What We Hope RAGE Will Be Like
RAGE, the upcoming title from developer id Software and publisher Bethesda Softworks is only a few months away and excitement is an understatement. The post-apocalyptic first person shooter is set to be released October 4th of this year on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. The few months that I am forced to wait will allow me to ponder exactly what the game will be like inside and out. Based on the available trailers, interviews, and screenshots RAGE seems to portray a similar look and feel to games such as Fallout 3, and Borderlands. We can only hope that the developers take in mind the successes and failures of the games before to create a truly unique experience for eager gamers.
2008′s critically acclaimed open world action RPG is the pinnacle of genre benders and risky combinations. Featuring similar stylistics to RAGE, Fallout successfully blended elements of classic Role Playing Games with modern shooters on a grand scale. Very few games had been crafted from the ground up to deliver this sort of raw experience. Mass Effect 1 was one of these similar titles and it is now a stellar franchise with a trilogy nearly in completion. Surely this genre fusion is a winner among gamers and something to look forward too in the future.
Fallout boasted one of the most expansive locations in all of gaming history. Entire cities have been captivated in games before but never quite on the same level. Though large, in-game maps don’t typically compare to the sheer size of the Wasteland of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. I personally tacked 150+ hours of intense gameplay into the title by completing a plethora of side quests, battling hordes of enemies (from radioactive bears to Behemoth super mutants), and searching nearly every inch of the D.C. Wastes; yet I guarantee there were things still to be discovered, situations still to experience. The map was huge and empty at the same time. It reflected the atmosphere of a barren post-apocalyptic world yet was ripe with characters and places to explore.
The desperate few who sprawled the un-giving terrain were not mindless NPC’s, they were opportunities for conversation, invitations to side quests and promises of battle or other valuable exchanges. I can’t recall how many random people I encountered trudging through the world, many with their own backstory and purpose. The level of character interaction was impressive. Most individuals had loads and loads of dialogue options which one could manipulate to get more information or completely ignore all together.
The battle system too was unique and added to Fallout’s playability for the long haul. The tactical V.A.T.S. system allowed battle to be more accurate and calculated than your typical FPS. One could zoom into a target, identify a specific body part and systematically blow it off from close or long range. This element could be supported with multiple play styles from a wild machete-wielding approach to a silent sniper on a rooftop. I preferred the latter of the two.
Not to mention the variety of weapons available to acquire across the Wastes. The chaotic setting of Fallout 3 is at times futuristic and at times rustic and primal. This reflects the weapon choices which range from swords and spears to vaporizing alien weapons and fully functional plasma assault rifles.
Perhaps the biggest fault of Bethesda Game Studios‘ award winning title was the glitches, bugs, and multitude of WTF moments. The game harbored frequent crashes and physics mishaps that would at times physically prevent you from continuing the game. Vital NPC’s would often time’s be missing, enemies would be floating or stuck through the floor. Saving is your best friend especially if one of these moments springs on you. I can recall an incident in which an enemy was literally invincible. I was able to pin it against a wall preventing it from tearing me apart and I literally had to unload sniper bullets, laser rounds, and plasma energy into it for 10 or more minutes. This was not a boss fight mind you, just a regular everyday mutated zombie man.
Overall however Fallout 3 was an amazing gaming experience. Not so long ago RPGs and shooters seemed at odds with each other. It showed the world that all RPGs don’t have to be shoved into the same box. They aren’t required to rely on turn-based mechanics or follow a linear design. Fallout 3 is another game in connection to Bethesda so it looks like RAGE is going in the right direction. We can only hope some of these facets emerge in RAGE.
Gearbox Software’s role-playing first person shooter hovers in the realm of successful and similar. It takes place on a the planet of Pandora, a harsh world teeming with inhospitable badlands and hostile enemies. Players can choose between four characters to control: Roland the Soldier, Mordecai the Hunter, Lilith the Siren, and Brick the Berserker. Each have their own skills which are concentrated in particular combat styles. Roland for example has the ability to deploy a turret which generates a shield and fires upon enemies for a limited amount of time. Mordecai on the other hand can attack foes with his pet hawk Bloodwing and specializes in long range sniper warfare. Where Fallout shines with more tactical gameplay, rich backstory, and a surplus of characters, Borderlands thrives in battle, weapon variety, and cooperative functionality.
Borderlands is more of a comical interpretation of Judgment Day. Even though the world is desolate, hazardous, and overly inhabited by crazy bandits, the game brings a more light hearted feel to the table over Fallout’s realism (even though it had it’s share of funny moments as well). The game’s comic book style graphics and cell shaded look add to the ambiance. Your guide throughout the game, a little robot named Claptrap, delivers the puns left and right. It’s a nice deviation from habitually serious shooters on the market. If you try to take this game seriously it might be impossible to enjoy. Luckily Gearbox does a great job of infusing the humor without going too far.
With so much entertainment emanating from the hilarity it’s hard to imagine the gameplay being quite as compelling but I promise you it is. The shooting mechanics are typical of what you might find across the board, but the weapons are anything but ordinary. Borderlands utilizes a Procedural Content Creation System to create different weapons and items which have altered firepower, rate of fire, and accuracy, elemental enhancement (such as setting enemies on fire), and at rare times other special bonuses such as regenerating the player’s ammo. No two weapons are exactly the same and it is estimated that the random system can generate over 17 million variations of weapons. And what is the best part about collecting a massive assortment of weapons? How about comparing them with friends and fighting together.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of Borderlands is the ability to explore Pandora, complete missions, and even beat the game with a buddy via split screen co-op or up to 4 players online. This feature is what puts the game over the edge. Having a gazillion guns and loads of comedy value is great and all, but what is it without friendship? Don’t worry we’re not getting sappy here but playing with a friend will automatically elevate the level of fun, guaranteed. This game was meant to be played as a team. Certain characters balance each other and make the all around experience more accessible. Pairing a close-quarters brute with a super sniper is always a nice option or how about a medium range assault rifle expert with an invisibility capable siren? The mix and match availability is a fun component to the game.
With all the thought Gearbox put into Borderlands they definitely didn’t put too much emphasis on the story. I played the game as Roland. I remember reading in the instruction manual that he was a former soldier of the Crimson Lance which is a faction that you fight periodically in the game. I was expecting at some point to be prompted with a deep revelation of his dark past or at least an explanation of history…NOTHING. The small bit of back story available is delivered through written text while accepting or finishing a quest. I began the game reading everything I could but it quickly got old. This is coming from someone who thrives on narratives. Not to mention that the few safe havens in the game: small towns and desolate cities, were all filled with bumbling fools who were only capable of spewing one liners with a deep southern accent…for some reason.
Borderlands demonstrates the fundamentals we hope RAGE will also possess. It lacks the depth and intensity that the Fallout series has mastered but capitalizes on gameplay and more of a traditional shooter’s vibe.
Back to RAGE
Specifically we hope to see the atmosphere come to life in RAGE even more so than Fallout. The new graphics engine should help make this goal come to fruition but id Software must also deliver on the emotional component of the setting. The hopelessness of a world devastated by a meteor will with any luck, come to life in more than just a graphical medium. If I don’t care about the world, who I’m helping and frankly, who I’m killing, than what sets this game apart from Call of Duty or other shooters?
RAGE seems to boast a variety of play styles accompanied by weapons ranging from tactical to all around badass. Have you seen the Wingstick? The weapon is reminiscent of the Razor Wind from Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. The handheld guillotine decapitates foes in the blink of an eye leaving nothing more than a mountain of heads. Guns feature customization options and numerous ammo types. This should keep the game play interesting in a similar way to Borderland’s highly varied arsenal.
The rough and tumble world depicted in RAGE houses an assortment of factions to encounter and most likely battle to the death. The ghost clan for instance is a collective of acrobatic mutant type enemies whose swift attacks will catch you off guard and keep you from knowing which direction they will strike from next. The Gearheads on the other hand are a band of technology scavengers who utilize advanced machinery for combat. Everything from turrets to high-tech shields and barriers can be seen at their hideout. This diversity of enemy types will force players to constantly change their play styles. What works for one bad guy probably won’t work for the next.
RAGE looks to be an impressive title no matter how you look at it. The world appears to be large and filled with opposition which means more blood-spattering action to be had. There hasn’t been much focus on the conversational aspects of the game but we expect to see some depth of character at least beyond the townspeople of Borderland who were only capable of uttering, “Hey what’s up” in an awful southern drawl.
I find myself to be a rare gamer at times. While most people squirm at the thought of long cut scenes and backstory I jump for joy. The Metal Gear Series’ hour long history lessons kept me entertained and engaged while many players skipped them altogether. I’m more than tolerant of some good old fashioned plot so lets be optimistic that the story goes beyond the framework of a barren planet and crazy locals. Hopefully our boys at id Software at least incorporate Fallout 3′s level of playability which easily towered over 100 hours. Any game that can keep me amused and coming back for seconds is alright in my book.
The driving mechanic seems to be a fun offset from the Fallout series where one literally had to walk across the entire sprawling wasteland whether it be the Mohave Desert or the remnants of Washington D.C. to get from point A to point B. Traversing the land on wheels most closely reflects Borderlands over Fallout. Where in Borderlands the driving was more of a necessity than a cruising good time, in RAGE it should at least be at least functional if not fun component to the gameplay. Based on an interview with designer Tim Willits, winning dune buggy races will provide money to upgrade vehicles. We can only assume this includes more than spinners just and a new paint job. Pimp my ride post-apocalyptic edition has a nice ring to it.
As a fan of open world exploration, as an admirer of RPGs and as an enthusiast of FPS I sincerely hope RAGE will live up to the hype and become a solid game. I envision a balanced experience. One in which customization and multiplicity blend well with a developed story and grounded design. Where quality comes first over quantity and most importantly where we will all enjoy ourselves for hours at a time. How do you feel about RAGE as a whole and what would you like to see from the game?
Here are some of the latest Screenshots: