RAGE 2

With id de­liv­er­ing the fight­ing and Avalanche the open world, it truly is a golden Rage.

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Hold­ing the trig­ger down, a punk is jig­gling against a graf­fiti-scrawled wall as every shot lands with a sat­is­fy­ing thud. The screen fills with the or­ange and pink flashes of muz­zle fire and be­tween the pit-a-pat of gun­fire and break­ing con­crete we can hear our en­emy gig­gling – or is he scream­ing? No, he’s def­i­nitely laugh­ing. Or is it us?

If the orig­i­nal Rage was Mad Max 2, Rage 2 is Beyond Thun­der­dome crushed into Fury Road. It’s Tina Turner bel­low­ing a power bal­lad as the world burns, in­side a rain­bow.

Though it is a se­quel to the orig­i­nal Rage – which looked stun­ning, and promised the open world but in the end de­liv­ered a lin­ear, if meaty, first-per­son shooter – this fol­low-on takes Rage’s core ideas, drags them through a Pan­tone colour chart and spits out a shooter that will make you smile – a lot. The point that bil­lions had to die to give us this bright, post-apoc­a­lyp­tic car­nage is moot.

“It’s def­i­nitely much more than a straight-up se­quel,” says Tim Wil­lits, stu­dio di­rec­tor at id Soft­ware, as we sit down to dis­cuss the re­turn of Rage. “Be­cause the game­play and the part­ner­ship with Avalanche has re­ally shaped it into some­thing unique and spe­cial.”

Ah yes, the head­line news: id Soft­ware is part­ner­ing with Avalanche Stu­dios to do jus­tice to Rage 2’s blend of gun­play, car com­bat, and open world lu­nacy. One stu­dio is the master of tight, finely-tuned first-per­son shoot­ing, the other adept at cre­at­ing vast open spa­ces – play­grounds of de­struc­tion. It’s a su­per stu­dio team-up that prom­ises Doom un­shack­led, or Just Cause with bet­ter shooty bits; take your pick.

Avalanche has been in­volved with Rage 2 since in­cep­tion. It means this is a mar­riage of equals: “We had an op­por­tu­nity to part­ner up with them and bring the id Soft­ware first-per­son-shooter-style com­bat to a true open world go any­where, do any­thing en­gine,” ex­plains Wil­lits. “So you re­ally have the best of both worlds. You have one of the best open world de­vel­op­ers team­ing up with one of the best first-per­son shooter de­vel­op­ers.”

It’s a union that merges id’s nar­row fo­cus – pon­der­ing over frame rates on a melee strike or tin­ker­ing with the dead space on the con­troller – “this mil­lisec­ond stuff,” says Wil­lits – with Avalanche’s broad stroke ideas and knack for build­ing colour­ful worlds that de­mand to be ex­plored.

“It re­ally has been a buddy movie of love work­ing with the Avalanche team and shar­ing ideas and knowl­edge,” en­thuses Wil­lits.

The part­ner­ship with Avalanche en­sures this gaudy se­quel will be

“DRAGS RAGE THROUGH A PAN­TONE COLOUR CHART AND SPITS OUT A SHOOTER TO MAKE YOU SMILE.”

the open world id-style shooter the orig­i­nal Rage was meant to be – Doom set free. Wil­lits is the first to ac­knowl­edge the orig­i­nal game failed to truly embrace emer­gent game­play. “We had the mega­tex­ture tech­nol­ogy and we had the open world, but it was re­ally kind of two dif­fer­ent things – it was the waste­land and you then loaded an­other level, and then you were in your first-per­son com­bat. Well that’s all gone now. You’re now just in the game.”

BEYOND DOOM

In Rage 2 there will be no load­ing be­tween mo­ments. When you dis­cover a sewer, hide­out, or set­tle­ment and venture in­side and tune in your Doom mus­cle mem­ory there’ll be no pause to the ac­tion. “Every­thing is seam­less and to­gether, and you can en­gage that com­bat the way that you want. So that prom­ise of Rage is de­liv­ered in Rage 2,” says Wil­lits ex­cit­edly.

The idea of an id-style shooter tak­ing the bal­anced, fran­tic, and emer­gent com­bat of Doom’s 2016 re­boot, and trans­plant­ing it into a freeform play­ground is a teas­ing one. You can en­gage in com­bat any way you wish, run­ning into a strong­hold Doom-style, guns blaz­ing, “tear­ing ev­ery­one apart like a clas­sic id Soft­ware game,” or you can choose to hang back and snipe from a dis­tance, or ram a ve­hi­cle into the mid­dle of the en­emy horde and start shoot­ing.

“The uni­verse of Rage 2 al­lows you to run around and shoot it up any way you want. No other id Soft­ware game has re­ally ever been made like this,” laughs Wil­lits.

In­clude ve­hi­cles – gy­ro­copters, mo­tor­cy­cles, cars, and trucks – and Rage 2 prom­ises to ful­fil Wil­lits’ fevered de­sire for a free-spir­ited take on the clas­sic id shooter style. You can be fly­ing around, see a set­tle­ment, and drop down to find your­self in some in­tense first-per­son gun­play.

“It re­ally is this amaz­ing mar­riage of every­thing fun in videogames,” en­thuses the dev. “I love, ob­vi­ously, id com­bat, and I love play­ing in th­ese big open worlds – that’s why I wanted to cre­ate Rage in the first place – and fi­nally be­ing able to ex­e­cute on the vi­sion and prom­ise is re­ally ex­cit­ing.”

BIG COUN­TRY BLAST

It’s clear then, this is no cor­ri­dor shooter. You’re free to explore and en­gage with the story any way you want. It’s been im­por­tant, ex­plains Wil­lits, to make sure the flow of the game feels ran­dom, with mis­sions

“YOU CAN BE FLY­ING AROUND, SEE A SET­TLE­MENT AND DROP DOWN FOR IN­TENSE FIRST-PER­SON GUN­PLAY.”

un­fold­ing around a loose struc­ture. In fact the team aren’t even call­ing them mis­sions: “For us what we re­ally wanted to do is cre­ate ‘events’… that you can do or you can’t do, it’s to­tally up to you, and that af­fects the big­ger pic­ture,” out­lines Wil­lits.

The pro­gres­sion, up­grades, and re­wards you earn for com­plet­ing th­ese ‘mo­ments’ help you progress. There’s no or­der to com­plete events in, but any wins will af­fect the wider world, in what Wil­lits al­ludes to as Rage’s 2’s cen­tral pivot: war­ring Fac­tions that con­trol ar­eas of the world.

“We try to give the player a lot of choice and we en­cour­age them to do the re­ally im­por­tant things but they don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to do them,” hints the id de­vel­oper, tan­ta­lis­ingly. “There are things that change based on what you ac­com­plish. That’s al­ways been an im­por­tant as­pect of the game and the sto­ry­telling. It’s not a for­mu­laic world that just kind of re­peats it­self and you en­gage in it. You will see things that you do af­fect the world, and we think that is def­i­nitely part of the sto­ry­telling.”

GOOD LUCK CHUCK

This time you play as Walker, the last Ranger. Robbed of your home and left for dead in the waste­land, you’re on a re­venge mis­sion against the Author­ity – the re­turn­ing big bad from the orig­i­nal game. Wil­lits teases more links to the orig­i­nal story, with Doc­tor Kvasir and Cap­tain John Mar­shall (leader of the re­sis­tance against the Author­ity) mak­ing a re­turn, if older. John Good­man’s Dan Hagar never made it. Pre­sum­ably he wasn’t “one lucky son of a bitch”.

This new game will have what Wil­lits calls ‘world sto­ry­telling’. “There’s more per­son­al­ity in some of the en­vi­ron­ments, there’s much more di­a­logue, there’s much more go­ing on, there’s sub-sto­ries, so yes, story is very im­por­tant,” he says.

The world of Rage 2 is the pay­off for the events of the orig­i­nal game. Hav­ing brought the Arks to the sur­face, the Author­ity War raged for years, and now it’s Walker’s task to re­build him­self and take the fight back to the to­tal­i­tar­ian regime.

Quest aside, id is us­ing the premise of the resur­faced Arks to al­ter its Rage uni­verse in a dra­matic way. Each Ark con­tained ‘ecopods’ with dis­tinct en­vi­ron­men­tal sig­na­tures, which re­shaped the land. Wil­lits ex­plains: “The first game was the postapoc­a­lyp­tic world. But now we have ar­eas that are more than just a brown, dusty waste­land. This is more of a

post-post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world where so­ci­ety is try­ing to re­build and we have dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments, dif­fer­ent land­scapes, there’s veg­e­ta­tion and swamps, and rivers, and lakes, so the world is re­ally evolved.”

What this means in-game is colour. Every wood and waste­land is awash with a sig­na­ture tone used to draw out emo­tion as you en­ter an­other fren­zied skir­mish. Even in the heat of bat­tle it doesn’t let up – ex­plo­sions erupt with or­ange and pink hues, en­e­mies bob around in bright yel­low rad suits, and that truck gunning for you is caked in neon graf­fiti. It’s like Jamie Hewlett doo­dled Doom’s con­cept art.

Wil­lits ex­plains that from the out­set the team wanted Rage 2 to have a sig­na­ture look, one that’s “over the top and a lit­tle odd, it’s fun and invit­ing,” and de­mands you explore its blue misty glades and red-hued val­leys.

“The world has evolved from that dry, dusty waste­land and we re­ally wanted to show­case that,” says Wil­lits. “We spent a lot of time work­ing on some re­ally cool en­vi­ron­ments and even had some long de­bates about the colour of wa­ter. Play­ers want th­ese rich en­vi­ron­ments as it’s eas­ier for them to un­der­stand where they’re go­ing, it’s eas­ier to get a con­text for what you’re do­ing.”

GOOD TO BE RAD

Of the game­play we see, one bat­tle catches our eye: a skir­mish with a dozen en­e­mies on screen, ex­plo­sions, muz­zle flare, and de­bris lit­ter­ing the scene, and a mon­ster truck storm­ing across the bat­tle­field swip­ing away a handful of Fac­tion foes – it’s chaos.

Wil­lits ex­plains the anarchy: “There are Fac­tions that don’t like other Fac­tions, there’s AI that don’t like other AI, there’s in­de­pen­dent AI that’s in the ve­hi­cles, there’s friendly ve­hi­cles, there’s bad guy ve­hi­cles, so the world is re­ally dy­namic.”

The com­bat flows, and in our mind we build up every­thing that hap­pens around us, cre­at­ing our own sto­ries.

“You re­ally find your­self en­gaged in this world be­cause stuff isn’t re­ally staged,” says Wil­lits. “In other games you go to a check­point and now this guy’s go­ing to run over that guy, but in this world you’re in the waste­land, you’re driv­ing around, you see a bunch of mu­tants, then some other guys jump out…” Rage 2’s prom­ise? You’ll never know what’s around the next cor­ner. But it will be colour­ful.

“RAGE 2’S PROM­ISE? YOU’LL NEVER KNOW WHAT’S AROUND THE NEXT COR­NER. BUT IT’LL BE COLOUR­FUL.”

[1] Th­ese large ‘Crusher’ mu­tants will sup­port smaller en­emy squads, but they are also loose prowl­ing the world. [2] Rage 2 is so pwetty. [3] Mechs are driv­able and look like they’re cob­bled to­gether from left-over parts of Op­ti­mus Prime.

[1] Doc­tor Kvasir is back to fid­dle with your Nan­otrites. [2] It’s not all dusty grey deserts this time around – look at this moody wood­land. [3] Explore the world to dis­cover mas­sive jumps, just for fun. [4] The Wing­stick is back and can be mod­ded to pack a hefty punch, in­clud­ing ig­nit­ing any en­e­mies it makes con­tact with.

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