While fans of Bethesda were eagerly waiting for news about the next chapter of Elder Scrolls series, Avalanche Studio and id Software joined Bethesda to announce a game nobody saw it coming: Rage 2, the sequel to the post-apocalyptic title from 2011. The first Rage was received with good reviews from the press, but mixed reviews from the players, scoring 81 on Metacritic (May 2019). I remember playing a few hours of it back in the day, but never really dove in it. But I can testify that its world, its gameplay mixing FPS with combat racing in a crazy future worthy of a Mad Max movie was something really special. For me, at least, since the game didn’t sell that many copies (I couldn’t find an official number).
Rage 2 takes place in the same world as the first game, some years in the future. Here you play as the last Ranger, a protector of the free world, in a quest to stop the Authority, a group of machine-augmented men (or cyborgs) under the lead of General Cross who wants to rule the world. And to do so, you will fight mutants, gangs and eat a lot of dust in its seemly endless deserts while collecting nanotrites and components to upgrade your skills and gear in a world that’s a powder keg ready to blow. And since it’s really to detonate, nothing better than blowing it with style! Let’s check what these big boys brought to this sequel in our review.
- Story: Rage 2 is a tale of revenge on its simplest format. You’re a survivor in the city of Vineland, where you have been adopted by Erwina Prowley after your parents died during the Authority war. During an attack from the Authority against your city, you acquire a Ranger’s outfit, a special suit that enhances your abilities through the use of nanotrites and, with it able to repel their incursion. But your efforts aren’t enough to save Prowley. In the following morning, you discover she had a secret plan to stop the Authority for good. But to accomplish this plan, you will need to find some of her old allies and, with their help, deliver the death blow of vengeance to your enemies. The reasons and the means each one of them will support you is up for you to discover.
- Sound: The sound in Rage 2 won’t let you down. The music, calm or agitated when it needs to be, and environment sounds help to define the atmosphere of the game, emphasizing your loneliness when roaming around or giving a burst of adrenaline when in combat. The sound effects take another medal for the game: the gunfire sounds and explosions, the groaning of mutants and the roar of engines are a show apart. I don’t remember mentioning it before, but I have a 5.1 surround system in my bedroom and the title did good use of it! I haven’t tried it with my headphones, but I believe equally awesome, if not better! And finally, the great voice work performed by its actors. Not every NPC is a hit (like Guldo’s annoying voice), but most of them deliver credibility in their feelings, helping you to believe in this world. And talking about its world…
- The world of Rage 2: The world of Rage 2 is huge. Not huge like Skyrim (or maybe exactly like Skyrim, but on wheels, things aren’t that far away from each other), but enough to entertain those who like exploration (like me!). And it’s beautiful! Gosh, it’s really is! The wizards of Avalanche Studios and id Software did an amazing job with this post-apocalyptic world. You’re going to see loads of sand and stones during most of the time, like in a true Mad Max movie (from where the series takes great inspiration – especially the last one, Fury Road), but the scenarios and environments are everything but generic and repetitive. Different regions of the map have subtle differences from each other (well, except the swamp areas and green areas, for obvious reasons), making them visually unique. And since we mentioned its visuals…
- Visuals: id Software and Avalanche Studios did an excellent job with Rage 2 visuals. Characters and enemies are very detailed and move in a very realistic way (when not fantastic, like, let’s say, flying like a ragdoll). The gray/brown palette of the first title persists, but it now gives a little space to the green of renewal and the neon pink of buttons and switches (what really helps to identify points of interest). There’s an outstanding use of lighting and particle effects that will have you taking pictures frequently, trying to capture the majestic of this world. And to help you do so, there’s a photo mode (a trend I see more and more studios taking) waiting for you at the pause menu.
- Things to do: Even though with all the missions and things to do in its map, the emptiness feeling never fades away. There are enemy outposts, the hidden arcs, the arena, the races, the meteors (yeah, meteors!), mutant nests, errand missions, hunts and more, there’s always something to do in these wastelands… and you are free to go or to do things in what order you want it. Yes, there’s a sequence of missions you must follow for the story to make any sense, but the freedom the game offers will please most of the players (if not all). And let’s not forget about its folks: desert maniacs (as I affectionately call the goons) or Authority troops occupying ruins and dig sites that, when you are lucky enough, are also infested by mutants ready to devour you. And the never-ending conflict between the remaining human cities trying to live in this doomed world and these factions. But this isn’t a matter of selecting what faction you will support like in any of Bethesda’s RPGs, no sir… Here you will fight for mankind, SO YOU BETTER KILL EVERY MOTHERFOCA WHO CROSSES YOUR WAY.
- Your equipment: It left a special spot in my list to talk about your arsenal in Rage 2.
- Your guns: First, these shining little tools designed to deliver pain. You start the game with only a pistol and soon will acquire an assault rifle. Others will be found in missions or exploring the world. As I’m a simple man, my favorite gun is the good and old shotgun (‘cause I like to take things close and personal), but there’s a good variety that will please all styles of gameplay (including the illustrious presence of any Doom player favorite, the BFG, for those who bought the Deluxe version of the game). Most of your guns have more than one fire mode (your handgun, for instance, that has a burst fire mode and a single shot mode) and can be upgraded, adding different characteristics for each one.
- Dressed to kill: Do you remember the special suit I mentioned earlier? No, this isn’t a Batman suit, but it holds as many surprises as his utility belt. By accessing the hidden arcs, you can unlock new features and abilities for your suit like a power push, a mini black hole or (my favorite) a powerful blow to the ground that sends your enemies (rocks, boxes, vehicles and whatever is in its reach) to the air. And your suit can also be upgraded, unlocking different traits to each one of its abilities.
- Wanna a ride? To traverse this wasteland, you can always count with your trustworthy (and talkative) Phoenix, but you can use (kindly asking, as you may imagine) about every vehicle you find in the map. Phoenix is the only one you can upgrade and install weapons and shenanigans, but some vehicles may have one or two weapons hidden at their sleeves.
- Upgrade system: You may be thinking right now “you mentioned upgrade several times during the review, but how do these upgrades work?” The answer is simple, my friend: you will use the resources you find during your exploration! The nanotrites (that also recover your health when collected) can be found whenever you kill some enemies or in the form of crystals attached to walls and are used to level-up your weapons and abilities. But to customize each one (installing new traits and unlocking new features), you will need special consumables that can be found while exploring the world or bought in stores in each one of the cities. Try always to collect as much as possible!
- I got a feeling: I’m not sure why, but even with that many things to do in the game, sometimes I feel its world Is so… empty. NPCs can only be encountered in cities (funny fact: every single one of them have a different name), but except for that, the only company you got is from your radio, or from the countless enemies you will find in your way (or under your wheels… I’m not here to judge). I totally understand it was intentionally done this way, reflecting the desolation of a world hit by a meteor, but I believe many players will see it as a negative aspect of the game.
- Bugs: I’ve run into some minor bugs during the gameplay, like textures popping-in (especially after a fast-travel) or some problems with enemy animations. Some were funny, like when there were two of the same NPC I should talk to and a third one was invisible, although I could still see his text indicator, waiting to talk to me. But I had problems with shoppers who never showed the prompt to open the store, even though they were talking to me like if I was checking his merchandise. I believe some minor patches may be enough to solve the problems.
Yeah, I was surprised when Bethesda announced Rage 2 last year. I enjoyed the first game, but I understand it wasn’t the commercial success they planned for this new IP. I may even say nobody was waiting for this sequel. But I couldn’t be happier about being wrong. Since the first trailer showing the madness of this world, I knew I had to play it. And now, after my time reviewing it, I can say it was totally worth it. This is a shooter that doesn’t aim to be realistic or pushing some boundaries: it just aims to be fun. From the beginning to the end. And this is exactly what it delivers with a flourish: fun gameplay in a beautiful world waiting to blow!
Developer: id Software / Avalanche Studios Publisher: Bethesda
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC, PS4
Time to beat: Around 20 hours if you do only the main missions… but you don’t want to do that… trust me
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: Not impossible to do. Most of them require killing enemies in a very specific way – what is cool
Perfect for: post-apocalyptic FPS fans, players who like to explore the worlds given to them
Xbox Game Store link: Click here
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.