RAGE multiplayer shocker – forget typical deathmatch; it’s all about cars and cooperation

Traditional deathmatch is out, two-man co-op and six-way vehicular mayhem is in

Ever since we first laid eyes on developer id’s upcoming post-apocalyptic driver/shooter RAGE, we’ve just assumed there would be multiplayer modes. After all, even thoughwe've just posted ahands-on with the single playerquestline,this is the developer who invented Quake – how could there not be multiplayer? And we were right about that. What we were wrong about was to further assume what those multiplayer modes would be. Think of any multiplayer mode in any variant of Quake, be it original series, mod or spin-off. Got one? Yeah, that’s not in here.

What is here are two brand new (for id, at least) online multiplayer modes, which are most simply described as “two-player co-op on foot mode” and “six-player vehicular racing/destruction mode”. We’ll get into specifics below on both modes, which do actually look pretty fun, below. We just wanted to warn you right up front not to expect typical stuff like deathmatch, team dm, domination, and capture the flag. Id’s done that already, and the company is clearly focused on trying new things.

We’ll start off with the vehicular mode, called Rage Combat Rally. As you might guess, this pretty much involves six cars (possibly four, if six proves to chaotic) zooming around an arena, splitting their efforts between hitting checkpoints and blowing one another into tiny pieces. There’s some nuance to it too, if you care to dig into it. You get points for blowing up other racers and also for hitting checkpoints, but you’ll get more for chaining together several checkpoints in a row, and the new checkpoints always spawn more or less in front of whomever hit the last one. So if you find yourself with a better angle on the flag than the leader has, you can hit your hand brake and slide into it backwards, ensuring that only you are pointed in the right direction to hit the next checkpoint that spawns.

Or you can concentrate on exploding the leader. That gets you mad points as well.

Rage Combat Rally has a few sub-modes in addition to what we just described; one is chain rally, in which you have to hit at least three checkpoints in sequence before the points begin to tally. But those who prefer mayhem to math will be able to fill their tanks with vehicular deathmatch and team deathmatch as well. Also, you’ll be able to unlock better cars, weapons, and add-on gear as you progress.

Above: We didn't get screens of Legends of the Wasteland, but imagine this with a partner, and you'll get the idea.

The second multiplayer mode is called “Legends of the Wasteland”, and casts players as new characters – hired guns working for the sheriff of Wellspring, one of the game’s main towns. There will at least eight missions in this mode, each built for two players to shoot through cooperatively (online – split screen hasn’t been shown thus far, if it even exists).

In the Legends mission we saw, a gang of thugs had taken over a particular neighborhood in Wellspring and were placing bombs in various places, ready to send the whole thing skyward. The players’ job was to defuse the bombs and execute any gang members encountered along the way. Different missions will have slightly different objectives – for example, there’s another level in which you’re “beta testing” the gladiator-like game show, Mutant Bash TV. But we reckon they’ll all retain certain standard co-op elements we saw – the ability to revive one another “Gears of War-style”, the chance for one player to take the high ground and snipe in support of the other, etc.

Neither of the multiplayer modes shown so far looked incredibly groundbreaking, we’ll admit. But they did both look plenty fun to actually play, and solid gameplay combined with these graphics definitely sounds like time well spent. Still, one question during the Q&A session of the demo lingers in our minds. “So, there’s no mode in which I can put a wingstick (the game’s glaive-like boomerang-meets-shuriken weapon) through the skull of another human player?”

And when one puts it that way, it really does seem like a missed opportunity, doesn’t it?

Apr 18, 2011

We recommend