Rage 2’s pink motif felt like a statement when it debuted its first trailer in May 2018. Post-apocalyptic games tend to be drab, brown-and-gray affairs (including the original Rage), and Rage 2’s neon color palette was an obvious way to help the game stand out, at least when it came to marketing it. Rage 2 became the pink post-apocalyptic game, and it seemed very happy with that designation.
But then something strange happened. Far Cry New Dawn debuted at the 2018 Game Awards, and there was pink everywhere.
Rage 2’s social media team definitely noticed and called out Ubisoft in a mostly friendly manner. Things escalated even more recently, when preview events for both New Dawn and Rage 2 happened almost simultaneously, with New Dawn just beating Rage 2 to the punch when it comes to coverage embargoes being lifted. A ton of New Dawn coverage launched just ahead of Rage 2 coverage, and Rage 2’s Twitter came after Ubisoft—hard. (Well, as hard as social media spats can be.)
Huh, I guess pink is all the RAGE? 😉
Get pumped for new RAGE 2 gameplay coverage next week! pic.twitter.com/ZDtaoDYEP4
— RAGE 2 (@RAGEgame) January 23, 2019
Admittedly, it’s a bit strange that two post-apocalyptic games coming out within months of each other both share such a distinctive visual signal. One post-apocalyptic game going with pink requires a specific artistic vision. But two post-apocalyptic games going pink is a meme.
It’s easy (and stupid) to assume that New Dawn simply ripped off Rage 2’s vibe, but that’s just not the case. New Dawn’s development began before Far Cry 5’s ending was even in place, over a year and a half ago, which was well before Rage 2’s May 2018 unveiling. Development on both games was happening simultaneously, separately, and it’s not like a single color is going to determine who buys what game. Besides, both games present the color differently. When it comes to New Dawn, pink is the color of destruction and rebirth. When it comes to Rage 2, pink is the color of partying and messing stuff up.
As it turns out, both developers have very good reasons for why they went with pink.
For Far Cry New Dawn, it was half inspiration, half science.
“We wanted to do an inviting and colorful post-apocalyptic world, and we did some research and we really were getting obsessed with the principal of super-bloom,” creative director Jean-Sebastien Decant told me. “Sometimes, on the West Coast, after a really dry summer, there is a lot of water, and there are flowers budding, and they’re mostly pink. We loved these verbena flowers, and we said, okay, how can we import that to Hope County in 17 years? We looked at the movement of the winds and how the seeds could be brought from their main home and then we have the super bloom in Hope County.”
But with Rage 2, it was much more about evoking a specific punk-rock feeling.
“For us, pink has always been very punkish,” said Tim Willits, id’s studio director. “It’s the original ‘80s punk culture. If you look at some of the comics from that time, the punk comic culture had a lot of pink to it. We wanted this game to be fun and energetic and exciting, and if you look for the pink things in the world, they’re all things that help direct the player. Just the yellows and the blues, and we can change the sky to all kinds of psychedelic colors. We really wanted to embrace the more fun, over-the-top aspects of this world to make it a different post-apocalyptic world. We like to say it’s post-post-apocalyptic.”
(Then I called it the “funpocalypse,” and Willits told me I should put it in this article, so I have.)
Funny enough, both of these answers get to the core of what their games are. Far Cry New Dawn is a more measured, melancholic take on the apocalypse, whereas Rage 2 is all about getting in people’s faces and gibbing them good with a superpowered ability or shotgun. It just goes to show that, even if they’re both pink, no two apocalypses are the same.