Having missed out on the first RAGE game, I’ll admit that I went into RAGE 2 with fresh eyes. From the trailers I’d seen, I expected a fast-paced, hectic shooter that’s a mix between DOOM, Borderlands, and Just Cause, and in some respects, the game isn’t that far off. However, while at times RAGE 2 is incredibly fun, there are times where it gets very, very dull.
RAGE 2 throws players into a post-apocalyptic world in which players assume the role of Walker who, after shit pretty much hits the fan from the very beginning, assumes the role of a Ranger of Vineland after one of their brothers in arms becomes the next meal of a gigantic mutant causing havoc in Vineland.
The game introduces Walker as this sheltered adopted son/daughter (players can choose the gender of their character) of Erwina Prowley, or Aunt Prowley as they know her. Fortunately, this sheltered life has allowed them to gain an almost natural knack for combat and, as shit continues to hit the fan, Prowley sees this as an ideal opportunity to allow Walker to continue as a Ranger.
Of course, it’s not all that straight forward as it seems this attack is being led by The Authority and its leader, Cross – a character from the previous game – who’ll stop at nothing in order to eliminate the last remaining Arkists – A.K.A. Walker. After the dust settles you’re introduced to three NPC’s who you’ll be working towards earning their reputation in order to put an end to the Authority.
At least, that’s what I gathered from the first half an hour of the game. It all seems very exciting while the action is right there. While this intro acts as a tutorial, it’s a hell of a lot of fun and sets the scene for what’s in store for the future – or so I thought. Once you’ve been given the basics and sent along your way, you’ll quickly find that there doesn’t seem like a lot to do, and this is where I found the game to be quite empty, at least to begin with.
RAGE 2 has a pretty big open world, and at first, you’re given the keys to this world with few objectives in sight. In fact, there are three missions you’re given, all of which are quite the distance. Luckily, as you travel to each location, you’ll stumble into many locations such as roadblocks, ARK Stations, compounds, and many more optional activities which ultimately earn the trust of the three leaders you’re hoping to win over.
The only issue is, you spend more time traveling from location to location, discovering areas here and there, than actually taking part in the most fun part of the game – blasting the ever living hell out of everything in sight and that’s probably one of my biggest gripes with RAGE 2. I want to be dashing from location to location blowing shit up, not shooting for a couple of minutes, then driving for ten minutes, then shooting for another few minutes.
The world within RAGE 2 is also a little desolate, too. Which makes sense considering it’s a postapocalyptic game, but at the same time, I found myself rarely encountering anything interesting whilst I spent time traveling between locations. Sure, you’ll find the occasional gaggle of Goons or Mutants littering the side of the road, but they were nothing a good powerslide couldn’t do to dispatch the filth.
For the most part RAGE 2 offers a lot to do with very little motivation or direction in which to do it. Want to upgrade your vehicle to make dispatching convoys a little easier? Sure, scavenge around for vehicles to trade-in and we’ll reward you with upgrade points. Want to level up your weapon so destroying Goons is easier? Sure, grind locations looking for chests to get the materials needed to upgrade weapons.
Outside of the sometimes monotonous yet addictive grind is the game’s main missions which, for the most part, consist of the linear rinse-repeat trope of “go here, do this, kill these things, oh look here’s a boss”. Sure, it gives you plenty of that blood-soaked, fast-paced combat we’ve come to expect from an id shooter, but at the same time, it all feels a bit too samey. While hulking mutants, or gigantic mechs may seem intimidating at first, they all have the telltale boss tropes you’ve come to expect from video games.
Whether it’s exploiting a weak spot a set number of times in order to fully expose the enemies soft-fleshy interior, or dodging, ducking, and diving when given certain cues, things never really seemed too unmanageable when it came to facing the game’s bosses. For the most part, dodging at the right time and filling your foe with bullets was a more than adequate way to eliminate the enemy. Ammunition was plentiful, too, with little ammo crates dotted about areas like a little table of party favors.
Progression is also aided by the plethora of upgrades available to almost every aspect of your arsenal, whether it’s weapon upgrades, special ability upgrades, or vehicle upgrades, the only difficulty is choosing which area to focus on. But even then, you can avoid the entire plot and scour the game’s vast open world for the much-needed Feltrite to upgrade each bit. Even if you’re missing specific parts, you can simply just use all of the cash you’ve found to visit Trade Towns and purchase things you may be missing.
RAGE 2 feels like Bethesda’s own genetically modified mutant which is a result of trying to cram everything for everyone in a single game. It’s somewhat horrifying and it just won’t stop throwing up on itself. That’s not to say that RAGE 2 isn’t enjoyable, at times it’s an absolute blast, but it can also become quite a tedious trudge across a bare apocalyptic wasteland where the main meat is kept locked away like an Abadon Crusher.
Outside of gameplay, RAGE 2 features a pretty in-depth menu system allowing you to track missions, inventory, upgrades across vehicles, weapons, and abilities, as well as an overview of the world map. The only problem is, at least on Xbox One – the game’s preferred system according to Bethesda’s advertising for the game – is that these menus are sluggish, clunky, and at times completely unresponsive.
There were several bugs which reared their ugly heads too, whether it’s being thrust into the air at complete random (this usually happens when you’re plowed into by a passing vehicle) or mission progression points being unresponsive or straight up crashing forcing me to reboot the entire system.
There are areas of RAGE 2 I adore, don’t get me wrong. I loved exploring every nook and cranny of each area in order to find all of the different locations, it was addicting moving from one place to another to find abandoned outposts or compounds littered with Goons. The gunplay is also fast, fluid, and hectic, which differs from the usual timid affair found in shooters like Call of Duty. Being able to string together attacks, bouncing from corner to corner taking out enemies is an absolute thrill.
I would have just liked there to be plenty more to do outside of the main mission objectives. For an open world game, RAGE 2 sure does love to keep pushing you back on the path of the story.