“In its simplest form, RAGE 2 delivers on the promise of the original game,” says studio director Tim Willits of id Software, bluntly. “The technology limited us to seperate areas in the first game – the driving and the combat were split onto different disks, right?
“In RAGE 2, the game is more connected. Everything works together better, you can go off and do different missions, you can go off and do what you want and that’s such and important part of what people wanted.”
The game is 80% gunplay, 20% driving and you can tell this is where id’s efforts have been focused.
Abilities are now mapped to the top left bumper and holding it and smacking a face button on your pad allows you to perform abilities that smash down on enemies, zoom to them and hit them in the face (which is very satisfying) or lob grenades behind them.
Maneuverability is the name of the game here: there’s a lot of fighting in RAGE 2 and id wants to make you mobile.
That (in)famous glaive you can spin into your enemies can rip your foes apart as you strafe-zoom, pop a round of shotgun into someone and melee an enemy getting all up in your face. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s in keeping with id’s ‘rip and tear’ sensibilities.
“Abilities are the cornerstone of the combat, and creativity really is key when it comes to using them,” explains Willits. “Creating that toolset for players goes back to that emergent gameplay that Avalanche has helped us bring to RAGE 2.
“The abilities and weapons and items in the game are designed to reward you for getting in close and fighting toe-to-toe with the enemies, much like we did with DOOM 2016 – you can see the id Software traces there, for sure.
“Movement is offense, defense is key, situational weapons are vital and – well – cover is for babies, they’re all lessons from DOOM,” laughs Willits. “You can quote me on that.”
Avalanche is a great studio when it comes to coding open world games – the tech of RAGE 2 astounds with its draw distances, its variety and how it can be so busy – but the driving, like RAGE before it, just comes off floaty and a little disconnected.
We’re confident that a little more tuning up ahead of the game’s release in May can dispel our reservations about the vehicular exploration and combat that the game puts such a focus on.
After all, there’s so much else going on in RAGE 2 that’d we’d be remiss to overlook it based on a few quirks in the driving.
“Working with Avalanche was great because it allowed us to deliver that id Software gunplay that people expect, but in this open world,” Willits explains when we ask how the collaboration with Avalanche has been from a developer’s point of view.
“Avalanche has been great to work with – they share the same design sensibilities as us. They love to prototype, and they love that big wacky fun that we’ve been going for.
“Avalanche embraced a lot of the first-person action we were going after, and in turn we learned a lot about emergent gameplay from them. Making these well-designed, interesting levels and setting them within an open world is something that we’ve always set out to do, and I think we’ve hit that on the head here.”
There’s a yawning gap in the shooter market for Expendables-esque action games, and it looks like RAGE 2 might fill it. Come for the gunplay, stay for balls-to-the-wall story.
With Borderlands MIA and Just Cause opting for a more ‘gritty’ take on sandbox shooting, RAGE 2 could be the most off-the-wall shooter we’ll see all year.