There is a game that has had me sitting on the fence for almost a year now. Rage 2 is a game that I’ve thought about purchasing many times, but I had never been able to pull the trigger. Even when the game was on sale, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it even though Rage 2 was a first-person shooter I was more than willing to try. Have you ever had that happen to you? Well, last Thursday, it was no longer a consideration because Epic Games included the game as part of its weekly free giveaway. Needless to say, I downloaded it immediately.
Rage 2 is an interesting game. Developed by Avalanche Studios and id Software, it is a Bethesda-published title that is decent overall with sprinkles of brilliance. When you boot it up and get into the action, you feel the game has significant potential. There are moments when you’re playing that it seems that it is nail-bitingly close to fulfilling that potential only to miss it. As a first-person shooter, Rage 2 is a good game, but it’s missing that extra something that would have made it a sure-fire hit and memorable. As a result, if you search on the web for user reviews, you’ll find that they are very mixed.
Thank goodness for Xbox Game Pass because it provided me the opportunity to try out the shooter without having to commit to purchasing it. I have put in about 4 to 5 hours into Rage 2 and came away with mixed sentiments. On one hand, the gunplay and stringing together action moves looked and felt excellent. The creative ways to dispose of enemies was insanely entertaining. Yet the open world felt too open for its own good and I came across portions of the game that felt empty. This made the action (the highlight of the game) feel too spread out, which took away from my engagement with the game. Because I haven’t played through the whole game, I can’t vouch for how good or poor the story is. Normally, if I find a game delightful on Game Pass, I would purchase it. As amusing as some of the gameplay moments in Rage 2 were, I could never pull the trigger, even when it was on sale.
It’s not like Bethesda doesn’t put out great FPS titles. The last two Doom titles have been spectacular shooters. I believe the more linear design allows for more non-stop action and better pacing, which has always been the bread-and-butter of Doom games. While I applaud the developers of Rage 2 for attempting an open-world approach with an action shooter, perhaps a more condensed map brimming with more activity throughout may have been a game-changing improvement. When the action is the best aspect of the game, the priority should be to keep feeding that to the player. It should constantly feel chaotic given the story and the circumstances. Doom and Doom Eternal have exhibited mastery in this regard. On the contrary, driving on long stretches of empty road in Rage 2 with little to no enemies does not accomplish this. This is my biggest gripe with the game.
Another expectation that comes with an open-world approach is meaningful interaction with the in-game characters. Bland dialogue and meaningless missions that are nothing much than just fetch quests or repetitive tasks can make an open world game feel lifeless, boring, and empty very quickly. In the few hours that I played Rage 2, I honestly can’t fully recall any mission that I took on. I clearly remember the destruction I rained upon my enemies with my powerful weaponry. But when it comes to the mission details, I don’t remember them. Meanwhile, I can clearly remember missions from games like L.A. Noire, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and the games from the Batman Arkham Collection. The lack of memorable mission content hurts Rage 2 from an immersion perspective.
Overall, I appreciate having Rage 2 in my library and I thank Epic Games for providing it. And though it sounds like I’m not keen on the game, the truth is I’m willing to sink more time into it down the line. But it will only be for the action. I was just not going to spend more than $5 on the game because while the gameplay is some of the best you’ll find in an FPS, the exploration aspect of the game feels bland. Not everyone is going to like this game and with good reason. But I am very thankful Epic Games allowed me to add Rage 2 to my library for free.