Rage 2: Our hands-on preview of the apocalyptic shooter

After numerous leaks Bethesda’s finally lifted the lid on Rage 2 at E3 2018. After having some hands-on time with Bethesda’s new shooter Trusted Reviews has compiled everything you need to know about Rage 2 including the release date, gameplay, trailers and all the latest news. 

What is Rage 2?

Rage is an open world first-person shooter set in a sprawling wasteland similar to the first game. Players will be in possession of an assortment of lethal weapons including the absurdly stylish Wingstick.

Although the original was developed by id Software, development duties for this instalment have passed to Swedish developer Avalanche Studios, who previously developed the three previous Just Cause games.

Related: Call of Duty Black Ops 4

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Vehicles will play a large role alongside the mountain of firearms you’ll be shooting about the place. The first trailer showcases several different varieties, many of which give off the impression that players can customise things however they like.

Rage 2 story – what’s it about?

The original post-apocalyptic shooter ended on a surprise cliffhanger that left dedicated fans clamouring for more, and they haven’t received any resolution for eight long years.

Many of them are probably hoping for a sequel that addresses those events, and considering the title, we may see just that.

Rage 2 gameplay preview

Coming 2019 on PS4, Xbox One and PC

Rage 2 came so close to being a surprise announcement (thanks Walmart). Even still, the reveal of a sequel of an eight-year-old game was welcomed by many. Considering Rage’s mixed reception, many assumed the franchise lost to the ages. Instead, we now see two of the biggest studios in the industry collaborating to make what is set to be an incredibly exciting shooter. Combining id Software’s technical excellence with shooters with Avalanche’s ability to create enticing open worlds with enjoyable ways to explore them, how can you go wrong?

Getting the chance to play a snippet of a shooting section, the most unsurprising statement is that the teams haven’t put a foot out of place thus far. It’s great to see that the id DNA has been carried through, while also being wrapped in an utterly bonkers and beautifully colourful skin. It’s become one of my most anticipated games of 2019.

Related: Super Smash Bros Ultimate

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While early Rage 2 trailers show much of the game’s personality in its giant post-post-apocalyptic open world, brought forth in large part thanks to Avalanche’s incredible pedigree from the Just Cause series and also the superb Mad Max game, the E3 gameplay segment focuses very much on gunplay in tight spaces.

But that’s okay, because this allows the insanity of its inhabitants to come to the fore and create some great moments, as well as show off the collaboration of the two teams, with guns and abilities becoming the focal point of this early insight.

Rage 2 is set 30 years after its predecessor, meaning fans left hanging onto its predecessor’s cliffhanger will finally get the answers for which they’ll have waited nine years by the time it arrives next year.

The lead character, Ranger Walker, is voiced – and the game benefits hugely as a result. The aesthetic of Rage 2 also greatly benefits from the leap forward in time. By becoming a “post-post apocalyptic” game, time previously spent driving for miles across barren wasteland (read: boring, brown desert) is now replaced with lush greenery, towering forests and giant structures. The early footage shown, and the snippet I played, is already a far more interesting, and visually stimulating proposition.

The demo takes place inside a tower, where Ranger must infiltrate and move through in order to activate a beacon on the top floor. The demo plonks Ranger just outside the building, where a few enemies are dotted around outside. Taking the time to observe them gives each small cluster a chance to talk, and show that, as you might expect, apocalypse survivors aren’t all the ticket.

Avalanche channels that Mad Max style into these characters as they spray-paint walls, play baseball and generally be a bit bonkers. It’s fun to eavesdrop on the conversations that take place before all the shooting starts. I approached the venue with caution, wondering if I could perhaps sneak in and gain the upper hand. Pro gamer tip: don’t bother sneaking in Rage 2; just jump in and start shooting everything.

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Rage 2 feels very much like an id Software shooter with the addition of Destiny 2 abilities. In this demo, Ranger is equipped with a dash along with two over abilities: slam and shatter. Slam sees him jump into the air before crashing back down to earth and dealing damage to anybody in the immediate vicinity, while shatter is the equivalent of a force push that sends very close enemies flying backwards. The best part is that the cooldown is very short, meaning liberal use of these boosts is encouraged.

There’s also ‘overdrive’, which is earned by pulling off successive, aggressive kills – think Bulletstorm’s ‘Cool Kill’ mechanic, only much simpler – that sees the vibrant yellows and purples of the game’s advertising materials take over the game. Ranger is granted the equivalent of quad damage for guns and abilities, leading to some very satisfying combat indeed.

It was hard to gauge the abilities of the enemy AI, but in this demo they did have a tendency to attack in numbers. And with braun rather than brains, running straight at you hoping to kill by swarming rather than flanking.

What segregates Rage 2 from most other shooters is that enemies take a decent amount of damage before going down. I hit one guy with ‘shatter’ point-blank, only to see him ragdoll behind some debris, dust himself off, and get right back to shooting me in the face. Once your brain adjusts to this way of playing, it’s a fun ride knowing you can plough hundreds of bullets into each baddy.

The demo was excellent fun with incredibly intense combat, but being an E3 snippet, it was very brief. However, there were still a couple of niggles, which I hope will be improved. The ‘slam’ ability sees Ranger Walker jump in a semi-circle curve, which limits your ability to see where he’s landing once airborne. It would be way more beneficial for Walker to jump in a more triangular arc, perhaps with an ever-so-slight pause at the peak of the jump to pick the most efficient landing spot.

Related: Forza Horizon 4 

Shatter’s ability also has a limited range that either works, or does absolutely nothing. It would be nice if there were a middle-ground, where enemies were staggered a little to let you know you weren’t close enough, but gave enough time to make up for your mess-up and bring your gun back up to land a follow-up strike.

You can also do a running slide, but landing this into enemies does no damage. In a world where you’re supposed to dish out death and destruction in combat, an over-the-top slide tackle would feel right at home.

These, however, are all minor gameplay niggles, where minor additions and tweaks would brush up what is already a very refined and enjoyable shooting system. I’m very hopeful that the driving delivers a similar level of fun, and considering what Avalanche has previously proved with Mad Max, I’m fully confident in this happening.

It is, however, the great enigma for this game. I’ve seen but one small section of a much greater game. I’m so interested to see everything else this game has to offer.

First impressions

Combining the open-world creativity and mechanical design of Avalanche, with the first-person shooter mechanics of id Software, has all the potential of a match made in heaven. Getting the chance to play some of id’s mechanics in Avalanche’s world gave me a brief glimpse of this potential, and now I need to play more. I just hope this game arrives early next year and doesn’t leave me waiting too long.

Rage 2 trailer

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