QuakeCon 2018: ‘Rage 2’ Hands-on Preview

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When it was made clear that Rage was now backward compatible on Xbox One, a part of me had been silently hoping the day would come when Rage 2 would come to life. While Rage was a gorgeously flawed game, it was a game that slowly pulled me in, dug its claws deep in my brain and took me for a spin through an apocalypse I’d never imagined possible.

Now, here I am, like a junkie taken off their life support. I need more. I want more. The multiple playthroughs I had at QuakeCon 2018 at my private press hands-on wasn’t enough.

I still want to play more Rage 2.

Just as you would hope for from a sequel to the mid-2011 open-world first-person shooter by the minds behind DOOM, id Software has taken something new, teaming up with Avalanche Studio seemed to have worked out for the best – so far. My 30 minutes with Rage 2 was enough to seal the deal. I like Rage 2. I like Rage 2 a lot more than I thought I would’ve liked it.

While there is no doubt in my mind that the gameplay mechanics would be great, I was more-so worried about the gunplay, the atmosphere, and the ability to stay true to what made Rage what it was 7 years ago. Now, here I am, still recovering from what I played, but even after an interview with Magnus Nedfords, I still have a lot of questions: How will the open world work? Will there be micro-dungeons for us to explore? What about weapons? Will I get to upgrade them over time like I did in DOOM back in 2016?

Regardless of the questions I have, once I sat down with the demo that was put before me, I was ready to take on the role of Walker. I was given the idea behind what was going on. I’m being sent to the Eden Space Center, something I’d seen numerous times from my re-watching of the trailers, picking them apart for any clues that might be hidden deep within them. My job is clear. I’m to clear out the Goon squad, a group of unsavory vagabonds that have taken up residence within its walls, and reach the control center in order to call down a pod from our planet’s orbit.

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The world is still in rubbles and it has only begun to heal.

One thing was clear the moment I got into the game. I was being given a semi-open world experience. The nanotrite abilities put before me were quite familiar. I was given shatter, the ability to send my foes flying while using Slam to come down with a crushing force upon them, and last-but-not-least, I was given Overdrive, the ability to become a killing machine for a limited time.

After my brief few minute introduction, it became apparent what was about to unfold before me. As I emerged from this “training room”, I could see it, the Eden Space Station, a former husk of what it had been once upon a time. A sprawling station, one where scientists would hustle about, each committing to their friends, their job, and the betterment of humanity. Now, it’s just a shell, one that these unruly Misfit’s and Sex Pistols rejects now call home.

Dust whips across my screen, accenting the idea that this place had once been beautiful, sprawling with greenery, that was, before the asteroid hit and decimated Earth. Within seconds, combat sparks a fuel-induced battle between Walker and the Goon Squad. Interestingly enough, combat is fluid-like, responding rather quickly to the controller in my hands. I could have opted for the mouse and keyboard, but what fun is that? Well, it’d been a lot of fun, but that’s not the point.

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Combat is fast, it’s furious, and it demands you continually push forward, never stopping, never retreating – this is a lesson learned from DOOM (2016).

As guns are blazing, I’ve taken note of several things. One, this a combat engine that seems familiar. It has the id Software “zing” that I’d come to know and love since the launch of DOOM in 2016. It’s accurate, it’s fast, it’s ultra-responsive. But it carries something new. It carries an identity I’d come to know and love from both the Just Cause franchise and that Mad Max spin-off game that Avalanche had developed just a few years back.

Whatever it was – whatever the two developers did together – it worked and it worked well. I was impressed as I used quick-dashes to dart around my foes, turning as quickly as I could only to smack a few of them with “slam” before knocking the ones I missed back with “shatter” in order to rain lead down upon them. This was something new, it was quick, it was fresh, and the intensity only got better as things began to speed up quite a bit more.

Just like the DOOM reboot, I was rewarded for playing aggressively, I was rewarded for charging my foes head on, shooting them as fast as I could, darting towards them to unleash my Nanotrite abilities, and if they surrounded me – to activate my Overdrive, which I did rather quickly. Here, I was a killing machine with one objective in mind.

Destroy them all. Don’t let a single one of these Punk Rock rejects escape my sights.

Once I’ve cleared this entryway, it was finally time to make my way into the reception area. Upon arriving, I was quickly greeted by a wingstick, an item that’s both lethal and an amazing way to draw enemies out of cover. After a few minutes, the same-ole serenade of blood, death, and destruction once more got underway.

The wingstick itself was enjoyable thanks to its lock-on mechanic, zipping around the room before slapping an enemy upside the head, slicing it open and making its way back to me within a moments notice. But this is normal, the foes in Rage 2 feel organic, they feel human, and you almost feel bad the moment you see their bodies splat across the wall from a hand grenade or a shotgun blast to the chest.

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It only took a few of them to paint those once brightly colored walls red with their blood. Well, sort of. It’s so graphic, but man does it work.

Graphically, Rage 2 is everything you’d hope to be. Even with the minor screen tears here-and-there – as this is currently in development – it was quite clear id Software and Avalanche is doing something completely new. They’re aiming for what seems to be high-resolution textures sitting somewhere near the 4K target area. But regardless, it runs butter smooth, not once hiccuping no matter how much was going on as battles ensued.

Even as I unleashed grenades into the surrounding area, there wasn’t that odd foggy and low-resolution look to the blast or the smoke that was emitted. Rather, it looked real, it looked natural, and it looked like it belonged right where it was. Lighting in its own was absolutely amazing, allowing for sunshafts, beams of light, and even muzzle flash to feel natural, to feel as if they are real, and give that realistic appearance the game is known for.

To be quite honest, the game is already shaping up to be one of the most visually stunning games of this generation. Sure, it’s not hyper-realistic like Horizon Zero Dawn or Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but it’s shaping up to be one of those games that will stand out on its own in terms of graphics and design.

I still don’t really have a good feel for what is going on, but whatever it is, I’m sure the bigger picture will be even better.

While I didn’t get a chance to roam about in the open world, two things became very clear. One, Rage 2 is no small undertaking. It’s a massive one on its sheer scale. It felt like what I had gotten my hands-on time with was only a fraction of what the game is going to offer in early next year. If that’s the case, I can’t wait to have my ears once more rattle, my eyes almost spin in circles from the vertigo-inducing break-neck speeds of combat, and my head explodes from everything that will appear before me.

To be honest. This is one of the few games that I’m actually excited for as a second chance to bring a potential series back to life. For now, however, I’ll remain satisfied with what I experienced and relish in the idea that id Software and Avalanche Studios are hard at work making what could be one of the best open-world first-person shooters of 2019.


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

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