So, back when Borderlands was first being developed, the cell-shaded appearance was introduced very late into development because before then, it looked like the original Rage. The whole game seemed like a copy of Rage; now, ten years later, we’ve come full circle as Rage 2 appears to be taking its cues from the Borderlands series. This isn’t strictly a bad thing, especially since we’ve not had much like Borderlands since, and Borderlands 3 is likely to be a trainwreck. I’ll stop talking about Borderlands now.
In what I’m going to start dubbing the Darksiders effect, Rage 2 combines several signature playstyles from other games to create something that has the appearance of being new. It combines DOOM style gunplay with Borderlands flavoured, Siren-esque powers, resulting in the kind of over-the-top comedic gore for which Bulletstorm was noted. Sure, that sounds derivative as hell, and, depending on your perspective, it may very well be just that. I, for one, enjoyed my time with the demo and the game is now firmly on my radar for next year.
Following the design’s style of “mash things together,” the enemies in Rage 2 felt like Borderlands Psychos dressed in Fallout’s Raider wardrobe. Unlike the aforementioned psychos, however, these dudes are no pushovers and fully live up to the idea of a deranged, gun-wielding lunatic. Removing pieces of their armour through excessive firepower is the only way to land a hit that’ll actually hurt them, and even then they’re more difficult to put down than you’d expect.
The movement did feel somewhat sluggish, however, and your character appeared generally underpowered. I can’t tell if this is because whatever I played was meant to be early in the game, thus my character was rather weak, or if it expected me to lean into the powers a bit more. The powers consist of kinetic blasts from your hands, butt stomping the ground with force, quick bursts of super-speed, or what I liked to call “Roid Rage.” I’m sure it had a proper name, but that’s basically what it was, and I’m too proud of the pun to consider anything else. These feel like the kinds of things that’ll be expanded on further, but there wasn’t enough in the demo to tell.
In fact, I can only speak to the gunplay and combat, as that was all the demo offered. That said, there was a brief video beforehand that really wanted to emphasise that this wasn’t all there was to the game. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad sign, so I guess the take away is to remain cautiously optimistic? Given the number of unused items I was picking up that had the word “component” in them, there is absolutely going to be a crafting system of some kind present. So, look forward to that, I suppose.
When I said that Rage 2 was copying Borderlands’ style at the beginning, largely what I was referencing was not its playstyle (though, obviously, that’s been borrowed from too.) Much like its predecessor, Rage 2 is still rocking that last-gen coffee filter appearance. To counteract that, it’s now trying to use clouds of neon smoke and brightly coloured terminal screens and lights to penetrate the overwhelming brown. It also has a new attitude, and by “new” I mean, “ripped straight from Borderlands 2’s wackiness shtick.” Just about every line of dialogue has some kind of joke to flog, and while they were genuinely funny, I wonder how long that will last as the game progresses.
It feels like Rage 2 is shaping up much better than I previously thought it would, and far better than the first game. I do find it highly ironic that it’s now apeing at the style of a game that once overhauled its entire art direction to avoid being too similar to the first Rage. It’s running a high risk of being incredibly derivative, but it’s still too early to tell if that’ll be true of everything it has to offer. At the very least, you’ll be able to shower yourself and the environment around you in gore and, really, isn’t that all you need out of an FPS?