A hugely ambitious undertaking for the developers at Avalanche Studios and Id Software, Rage 2 is a post-apocalyptic video game that crams in an awful lot of chaotic content. It’s the sequel to Rage, from 2010, which means it inherits a savage setting where bandits and mutants battle it out for dominance in a grim, gritty wasteland.
The first game put the player in the army-issued boots of Raine, a government-created super soldier that emerged into this chaotic world after 106 years in cryogenic stasis. This first-person shooter title earned a decent number of positive reviews, and it ended on something of a cliffhanger (with Raine bringing hundreds of his superpowered comrades out of stasis), but it took nine years for a sequel to appear.
Rage 2 finally came out on 14th May 2019, though, and it expands the universe of the first game in numerous exciting ways. Den Of Geek got on the blower to Rage 2‘s art director Jeremy Miller and narrative director Odd Ahlgren to talk about how they pulled it off.
Embrace the unhinged!
“It’s much, much harder trying to write ‘normal'”, says Ahlgren, who penned a lot of weird dialogue for the game’s mentally unhinged characters. Embracing off-kilter thinking has “been incredibly inspiring on the art side, too,” adds Miller, who was tasked with translating creepy concepts (such as: “mutants think humans taste like pizza”) into a visual reality. Bouncing off each other can really help a barmy brainchild grow: for instance, when Ahlgren wanted a bone-based exoskeleton for a villain to wear, Miller came back and said, “Wouldn’t it be cooler if he fuses his spinal cord to a mutant’s spinal cord, and uses the mutant as his legs?” Just your standard workplace discussion, then.
Double down on details!
“We really put a lot of effort into just creating a world,” Ahlgren explains, delving into the nerdy details of creating such a huge game. “We started out with that idea that we were creating a world with different types of factions, and people who live in it, and microclimates. ‘What would people trade with? What are the dangers in this part of the world? Who are we siding with on this part of the world? If there’s swamp, what lives in there?’ And so on, and so forth. We created a backstory lore bible for everything, so it feels comprehensive instead of just ‘this is a cool thing, let’s put it here, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with anything.'”
Evolve the apocalypse!
Something major has changed, on a global scale, in the 30 years since the events of Rage, as Ahlgren explains: “Before the big catastrophe, these eco-pods were sent up into orbit, which were designed to re-terraform the Earth. But of course, stuff came in between, and it failed miserably, and sh*t just happened.” Then the pods came down, “and everything got green, wild and crazy.” Miller’s art team leapt on this idea and infused heaps of colour into the game’s visuals, which helped Rage 2 move away from the generic sandy landscapes of Mad Max and its ilk. As Miller puts it, the colourful palette “is definitely a statement that we’re not so much post-apocalyptic as we are post-post-apocalyptic.”
Delve deep with characters!
The player-character this time is Walker, who lived in a secluded compound until it was ravaged and destroyed by the villainous Authority. “I would say that it’s a three-pronged attack to Walker’s motivation,” Ahlgren explains, “which is: one, to stop the Authority from doing this again or to anyone; two, it’s revenge, to seek revenge for the people that Walker loved who were killed; and three, warn other people who might be in the way of this approaching monstrosity that the Authority is.” These emotionally-driven quests send you out into the wasteland, where there is high-octane car combat to partake in and loads of mutants to shoot.
Unleash the action!
“The guns are actually quite complex,” Miller reveals, referring to the massive number of customisable sci-fi weapons that gamers can wield in Rage 2. “There’s a lot of stuff going in there,” Miller recalls, “from the point you pull the trigger to the outcome that happens from that – the glitchy effects of the overdrive, all those things together. So there’s a lot of important communication which also goes into that.” So, when you’re blowing up mutants using gravity-altering guns and hugely powerful blasters, just remember that a lot of hardworking people put in the hours to make that possible.
Rage 2 is out now for PS4, Xbox One and PC.