I never figured we’d ever see a follow-up to id Software’s Rage. To me, that game was more of a really big tech demo and nothing more. Sure, I enjoyed it, back in 2011 but I never thought of it after my first playthrough. Yet, here we are with Rage 2. A game that really couldn’t be more different than the first outing. Honestly, this game doesn’t even feel like Rage and instead feels like Doom 2016 and Bullet Storm had a child, with some Mad Max tossed in. In fact, that’s the best way to describe this game.

Game Name: Rage 2
Platform(s): PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks
Developer(s):  Avalanche Studios, id Software
Release Date: 5/14/2019
Price: $59.99 Standard/$79.99 for Deluxe / $119.99 for Collector’s Edition

Rage 2 takes place after the events of the first game and drops you into the role of a character called Walker. Of which can be a male or female, which you can decide in the opening moments of the game. You’re what’s called a Ranger, supposedly the best of the best badass the world has ever known. Turns out though, the Rangers aren’t prepared for what’s about to happen and after the events the unfold. This huge (he really is) pain known as General Cross, comes a knocking and ruins everyone’s day. People are killed off, your home is wrecked and even your surrogate mother gets impaled. Oh, and you’re now the only remaining Ranger left and you’re tasked with saving the world. No pressure, right?

It’s not a grim as a select few figured this day would come and set in motion a plan called “Project Dagger”. You’ll need to seek out several individuals, do their dirty work and in return, they’ll fill you in with what you need to know. You’ll perform quests to find people, find items, murder some baddies and other various fetch quests. I wish they varied a bit more, as it did get repetitive doing the same thing over and over.

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The gunplay in Rage 2 is very reminiscent of games of DOOM (I wonder why) and Bulletstorm. The fast-paced combat is enjoyable and highly addictive. While the over the top action, such as performing combos while you’re trying to stay alive kept a smile on my face. This game doesn’t take its self seriously and due to this, I was greeted with nothing but fun. Bloody, grotesque, and addictive come to mind when thinking about combat. And despite all the zaniness of the gunplay, the core fundamentals of a first-person shoot were still apparent.

Speaking of gunplay, oh there’s plenty here. Right at the start, you’re given a rifle that you’ll likely still with until the end of the game. It’s fast, it does nice damage and just like the other weapons you’ll acquire, it can be upgraded. Still, there are others to find and enjoy as well. Each with their own distinct feeling and uses. Thanks to the combat system, you can easily switch between weapons with zero issues. Some weapons also have an alt-fire mode, such as the pistol. Firing from the hip provides burst shot while aiming down the sights allows you to perform more precise shots. Lastly, for those wondering if this is a looter-shooter, it isn’t. You have a set amount of weapons and that never changes. It didn’t bother me one bit, especially being used to this sort of gameplay.

There’s even a talent skill that progresses as you make your way through the game. You’ll need it as some of the baddies you encounter don’t go down easily. Sure, guns are nice, but what is there? Well, quite a lot actually. You’ve got some fancy Ranger moves at your disposal. From being able to dodge, double jump, force smashing, and a few others. There’s also a very nice talent tree that gets bigger as you progress through the store. Lastly, the three-bladed Wingstick from the original game makes a return.

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That big open-world is also teeming with lots of stuff to do and explore. There’s always something happening in the world, even if some areas are nearly devoid. From the smaller baddies engaged in some fun fight, or vehicle convoys that roam the area, a vendor who drives looking to make a buck and other out of way sights. While in the world, you’ll get tasked to either clear out mutant nests (these are fun), bandit hideouts, overrun power stations, finding the corpses of former Rangers, Arks with cool stuff inside them and more. There’s plenty of side quests to be had. Then there are the vehicles, which are pretty much everywhere in the world. You find it, you can take it for a spin and even add it to your ever-growing list of owned vehicles. There are also lots of challenging fights with the Authority, who’ll drop ship in armored enemies, massive turrets and more out into the world.

Oh yes, there’s tons to do if you seek it out. If you just progress through the story and only do the objectives then you’re really shooting yourself in the foot as you’re missing out on the exploration. There’s lots of stuff such that’s sitting out there to be found. If only Avalanche could have figured out that you need to draw people into this open-world they created. That goes double for the vehicle combat or to be exact, the lack of it. Outside of a few encounters, this open-world is ripe for all sorts of engaging vehicular combat. I have a feeling that we’ll see this in the upcoming DLC but it’s something that should have been here already.

Yes, you can rebind just about every button for either the gamepad or keyboard. The controls are also top-notch, which allow you to pull off some insane moves while you’re in combat. The exception here is with the vehicles. The vehicles controlling is stiff and nearly uncontrollable. Even adjusting the sensitivity didn’t help this and which made me ignore the motorcycles completely as they are just undrivable. This needs to be fixed!

For those who did play the original game, there’s also a section of the game where you’ll get to reminisce about it. As I walked into the area, I had to do a double take. Sure enough, there are pictures of places and characters from Rage 1 hanging on the walls. Which wasn’t expected, but definitely appreciated. Yes, I geeked out a bit.

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Hey, I remember that guy.

I’m happy to report that the PC port of Rage 2 is just fine. Yes, there is the little issue of some hitching, or the frame rate dropping when you enter a new area or when assets are being loaded. Thankfully, that only lasts for a split second or so and the frame rate goes right back up. Playing on several beefy PCs, I was able to play Rage 2 with full settings and still average a nearly consistent 60FPS at both 1080p and 1440p. For those wondering about 4K, It wasn’t possible to get past 40FPS without dropping a lot of settings and even then the yield wasn’t much. There are also tons of options here to tweak the game to your liking. There’s some slight pop-up in the game, but ever so barely. Though when I cranked up the settings, I didn’t notice it anymore. Also, I’d recommend disabling the Depth of Field option as it makes everything a bit too blurry. I like my graphics sharp, and that blur was too much for me.

Ah, yes, the sound design. Freaking amazing stuff here, from the gun sounds to the voice-overs. There’s a lot going on here in terms of the sound and music. Not to mention the voice overs were fairly decent and weren’t cringe-worthy. I also liked the script that was used as there’s this hint of sarcasm in just about everyone’s voice. Especially the main character, who’s pretty mouthy and spunky. The music usage is also top-notch and the right tones are set, depending on what’s happening. When driving around the world you’re treated to an ambiance. While action sequences are drowned out with loud music to get you amped up. It’s very fitting.

There’s also a photo mode in the game that allows you to take some absolutely lovely photos. Honestly, I didn’t use this much, outside of testing it. I thought it was a nice gesture as more and more games are including photo modes. It’s just not something I really want to mess around with. I’m here to use these cool guns and blow stuff up.

I know there’s likely a bunch of people that will want to know about how the game is launched. So, here we go. I was provided a code for the Steam edition and I did not need to touch the Bethesda launcher. The entire game was launched from Steam and that’s it. No fuss, no muss here.

So far, this seems like there’ no problems here, right? Well, for the most part, you’d be right. However, there are some sore points here.

During my time with the game, I experienced multiple crashes, which I’ve come to expect with gaming on the PC. That’s not to say that I enjoy the crashes, as it’s quite the opposite. Chances are we’ll see a patch that will fix this, but I don’t want this to come off negative. With over 19 hours of gameplay, the crashing was few and far between, Still, they were apparent. I also experienced issues where a character would either start talking to me and the voice would go silent completely stop or go out of sync. I also encountered a game-breaking bug where due to when I activated an elevator in one of the missions later in the game. You’re supposed to clear out all the enemies first, then activate the elevator. I didn’t, and due to this, I was trapped in the mission with no way out. Yes, there’s an option to abandon the mission but maybe the game should be coded to not activate the elevator until the area is cleared out first? Just a thought. Still, despite it all, none of these issues were enough to make me put the game down.

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I’ve played the game for 20 hours and overall I enjoyed what I played. My only concern is the story and the open world. Outside of the quests, there’s nothing here that forces you to do anything else. Which is a shame, as I feel many will simply rush through the game and possibly enough up frustrated. Instead, the story needed to incorporate this massive world more than it did. And it doesn’t, and instead keeps tossing out repetitive quests. Something I feel could ultimately hurt the game. There’s just so much more you can do out in the world but without prompting, I don’t feel that many will do that. Which means they’re going to miss out of lots of content that’s waiting to be found and that’s a shame.

Rage 2 is definitely an amazing first-person shooter, with enjoyable quests but could have involved the open-world more than it currently does.

Review Disclosure Statement: Copy of Rage 2 was provided to us by Bethesda for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.

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Summary

This is Doom 2016 all over again. The action, the gunplay, the amazing gameplay is present. But this time, with Avalanche at the helm we also have this vast open-world fun of dynamic moments and plenty to do. Definitely don’t sleep on Rage 2, because this is a game that doesn’t let down as soon as you start it up. If only there was a way to get people out into the world outside of the story-based missions.

Pros

  • Highly fun and addictive combat
  • Vast open-world with plenty to do and rewards those who stick with it

Cons

  • The vehicles control like crap
  • Issues with NPC voices cutting in and out
  • The story could have used more of the open-world
  • Vehicle combat is severally neglected
  • Potential game breaking bug in later mission
Overall
3.5

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.