August 13, 2009
- Forget what you've thought of id shooters up till now.
That's a pretty strong statement to make, particularly from a company whose bread and butter has been franchises such as Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein. But when it comes to Rage
, id's brand new post-apocalyptic FPS, the company specifically chose to take its new engine (which they're calling id Tech 5) and do something radically different from what it's known for. While the nucleus of Rage is still first-person shooting, id is tossing in a healthy mix of vehicle combat, racing, and even mild RPG elements to create something different. At QuakeCon, I was able to check out the early sections of the game to get a sense of what this new world was all about.
Rage takes place in the near future of Earth, where the planet has been devastated by the massive asteroid Apophis (id is taking an actual asteroid that is on a near-collision course with Earth and making the supposition that it's much larger than scientists currently believe). With doomsday upon humanity, the governments of the world band together to form the Eden Project, a system where scientists, researchers, engineers, and military personnel are frozen underground in 12 to 16-person groups known as Arks. The purpose of this system is to have these chosen people come back and rebuild society after a while, passing on their knowledge and skills to ensure the survival of the human race. What the governments didn't plan for is that many more people survived the impact than predicted, and these outside survivors establish their own settlements, raiding clans and (for the unfortunate ones) mutant enclaves. As an Ark member, you emerge from your cryostasis somewhere in the southwestern states of America (in an area that looks like Arizona) to discover that your facility has been horribly damaged, leaving you as the lone survivor of the experiment to rediscover this vastly changed world. Your mission now is to find out what happened to the other Arks.
The brand new Rage trailer from QuakeCon 2009.
The demo I saw took place about an hour or two into the game, and was intentionally set at that point to showcase the game's scope and diversity of its gameplay elements. It began with the main character dispatched by a man named Dan Hagar, a Wasteland settler who saves the player from a bandit attack at the beginning of the game. Hagar serves as your early game guide and provides you with many of the early skills that you use to explore the Wasteland (He also provides you with your first vehicle, an ATV, but I'll get to the transportation in a moment.) Anyway, Hagar needs supplies to solve his bandit problems, so he sends you to the largest town, Wellspring. While helping Dan is part of the plot, exploration was the key of the demo, so the quest was abandoned in order to explore the surrounding environment. It was here that we were introduced to Crazy Joe, a settler who raves about mutants and constantly talks about the Authority (a mysterious organization in this new world) taking the mutants of the wasteland and performing experiments on them.
Not wishing to be affected by Joe's insanity any longer, we left and immediately scavenged the nearby supplies. These fall into different categories: items that you can use for yourself (such as bandages), items you'll collect to resell, and items broken down into raw materials that can be refashioned into new equipment, assuming that you have blueprint schematics for these items. The manufacturing angle is rather interesting because as long as you have the basic items, you can create items anywhere without having to worry about a workbench. What's more, you won't have to worry about picking and choosing what gear to collect; id is planning on giving players unlimited inventory slots and no weight restrictions, so if you want it, snag it.
Strap in; Rage is unlike any other id shooter.
Once we'd collected everything we had, we noticed a mutant off on the cliffs ahead of us. With a quick flick of the wrist, we were able to kill the creature with a three-pronged boomerang-like weapon known as the wing stick. Unlike many of the firearms, which make a sound and alert enemies to your presence, the wing stick is a way to silently strike enemies down from afar. While we didn't get a full sense of the number of weapons that you'll be able to collect, I did pick up on a crossbow; it's another relatively silent weapon. We were told (and in some cases shown) that many of the standards that can be expected from an id game will be included, such as a shotgun, machine gun, and pistols. These weapons have various ammo types associated with them, which, in effect, act as an alternate fire, so you can choose armor piercing rounds or impact slugs, for example. You'll even tweak grenades with manufacturing skills and schematics, so you can create EMP grenades, which we were told would be more useful as the game progressed.
With our immediate threat neutralized, we leapt into our dune buggy and sped off. While it isn't the best looking machine in the world, it is a vehicle that our character put together with his bare hands. We had affixed twin chainguns on the rollbar cage to provide protection from raiders in the wilderness. This personal affinity towards your machine adds a degree bit of personal connection and pride with your gear; you're not simply going to pick up another buggy from an enemy and scrap your own if it takes too much damage, or if you want to go on a GTA-styled rampage. You're going to want to protect and improve your vehicles, and if they take too much damage you'll have to call out a tow truck to drag the wreckage back to a garage and pay for the repairs in town (a process which will most likely be rather expensive in this devastated world).