[Note: this is part two of a lengthy write-up on Rage. You can read part one here if you haven’t already done so.]
Once consciousness returned to my character, a bandit leader came looming into view. Without hesitation he plunged a knife deep into my chest and what little light there was in the kill room, began to fade. This triggered a new game mechanic in Rage: the defibrillator. Whenever you die, you get a chance to revive yourself thanks to some fancy technology in your Arc suite. The mechanic is a simple one: there are two sparks on opposite sides of a line; you need to hit a button when the sparks overlap one another as they move across the line. They move pretty quickly though so timing is everything. If you get the revive just right, then your suit emits an electric shock that stuns and takes out surrounding enemies. Handy! One well-timed button press later and the bandit leader was lying face down on the floor, twitching.
Grabbing my gun back I rushed for the exit and began to fight my way out of the hideout. Bandits came out of everywhere, some with more than just knives. It was at this point that I remembered my collection of Wingsticks. I lined up my reticule with an enemy and let one fly. Sadly it hit a pillar and broke into pieces. If your Wingsticks don’t hit an enemy, but rather the terrain or environment, then they break. If you hit an enemy however, the Wingstick will return to you for another throw.
I finally put the last bandit down and completed the mission objective. An onscreen prompt told me to head back to Dan Hagar for my reward. While driving the four-wheeler back to Hagar Settlement, I came across a wastelander called Steiger standing near a sealed sewer hatch. Hopping off the bike I initiated a conversation with Steiger who told me that the sewer hatch led to a deep network of tunnels that was full of bandits and enemies. The payoff, however, was some really good equipment if I was willing to brave the dangers bellow. At this point, Tim Willits tapped me on the shoulder and told me that the sewer hatch I’d just found had not been found by very many people who had had hands-on time with Rage. In total, there are nine of these systems throughout the wasteland, Tim told me. These are the extra missions that all first-time purchasers of Rage will gain access to. If you buy a copy of the game second-hand, then those sewer hatches remain locked until you pay for the DLC that goes with them. Tim reassured me (not that I needed reassurance – there is no way I’m not buying a copy of this game) that the missions in these nine sewers have nothing to do with the main plot but are purely side missions to add more gameplay to first-hand buyers. There is also, however, that promise of sweet gear at the end of each sewer system.
I returned to Dan in Hagar Settlement to give him the news that the bandits had been wiped out. He handed over a new armour set which the game applied to my character automatically. Hitting the TAB key brought up my inventory which looks like your typical RPG tiled inventory. At the bottom of the inventory screen are tabs for Engineering, Armoury, Jobs and Stats. The Engineering tab will allow you to customise your vehicles. The Armoury tab provides information on your weapons and allows you to equip guns and load special ammo types. The Jobs tab contains your mission details, and the Stats tab keeps track of your actions like hours played and the amount of enemies you’ve killed.
Dan was quick to give me another mission. It turns out that while I was away committing bandit genocide, another group had raided the settlement. As such the community needed medical supplies from another settlement to the west. I was asked to go and see Rikter at the Outrigger Settlement. I was given a note for Rikter and was cautioned to stock up on ammo at the Hagar vendor before leaving town. My reward for this mission? My own buggy. There was no way I was going to say no.
The economy in Rage is very simple. You can collect all sorts of trash out in the wasteland and sell it to the vendors that you find in each settlement. The trash has no other use other than for you to sell for extra money. Vendors pay for all sorts of things, including tinned cat food, which is a delicacy in the wasteland. I stocked up on Wingsticks, ammo and half a pair of binoculars from a vendor called Halek.
Once resupplied, I borrowed Dan’s four-wheeler and headed west through a mountainous pass and into the Outrigger Territory. The Outrigger Settlement had a very different aesthetic to the Hagar Settlement. The Hagar Settlement is made out of an old petrol station, mechanic shop and bits of cars; the Outrigger Settlement had much more verticality to it seeing as it was higher up in the mountains. There were lots of stairways, walkways and brighter metals. Shortly after I found Rikter my time came to an end. I was just able to meet the Outrigger medical advisor, an old woman called Janus whose arm has been replaced with a robotic prosthetic. She had another task for me to do while she found the necessary medical supplies I’d come to collect. Rikter also had a task for me and promised to give me a more substantial weapon in return. All I had to do was repair the settlement’s radio tower.
My one hour with Rage was fantastic. I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game, but I’ve seen enough to know for certain that I will be picking up a copy the day it comes out. As mentioned previously, this is still an id FPS at its core so hardcore shooter fans need not be put off by the driving or RPG elements. The detailed environments, weighty weapons and excellent voice acting are just a few of the highlights for me from this hands-on. Start getting excited for Rage – it’s going to be a hell of a ride.