Rage Updated Impressions - Competitive and Cooperative Multiplayer

id Software finally takes the lid off of the multiplayer modes they have in store for Rage.

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Among the many other games shown at Bethesda Softworks BFG press event this year was Rage, the postapocalyptic, first-person shooter from developer id Software. While we've seen it a number of times already, at this event, the developers were finally ready to take the lid off of multiplayer and give us a taste of what's to come. In addition, they showed two new areas--Subway Town and the prison--as well as gave us a closer look at The Authority, one of the game's main antagonists.

The first multiplayer offering in Rage is Rage Combat Rally. In this competitive multiplayer mode, the objective is to be the player with the highest point total by the end of the match. To do this, you'll need to destroy the other racers and pass through the rally points scattered across the map. That's right, this is a vehicular combat mode. In the demonstration we saw, blowing apart the other racers looked pretty straightforward. The key strategy appeared to be getting up behind other players and whaling on them with rockets and machine gun bullets. You can monitor how much damage you're dealing, as well as how much you've received, by the condition of your vehicle. If you're missing both of your doors and there's smoke pouring out of your engine, then chances are good that you're not going to last much longer.

The second method for scoring points, which was accomplished by passing through rally points, complicated things a bit. These points appeared as glowing blue-and-white markers on the ground that would start a score multiplier combo when driven over, which would increase as you hit additional markers. The developers noted here that after you hit the first the marker, the following markers are dynamically generated so that they are both nearby and in front of your vehicle. These two elements together made for a multiplayer session that was reminiscent of the frantic gameplay found in the developer's previous games. It's also worth noting that the Rage Combat Rally demonstration featured the classic Quake III voice announcer, but there is an ongoing internal debate at id as to whether he should stay in the game or not.

The second multiplayer offering fell in the cooperative category. Titled Legends of the Wasteland, this mode has you and a friend team up to tackle specially designed missions that take place around the events of the single-player campaign. For instance, in the campaign, there is a series of missions centered around an RC bomb car factory. The local sheriff sends some of his boys in to investigate, and they come back with schematics on how to build these explosive toys. In Legends of the Wasteland, you will play as those boys. From what we saw, the cooperative missions played just like the single-player game, albeit with a lot more enemies to compensate for the additional player.

Rage Combat Rally will have additional modes, including Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, with at least five maps at launch.
Rage Combat Rally will have additional modes, including Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, with at least five maps at launch.

Outside of multiplayer, the developers also ran us through two new areas: Subway Town and the prison. Subway Town was another one of the game's larger settlements, such as Wellspring. But unlike the sunny, friendly Wellspring, Subway Town was a cold, technologically superior city built into an underground subway station. It was a vertical empire that leaned heavily on the side of trance music and neon lights. Once we finished our brief tour, the developers skipped us ahead to the prison, a massive dungeon where we got our first good look The Authority. Unlike the mutants and bandits that wander the wasteland, The Authority knows what it's doing, isn't absolutely crazy, and comes heavily armed with advanced weaponry.

A large-scale battle in the prison's yard best displayed this new foe's fighting prowess. The Authority's troopers were air dropped from a massive carrier aircraft overhead via breakaway jump packs mounted to their shoulders. Once they landed, the troopers would head straight for the nearest piece of useable cover and open fire. Luckily, they weren't the best of shots. Our character had the most trouble with the shield troopers, who would charge our character's position and engage him in close range. To counter this, our character recovered a special ammo type that could short-circuit The Authority's armored suits and stun them temporarily.

The mind snare ammo gave our character limited control over an enemy before making that enemy's head explode.
The mind snare ammo gave our character limited control over an enemy before making that enemy's head explode.

The developers concluded the demonstration by announcing the details of the game's special edition, which will include a double-barrel shotgun, the fist of Rage melee weapon, a stylish suit of crimson elite armor, and a rat rod buggy to replace your standard buggy in the single-player game. With all of these additions Rage is really starting to come together as it quickly approaches its September 2011 release date on the PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

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