We got the chance to play the thrilling RAGE 2 last month, id Software and Avalanche’s impressive open-world shooter that takes place in a vivid post-apocalypse. It’s teeming with dangerous gangs, authoritarian villains, and er, murderous TV shows. Basically, it’s completely off-the-wall and we couldn’t get enough of it.
With so much to talk about, and the game’s release date on 14 May getting ever closer, from explosive car chases to frantic firefights, we’ve distilled everything we witnessed into 5 key reasons why RAGE 2’s post-apocalypse will be a whole heap of fun, despite that whole end of the world business.
1. Cracking combat
Let’s start with the combat. Like all id Software games (think DOOM and Quake), combat is ultra-fast and only the nimble will survive. While there are superficial similarities to 2016’s DOOM remake, such as the double jump you can do in both games, there are also key differences that give RAGE 2 an even greater sense of speed.
You see, RAGE 2’s combat feels geared towards making use of the Ranger’s special abilities. There’s one called Slam, which acts like a ground pound, propelling enemies away from where you crash into the dirt. However, you can do more damage with it from a greater height, so finding ways to get above groups of goons can give you an tactical advantage in this scenario.
Along with an arsenal of weapons that feel as satisfying to fire as anything in id’s back catalogue, making the most of your abilities and weapons is the key to success in RAGE 2.
2. A bustling open world
If the shooting is pure id (as in the developer, not Sigmund Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind), then the open world has Avalanche’s fingerprints all over it. The huge map not only has different types of biomes, such as a sprawling desert and dense swamps, that give the game a vibrancy when exploring, it’s also teeming with side-quests and secrets to discover.
During our hands-on, we keep finding new things away from the beaten path. Whether it’s finding ourselves in the middle of a car chase, where a civilian requests helps as a gang races after him or finding a pack of the Goon Squad camped out in a petrol station we’re then tasked with destroying, RAGE 2 is overflowing with things to discover away from the main story.
3. Electrifying car chases
Speaking of car chases, one stand-out mission early on sees us fighting through a convey of nippy motorcycles, beefy buggies, and a ludicrously big lorry in our relatively tiny roadster, dubbed The Phoenix. It’s just as exhilarating as the on-foot combat, as we send motorbikes flying off the road by shunting into them, while peppering the bigger vehicles with bullets from the car’s machine gun.
Thanks to simple controls, we feel like we’re directing our own Mad Max chase, as everything blow up around us and we skid through the wreckage. Along with the more emergent car chases that come from just exploring the world, driving in RAGE 2 is almost as fun as the shooting.
4. Lots of mission variety
While RAGE 2 is a shooter at heart, the missions we play show a surprising range of variety, with new ideas and concepts constantly being introduced. One moment we’re holed up in the office of returning character Loosum Hagar, fighting off an army of invading Goon Squad gang members, the next we’re taking on mutants in a TV show called Mutant Bash TV (it’s a very literal title), trying to earn a high score so the Ranger can become famous in the wasteland.
Then we’re off to take part in a race called the ChazCar derby, driving across a circuit in the fastest time possible, before finally ending up in the office of the bizarre Klegg Clayton, trying to hack into his PC. While that might sound exhausting, RAGE 2’s pacing makes missions feel fresh and engaging, by always giving you something new to do.
5. Everything is gleefully over-the-top
RAGE 2’s boisterous personality shines through everything we play. From meeting characters with stupendously daft names like Mike Chinwag and Glisten Success, to watching a mohawk’d goon fly through the air as you plummet into the ground, everything in RAGE 2 is filtered through a lens of hilarious carnage.
The end of the world might not be the most light-hearted of subjects, but this vibrant shooter turns it into a playground where anything goes. We can’t wait to head back to it.