Rage wasn’t the most obvious choice for a sequel from the last decade, but credit where it’s due, id Software and partners Avalanche Studios have taken an overly brown open world shooter and are giving it a major overhaul with faster-paced combat, a much more colourful world and a more engaging story.
We went hands on with the game recently – catch our preview here – but then sat down with id Software’s Tim Willits to discuss the name, the game, and whether or not that’s a Donald Trump takedown.
TSA: So, let’s start off with the best and worst question: you’ve got lots of vehicles in the game, but where do you keep them when you’re not using them? Is it a… ga-Rage?
Tim Willits: Yes, the ga-Rage… That’s good! Which is where the name came from!
It was actually Marty Stratton who came up with the name Rage and he was like, “Yeah! You’ve got the word Rage in garage.”
TSA: Oh, so coming up with the game name really was that terrible?
Tim: Yes, it really was! Marty Stratton, game director on Doom, came up with the word Rage. It’s true, I’m not making that shit up!
So one thing that wasn’t in the presentation was that any vehicle that you steal and bring back to town, like Gunbarrel or Wellspring, you gte rewarded salvage and you can call those in. So if you jump in a vehicle and drive it back, you can then instantly call it in anywhere.
TSA: That’s good, because I found some ridiculous things like a tank car that basically just made full screen explosions…
Onto a slightly more serious question, why is it that Rage 2 has got a shot? The first Rage maybe didn’t do quite as well and capture people’s imaginations as you might have hoped, so why give it a second try?
Tim: Well, the first one sold well and was well rated, but we always had a place in our hearts for Rage, to bring that id Software first person combat to a real open world. The technology at the time kind of limited us, because you had different level loads, swapping discs and stuff, but now as you saw, you can just play it and you can play it how you want.
In the first one, we made you play it the way we wanted you to play it, but if you watch journalists, you all do different things. So it’s bringing that kind of id style combat that we’ve been fine tuning since, you know, Doom to this open world.
TSA: And you brought Avalanche in…
Tim: Yes, they’re awesome!
TSA: What is it that makes them a good fit to take over from id doing it themselves?
Tim: Well it’s two things, really. They have open world experience that we don’t have and they have an engine that’s a great open world engine – this game isn’t idTech, it’s the Apex engine. I’ve learnt a lot from those guys about emergent gameplay and systems and non-linear storytelling, and then I’ve taught them all about how to make shotguns cool!
TSA: [laughs] that’s a good trade of knowledge!
You brought up the Apex engine and, well, it’s got a pretty rocky history on consoles. Just Cause 3 it was 1080p but poor performance, Just Cause 4 it’s better on performance, but the resolution drops very low and it doesn’t look good…
Tim: Well, hopefully things will be, you know… luckily those game came out first!
TSA: So can you offer assurances that you’re going to be a good step beyond?
Tim: Yes, so on the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, we run at 60, because we went for speed over 4K – we won’t run at 4K – and then on PC it’ll run as fast as you can get it to. But on the vanilla Xbox One and PS4, then it’ll be 30, so it should be better either way.
TSA: One of the other things Avalanche are good at is, you’ve come along with this dusty post-apocalyptic world and they’ve got so much experience of throwing colour into their games. Now, I know you’ve got different biomes, but how have you gone about adding more colour to the wasteland, where it is still a lot of brown?
And I mean beyond just highlighting ladders pink!
Tim: Well that helps, though! You can definitely find them!
Well, it’s the character design, you saw some of the vehicles, we can turn the sky pink, which is cool, and of course the vegetation as well. It’s definitely moving away from that Mad Max, Rage 1 vibe, and it also doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a game that’s supposed to be fun and some people have forgotten that when it comes to video games.
I think the personality of the game helps bring colour to it.
TSA: Yeah, and I guess also having Walker as a voiced character, as opposed to the silent protagonists of other games, where it’s up to you to think “Yeah, OK, that was weird…”
Tim: Yes! He’ll say, “So I have to stick my arm in this thing?” the first time you get a power up, or once KVASIER tells you, he’s like, “OK, so you’re telling me I’m the only person who can do this?” It’s that kind of cheekiness and it helps people.
TSA: Did you see if you could get Chuck Norris to voice Walker?
Tim: That would be funny, and we made those jokes because we’re in Dallas. Fort Worth is the home of Walker Texas Ranger, so the guys were like, “You know, that will not go unnoticed!”
TSA: Yeah, I’m sure that’s what almost everyone thought of when they heard his name.
Tim: We should put some Chuck Norris jokes in there, because there’s some bars and clubs in Dallas that put Chuck Norris jokes up.
TSA: Maybe the end of Klegg can be a roundhouse kick to the face?
Tim: Maybe? Yes. [laughs]
TSA: So, Klegg’s an interesting one… I’m assuming that he’s running for President or something?
Tim: See? It’s so funny. All of you Europeans… I’ve never got that question from an American journalist.
So no, we are not political! I promise you we are not making a statement. [leans in to the mic] We are not political in the game.
TSA: But you are taking the piss out of him.
Tim: No we’re not! Klegg was actually designed before he became president. […] Our writer in Stockholm came up with him, but no he’s not a Donald Trump reference, I promise.
TSA: OK, well he’s clearly Trump, but maybe not Trump as President? He’s even got the same hair! You can’t deny that.
Tim: [laughs] I’m saying we’re not political. We have a Trump on our board of directors. The president’s brother is on the Zenimax board of directors!
TSA: [laughs] So maybe that’s why you’re not allowed to be political? Fine.
From one non-political company to another non-political company, then, were you amused or annoyed by Far Cry New Dawn borrowing your colour palette?
Tim: Oh, that was funny! We were thinking about the timeline, because we came up with the design and marketing well in advance of when we announce thing, and we were looking at the timeline and how long we design things out and were like, “Yup… don’t know where that came from!”
TSA: Well, New Dawn does follow on and build upon Far Cry 5, so they would have had to settle it at least two years ago. But it is funny how these things go in cycles and people happen on the same ideas in games all the time.
Tim: I know, it’s like simultaneous invention.
TSA: Finally, and it’s another silly question, will there be a beige mode in the settings to get you back to Rage 1’s all brown, all the time aesthetic?
Tim: No, but hold on, there’s an idTech game where you can remove all the textures. In Quake, we had ‘drawFlatShade 1’ or something to draw flat shaders. There’s no flat shader mode, and only hardcore id fans will understand that joke!
You have to live with the pink.
TSA: But in general, do you feel that Rage 2 is the game that you wish the first one was.
Tim: Yeah, Rage 2 delivers on the promise of Rage 1.
Thanks to Tim for taking the time to chat with us about Rage 2. Make sure to catch our hands on preview with the game here.