I'm not a fan of the punk-pop marketing, but eh, that's just the soundtrack. The Rage 2 gameplay trailer has a lot of good things going for it. You play Walker, the last Ranger—and yes the publisher, Bethesda, already made a Walker Texas Ranger joke. So, I guess there goes my headline.
In the trailer, which is crammed with a lot of split-second imagery, Walker "energy pushes" a bad guy into an explosion of blue light. That's in addition to a slam attack, and the apparent ability to juggle enemies in the air with gunfire. The more magical-looking abilities are Walker's "Nanotrites" at work. He's the last surviving member of a small handful of Rangers with these Nanotrite powers that give him pseudo-BioShock abilities. Walker can also shove his Nanotrites into his guns, pushing his weaponry beyond their mechanical limits.
Vehicle combat, something that co-developer Avalanche Studios gets very right in its 2015 Mad Max video game, is here in Rage 2. Chases, escapes, turbo boosters, explosions, customized cars, monster trucks, and gyrocopters. As much as I respect the Gran Turismos and Forzas of this world, I'm more into the Twisted Metals and, well, the Mad Maxes of vehicular video games. And I definitely saw an armed and armored mech in that first trailer. That's something else Avalanche Studios primed in Just Cause 3. Heck yeah.
As for gunplay, well, you've got id Software, maker of Doom, with its finger on the trigger. So, that part is handled. The environment is littered with the occasional red barrel to light up the bad guys. I'm so glad bad guys love taking cover behind big, explosive red barrels. Then there is this two-story abomination running around with truck tires and a dune buggy frame for shoulder armor. That's also the second you see Walker screaming and bringing his Overdrive power into play, which boosts his damage and special abilities, and also gets health regeneration going. It all looks appropriately over the top. Walker is flinging around that Krull-looking Nerf boomerang, or whatever it's called. Looks like it does some fidget-spinner action on enemies' faces. Probably isn't the star attraction, like Kratos's throwing axe in the new God of War, but could be fun.
There are plenty of factions drawing a line in the sand (or in the swampland, the forests, the badlands, the junkyards) for what's left of Mother Earth and her enormous black eye. Along with gangs and mutants, Walker is fighting the Authority—returning antagonists from the first game, led by General Cross. The Authority is wiping out the few remaining pureblood Arkists left on the planet. Guess what: you're one of the few remaining pureblood Arkists.
If this news post is chaotic, well, so is Rage 2. I wasn't hating on the live-action reveal, but I wasn't loving it either. Now that I've seen a smidge of the actual game in play, it's easier for me to ignore the clown-car antics of the wacky gangs, etc. I mean, I'll have all the fun in the world exploding and road raging on a bunch of dorky raider punks wearing too much makeup. But I'll probably do it with the corny soundtrack turned down.
This isn't the first time two powerhouse studios have collaborated on a project. It happens all the time under the umbrella of a common publisher. But Avalanche Studios and id Software's pedigrees are both stellar. Could be like when Al Pacino and Robert De Niro team up for a film. Well, hopefully this pairing is more like Heat and less like Righteous Kill.
Below are some pitifully small images we scraped from Bethesda.net's news feed. They didn't appear in the gameplay reveal, as far as I could tell. There's a raider with a death wish facing off against a monster truck, a pretty pink sunset (at the top of the story), an ogre-looking enemy called a Crusher, and a whole lot of spray paint and/or decals decorating some cars locked in high-speed combat.
Rage 2 launches on PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2019.