The original Rage had its fair share of detractors, but I bloody loved it. I was more than willing to forgive its weaker aspects such as lacklustre world building and bland open world sections, and was drawn in by the slicker than a jar of lukewarm mayonnaise gunplay and the jaw-dropping visuals and sound design. Plus, if you put a collectible card sub-game in any title then you’re already halfway to winning me over. Also, wingsticks. Far out, what a game. So when I heard that id Software were sharing the development reins with Avalanche Studios (of Just Cause fame) I definitely cocked my head to the side in a confused manner. Could Avalanche be trusted to make an id game? id Software are after all the progenitors of the modern first-person shooter, do Avalanche have the chops to walk beside them? After going hands on with Rage 2, I have the answer to that question, and it is…no. But they can definitely make a Destiny clone.
Now in all fairness I’ve only played through one level and experienced about twenty minutes of actual gameplay, and in general I really loved what I played. It looks drop-dead gorgeous (although we were playing on PC with Xbox controllers) for one, and the basic assault rifle and shotgun I got to have a crack at certainly felt meaty and packed a punch. It also had wingsticks. But despite the obvious lengths to emulate id’s style, the addition of pseudo magical powers and an enhanced damage Rage mode that made the screen look like a unicorn had vomited on it definitely made it an entirely different beast. In all honesty, it was hard not to be reminded of my countless hours traipsing the galaxy as a Warlock (read: space wizard) in Activision’s much-maligned shared-world shooter Destiny.
I need to stress that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as despite all the things that Destiny did horribly wrong, and then did horribly wrong again in the sequel, in terms of pure combat mechanics the game can barely be faulted. Furthermore, Destiny itself borrowed liberally from Borderlands in terms of its gunplay, and that can only be a good thing. The addition of powers in Rage 2 does most certainly change the feel of the combat though, making you feel less tied to the ground and more like a…space wizard. They are also on a very generous recharge timer, and thus you’ll be power slamming and force pushing liberally it would seem. This may have simply been tweaked for the demo, and the difficulty was certainly toned down significantly for the vertical slice we got to experience. Perhaps on harder difficulties we’ll see the more chaotic elements of your arsenal come together in clever ways. Or perhaps we’ll be shooting laser beams out of our eyes while cluster grenades are launched out of our arses. Who knows?
It probably worth reiterating here that the game is a joint collaboration between developers Avalanche and id, so perhaps this was the baby they were always going to have. I’m still excited by what I’ve played, and even if it’s not the Rage sequel I had envisioned it still looks very nice indeed.