RAGE 2 Review

Richard Walker

Bethesda and id Software have truly cornered the market when it comes to intense, fast-paced shooters whose four-letter titles must be written using caps lock at all times. First came DOOM, then came RAGE, and both share very similar DNA. Or at least now they do, with the release of RAGE 2. Where DOOM favoured tighter, more scripted action, however, RAGE 2 bravely ventures into open-world territory, refusing to water down id's trademark wall-to-wall action and weighty shooting mechanics one iota. This is about as much raw, unadulterated fun with pretend video game guns as it's possible to have.

One of the first things you'll notice about RAGE 2 is just how good the first-person gunplay is. Clearly, id has its grubby fingerprints all over the excellent weapon handling, while primary developer Avalanche Studios of Just Cause fame, marries the relentless bullet-spewing mayhem to a modestly proportioned open world. Story is of little import here; you play as Ranger Walker, the last of his/her kind tasked with restoring some semblance of order (as unlikely as that may seem) to the 'post-post-apocalyptic' wasteland by clearing out the despotic Authority. That's about all you need to know. Oh, and there's a big nasty dictatorial bad guy called General Cross to take down.

Ultimately, the narrative doesn't particularly matter, although it does serve as an excuse to delve into RAGE 2's myriad objectives, encompassing Goon camps, 'Mutie' nests, Authority sentries, Mad Max-style convoys, roadblocks, and, perhaps best of all, Arks. It's in RAGE 2's Arks that you'll find the game's 'nanotrite' abilities: tools belonging to a Ranger that can make you almost unstoppable in a fight. These abilities account for but one of many skill trees, with weapons, 'projects', and your main vehicle also given their own progression branches to work through.

There's a lot more to RAGE 2 than initially meets the eye, and, as such, there are a lot of different types of currency to wrap your head around. Feltrite is a valuable glowing blue mineral found popping out of defeated foes as cells and as crystalline deposits that can be poured into accessing new tiers for weapon mods and base levels for each nanotrite skill you've unlocked. Nanotrite boosters unlock perks for nanotrite abilities and project points – earned by levelling up with your three main allies (more on them in a bit) – can be spent on weapon and item upgrades, as well as abilities that aid you in finding collectibles and such.

On top of all that, you can also visit the Cyber Doc Clinic in Wellspring for augmentations, and purchase schematics from certain vendors that allow you to craft additional wingsticks (yes, the wingstick is back with a vengeance), grenades, health infusions, turret drones, and more. Initially confusing, this does all eventually makes sense. Honest. You can't help but think that Avalanche could have maybe streamlined the progression by tying all of this into a singular strand, even if the multiple menu tabs, currencies, and upgrades do make for some welcome complexity.

It's not all just shooting and that, then. Your Ranger suit enables Walker to perform a variety of exciting feats, from the enemy-exploding Shatter ability to the ground-pounding earthquake of Slam or the destructive force of Vortex, all of which can be found in RAGE 2's Arks. And therein lies the game’s fun factor – messing around with all of those abilities and meaty weapons, coming up with inventive ways to dispatch bandits, mutants, Shrouded, and Authority baddies alike.

Granted, you could go through RAGE 2 with nothing but an assault rifle and shotgun, and never experiment with anything else on offer, but that would be missing the point entirely. Across the game's open world, you'll find ample opportunity to cut loose with your skills outside of the main storyline, and despite the threat of repetition, RAGE 2 remains fresh thanks to that core loop of shooting things, collecting feltrite to enhance your abilities and attributes, and flexing those nanotrite muscles to squash enemies into offal paste. Charge up your Overdrive, and you can unleash hell for a limited period, tearing through enemies with impunity (and flaming white hot bullets) as the screen turns a lurid purple.

Clearing out Goon camps, mutant nests, and so on all folds nicely into RAGE 2's story too, so you never feel like you're doing something purely for the sheer hell of it. Reporting to John Marshall, at the trader town of Gunbarrel, Wellspring mayor Loosum Hagar, and the oddball Dr. Antonin Kvasir in his secluded wetlands laboratory, certain tasks completed across the game's map (as denoted by their corresponding mission marker colours) feed into level progression for each. Only by reaching level 5 with all three will you be able to unlock the final story missions, so you'll need to go about your Ranger business of cleaning up the wasteland.

You'd think this could be an unnecessary annoyance, but RAGE 2 succeeds in being such glorious, brutal, unapologetic fun that it all simply feels right. Even the vehicle handling – which was a slight concern during the game's preview phase – is tight and responsive, and you can also fly around in the Icarus, a gyrocopter thingy (unlocked by helping our Dr. Kvasir) that can zip across long distances, perfect for exploration. While the wasteland itself has its fair share of empty spaces, its assortment of biomes - swamp, desert, forests etc. - lend some variety, as do the different objectives of varying difficulty.

After a damp squib of an ending in the first RAGE, the sequel delivers on the original game's promise with a better – albeit rather short, for an open world game – story, fantastically robust and enjoyable shooter mechanics, fun vehicular combat, and a mischievous sense of the absurd, with giant mutants, exploding red barrels, and more than a modicum of blood and guts. Yes, the environment can be a mite bland in places and some aspects are needlessly complicated, but that doesn't prevent RAGE 2 from succeeding as a slice of pure post-apocalyptic joy in a world full to bursting with post-apocalyptic games.


An unbridled joy to play, RAGE 2 is something that puts an onus on having fun and has no pretences of being anything else beyond that.

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Occasionally, the music can be a bit intense and abrasive, but the weapon sounds lend a lovely sense of feedback and the voice performances are solid.


Running at 1080p resolution on consoles, RAGE 2 can sometimes look a little bit muddy, but the 60fps slickness helps. Overall, the game has a pleasingly chunky style, marred only by a few rare bugs, none of which are game-breaking.


RAGE 2 is an incredibly pleasing game to play. All of its weapons pack serious heft, while entering Overdrive unleashes total unhinged mania. Exploring the open world isn't exactly its forte, but when you're blasting away, it's almost impossible not to have a big dumb smile on your face.


With a story comprising a total of nine missions that clocks in at around 20 hours with sightseeing, RAGE 2 isn't the biggest open world game you'll ever play, but it's one that you'll want to return to even after the credits have rolled. Why? Because that core gunplay is just that good.


Almost perfect. Encouraging you to mess around with the range of abilities and weapons at your disposal, this is a list that you'll relish completing. Marvellous.

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