Similarly to Doom, Rage 2 also incentivises you to keep on the move and push forward. Each enemy you kill drops a currency that’s so volatile it disappears after a few seconds, forcing you to wade out into danger to collect a currency that not only upgrades your weapons and Nanotrites, but which also heals you in that moment. In terms of upgrades, there’s a veritable bucketload, with various ways to improve and modify your guns, vehicles, base stats, and projectiles. This amount of customisation is welcome, but there are so many disparate types of currency, the upgrade system could’ve been streamlined and condensed to cut down on the amount of time you spend faffing about in sluggish menus.
This is an issue with Rage 2 in general, though. There’s a dearth of momentum, and it severely lacks any sort of fluidity. The combat is brilliant in a bubble, but it’s broken up by long stretches where you’re just driving from point A to B. There’s no spontaneity in the open world, with any signs of life restricted to the bandit dens and pit stops that populate the map. Nothing tugs at you to break away from your waypoint and explore, and the amount of scavenger hunts you have to partake in slow down the pace considerably, whether you’re searching for fuel tanks to destroy or Ark chests to open.
It’s impossible to play Rage 2 without thinking about how each of its elements has been executed better in other games, particularly those by id and Avalanche Studios themselves. There are brief moments of balls-to-the-wall fun, but they’re bookended by an unnecessary open world that dampens the impact and pacing of its kinetic gunplay. There are other issues beyond this, from samey mission design, terrible vehicle handling, and a slew of bugs, but Rage 2’s biggest crime is that it’s less of an apocalyptic rager and more like a tedious car journey to visit relatives you don’t particularly like.
Rage 2 isn’t always a looker; it often appears as though the screen is coated in Vaseline, and there are some muddy textures and noticeable pop-in. But, explosions are spectacular, with a vivid outburst of fire, flying debris, and rended flesh. And it’s all worth it for that sweet 60fps.
Rage 2’s combat is often brilliant, but it’s disrupted by all the trappings of a bland open world.
Developer: id Software, Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release: Out now