“I really encourage players, and this is important to note when you start to play, to take the time to really kind of learn and practice with the abilities because that’s when the game really shines,” Willits, creative director on the game, told Variety. “It’s the most fun when you find a bunch of the arks, you upgrade yourself, you get all the unlocks and you tear through the world. That’s the most fun. Don’t blaze through the story because — you’ll have a great time, but you’ll have more fun if you uncover the arks and you get all the cool stuff to play with the game.”
Willits was the director on that original game, which had a mixed response from people who loved or hated it. This time around, as creative director, he’s working closely with the Avalanche team in Sweden who is making the game on their own game engine — a purpose-built piece of tech that is designed for open world games like “Just Cause.”
Willits said id and Bethesda decided to return to the world of “Rage” for a number of reasons.
“It sold millions of copies and it was well rated,” he said. “It had a rich world that allowed us to be creative and there aren’t a lot of rules to it besides id software combat and driving around in your car in the wasteland. So it was a really good palette to paint a new picture from.”
This time around, the team at Avalanche essentially started from scratch creating a game that Willits said is purposely set far enough apart — both in fiction and gameplay — to allow it to stand on its own.
“So if you have not played the original don’t stress about it,” Willits said.
In the story of “Rage 2” you play as an entirely new character, you’re Walker — either a male or female version of Walker depending on your game-opening decision.
“Your Walker, you actually have a voice,” he said.
The ranger Walker has the ability, as with the first game, to use nanotrites to activate special powers like slam, shatter, dash, and jump, The game also features a unique upgrade system which will allow you to upgrade everything from your abilities, to your items, to your weapons.
“But the game still has a very familiar feel,” Willits added. “It is a game that stands on itself, but it has ties to the original.”
As with the first game, “Rage 2” will have a number of bandit groups, each of which has a unique style to their combat, and a number of colorful characters the players interact with.
“We really worked hard to kind of bring back the colorful cast of characters and give a lot of personality to the people that live in this world as well,” Willits said.
While Avalanche is making the game, their own take on “Rage,” id still has a heavy say in the development.
“It’s our game that they’re making for us, so everything goes by us,” Willits said. “I talk to those guys every day. We have team members working with them directly and I’ve done everything from helping the level designers design maps, to editing the story, to working through the vehicle physics with the team.”
The hope is that the game will embrace the open-world mayhem of Avalanche’s design and include the fast, highly polished missions found in id Software games.
And that seems to be the plan.
“There are some, for lack of a better word, main missions that you play through and have a very id feel,” Willits said. “I worked with every one of those level designers, on every one of those areas. really fine-tuned them. The guys would call it Willits University, where I’d show up and be like, ‘OK, today we’re talking about pacing,’ and I’d sit all of the level designers down and we’d go through some concepts. Through that kind of Willits University, we instilled our kind of design elements.”
The demo shown off at E3, for instance, was what Willits calls a very id-ish chunk of the game. There are other areas of the games that feature that same sort of id-ish feel, like a section in the sewers.
“You’ll have those experiences, but it will be more seamless,” he said. “You won’t be level loading into those. You won’t feel like ‘Rage 1’ where you have this, this is the driving area of the game, this is the combat area.”
“Rage 2” sounds like it will be a big game, graphically intensive game which may be one of the reasons that the title won’t available on the Nintendo Switch at launch or perhaps ever.
“It’s a big game with a lot of streaming so we have no immediate plans for it to come to the Nintendo Switch,” Willits said.
That isn’t to say that Bethesda and id Software doesn’t support the Nintendo platform.
“‘Doom’ was hugely successful on the Switch,” Willits said. “It showed that you can have mature titles on the switch and do really well. ‘Wolfenstein’ has also been great for us.”
“Rage 2” also won’t support ray tracing, not because the company isn’t a fan, but because it just didn’t make sense for the game, Willits said.
“We have a really good relationship with Nvidia. but you know looking at what we can do in the world, there wasn’t a lot of showcase technology pieces and there isn’t a lot of water,” he said. “There’s not a lot of mirrors. There’s not a lot of shiny metal. There’s not a lot of glass. Then the time to get all that into the game … but it’s great technology.”
Instead of trying to work essentially tech demos into the game, the developers at Avalanche and id are focusing on not just wrapping up the launch game, but what will come after “Rage 2” is out and in the hands of players.
“Because the technology in the world (of “Rage 2”) is really nice to add things to the game, we’ll have some updates,” Willits said. “We want to kind of pull the tail of this product and to do that in an open world game it’s hard to have an end and be like, you’re done, thanks for playing.
“So we will have some free updates and some paid updates. We’ll have community events. Everyone loves multiplayer, but we’ll just have to wait and see on that.”