There's been a hugely popular post on r/pcgaming describing how Bethesda's games announced at E3 2018 have failed. For Rage 2 they mention:
>Rage 2 flopped. Unfortunately this is probably the least exciting flop of them all. It was just one very confusing design decision after another, a genuinely decent shooter designed to maximize the time spent doing anything other than shooting.
I realize nostalgia and the subjectivity of gaming means I could be in the minority here, which is totally fine, but I'd like to take a moment to argue that Rage 2 wasn't a flop or a failure:
- Rage had a limited, not-very-open world. Yes, you could roam, but the areas were pretty controlled. Rage 2 has a huge world with tons going on. Speaking of which:
- While random enemies could be found around Rage, Rage 2 has multiple types of random encounters that you find very frequently: enemies fighting along the side of the road, Authority occasionally dropping in, enemy vehicles chasing friendly vehicles, and enemy convoys.
- Rage had some core story and random side missions, but Rage 2 has an insane variety in what you can do: core story, side missions (including bounties), and sooooo many locations to check out (random abandoned locations, bandit dens, mutant dens, power pylons to activate, gas stations to clear, etc.).
- I remember some of the Rage DLC and it was okay, but nothing as extensive as the Rage 2 DLC (I should say I've only played part of the Ghosts DLC and none of the Terrormania DLC yet; just got back into Rage 2 after taking a break from Destiny 2). Overgrown City is huge and a solid DLC space with extra Projects and a weapon, as well as a new enemy that's slightly challenging.
- There is a lot of variety with what you can do with abilities (four key ones with options on how to use them and upgrade them), weapons (secondary usage as well as a decent variety of weapons, some pretty random and fun to use), and vehicles (downside is you can only upgrade the Phoenix, but it does have a few different attack choices).
- The gunplay is a ton of fun and gets ratcheted up to 11 in Rage 2 with how crazy Overdrive feels with the intense action and colors. You feel like you're as nuts as the environment.
- The environment as a whole is great - you definitely get the feel that you're living in a post-apocalyptic world, with a decent variety in what you experience (you're not fighting just mutants, for example).
Specifically for the criticism "a genuinely decent shooter designed to maximize the time spent doing anything other than shooting," I think that misses everything I've mentioned above about the variety of things you can do. You can use guns against any of the random enemies in any of the locations I mentioned, you can use abilities if you want, you can use your car to an extent as well. You're not limited to one of those, you simply have options in what you want to do. Want to use weapons without Overdive? Do it! Want to use weapons until Overdrive fills and then go on a gib-fest? Do it! Want to use almost exclusively abilities? Do it!
And that really misses how this game structures nearly all the missions. Pretty much every single mission, side mission, and bounty requires you to kill enemies. It does the typical, interesting way of it for some missions where you have to do X objective and enemies are either attacking you before or during that objective. But you're able to use weapons against all of them. So I just don't understand how the game is having you maximize your time doing things besides shooting? Is it because you can craft things, or improve your abilities, or improve your vehicle? (Keep in mind you get to improve your guns as well.) Because A) that makes things more interesting and RPG-eque; and B) you have to kill things to complete objectives to get enough items to improve those abilities, and you're going to be doing that with whatever gun you want (or ability; cf. above). The core way to get anything in the game is through killing, so I'm just confused why it's seen as a flop or failure because of that or not weapon-centric.
(Side note: you have to have something besides killing, otherwise the world isn't fleshed-out like you want open-world games to be. You have to kill to complete bounties to get rewards from the trade towns, you have to kill to level yourself up with major stakeholders so you unlock more from them, you have to kill to get money to buy items that help level yourself up, etc. It makes the world more realistic and fleshed-out when you have rewards after killing things, not just killing with no end-goal. (Although technically you can go the whole game killing with no end goal, if you wanted to.) Every RPG is like this, this doesn't make Rage 2 a bad game at all.)
There are a couple areas where I think Rage 2 failed, but in ways that don't overshadow all the good above:
- The story is pretty basic. I'm not sure that it ends as quickly as Rage, but it's definitely not as nuanced and interesting as some other games. It doesn't suck, it's just not as great as it could be. But to be fair, I'm not really playing this game for the story - I'm in it for the gunplay, environment, and variety of things to do. I'm a completionist, and I'm having fun clearing out all the areas and I'm not bored yet. But others may enjoy it more with a better story.
- You have to watch out for bugs. I encountered essentially game-breaking bugs related to the Ghosts DLC - the defined areas of Overgrown City were blank, NPCs weren't talking to me, all the Data Pad and mission info was blank, and the only way I could tell I was in Overgrown City was by the name of the save. I was a bit dumb and didn't realize it was the DLC area until I saw the save name because it was so broken. However, a simple, clean reinstall solved this for me and everything appears fine now.
- EDIT: One other thing that was pointed out to me that I will completely agree with is the vehicles. While I think the Phoenix has a lot of fun combat options and the game has a decent variety of vehicle options, the driving sucks, especially for the bikes. On the main roads most vehicles are fine, but if you hit dirt it takes forever to correct yourself. And I mostly avoid the bikes because they're just not fun to use. Something about the camera angle just feels off (I do need to see if there's options for that). Definitely improvements needed here.
TL;DR: Yes, Rage 2 has some issues, but personally I think the positive greatly outweighs the negative, especially when you consider where it's come from the original Rage.
EDIT: Thanks so much for the silver, kind stranger, my first ever! I started thinking the post was a mistake but you've at least changed my mind! :)