Rage 2 Review

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Avalanche Studios/id Software
Publisher: Bethesda
Release: 14th May 2019
Price: 59.99

After a mediocre launch like Fallout 76, Bethesda lost a lot of trust but will Rage 2 be able to recover that? Probably not and actually it has nothing to do with any of this, not even being developed by one of Bethesda´s core teams but by Avalanche Studios with support by id. So can this pink open world experience offer a compelling, fun time or not? After being disappointed with the original Rage, is this even worth it?

Set 30 years after the original Rage, we´re playing as Walker, one of the few rangers of the wasteland. While the wasteland slowly recovers from its past and humans being to revitalize it little by little. Naturally, gangs and punks are still waging chaos on different spots but it´s going uphill. Until the Authority returns, your run of the mill villains already known from the first game, to take back what they lost.

As one would expect from Rage 2 though, it rarely focuses on its story. Rather, it seems to be in love with its world and establishing it, which by itself would be fine, since the resurrecting wasteland is an intriguing place to explore. Sadly, it´s clustered with one aspect dragging itself throughout the game: Pink. Pink is probably the best metaphor for this game. It´s bright, crazy and no one really knows why it exists (given, this comparison isn´t great, ok?). In theory all these colors, crazy people and colorful asthaetic give Rage 2 way more personality than its predecessor ever had, at the same time, it never tries to explain any of it or build a cohesive world around it. Instead of a Far Cry Blood Dragon kind of crazy, we´re presented with the Rage aesthetic but this time a lot of pink is sprinkled onto pretty much any display and menu, without any real structure. Everything just feels so forced, a theme fitting for my whole experience.

The story for example is one of the most shamefully written things I´ve ever seen. Throwing references and cringy jokes at you the minute someone opens their mouths or simply proceeding to waste your time through non-skippable cutscenes while talking about the most generic stuff someone could think of. In retrospective, I think I never enjoyed any dialogue for more than 20 seconds until I wanted to forget it again, it´s just so damn tryhard cool without ever understanding what a sarcastical or actually funny approach needs.

Rage 2 CR: Bethesda

Speaking of non-skippable cutscenes, Rage 2 is also filled with bad design decisions, interrupting the gameplay nearly every 5 minutes. Similar to most open world games and Avalanche titles, this one as well, is filled with a ton of side content like bases, races, car fights and side quests. On the one hand, Rage 2 actively tries to offer you something worthwhile in exchange for your time, especially for the many Arks, as every one of them grants you a new, pretty cool ability. Ranging from typical blasts, pushes to barriers and what not.

Those are really fun as they cover pretty much every kind of power you could think of, despite never adding a lot of their own flavor, but it´s always cool to feel like an overpowered action hero and the second half delivers exactly that with all its unlocked moves, ability upgrades and movement enhancements. Combined with the shooter base, being developed by id I assume, this is a super satisfying experience, even on consoles, offering some of the greatest feeling aim assistance and mix between cover shooter and DOOM. While it isn´t nearly as fast or relentless as the aforementioned, it certainly borrows a lot of its gunfeel which is simply great and makes Rage 2 one of the best feeling open world shooters I´ve played, due to its added verticality and giant enemies at points in particular.

Unfortunately, all of that doesn´t really matter when the core gameplay loop actively forces you to stop and relax. Everytime you capture a base, complete a mission or do anything in this world, big bars pop up, bringing up the XP you´ve earned with a certain key character by completing this task. Early on though, you don´t even know any of them and these bars are displayed for dozens of seconds without being skippable, interrupting the whole flow every single time. Especially when you´re forced to free bases and alike through the story itself, being rewarded with frustratingly slow progression bars I never cared about while the whole game basically stops during this time is just annoying and stands for everything id actively tried to avoid with DOOM. Quite ironic actually.

Graphically Rage 2 doesn´t do a lot to stand out. Featuring a decently enough looking open world that´s not impressing anyone with its barren wasteland and inconsistent art direction. Instead, the browner the environments get, the worse it looks and the quite mediocre fire effects and FX in general don´t do alot to support anything. Given, the models, weapons, grenades and everything going on directly in front of the player during action sequences look quite good but not better than DOOM in any way. Otherwise, especially the more colourful biomes look kinda nice but there aren´t a whole lot of them due to the setting and the soundtrack tends to get too “cool” and aggressively loud in some cases.

Conclusion

In the end, Rage 2 is still fine, it offers an okay open world and real fun gunplay and powers. When I could just shoot things, I really had a great time. Unfortunately, this fun was always interrupted by bizarre time-stopping menues and a cringy story I avoided at all times. If you only care about the gunplay, 10 minutes of fun every 15 minutes and arcade-y car combat though, this could be a great game.

[A Review Code was provided by Xbox One]