Yet another Rage preview, more minds blown

We only know a little about the game’s back story, but, again, it might remind you of something else you’ve played recently. An asteroid hit Earth, and you, among others, were saved in an Arc beneath the ground. When you emerged, you found that the world had not changed the way you expected – everyone didn’t die. Mutants, bandits, and The Authority, a totalitarian organization, now rule… and they especially hate Vault-dwell…sorry, Arc-dwellers. Oh, and you have nanites of some description in you.

Above: The ramshackle town of Wellspring

Blah blah blah. That stuff will be explained through interactions with the people who inhabit the world and its towns (which are beautiful), but what the game is really about is combat. The gangs you’ll encounter have been thoroughly marinated in personality. The first we saw was an acrobatic crew of lanky psychos. They were encountered inside a well facility which keeps the town of Wellspring thriving, and they launched themselves toward our boom stick off of pipes and walls and everything else they could find. So I thought, “Nice scripted animations!” And then id told us that they were dynamic. Nothing triggered that stunningly-fluid spin-and-leap – the pipe was there, and the enemy used it.

Next we saw a clan of metal-clad mechanics. They weren’t so acrobatic, but they had distinct personalities and a combat style of their own. They dove behind cover, busted through barriers and came running at the screen, and generally smashed or shot up whatever they could. Of course, Willits shot them down before they had a chance to do much more than show off.

Above: Just look at the detail! Oh wait, better look at the guy running at your face

Some of the weapons we saw were standard mechanical bullet cannons, but others were more inventive and futuristic and id-ish. It’s a post-apocalyptic world, but one with high technology where it’s fun. While trudging through the damp well, Willits used electrified crossbow bolts to instantly kill enemies standing in water. He also showed off some of the game’s “engineering items.” All you need to build an engineering item is the plans and the parts. If an item is partially destroyed, you can recover some of its parts – but if you keep it in tact, you can just pick it back up (by the way, you can keep as many weapons as you want in your magic trans-dimensional bag – this isn’t an RPG). We witnessed an exploding remote control car with front-mounted camera for steering and a sentry bot which crawled around and chaingunned enemies.

Above: Clues about enemy positions can be picked up by listening to their chatter, which can help you make informed weapon and engineering item decisions

Willits was coy about multiplayer. He said it was too early to talk about it, but that they’d been working very hard to determine exactly how it will be the most fun it can be.

Assuming it plays as well as it looks, Rage could be a watershed game for both id and shooters in general. I do find the post-apocalyptic setting rather stale, and I’m not yet convinced that Rage brings enough to it to make it fresh again, but just looking at their world was a jaw-dropping experience, and Rage aside, id’s new tech will likely be the foundation for many incredible games to come.

May 4, 2010

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer