A short Rage 2 demo at E3 2018 allowed me to test out the anarchic action of the game’s combat. It felt extremely satisfying to blast enemies away, but the simplicity of the demo’s combat had me wondering if it was enough to carry the game, despite the laudable way in which it was built. It was at this point I realized, this was also one of my biggest issues with the Destiny series in recent years.
As a previously avid Destiny player, one of my cornerstone opinions of the series is that its second-to-second gunplay is very satisfying, but it always struggled to transcend beyond this. The simple act of killing things in Destiny games is tight, precise, and viscerally gratifying, but this charm quickly wears off as you realize the games rely on it to lead you through encounter after encounter with little variation. This is the fate I fear for Rage 2.
Its ballistic physics and combat fluidity are by far Rage 2‘s greatest strength. Every gun I tried packed a weighty punch, and there was something sadistically addictive about the ways in which enemies recoiled and collapsed—or even exploded—after being hit. Unfortunately, nothing else in the demo sported the same distinctive identity.
I had a super ability called Overdrive, which enhanced my health regeneration and combat efficiency, and there were some special moves that let me blast enemies out of the way or dive on them from above, but these are all features shooter players have seen many times before. I generally found myself ignoring these abilities to focus on the satisfaction of just gunning enemies down. The question that has to be asked is how long can this stand on its own against the dozens and dozens of gameplay hours found in your modern open-world game.
The stellar gunplay of the Destiny games couldn’t prevent their repetitive enemies and objectives from chipping away at my enthusiasm, but there is still hope for Rage 2. The primary way in which Rage 2 can prove itself is in the enemy variety. Satisfying shooting mechanics are only as good as the things you’re shooting at, and while the enemies in my demo were fairly underwhelming, the game’s trailers have promised a vast array of hostiles, big and small. If Rage 2‘s enemy variety is as diverse as the trailers suggest, with each requiring clever strategies to overcome, that could be the foundation necessary for a combat system with some lasting power.
The direction Rage 2 is taking with its gunfights will become more clear in the coming months. We don’t yet have a solid release date for the game, but we know it’s launching sometime in spring 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.