But the combat outweighs the open world.
Rage 2 is available today and Stevivor has spent a short few hours delving into its open world insanity. With both myself and Ben Salter checking it out on Xbox One X, I think we’ve both come to the same initial conclusion thus far: it’s a fun game marred by bugs.
Focusing exclusively on problems that occurred in Rage 2’s 10-15 minute opening sequence, I’ve had audio drop off. I’ve witnessed jarring transitions between scenes where lifeless characters stand lifelessly waiting to be activated, unaware that the game’s camera has decided to cross to them early. NPCs have become stuck on walls and boxes, unable to progress. Cutscenes that want to be dramatic come across as comical because characters move around weightless like feathers. And while not a bug, some of the early dialogue is truly cringeworthy. After getting to the end of the tutorial, a holographic image just wouldn’t shut up and also wouldn’t let me out of a sealed room so I could go and actually, you know, play.
All that aside though, Rage 2 is really fun.
Once you leave that opening tutorial and set off into the world proper, Rage 2 starts to shine. Sure, some of those bugs I’ve detailed already remain, but they’re quickly forgotten as you get to play with a Doom-like system of creative kills. In my short time with the title I’ve unlocked the ability to dash, do a sort of telekinesis-like blast and I can now double jump, and those skills alongside a trusty assault rifle make murder fun and varied. While cutscenes remain janky, combat gives Walker a weighty feel, either shooting, dashing or meleeing.
Outside of shooting and maiming, I’m finding a lot of joy from exploration. Each time you get to an Arc, the source of potential new powers, upgrades and crafting supplies, you’ll also be asked to find a series of Arc and storage containers. While most are in easy view, there have been a couple that require some proper searching. I’ve had a blast either using wall climbing or double jump abilities to gain access to out-of-reach areas (allowed or not) and checking out the wasteland. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that grab your attention.
Driving really isn’t my cup of tea. I’ve only been in two vehicles – one called Phoenix with a weirdly seductive female AI – and both drove like tanks covered on molasses. The area where you begin is also full of hills and gorges, and trying to take your vehicle through it all is an exercise in frustration. I’ve gone sailing off cliffs far too many times to count, then required to get out and use Focus – a skill that also opens up Arcs for some reason) to set of driving again. I could do without the experience.
We’ll leave this review in progress at that for now and will update this as quickly as we can. For now, I’m okay with Rage 2. It’s a bit unpolished, but combat and on-foot exploration are fun. I’m a bit concerned that the open world will become stale after a short period, but there’s only one way to test that theory. I’ll keep you posted.
More than ten hours in and my opinion of Rage 2 really hasn’t changed — as Ben and I both articulated to one another in the Friendly Fire Show (recommended listening, by the way), combat is ace and the open world is not. It’s that simple.
Combat is by far the biggest selling point of Rage 2, and Avalanche Software should be proud of a title that continually draws comparisons the super-tight Doom reboot in my mind. I live for combat within Rage 2 and get sad when I have to get into whatever shitty vehicle I’m driving to get to the next combat experience. The open world represents boredom and padding to me, but it’s worth the slog for the combat. You win some, you lose some. To close this out, it’s worth noting that several bugs which I could once replicate with ease are becoming increasingly difficult to do so now, so either there have been some amazing stealthy patches, I ran into some bad luck initially or I’m just bad at controlling Walker. Or combinations therein.
Rage 2 is available now on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4.
Rage 2 is being reviewed using promotional codes on Xbox One X, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.