The reviews for Bethesda's Rage 2 are beginning to arrive, and early sentiment appears to be a decent game with some superb execution coupled with disappointing world-building. Rage 2 was at the center of one of the most talked about leaks last year when Walmart Canada accidentally revealed the existence of the game ahead of its massive E3 reveal, and hype for the game hasn't really fallen off since then — fans were blown away by how improved the game looked compared to the original, and rumors over the Rage 2 loading times being nonexistent made it sound like one of the games to watch heading into 2019.
Rage was a niche hit, but Rage 2 is a drastic evolution for the series, featuring what appears to be refined vehicular battles, an exciting open-world, and some fundamentally exciting gunplay. As more gameplay footage was revealed in the build-up to the game's release, critics also noticed the potential for the game to carve out a niche for itself in between the spaces that stylish action games like Devil May Cry 5 and post-apocalyptic story-driven journeys like Fallout occupy. Rage 2 does away with the mostly-brown ruins of a world and exchanges it with neon, punk aesthetic, while also offering some exciting mechanics to keep players interested in its world. Surely that's a recipe for success?
If it is, critics aren't sure this is the best execution of that blend of elements, and Rage 2 probably isn't representative of all the promise its early pitch held. While the game isn't bad by any means, it does feature a number of notable beats that were a let-down to those who expected better from Bethesda — particularly Rage 2's open world, which is one of the more frequent points of criticism, appearing to be the game's Achilles' heel when it comes to getting over the hump from "good" to "great." Still, the game is managing fairly positive scores regardless, sitting at 73% on MetaCritic after over 20 reviews at time of writing, with a similar 72% across just over 25 reviews on OpenCritic. Read on for a collection of some of the insight critics have shed on Rage 2.
IGN: 8/10 - Dan Stapleton
"With its large open world and vast array of upgrades to earn, Rage 2 feels very much like an antidote for Far Cry fans who have overdosed on that particular style and want a new take on the large-scale shooter-RPG idea. Though Avalanche hasn't quite figured out what makes a world feel alive and dynamic or how to make good use of its vehicles, it absolutely nails the moment-to-moment combat thanks to a Doom-inspired energetic pace that few shooters manage to pull off."
GamesRadar+: 3/5 - Ford James
"Rage 2's core combat feels so much like Doom in an open world, and it wouldn't surprise me if that's exactly what this was - developer id Software testing the waters for such a concept. But were that concept ever to be made real, it will need to be executed much better than this. The "Rage 2 roadmap" has already been revealed, showcasing world events and "wasteland challenges" in an effort to follow in the footsteps of successful games like Destiny 2 and The Division 2, but the difference is that this is a single player game. Anyone who purchases this game on launch is undoubtedly expecting a full release...sadly, that isn't the case and the result is a sequel hasn't impressed me all that much at all, but it won't be laid to rest until the roadmpa comes to a close for a game many people will have grown bored of."
PC Gamer: Review in Progress - Andy Kelly
"Rage 2 is a really good videogame, but an inconsistent one. The combat is sensational and some of the story mission set-pieces are brilliantly constructed. But then it falls flat when it comes to world-building and creating a compelling sense of place; something the original game, for all its flaws, did pretty well. But when you're in the thick of a firefight, chaining power combos, unloading that sublime shotgun into those cocky wasteland bandits, you won't give a damn. I need to play a little more before I stick a final score on the end, but overall I'm pleasantly surprised by Rage 2. Avalanche has done a stellar job giving this largely forgotten series an exciting new lease of life."
GameSpot: 6/10 - Michael Higham
"Rage 2 is at its best when you're given the chance to keep up a gratifying momentum in combat, but struggles to setup the scenarios its combat deserves. It's satisfying in the way clearing out an open-world checklist is, especially because powers are such a joy to use. The disappointment comes from the fact that those activities are rudimentary in nature and the decent ones end well before you get your fill."
Game Informer: 7/10 - Daniel Tack
"For all of its attempts at garish glitter, Rage 2 is a muted, clichéd, and uninspiring experience propped up by spectacular shooting and neverending battles that sometimes live up to the promise of a carnival of carnage."
VG 24/7 - Kirk McKeand
"The interplay between the AI, your abilities, the physics of the world, and your guns is some of the best I’ve seen, and I never thought I would be saying anything like that about a sequel to Brown Shooter: Apocalypse. There’s much more to this than its kooky, pink-hued marketing campaign. If you sleep on it, you’re sleeping on one of the best – if not the best – single-player FPS games of this generation."
It becomes pretty obvious in reading the criticism surrounding Rage 2 that it's a polarizing title. Critics who were expecting a better narrative and an open-world that felt alive in the way many of the other games published or developed by Bethesda do were inevitably disappointed by what Rage 2 had to offer. By contrast, those who weren't as concerned with the world's story as they were with how the game felt and played seem to be much more positive about the title, with some reviews even suggesting that Rage 2 could be one of the best FPS games of its generation.
While some games tend to trend one way — positively or negatively — during their initial review periods, Rage 2 is the more unusual case of a game that is splitting the critical feedback its receiving right down the middle. That's largely to blame for its middling review score average, then, which doesn't seem quite as representative of the game as the reviews themselves. Depending on what fans are looking for out of Rage 2, early feedback seems to suggest that they will either be pleasantly surprised by a sleeper hit or disappointed by a game that teetered on the brink of greatness before its empty world and DLC-heavy future roadmap pushed it off the side more closely resembling mediocrity.
Rage 2 releases for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 14, 2019.