Oh it’s good.
Lacking any overt advertisements, I almost completely missed the stage-floor demo of RAGE 2 at PAX 2018. Anxious to get to a closed-door meeting with NVDIA (more on that later,) I was very close to brushing straight past RAGE 2 until a gorgeous angel — in the form of a middle-aged man — stepped away from a computer. With 15 minutes to spare, I jumped in. Here’s what I thought, spoiler, it’s good.
The demo was a playable version of the Eden Assault mission that we’ve seen in a multitude of trailers. To get all the boring stuff out of the way, I was not allowed to take any footage and the game was running on desktop computers with 360 gamepads plugged in. It ran very well, but graphically it didn’t look as sharp as I expected. I’m totally digging the puffs of pink and purple everywhere, though, from what I played they serve a minimalist role, which I’m pretty happy with. The same can’t be said for the lame voice-over commentary which feels a bit too heavy handed and trying to be “so stupid it’s funny.”
Now to what you really care about: the gameplay. I was a bit disappointed that they weren’t running mouse and keyboard, but honestly, it doesn’t matter because it felt SO DAMN GOOD. You can definitely sense id Software’s unique spark in the gameplay, as the kick-back of the shotgun and recoil effects from the assault rifle lend enough control to make you feel powerful without boring you with laser-focused guns.
However, what really sells the shooting of mutants to bits is the AI’s response to each shot. While the enemy AI in the RAGE 2 demo didn’t seem particularly hard to kill, the impact of bullets on them was clearly visible. The kinetic force of the shotgun ammo would thrust them back into walls, and depending on where you shot them with your automatic rifle they would jolt in different directions. When these reactions are combined with force push and fist slam abilities, the result is an immensely satisfying action game.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand the value of the ‘iconic’ wingblade. Sure, it has a tracking ability and digs into enemy heads over and over (which is cool, btw,) but it takes a little too long to charge and it travels too slowly in the air. Granted, these complaints could be immediately alleviated by the upgrade system I’m assuming exists.
Aside from that, the demo was quite straightforward: I ran through a decaying building complex killing dudes, all the while unlocking doors with the help of a handy tech guy on the other end of an earpiece. It was quite brief but has successfully met my gameplay expectations and I’m incredibly excited to see more.