With the leak and subsequent official reveal by Bethesda of Rage 2, I feel a bit torn. On the one hand, Rage 2 was never a game I expected or even hoped to see. On the other hand, there are a few variables that make the potential for this game an exciting prospect.
Let’s start with my first notion. Rage came out nearly seven years ago this fall. That’s a long time to forget about a franchise. Even more so because the game failed to leave a lasting imprint in the gaming market. For those who know me well, it is not a secret that I’m a major id Software fan. I grew up playing Wolfenstein 3D and Doom on my Windows 95 operated computer. Like most everyone my age, they were the first introduction I had to what is known as the first person shooter (FPS). These games revolutionized video games forever and created an entirely new genre in doing so. Every FPS game that has left a mark over the years from the Call of Duty series, to the Halo series, Unreal Tournament, Goldeneye back on the Nintendo 64, and so much more all have their roots in id Software’s earliest creations.
When Rage was announced, I was excited. However, back then, id Software’s turn around time on games they’ve announced was ridiculous at best. When Rage finally made it’s debut, id Software had just been aquired by Bethesda only a year or two prior. Rage failed to impress. It was a beautifully created game with excellent gunplay as expected. But that was about all this game had going for it. This was id Software’s first real attempt at an open-world style FPS game and it was clear the developer didn’t have much experience outside of the linear corridor realm. Filling the world with the proper balance of activity and also activities that weren’t reptitive proved to be the games downfall. This was also coupled by underwhelming enemies that lacked in variation. Additionally, to my displeasure, one of id Software’s greatest strengths, boss fights, was largely absent from this game. The simple method to engage a player was throw swarms of enemies at them at once, and this got old.
I can’t even recall the story of Rage. I know there was one, but the game’s narrative was so bare-bones and utterly forgettable that I can’t even draw it out of my memory bank despite having beat the game seven years ago. So with that being said, most would agree with this notion regarding Rage 2: Who cares? It certainly has not been in any discussions that I have seen over the past few years and for all intents and purposes, I completely forgot about the game entirely until the leaks started up just over a week ago. So it’s obvious that there likely isn’t a market demand for a sequel. So why do one?
Well, this is where my optimism steps into the picture. As I stated previously, Bethesda acquired the developer in the middle to latter stages of the game’s development. It’s hard saying how much control Bethesda had over the final product. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Bethesda has prided itself in releasing a steady stream of quality games from the properties it owns for years now. As a publisher and owner of its own development studios including id Software, Bethesda has clearly guided the development of its properties by maintaining a consistent level of quality. The Doom and Wolfenstein reboots performed incredibly well both commercially and critically. Series such as Fallout and Elder Scrolls have continued (mostly) to provide fans with the content they expect. Skyrim has been one of the most lucrative titles of the past generation that has now moved into the current generation in many forms including a remaster, VR, and a Nintendo Switch port. Other games such as The Evil Within and Dishonored have also left a positive mark on the company’s ledger. All in all, it’s safe to say that with Bethesda, I’m at a point where I trust just about anything the company puts out.
There’s another reason I’m optimistic for this new title. That is the fact that Bethesda has not only employed id Software, but also Avalanche Studios. If you’re unfamiliar with Avalanche, this is the independent developer behind the Just Cause series as well as the successful and thrilling open-world Mad Max game a few years back. Come to think of it, experience with Mad Max kind of fits the bill here as its obvious Rage was inspired by that aesthetic to begin with. So, not only are we seeing a partnership between two high-profile developers, but we’re also getting the best of both worlds here. Rage 2, like it’s predecessor, will likely be an open-world FPS title. With id Software having mastered the craft of the FPS mechanics long ago, they now have Avalanche to negate their weakness in the open-world arena. Just Cause and Mad Max are two fine games and I highly recommend that any open-world action fans out there give them a go. But the coupling of these two studios for Rage 2 is almost too perfect. It’s almost as if Bethesda knows exactly what they’re doing. In fact, I believe it’s a lot like that. With that being said, I’m going to hear them out and give Rage 2 a chance.
The only wrinkle that I foresee in Bethesda’s future is the possibility that Gearbox may announce or steal this game’s thunder with Borderlands 3 at E3 due to the aesthetic and thematic similarities. There is no word yet on Borderlands 3, but I feel that is always a possibility and I, like many others, am also anxiously awaiting the next Borderlands game.
What are you thoughts? I’d like to hear them.