characters that your character meets and talks to throughout your journey that become your allies. A character ability referred to as overdrive that allows for a temporary increase in damage to be inflicted upon enemies, although overdrive has to be charged by quickly defeating multiple enemies. Collecting feltrite cells from defeated enemies and looting from storage containers regenerates health, although there is only a limited period of time to collect them before they dissolve after defeating an enemy. Upgrading your character is possible through Arks that are found throughout environments that are capable of containing Ark weapons or Nanotrite abilities via placing your character’s arm into a Nanotrite Injector followed by beginning a tutorial in order to learn a new ability such as dashing a short distance to avoid incoming enemies, anti-grav jumping to perform double jumps and much more besides. Meanwhile, Nanotrite abilities themselves can be gradually upgraded with perks courtesy of Nanotrite boosters. Crafting is also a significant gameplay element as numerous resources can be utilised to craft gadgets from blueprints within your inventory that can be purchased in a vendor’s shop.
When driving around the wastelands; you can attract the attention of a nearby vendor by honking your vehicle’s horn. When the vendor has parked their vehicle; he will appear at the rear of his vehicle resulting in being able to browse a multitude of upgrades for purchase such as upgrade schematics for health, overdrive and ability infusions; wingstick and turret drone upgrade schematics; Nanotrite boosters; auto parts; Ark Tek cores; and Neuronic interface, alongside ammo and more besides. However, anything within your character’s inventory can be sold for as varied prices as what you can purchase such as ammo, wingsticks, infusions, components, wasteland junk and more besides, although if you have multiple quantities of the same item, then you could retain a couple or so of them while making a profit towards reinvesting your in-game currency into purchasing important items for your character’s progression.
Enemy design is as diverse as the ally character design, but is also as importantly more varied than the enemy design seen in Rage 2’s prequel with the most ruthless and foreboding enemy is General Cross as he is the leader of the enemy species named the Authority. Enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes including smaller enemies that are around the size of your character from various factions that have differing weaponry, abilities and armour with some enemies even using cloaking technology to be partially invisible during battles, while giant enemies include hulking monsters named Crushers, alongside sentry turrets and much more besides.
Your character starts out with only a sidewinder pistol and a single wingstick, although not before too long; your character picks up a ranger assault rifle. Elsewhere, there is a combat shotgun, rocket launcher, gravity dart launcher, firestorm revolver, hyper-cannon and charged pulse cannon that each has four unique attributes including damage, fire rate handling and more besides, alongside varying quantities of magazine size and the ability to find and equip skins to customise the look of your weapons. Weapon core mods allows weapon upgrades to be purchased from the weapons menu in harmony with utilising feltrite to unlock a weapon upgrade level, although the quantity of feltrite gradually increases per upgrade level such as 250 feltrite to unlock weapon upgrade level 2, 500 feltrite required for unlocking the third weapon upgrade level and so on. The second level of weapon upgrades includes an expanded magazine capacity and an increased reload speed, while the third weapon upgrade level automatically reloads when a weapon is holstered for 10 seconds, alongside further upgrades within the fourth and fifth weapon upgrade levels. However, multiple weapon core mods are required for later weapon upgrades such as two weapon core mods being needed for the holstered reload weapon upgrade within the third weapon upgrade level.
Environment design is incredible as despite its massive size; Rage 2’s open-world environments always have something to explore within the wastelands such as buildings, structures or entire bases from different factions, alongside participation in an on-foot or vehicular battle, while there are also balloons that hold supply crates that can be brought down and gathered. Storage containers are found throughout the wastelands that hold ammo feltrite cells and more besides that combines with balloon supply crates to essentially place emphasis on looting gameplay mechanics.
Given how vast in scale the environments really are; vehicular exploration is crucial to be quite responsive and fun to drive. Not only does vehicular exploration feel reminiscent of Avalanche Studios’ Mad Max, but so does the vehicular combat and that is a huge positive for Rage 2. There are 16 vehicles in total including armoured cars that are mostly equipped with weapons, although some are not; supercharged bikes; a gyrocopter aerial exploration vehicle; and much more besides. Vehicle upgrades involve 10 upgrades per vehicle with two upgrades already applied to the vehicle such as weapons; unleashing an energy wave to overcome nearby energy shields to expose enemy weaknesses; reinforced chassis to increase the quantity of damage your vehicle can withstand; an ejector seat to be able to eject from the vehicles; and more besides. However, you need to have found and driven it to a particular location in order to unlock the vehicle from the vehicle selection menu before being able to upgrade the vehicle, although differing quantities of auto parts are also required per vehicle upgrade.
Photo mode available from the pause menu allows you to observe the closer details of the surrounding environments. Photo mode is an excellent feature; allowing the camera to be positioned with freedom, although your character is not included in the picture. Photo mode includes extensive customisation of images such as panning; camera height; field of view; fisheye lens; time of day in increments of 15 minutes; blur intensity; red, green or blue colour tints; intensity; sepia filter; vignette, size and intensity; 28 frame designs and the opacity of the frame; a couple of overlays and their opacity; and over 70 stickers and their opacity, positioning, rotation and size. What makes the photo mode work so well is that it provides players with the opportunity of producing customisable action shots in a fully immersive environment that works in perfect harmony with the PS4’s share feature.
Rage 2’s downloadable content comprises of content within the Deluxe Edition including an expansion campaign titled Rise of the Ghosts released in summer 2019, alongside a Doom BFG weapon, wasteland wizard cheats, battle standard and a progress booster that retails at $79.99. Meanwhile, a Collector’s Edition is also available at retail including all content from the Deluxe Edition, alongside a Ruckus the Crusher model that talks and sings, an exclusive poster and a steelbook, albeit for a price of $119.99.
It would have been incredible to experience some form of id Software FPS on Vita; even if it was a port of Doom Classic Collection, although it is safe to assume that it will never happen, but there is at least remote play for Rage 2 as a consolation. Rage 2’s remote play performance is good as it produces the quality of graphics, audio and general performance from the PS4 version. Remote play control optimisations include firing and aiming being remapped to the top right and left of the touch screen respectively, while sprinting is mapped to the bottom left of the touch screen and performing melee attacks is moved to the bottom right of the touch screen. However, it would have been far more ideal if the remote play control scheme would have utilised R and L for firing and aiming respectively with the rest of the remote play; as aiming by holding the top left of the touch screen while simultaneously moving with the left analogue stick to avoid incoming enemies is quite awkward to the point of reducing the quality of the remote play experience, but firing without aiming is more comfortable.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller, especially considering that there are four separate components to the control scheme during diverse sections of gameplay. The default on ground control scheme consists of pressing R2 to fire weaponry; holding L2 to aim; pressing R1 to use support item; holding L1 to use Nanotrite Focus; pressing triangle to change weapon; holding triangle to view the weapon wheel; pressing square to reload or interact with an object; pressing X to jump; pressing O to crouch; pressing up, right or left on the d-pad to use health, overdrive or ability infusion respectively; pressing down on the d-pad to change support item; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; holding L3 to sprint; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to look around; pressing R3 to perform a melee; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; pressing the options button to display the pause menu; and tapping the touch pad to display mission objectives, inventory, projects, vehicles and more besides. The abilities control scheme consists of pressing R1 to use overdrive; holding L1 to use Nanotrite Focus; tapping L1 to dash; pressing X to slam; pressing square to shatter; pressing O to use a barrier; and pressing triangle to use a vortex. The default land vehicle control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; holding L2 to reverse; pressing L1 to fire a weapon; pressing R1 to change weapon; holding R1 to view the weapon wheel; holding X to boost; pressing O to apply the handbrake; holding triangle to perform a side ram; pressing square to exit the vehicle; pressing up on the d-pad to switch camera angle; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer; pressing L3 to beep the horn; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to pan the camera; and pressing R3 to centre the camera. Meanwhile, the air vehicle mostly retains the default land vehicle control scheme, although accelerating and braking has been changed to raising and lowering the trajectory of the air vehicle when holding R2 or L2 respectively, while the rest of the control scheme remains identical other than there being no weaponry to fire, no boost, handbrake and side ram in comparison between air vehicles and land vehicles. On ground and land vehicle control schemes have alternative control schemes with there being three unique control scheme alternatives in comparison to the default on ground control scheme and two alternatives for land vehicles that should guarantee that every player finds their preferred control schemes, while there are further customisable elements such as sensitivity adjustments for horizontal and vertical rotation and aiming. There is no light bar implementation that could have provided an alternative HUD by displaying tones of colours related to your character’s health or ammunition. Vibration occurs during many scenarios including performing abilities such as dashing and anti-gravity jumping, throwing wingsticks, firing weaponry and enemies hitting your character.
Rage 2 has graphically come a long way since the id Tech 5 powered Rage released in October 2011 on the previous generation, although Rage 2 is surprisingly actually powered by Avalanche Studios’ custom built graphics engine rather than the amazing latest iteration of id Software’s id Tech engine. Avalanche Studios’ Apex graphics engine is purpose built for open-world environments and that is clear to see as the wastelands can be seen for miles into the distance in every direction, while buildings, structures and bases produce a wide ranging colour palette. Environments are brought to life with a realistic day-night cycle, alongside stunning lighting, shadows, lens flare, swaying foliage, particle effects and surface material effects such as rust, dirt and graffiti. Character and enemy animations and vehicle animations are excellent as they move as anticipated when ally characters are talking to your character, enemies are battling and vehicles are being driven at quite a fast pace.
Rage 2’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the title menu, main menu, settings menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on the wastelands, while simultaneously showcasing a rather obscure colour palette for overlaid menus such as a mixture of bright pink and purple for title logos and highlighting the currently selected menu option.
Rage 2 has a very talented voice-over cast that all portray their respective characters to a high standard in harmony with a well written script. Sam Riegel voices the lead male character Walker and other characters such as the Authority Titan and Shrouded Assault having previously voiced characters in previous Bethesda releases including Fallout 76 and Fallout 4 as well as Spider-Man and Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 and various characters in Batman Arkham games, while Amanda Celine Miller voices the lead female character Walker having also voiced Junko Enoshima and Toko Fukawa in Danganronpa V3 and Boruto Uzumaki in the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations TV series. Meanwhile, Jason Spisak voices Klegg having previously voiced Chumbucket in Mad Max, while Carla Tassara voices Lily, MBTV worker and Shrouded Assault having previously voiced various characters in Fallout 4, Just Cause 4 and Wolfenstein: The New Order and Andrew W.K. voices Ruckus having also voiced a character in Fallout 4, alongside a cast of equally talented voice-over artists.
Sound effects include walking or sprinting, jumping, using Nanotrite abilities such as dashing or anti-gravity jumping and more abilities, vehicle engines when accelerating, firing at enemies and enemies retaliating and more besides. Rage 2’s engaging sci-fi stylised rock soundtrack was composed by Andreas Kinger (Gauntlet), Johan Nilsson (Renegade Ops) and Eirik Roland (Robot and the Whale) with additional music by Jukka Rintamaki (Battlefield 3 and 4). There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced Nanotrite ability related sound effects and voice-overs.
The trophy list includes 44 trophies with 24 bronze trophies, 17 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include The Enemy of My Enemy silver trophy for killing an enemy that is trying to kill an enemy; the A Noah Lot bronze trophy for completing 5 Arks and the Can’t Stop Pop silver trophy for popping 17 balloons, while harder trophies include the Overly Driven gold trophy for reaching an overdrive multiplier of 10 and the Bytesize Takedown silver trophy for destroying 128 vehicles when driving the Phoenix vehicle. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 40 to 50 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are four difficulty levels including easy, normal, hard and nightmare with the major differences being increased aggressiveness from enemies that will flank even more so in comparison to easier difficulty levels that already have involving on-foot ground and vehicular combat battles.
Rage 2 understandably has no split-screen or online competitive or co-operative multiplayer; given the vast scale of the open-world environments. However, there is online functionality including world events that are introduced within Rage 2’s huge single player narrative when online, although it is important to notice that online functionality is not mandatory as the entirety of the story campaign can be enjoyed in offline single player.
Rage 2’s replayability originates from gigantic open-world environments featuring a huge quantity of main and secondary mission objectives, optional online functionality introducing world events, vast quantities of unlockable Nanotrite abilities, weapon upgrades and vehicles, looting and crafting gameplay elements, four difficulty levels, photo mode and more besides that will collectively have players returning for dozens of hours worth of enjoyable gameplay.
9 out of 10
• Title: Rage 2
• Developer: Avalanche Studios/id Software
• Publisher: Bethesda
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1 (World Events Online Functionality)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 45.53GB (Version 1.02)