It's been more than seven years since the release of Id Software's Rage, one of the company's few non-Doom, non-Wolfenstein, and non-Quake titles. A post-apocalyptic shooter with vehicle combat, Rage was an outlier for the developer--it was its first attempt at open-world sensibilities, and while it packed some strong first-person shooter mechanics from a company known for such things, it struggled as an open-world game and in turning the broad strokes of its world into an engaging setting.
With Rage 2, Id is returning to a world full of mutant bad guys and Wild West-esque survivors, and this time it has help for the open-world side. Id teamed with Avalanche Studios, the developer behind the Just Cause series and Mad Max, to nail down the open-world component of the package. In theory, that's going to allow both developers to focus on what they do best in Rage 2.
Meanwhile, it looks like Rage 2 is taking a more vibrant approach to its visuals and design, leaning into the explosiveness of its shooting while moving away from the brown, drab look of the world in the first game. Technological improvements in the years since Rage was released should also allow Id to get closer to the original conception of that game in its sequel. Here's everything we know so far about Rage 2, from its story conceits to its release date.
Release Date And Platforms
At The Game Awards 2018, Bethesda announced that Rage 2's release date is set for May 14, 2019. As we already knew, it will launch for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
Story and Setting
The broad strokes of story carry over from the original Rage, in which an asteroid struck the Earth in 2029, basically turning it into a post-apocalyptic hellscape. While there were some survivor communities scattered around the world, much of it was populated by mutants and roving bands of outlaw scavengers, making it a dangerous place in general. Much of the game world in Rage was desert thanks to the cataclysm, and survivors contended with the Authority, a technologically advanced faction that considered itself the overall government of the Wasteland. It turned out the Authority was responsible for awful experiments on people, some of which resulted in the mutants.
The first game was all about Arks, specialized suspended animation pods hidden underground that were supposed to help certain people survive the asteroid and rebuild civilization, as part of the Eden Project. As an Ark survivor, you emerged way behind schedule in 2135. The Authority was created by an Ark survivor who sabotaged the project so that only Arks containing those loyal to him would surface on time while the others stayed buried indefinitely.
The first Rage ended on a pretty unsatisfying cliffhanger, with the remaining dormant Arks all getting activated in hopes of bringing all those survivors to fight the Authority. It doesn't appear that Rage 2 is doing much to complete that story, although elements from it still exist in the world and might hint at what's going on. Instead, it jumps 30 years into the future, when the planet is finally starting to recover from the catastrophe. You play as Walker, a resident of a settlement called Vineland and a member of its survivors, the Rangers. The Rangers use Nanotrites, an element from the first game, to give themselves special abilities. You're forced to leave Vineland when the Authority comes knocking, and it seems Walker becomes the last of the Rangers after that attack.
In the Eden Assault Rage 2 gameplay trailer, you are sent to find Dr. Kvasir, a character from the original game and a former Authority scientist, who sends you to an Eden facility to activate Eco-15, a machine orbiting the Earth from before the asteroid impact. What's not clear is how these elements factor into the overall plot.
What we do know is that the recovering world now sports more biomes, like jungles and wetlands, that offer up new environments to explore. Those will also help make Rage 2 a whole lot less brown than its predecessor--although vehicular combat through desert landscapes like those of Mad Max: Fury Road are also definitely a big part of the experience.
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A Faster Gameplay Style
It looks like Id Software learned quite a bit from the acclaim that followed the release of Doom in 2016. Rage 2's gunplay looks altogether faster, more kinetic, and more ridiculous than that of the original. An element from the first game, Nanotrites, make a return, and basically grant you superpowers, with moves that let you jump high into the air and slam the ground to send enemies flying, or project them through the air with energy from your hands. You can also build up and access something called Overdrive, which lets you become even more of a juggernaut, pushing both your body and your guns "beyond their limits" to wreck enemies. The overall effect seems like a mix of Doom, the first Rage, and Bulletstorm, with lots of opportunities for creative kills.
Making its return from Rage is the Wingstick, a deadly boomerang-like weapon you could throw at enemies that returns to your hand. Rage 2's Wingstick has been upgraded to take down multiple targets and to track enemies around corners, giving you new options for dealing with guys in the thick of battle. There are also other spiffy trinkets like grenades, and some kind of items you can throw at enemies that create suspension fields that float enemies and can be used to catapult yourself up to the proper height for a powerful ground-pounding Slam move.
If You See It, You Can Drive It
Vehicular combat is also back in a big way, and it seems that driving around in an armored car covered in guns is probably how you'll engage with the open world most of the time. In trailers, Rage 2's vehicular combat looks a lot like what Avalanche put together in Mad Max, and it all has a very Fury Road effect as you wreck members of different factions as they try to blast you with energy traps, explosives, bullets, and more. For your part, Id's trailers for the game show the player driving a vehicle bristling with a variety of weapons, including mounted machine guns and mortars--but you'll also be able to drive any vehicle you come across in the world.
Id has also said that Rage 2 has improved its open-world gameplay significantly over the previous game. Instead of a "go here, do this" approach, the pairing with Avalanche has increased the sort of emergent gameplay and freedom of choice that's a signature of the open-world genre. Expect to see that translated into events like races to participate in, as well as having to deal with roaming enemies in vehicles as you try to get around.
All Sorts Of Enemies
Like the first Rage, you'll go up against a host of bad guys in Rage 2, which compose a number of different factions. First and foremost are the soldiers of the Authority, which are mutants married with technology that lets them fly around or challenge you with powerful weapons.
Id has also mentioned the Goon Squad in trailers, a group of insane, punk-looking folks who are mostly just excited for murder. There's also the Immortal Shrouded, a more technologically advanced faction that uses camouflage and machinery to try to get the drop on their enemies. There are other factions, including the River Hogs, which Id hasn't detailed yet, and it sounds like there might be more enemy factions that haven't been revealed yet. There are also a variety of enemies, including the Mutant Crusher id showed off in the Eden Assault video, which looks to be an Incredible Hulk-sized pink goon bent on crushing you.
Moving Away From Multiplayer
The first Rage had a couple of multiplayer modes, but that won't be the case in the sequel--it's a single-player-only game. That's a result of the game being "so damn big," according to director Magnus Nedfors.
Will There Be Loot Boxes?
Apparently not, according to Nedfors. Player progression beyond new Nanotrite abilities, which in the Eden Assault trailer came from the Eco pod players called down from orbit, is a bit of an open question. Id apparently has elements in the game meant to keep players engaged over the long haul but hasn't revealed many details about what they might be.