Raging out with Rage 2

So Rage2 is a strange sort of game it has a lot of flaws and frustrations but the core gameplay the combat is very satisfying.

The gunplay and powers mix is great fun when you are in a fight you are rushing around blasting enemies with a variety of cool weapons that feel beefy and powerful as they turn enemies to bloody chunks or on harder foes literally blast the armor off their bodies like kevlar confetti. Add to that the fun array of abilities the shatter that rushes at and knocks enemies flying pancaking them against scenery and the ground pound great for disabling a large group of foes. Every weapon and power can be upgraded a bunch of ways with some different options like more ammo capacity or fast fire rate or armor piercing.

The combat is great but once that's over there are then a bunch of niggling issues, nothing that is really show stopping but just a lot of not so great choices in the design. If you've played the Doom reboot you know the chunky combat and constant sense of movement that ID achieved in that game at it's best you get the same sense of play in Rage 2 but then each bit of combat is broken up with the open world stuff.

Every area has a bunch of crates and data pads and ark crates in it which are often times difficult to find. They are optional but give you more money and more feldrite (upgrade currency) and other upgrade mods so they are worth getting but it means wandering around the empty base or sewer or swamp or desert shack trying to find them all. It plays on the OCD sense of having to complete all the objectives and it's tedious and frustrating as they are often well hidden. Later in the game you can get a project upgrade (another set of upgrades gained by doing missions for the 3 main NPC's in the main storyline) that gives you a hot and cold sort of meter telling you when you are near the things. Even then that is only somewhat of use as it's frustratingly imprecise.

Outside the bases or camps where you are running and gunning you drive about the open world which is your industry standard post apocalyptic desert with one swamp biome and one tree biome but with this neon pink and blue addition to the colour pallet. The cars come in different types nearly all of them awful to drive. You have two special cars one you get at the start which you can upgrade and repair the other earned through missions is a flying car with no weapons which is the fastest way to traverse the map as it doesn't suffer from the weird handling the ground cars do. They sort of slide across the ground with weird friction you can boost to accelerate or handbrake to turn tight corners but the steering often doesn't seem to work and you go careening off the road on bends. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the many chasms in the world map. I found myself tumbling to my death many times in the game until I gave up on the road vehicles and just took the flying thing everywhere. They have also omitted a real basic feature the option to flip a car if it gets upside down or wedged sideways on scenery which can happen easily on the busier swamp or forest areas. Even the flying car frequently gets flipped over while parked and then rather than flip it you ride it upside down for a bit into the ground till the game engine works out that's wrong and does a weird correction that catapults the thing skyward and then rights it.

The physics engine in general in this game is prone to odd freakouts I've been hit and been mysteriously rocketed skyward. There are also smashable crates with ammo and health stuff in them and the melee attack just misses them 4 out of 5 times, I'm counting that one as physics too.

In addition to getting from place to place the vehicles are outfitted for combat with a variety of weapons and you use these primarily for taking on convoys. These race across the deserts/swamps/forests on a set route and have a series of defender vehicles. You whittle down their defenders then take out their weak spots till they explode all while racing along dodging fire. It's fairly fun outside the odd vehicle handling.

So open world post apocalyptic armed vehicles taking on convoys of similarly armed but more rusty vehicles racing across a desert, now if this sounds a little familiar it's because this game was co -developed by Avalanche of mad max fame (also just cause) it's basically that same mechanic that game had with convoys roaming the world map you take out for parts and upgrades except they broken the vehicle mechanics and let ID design the out of vehicle sections.

Story is somewhat throwaway big bad needs killing you have to help out these three settlements to do that load of unrelated missions to get to that point. The game has a fair number of side missions but mostly these are similar sort of thing kill all the things in an area or collect a certain thing or defend a thing. There are four or so distinct enemy types, the Authority which is the main enemy they go for cybernetically enhanced mutants with lasers and tech stuff like shields, Mutants themselves mostly melee attacks weaker but more numerous, the gangs who use guns and have some armor, and the shrouded who are militaristic heavily armored but often less numerous. They all have their own special units and boss types and they behave in different ways mutants just rush you, gangs are somewhat more organized, shrouded are more in cover, authority are weird with jetpacks.

fighting these groups is a lot of fun but it's then broken up with the more tedious collection stuff and then the driving from place to place which would have been fine if the driving model wasn't so odd. It also has this tendency to interrupt the flow of things constantly, when you complete an area there is a popup that stops things and displays a "completed" and a money figure that is unskippable. When ever you get a new weapon or a power it switches to a tutorial room that then teaches you about the thing, for powers I can sort of understand this but for a rocket launcher? It all just breaks up the good parts of the game delaying you from getting to the next fight sabotaging access it's own best features.

I find myself coming back to it though as when it is going when you are fighting it is great fun. The guns feel good the powers add a nice set of extra options the various throwables work well the boomerang style wingstick allowing you to attack distant enemies and when upgraded get people behind cover. The flow of fights is great bouncing into groups with a ground slam blasting away with the shotgun or rapid fire pistol rushing away then smashing a group of enemies to jam with the shatter gaining the games overdrive mode then going on a neon tinted rampage where weapons do more damage and often fire differently.

Rage 2 feels like it could have been another Doom 2016 an amazing game but deliberate elements of it's own design hamper that. It very much feels like a game of two parts made by different teams the chunky gunplay and the openworld tedious drive about a desert.

Would I recommend it probably the shooting game is fun enough that it can make up for the niggles of the rest of it and the problems it does have are not show stopping it's more a case of seeing that it could have been so much more if they'd thought a bit more about how to execute the open world aspects of it.