Posted on 01 Jun 2019 by K-putt


The Defence

Developer: Bethesda
Publisher: Bethesda
Genre: Action, Shooter
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: No data.

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 3570
AMD Ryzen 1300X
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 3GB
AMD Radeon R9 280 3GB
HDD: 50 GB
DirectX: Vulkan
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 4770 @3.5 GHz
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X @3.6 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
AMD Vega 56 8GB
HDD: 50 GB
DirectX: Vulkan
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

It’s been nearly 12 years since John Carmack’s RAGE was released. With its very unique Megatextures and true id Software fashion of game and level design it’s no easy task to follow something like that up with another game. And who would’ve guessed to see the creators of Just Cause 1 and 2 working on it? Was Avalanche really the best partner to bring RAGE 2 to life in the first place? Did it have to be vast open-world? Can you feel that id Software had their hands in the project?

The Trial

War. War never changes. Even 30 years after the first RAGE game takes place, there’s still big fights going about in the Wasteland with Rangers, Bandits, Mutants and the somehow still ridiculously advanced Authority. You’re playing the role of the non-Ranger ‘Walker’. A descendent of a real Ranger from one of the ARKS that opened up all those years ago. The game starts you out at night in a small barrack where you can choose to play as a male or female character. This doesn’t seem to affect the game in any meaningful way however and you can choose whoever you think fits your mood best. After you choose your alter ego, you get thrown into a big concrete outpost that gets attacked by the big evil robotnik General Cross. He’s basically just a human head glued to a power suit. Do you want to guess what his endgame is? That’s right, world domination. It’s all very cut and dry when it comes to the story. You, John Walker Space Doom Marine, want your revenge on the general for killing your aunt that trained you to become a soldier. And Mecha Robot General Martin Cross, who looks like a dude cosplaying as a Transformer, wants to rule the world by killing all the remaining ARK folk with his vastly superior Authority army. And he basically manages to do it as well right at the start of RAGE 2. Killing every last Ranger. Except you pick up a suit from dead dude and now you’re the Ranger. Aren’t dead more Rangers laying around? Can’t anyone else pick up those suits? Just re-use the suits! Ah well. Your part in all of this is to end his power and clear the world of the Authority. Combining the knowledge and help of 3 of your closest allies scattered around the wasteland you will build… a tank. You’ll build a tank. Not a huge rocket, Zeppelin or giant UFO. It’s just a small Tank to infiltrate the base of General Martin Cross. It’s a rather cool tank of course, but I was still let down that it wasn’t something bigger.

Most things take place overground apart from a handful of areas that take place inside a building or underground. And those are usually my favorite parts of the game environment-wise since they’re more like traditional handcrafted arenas. An open-world is not always the best way to approach something like this. The world feels generated, lifeless and tedious to traverse. Cars feel strange to drive and going off-road usually ends up with cars flipping over or exploding right away. I actually preferred walking or using that flying drone bike thingy to go from A to B. And it doesn’t even have weapons! While I dipped my feet into the car combat, I didn’t enjoy it very much because the cars drive real strange. I never knew when it started drifting or how I could get out of a drift without the car going off the road again. Vehicles powerful enough, like the endgame tank, to easily take on the tankers (large fuel trucks that you can destroy to get some XP) tend to be rather slow and you’re constantly fighting not only with the way the car behaves on the road, but also the enemy and your turbo to stay close. So it ends up feeling like your car stutters to keep up with the other cars. And again, cutting corners won’t do you any good because you just flip your car over again. Or god forbid, hit a small tree with your tank!

The combat is frequently hilarious.

Once you manage to destroy one of these fuel trucks however, or any other activity that pops up on your map, you’ll level up your rank with the specific project leaders. Each leader has their own little activities for you to complete. Dr. Kvasir for instance is totally into feltrite. Harvesting these glowing blue minerals makes him rather happy. Giving you some XP and getting you closer to leveling up his ‘Project’. Each new level will give you some project points. And you really want as many of those as you can since they unlock handy perks like getting more feltrite or a tracker for storage containers that are thrown about in every outpost you go. More ammo or being able to reflect enemy grenades with a timed melee attack are other examples. So it’s useful to actually do these side activities. Doing these also makes the handful of missions a lot easier and enjoyable as well. And I’m not joking by saying handful of missions. There’s 8. Eight story missions which mostly consist of “Go to Wellsprings” “Talk to the Guard” “Go inside Wellspring”  “Talk to someone else” “Now go to someone else again” “Now actually go and do something by racing a car!” “Done? Well go and talk to someone again” … I find it hard to believe that these 8 missions is all they could’ve come up with. It just isn’t enough.

So what did i actually enjoy about the game? Why did i even bother finishing it? It’s rather straightforward. The shooting and the abilities. Exploding enemies spraying their bloody gore around mixed together with feltrite which acts as health pickups. Similar how it works in DOOM 2016 bar the ammo pickups. Using the vortex to huddle enemies together with something like a black hole, only for that vortex to explode and suspend the enemies in mid-air for a few seconds. Enough time to grab your shotgun and pick ‘em off one by one. Or use the secondary mode on the rocket launcher to mark a couple enemies for your homing rockets to target. All while dashing 10 meters in the blink of an eye with your… dashing ability. Evading enemy gunfire. Knocking back grenades like they’re baseballs. There’s even a gravity gun that propels enemies you shoot to any area you pointed your gun at. Making them fly into the ceiling at neck breaking speeds. And of course there’s your overdrive special meter power move that overclocks your ranger suit. Making everything 10x more powerful for a short amount of time. Each shot with your shotgun has a good chance of turning your enemy into a fine mist. The energy weapon won’t overheat and your firestorm revolver doesn’t just shoot flame darts, but rather explosive bullets. It usually ends up with bloody bone cracking meat noises and explosions filling up the entire screen for a minute. It’s all rather satisfying and keeps you wanting to do it again and again. However, after you cleared what feels like your 67th outpost, you need to traverse this pointless open world again until you stumble across your next outpost or a small random encounter on the street corner. There’s also these Authority sentries that you can destroy. But it’s so mundane that I stopped doing those after the 5th one. You’re essentially just hiding behind a wall until the sentry is done shooting, pop out of cover and shoot it’s blue glowing bits until it starts shooting again. Rinse and repeat until the sentry is done for. The meat really is the PvE combat of the game where you can combine the abilities and your arsenal to your heart’s content. It really is so good that it made me endure everything else I didn’t enjoy about game.

Unequivocally the best vehicle in the game.

Even the user interface wants to get on your nerves more often than not. Like mouse clicks not getting registered. Holding E to climb a ladder or to get into your car. There’s nothing else bound to E to even need the option to either hold or press it. Just make it a simple press. I won’t be accidentally chucking a grenade at my bike because I only pressed it once. Of course, on the controller you need to press the X button to reload and holding it makes you climb up the ladder. But why not bother removing this for the PC controls? The default bindings are also a bit baffling to me with your ability modifier on CTRL. Making you choose between either sprinting or using your abilities. Binding that ability modifier to a thumb button on my mouse, I found that modifier easier to use.

Graphically the game won’t blow many folks away I imagine. I know I wasn’t. But it’s certainly far from ugly. While the action is happening on screen you get fantastic per-object motion blur. Coupled with a depth of field effect whenever you aim down sights or something explodes near you. There’s also some glitch-like effects on the edge of the screen when you activate your abilities. Extensive use of colour grading is also on board. But that seemed bugged more than once on my end. With the colour grading not fading smoothly from one state to another, but rather abruptly. Things that can be fixed with future patches I’m sure. I noticed a strange bit of pop-in however. Whenever I climbed up a hill or got closer to a shrub, it did a rather strange and funky animation. Like it switches between multiple LOD states in a short amount of time. (Here’s an example clip.) Loading up the game or fast traveling in-game is fairly quick on my SSD. Ranging from 4-6 seconds on a fast travel or death. Performance seems to be solid on my rig as well at 1440p and 60FPS ( 4790K@4,7Ghz and a 1080Ti). There still seems to be some headroom however with the GPU usually topping out at about 70%. I did notice a few odd drops here and there but again, these things will most likely be fixed with future patches. Things like the motion blur, chromatic aberration or depth of field can be disabled if you’re one of those people. FoV is also adjustable from 50 to 120. A field of view of 120° obviously makes you the FoV master.

The Verdict

So all in all. RAGE 2 should not have been open-world. Should have better driving physics, bigger focus on story and way more traditional levels. Despite all these shortcomings I still enjoyed it enough to see it to the end. I won’t however start it up again to complete every single activity in the game. There’s just not enough there to incentivise that to happen. If you’re the kind of guy who loved the shooting of DOOM 2016 and isn’t too bothered by my points about the open world, it’s certainly worth picking up. RAGE 2 makes me more excited for DOOM Eternal than any other marketing video could’ve. In fact.. I’ll fire up DOOM right now.

Case Review

  • Shoot: No questions here, it’s by far the most fleshed out gameplay aspect of the entire game and the only thing that kept me playing it.

  • Guns: They’re big, loud and good fun. Combining them mid-fight is a treat.

  • Abilities: There’s something cathartic about slamming into the ground, catapulting goons into the air and blasting them 50 meters away in the blink of an eye.

  • Exploration: There’s a real need for exploration to get powerful enough to make the fights easier and more fun. Shame the exploration isn’t actually very diverse however.

  • Graphics: RAGE 2 certainly won’t win any SIGGRAPH awards for real-time graphics but it manages to produce nice vistas every now and then again.

  • Controls: After a few tweaks to the default bindings, I got used to the weird way abilities are activated.

  • World: I’m not sure being open-world did the game any favors at all.

  • Characters: Most of ‘em are really one dimensional and apart from cutscenes you won’t get to know your mission givers really well.

  • Story: Big goon wants to kill everyone. Kill him and every one of his posse first to win the game

  • Main Missions: Where are they? 8 missions surely aren’t enough.

3 Score: 3/5
You have to chew through a lot of nothing to get to the good shooty bits.


  • Settings: Loads of toggles and switches to suit your visual preference or hardware.
  • Audio: Various sliders for Music, Voices and SFX. Together with toggles for dynamic range or channel output for either Stereo or Surround.
  • Controls: Plenty of rebindable keys and sliders to adjust either normal mouse sensitivity or while aimed down sights. There’s also bindable actions for instantly casting abilities instead of using the modifier key. Controller deadzone is a bit on the big side however and can’t be adjusted.


3 Score: 3/5

RAGE 2 is an unfortunately imbalanced game; there’s simultaneously too much and not enough. There’s too much open world, too much busywork, too many upgrades, and too many times you’ll be holding the use key to get onto a ladder or into your car. There’s too little story, too little character development, and too little meaningful interaction. On a more positive note – the combat on-foot is fantastic: you’ll be zipping around smoothly launching unfortunate chumps into sub-orbital flight with your shotgun, creating a temporary black-holes, and setting dudes on fire with an awesome revolver. All your weapons get turned up to 11 once you activate your overdrive type ability – the shotgun becomes more powerful, fire bullets become explosive, rockets are deadlier, and so on.

The game falls apart in vehicular combat however: the world doesn’t lend itself to going off the beaten path very well with too many rocks and trees to get stuck on, or too many hills your vehicles can rarely make it up. Not that it matters, your cars handle abysmally off-road anyway. Your primary vehicle is upgradable with new weapons and better armour but its only real use is taking out Authority checkpoints, huge towers with huge guns, and all that amounts to is popping in and out of cover until it’s dead and your default machine guns seem to be the most effective weapon you have against them. Once you get the sole flying vehicle (that doesn’t even have weapons) you’ll just abandon all land-based transportation for convenience sake.

Another point of contention is that within ten minutes of starting the game you’re given your primary vehicle, assault rifle, and ranger suit. You’ve got the best weapon and the best car right out of the gate. From a practical standpoint there’s little to no reason to bother seeking out other vehicles or weapons. If you stick to the main story, you’ll be done with RAGE 2 in a couple of hours; mostly taken up by NPCs waffling on about something you’re never given a reason to care about and wandering back and forth. The final assault on the enemy compound gives you a tank, but its main cannon is hilariously ineffective against infantry and your handheld weapons are stupidly effective against armour so you may as well just ditch it. I spent somewhere between 6-7 hours with RAGE 2 because the shooting was so much fun but a lot of that time was spent glancing at my watch waiting for the bullshit in-between bits to be over.