by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 25th May, 2018
Bethesda (which now owns id software) announced Rage 2 a couple of days ago. The reveal campaign started with "leaked" game listing appearing at Walmart website which got followed by a series of Twitter teases ultimately exploding with a lengthy (for a game that just got revealed) gameplay trailer showing over-the-top gunfights similar to 2016's Doom, colorful and varied post-apocalyptic world that has lots in common with the world of Mad Max, and an overall feel to the game reminiscent of Borderlands series.
Bethesda is behind the game as publisher, with id software sharing production duties with Avalanche Studios, known for their excellent Just Cause trilogy and surprisingly good Mad Max game that came out in 2015. Since the two studios have lots of experience making quality games it is no surprise that Rage 2 looks magnificent. The game is set in a huge open world which, at least to what can be seen in the trailer, is greatly varied. You have deserts, lush forests, gritty swamps and all in between.
Explosive combat, tons of enemies and the focus on vehicular combat are also present, and if you ask me I think the game will be one of the best titles of 2019. The first Rage was a game that could perfectly fit into rough gem category. Many faced problems and bugs at the release, and the game suffered from multiple technical problems but deep inside Rage was an excellent shooter with more than a solid story, interesting missions and lots of stuff to do. All that was packed inside an attractive graphical presentation flawed by id's MegaTexture technology featured in id Tech 4 engine, which made textures to look excellent when view from a distance but once you got near things started to get extremely blurry. Not only that but the game suffered from numerous texture streaming problems making it a blurry mess that greatly impacted the experience.
Fortunately, the last iteration of id Tech engine is superb, which is visible in the Rage 2 trailer as well as in the latest Doom and Wolfenstein titles which both are extremely pleasing to the eye sporting top-of-the-line visuals. Add to that announced Rage 2 features like lots of trucks to drive, upgradable weapons and powers, huge open world map and even the chance to fly gyrocopters and we have a (potentially) perfect shooter formula.
Unfortunately, the game won't come for at least 10 months from now (the release is set for Q2, 2019), which isn't an extremely long time but sure is enough to make you yearn for the game after watching its first gameplay trailer. Fortunately, the video game world is filled with titles that can ease that yearn, make it bearable until we finally see Rage 2 on shelves. Substitute games have to be set in a post-apocalyptic world, have to offer satisfiable gunplay, and have to be crazy at least to some degree. So, which games fit into this mold?
Why not start with the original Rage, one of the biggest letdowns of 2010 that, even with its flaws was one very good game. To be clear, most of Rage's problems were of technical nature and if you can swallow blurry textures and some other technical problems that won't interfere with missions and the game's story, try this one out.
Rage features masterfully designed post-apocalyptic setting, there are lots of memorable characters to meet and perform missions for and the game offers remarkable, fast-paced combat with lots of vehicles thrown in the formula. Rage has excellent, varied and adrenaline pumping missions and the game story is also worth following. You play as a former U.S Marine named Nicholas Raine who awakes after spending more than a century in cryogenic sleep. The world, destroyed by an asteroid that impacted shortly after our hero was put to sleep inside a giant structure built to preserve humanity called the Ark, is in chaos and it is up to Raine to find other Arks and activate them.
You will do this by fighting against various factions, visiting destroyed arks, and finding new pieces of info needed for completing your mission. The game has lots of interesting weapons, the best being a boomerang-like weapon that looks like it came from Mad Max universe. Rage features lengthy campaign and in today's shortage of quality single player games is definitely worthy of your time.
Another post-apocalyptic shooter, Fallout 4 is an excellent time waster while you wait for Rage 2 to come out. The game took the best elements of its predecessor and built upon it while stripping itself of most RPG elements. There's no XP to earn but you can level up and assign new skills to your character. There's also the inventory along with a complex crafting system and the presence of many choice-based scenes during which you unfold the story and decide about the fate of residents of Boston Wasteland.
The game massively improved the gunplay and it has some tight shooting. Really, when it comes to weapons, Fallout 4 is light years away from Fallout 3 and New Vegas. There are lots of different quests to solve and the game is filled with NPS just waiting to meet you. Its open world is one of the best ever, tightly packed and filled with content. Fallout 4 is one of those games that will make you waste dozens of hours on side activities, and since the map is filled with stuff to do and to explore you will often find yourself abandoning your current goal just to explore nearby ruins or to discover a new settlement.
Nice graphics, amazing open world environment, endless possibilities when it comes to crafting, solid story, and abundance of side quests are the main reasons to play (or replay) Fallout 4. And once you finish the main story just hop over to Fallout 4 Nexus Mods page and discover a completely new world of quality mods that wait to be downloaded and played. Fallout 4 has a magnificent mod community for if you are into modding your game you will be able to spend hundreds of hours playing the game, ultimately not even noticing Rage 2 once it comes out!
While not featuring tight gunplay of Fallout 4 nor its shiny graphics, Fallout New Vegas has to be recommended because this game has a soul. Its soul can be found in the game's amazingly written story, well-written characters, and the best vaults to explore in any Fallout game. Instead of focusing on a pure abundance of content, Fallout New Vegas is all about the quality experience. You will meet some of the most memorable characters found in Fallout universe, you will discover lots of different settlements, each with its own unique style and atmosphere, and you will solve lots of amazing quests.
The game has it all and is the best Fallout game of them all. The only thing that is flawed compared to Fallout 4 is the combat, which is clunky and rough around the edges. So, if you love post-apocalyptic games, the quality story along with interesting characters, and don't mind subpar gunplay, Fallout New Vegas is a perfect game to play while waiting for Rage 2. Just as Fallout 4, New Vegas also has lots of mods you can download and install, many of them offering graphical overhauls that make the game much prettier and closer to Fallout 4.
The game made by Avalanche Studios is one of the few games based on movies that can be called good. And this one isn't just good. Mad Max is a joyful ride across the Wasteland seen in the movies. You play as famous Max Rockatansky and your main goal is revenge. After getting his car and supplies stolen Max is left in the desert to die but he manages to survive and takes on a quest to kill Scabrous Scrotus, the son of Immortan Joe.
Max gets a hold of a new car and with his trusty sidekick and car mechanic called Chumbucket, and sets of on liberating the desert of Scrotus' reign. In Mad Max, you travel in your car across the barren desert wasteland, and the game is filled with vehicular combat that is done much better than in Rage. You can upgrade your car, making it faster, tougher, installing special parts that give the car new weapons and tools and this part of the game is done superbly.
The game also features gun and melee combat with melee combat being surprisingly well done. The game features a huge post-apocalyptic open world that is true to Mad Max movies. Lots of insane characters, lots of bloodthirsty raiders, lots of over-the-top vehicles and lots of adrenaline pumping car chases. Every single resident of the Wasteland looks for just one thing, fuel. And getting fuel is very important in Mad Max. All in all, Mad Max is one satisfying action game and one of the best post-apocalyptic games available at the moment. A perfect title to play while waiting for Rage 2.
You may ask why Doom is on this list, so let us elaborate. It is set in a post-apocalyptic environment (at least it is post-apocalypse on Mars), it features over-the-top combat and is more than a bit crazy. Also, by the look of Rage 2 trailer, the combat will be very similar to Doom meaning you will want to play this one to prepare for even bigger set pieces that will surely take place in Rage 2.
Aside from its extremely satisfying gunplay Doom also offers amazing graphics that show all the gritty details on demons who roam Mars and who don't know anything about you because if they know about The Marine they would run as fast as they can as soon as seeing you coming. There's also a lengthy campaign that is filled with adrenaline pumping battles and that will need lots of skill to beat if you play the game on hard difficulty (which I wholeheartedly recommend). Also, the soundtrack is spot on and perfectly reflects the game's insanely fast pace and brutality.
Okay, this one is a natural recommendation. Borderlands is one of the best shooters, and games in general, that features an atmosphere similar to the one found in Rage. In other words, expect insane characters to meet, over-the-top combat, and quality missions to embark on. The world is huge, and every single element of the game is miles ahead of the first Borderlands. This is why we cannot recommend the first one, the sequel is just massively better.
Borderlands also features deeply satisfying vehicular combat and while the game isn't built around it serves its purpose of pumping adrenaline and causing massive explosions. Other qualities found in Borderlands is one of the most memorable villains ever found in any video game as well as a lengthy campaign during which you will meet tons of characters, each of them with its own quirks and unique personalities and each one with its own unique mental disorder. Really, the humor in Borderlands titles is spot on and is always nice to see poor Claptrap getting himself in new troubles, not to talk about your conversations with Handsome Jack.
The game also features an amazing gun looting system that will drive you forward with its almost uncountable number of potential color, effects, munition, and special attack combination. In Borderlands 2, finding a new weapon that is more powerful and that can be immediately equipped is like finding your soul mate. Until a couple of hours later you find a new soul mate. The game is very pretty and thanks to its cell-shaded looks it doesn't look old even though it got released almost six years ago. Get this one and you will forget about the outside world, at least until you complete the campaign. And then find a couple of friends and finish it again in co-op mode on the highest difficulty setting. It's one hell of a fun.
Bioshock is one of the best shooters ever, and that's a fact. The game from a famous Ken Levine, the guy who brought us System Shock 2, is a masterpiece of storytelling and level design. Right from the start, once you enter the lighthouse and start descending to the Rapture, you know that you will experience something special.
Similarities with Rage aren't huge but they are important. For instance, the combat is fast-paced and strategical because, most times, you will face multiple opponents who know how to use the surroundings to their advantage, something we also saw in Rage. Gunplay is excellent and every weapon can be upgraded, letting you create your own deadly arsenal that suits your play style.
Next, the city of Rapture lived through its own localized apocalypse and while the outside world is instant, alive and kicking, the depths of Rapture hide a gruesome tale of humanity's constant strive for greatness that often leads to pride and, ultimately, to a fall. And finally, Raptures' residents are insane, they all are insane to some extent with the game throwing all sorts of madman personalities that are well written and very believable.
Levels are open for exploration and while the game doesn't feature open world map, its levels are large enough to come with a high level of nonlinearity. You can explore haunting Rapture at your own pace, to look under every single pebble found on the floor or you can storm your way through a level while trying to figure out what has happened to the underwater city and her disfigured residents.
The game's RPG elements are a perfect fit and the infamous Big Daddy's make for some of the best combat encounters I saw in any game to date. The campaign is very long and the story is one of the best ever to be found in any video game, and probably the best to be found in a first-person shooter. This one is a perfect pick while waiting for Rage 2.
Twisted Metal 2 was one of my favorite games during my childhood. Ever since I saw it on a friend's PlayStation I just had to have it. Masterfully designed vehicular combat combined with a wide selection of playing characters, each with their own unique vehicle and backstory (making them more like Mortal Kombat characters, which were the best out of all fight games back in the day) made the game an instant hit once it came out back in '97. Countless hours have been spent playing Twisted Metal 2 and while the series had many sequels, the second one is by far the best one.
The game features a rudimentary campaign that leads you across the world fighting for life across many different demolition derby arenas. But, while campaign can be fun, the meat of the game is its amazing local multiplayer mode. The only sequel that is worth playing is 2012's Twisted Metal that brought again that phenomenal vehicular combat and combined it with many interesting game modes. If you want to prepare for Rage 2's vehicular combat (which should play a large role in the game) this one and Mad Max are by far the best choices.