South Of The Border: Rage Previewed

By Alec Meer on May 5th, 2010 at 3:53 pm.

“We didn’t want to do another Doom, another Wolfenstein, but we knew that at its core it had to be a first-person experience.”

It’s a line I heard lead designer Tim Willits say twice during last week’s Rage demo, plus over a dozen variants on that theme: his lure to unsure packs of journalists who’d almost forgotten Rage existed. By id standards, it’s not been long in the making – but it’s been long enough that I can’t help but approach this latest demo with a very different mentality to those first videos back in 2007. Borderlands has been and gone, Fallout 3 has been and gone, Bioshock 1 and 2 have been and gone. This Winter, we’ll have another post-apocalyptic combat game to join those teeming end-of-the-world ranks. It’s created by id – Doom id, Wolfenstein id, Quake id. And, let’s be honest, Doom 3 id. How will they win our love back?

With prettiness and bullets, mostly.

My initial thoughts of the demo was that it certainly looked good, even great, but not that This Is The Future face-slap that we’ve come to expect from new id engines. Then I looked at what Willits was playing the game on, and had to revise my thinking. He was running it on a 360 – yeah, boo hiss, etc – but I could have sworn it was a PC game. For console owners, this thing’s visuals have a sharpness and detail they’ve probably never seen before. I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like on decent PC. Willits claims there probably won’t be an ocean of improvement, but “John Carmack loves to have some little wingdings you can turn on.” Even if they’re minimal, it’ll be a treat for the eyes simply in terms of the sheer amount of glorious stuff that fills the game.

“It’s a truly uniquely textured world. Gone are the days of the same space corridors over and over again. We’re able to do very unique environments.”

There is clutter and incidental detailing everywhere, a palpable solidity and meatiness to the otherwise familiar sand’n'steel’supermutants design. The outdoor environments, reminiscent of Arizona’s mighty valleys, do genuinely look hand-carved rather than simply repeated. The indoor ones – well, there are a lot of metal girders going on. A lot of Rage clearly still boils down to shooting monsters in corridors. But they are much prettier, more interesting corridors, filled with the junk of a dead world.

“We didn’t want to do another Doom, another Wolfenstein, but we knew that at its core it had to be a first-person experience.”

I’m quoting that again because it’s about as defining a statement as could ever be made as Rage. Don’t go thinking this is more than a first-person shooter, that it’s truly off into RPG territory. It comes with tantalising bells and promising whistles, but you know what you’re in for.

“We have stayed true to our core but we have made something uniquely special and different.”

‘Unique’ is another word which keeps coming up. I want to believe him, and I know I’m being guilty of terrible pre-judgement – but I’ll never forget questioning him and Tod Hollenshead years ago, on the eve of Doom 3′s release, as to whether id were worried Half-Life 2 had set a precedent for world and interaction in a first-person shooter that they might not meet. “Didn’t you see the crane puzzle?” they replied, incredulous. The crane puzzle! Yes, of course. Adjusting the position of a few crates with a big crane would make Doom 3 a thoroughly 21st century first-person shooter. Id need to earn my trust now, not expect it. Thankfully, Rage isn’t Doom 3 or Quake IV all over again – they’re definitely pushing outside of their gloomy comfort zone.

“We have vehicle combat, vehicle racing, we have a whole host of new and rich characters all wrapped around this much more compelling story than we’ve had in other Id games. For us technology is key but gameplay is also key.”

It’s the distant future, after an asteroid has destroyed most of civilization. You play a survivor frozen in an Ark (terminology shared by Brink), and upon emerging into the blistering sunlight, you find a war-torn world of subsistence and angry mutants. Plus a sinister force known as the Authority. No ‘what if Superman and Batman were dating’ analogues here, though – this is a pseudo-governmental force of unknown origin and motive, and who are very interested in Ark survivors… To that end, friendly NPCs encourage you to ditch your Ark suit ASAP and buy something a little more anonymous. Yup, Rage has shopping. Given word has it John Carmack didn’t even want a Use button in Doom 3, an economic model is a big step forward for id.

“The world is full of items, things you can collect, pieces of engineering items.”

And people. In the town of Wellspring – one of two major population, loot and work hubs in the game, the other being Subway Town – people are chatty and distinct. There’s the girl people were leching over in screenshots yesterday, there’s the guy reading comics in a bar, there’s a giant inflatable gorilla above a raceway and there’s quest-giver Crazy Joe, whose craziness is evidenced by wearing a hand-stitch gasmask with an antenna stuck on it. It’s a dense but bright environment and, while Rage is inevitably going to draw many comparisons to Borderlands, in terms of life and detail it beats Gearbox’s game hands-down.

I’m struck by the sound design, even in this demo. The garage/raceway, in particular, seems so much more there because of the miscellaneous sounds of wheel-changes and heavy machinery from unseen sources. Wellspring’s ramshackle, but it’s no ghost town – and a lot of that sense comes from clever audio cues.

Then it’s down into the tunnels for some mutant-hunting. The game still looks great, but the change in light, in space and in characters is a little jarring. Above ground, a casual observer wouldn’t have guessed this was an id game. Now, they probably would. But they might also think it was related to Bioshock, a game which casts a tall-shadow over Rage’s semi-customisable combat. All inquiries as to Rage’s inspirations are, of course, batted away in favour of another variant on the “we knew we had to do something different but the same” line.

Ammo and gadgets is both bought and constructed from parts, themselves collected or bought with the dollars you pick up as you slay people and vehciles. You’ll get to play with the likes of remote control car bombs, replaceable turrets and roaming sentry bots (deliberately evoking Doom 3′s). “Find simple recipes for, use ‘em the way you want to use ‘em” says Willits, as he fries a mutant bandit by shooting the water around it with electrobolt ammo. Another mutant appears, cartwheeling through the air whilst flashing blades like a good little Splicer. He’s a Ghost, a human bandit gone a little wrong.

That’s just one bandit tribe, however. Another are The Wasted, lumbering skinheads wearing Union Jack clothing, unmutated but replacing somersaults with heavy weaponry. ““The game not only has very uniquely textured areas, but with the different bandit clans and settlers we really tried to add a richness to the game. Big wpeaons, big explosions, but it’s wrapped around so much more.”

The escalating presence of the Authority suggests high-tech foes will enter the mix too. Noticing a science-fictional neolgism on the pause screen, I enquire what a ‘nanotrite’ is. “As part of the Ark program you’re injected with nanobots” These heal and defibrillate you when you die, so presumably are Rage’s answer to Vita Chambers. They may be much more than a tricksy way of avoiding reload screens, however. “You’re like a buck rogers man from the past stuck in this world where every thing’s very rustic, but ultimately you find out there’s more to this nanotrites than than meets the eye. Are the mutants mutants because of cosmic rays, or is it to do with the nanobots?”

The multiple tribes are strictly enemies, however – there’s no factional system here, or indeed any choice about what to do with your character himself. ““It’s about the growth of your arsenal,” confirms Willits. “There are opportunities to play the game differently, but it’s a single narrative that’s open but directed.”

Much of that openness involves side-missions either on foot or in-vehicle. It’s hard to get a real sense of what degree of importance the much-vaunted buggies really play in the game, but Willits claims they’re pretty much optional. You can walk. It’s not much fun, but you can. Driving is an additive type experience to the action, depending on the tyoe of player you are.” It’s also a chance for random fun-carnage: you earn money for every vehicle you destroy in the wasteland. I’m a little worried the driving’s only about travel and distraction, but at the same it’s a chance to explore the beautiful great outdoors – and that may well be where Rage shines most. “We knew that we had to do something. We needed to make sure Rage wasn’t just mutants. We knew we could do the first-person stuff well.”

If there’s a strangely sombre tone to this preview, it’s purely because I’m entirely undecided about Rage. There’s no denying it’s a visual show-stopper, but that alone doesn’t carry the clout it used to. I want to be enjoying this pretty place they’ve made, not simply blasting a hole through fixed bits of it. The root of my hope for it is the combat, which has opened up enormously compared to id’s previous work. It’s no longer a matter of being given a shotgun after three hours and holding onto that until you get a plasma rifle. Instead, it’s collecting and constructing the arsenal you prefer – the pistol, for instance, has an ammo type called Fat Boys, which turn it into essentially a one hit, one kill weapon. Will you spend your money and parts on building that ammo, or would you rather fit your manta ray-like crossbow with electric bolts?

Superficially, id are playing it a lot safer than a lot of people hoped they would, but closer inspection suggests they’re handing players a lot more keys than has been their tradition. Cautious optimism is an appropriate reaction. Like that Ark survivor, though, these veteran developers have emerged into a world they perhaps weren’t expecting. I just hope they’re ready for it.

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88 Comments »

  1. CMaster says:

    “You play a survivor frozen in an Ark (terminology shared by Brink), and upon emerging into the blistering sunlight, you find a war-torn world of subsistence and angry mutants. Plus a sinister force known as the Authority … – this is a pseudo-governmental force of unknown origin and motive, and who are very interested in Ark survivors… To that end, friendly NPCs encourage you to ditch your Ark suit ASAP and buy something a little more anonymous.”

    Replace Ark with Vault and Authority with Enclave and you’d think this was the same as FO2/3.
    Not helping with the “original” sell.

    Still, I await and see. There’s always a chance this will be the first id game I enjoy since the end of the Keen series.

    • Poltergeist says:

      Yeah it’s pretty much the same, but there is a narrative reason behind it. By making the player character an outsider (from the distant past, no less) the player can sympathize with him a lot more on a really basic level. This is used all the time in all kinds of fiction, but it makes the most sense in a video game where the player is supposed to identify with his character. Another World wouldn’t be as good at immersing you in it’s strange setting if the player character was some guy who was born and raised in this strange world, for example.

  2. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    I hope the PR guy was a nice man, because his pitch was awful.

    I dunno how these PR guys work though – if they’re just given a script, or given a crippling list of can’t-says by their bosses, or even if they have anything to do with the making of the game at all – I dunno.

    This seemed like a really bad example of the skill. Was he nice? Did he make you tea?

    • bob_d says:

      I’m sure PR is still handled quite differently by different companies, but in my experience PR is usually a full-time job done by someone who is doing marketing strategies and getting to decide what information is given out, so the PR people aren’t actually developers even if they officially have positions that sound like development jobs (e.g. Bill Roper).
      In this case, the interview was with the lead designer, though…

    • sbs says:

      Tim Willits? He’s Level Designer/Lead Designer at id, not PR.
      He made q2dm1 man. and q3dm6. man. and quake’s dm6 and dm4 iirc. he’s awesome forever

    • StarDrowned says:

      Was q2dm1 called The Edge? I haven’t played Q2 in… well, probably too long.

      The Edge is still probably my favourite DM map ever, though.

    • iQue says:

      Yep q2dm1 was The Edge. And q3dm6 was by far the most played map in Q3, and still is even in QL as qzdm6.

  3. Daniel Klein says:

    as he fries a mutant bandit by shooting the water around it with electrobolt ammo

    That old hat again. When Bioshock’s amaz-o-combat was hyped to high heaven in various previews, “shoot water with electricity” and “shoot oil with fire” were quoted as two examples of using the environment smartly to dispatch of enemies. That they were also the ONLY two examples in game was conveniently omitted. I wouldn’t expect more in Rage either.
    I want to love another id game. I really do. Carmack is the best type of crazy fucker when it comes to technology, but id have yet to come out with a game design that is amazing. I played countless hours of Doom 1 and 2, but that was just because it was the only show in town. I only really enjoyed id games when they were about shooting your fellow gamer in the face, because in that case it comes down to mechanics, and id have got those nailed down perfectly.
    So let’s do this: let’s set our expectations as low as we can. Let’s expect a game with 5-6 vaguely bandit-like enemy types, reskinned and recoloured to various degrees, a game with the standard weapon types (so pistol, shotgun, machine gun, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, Weird Science Gun), each having one or two alternative (but potentially useless) ammo types, an open world with nothing interesting whatsoever going on outside the main railroad track of story, and with vehicles that are basically of the usefulness of mounts in an mmo. Let’s expect that turd and then be grateful for every way in which id will manage to exceed expectations.
    (Rereading the above, there is a lot of resentment for Borderlands in that paragraph. I wanted Borderlands to be so much more. I wanted guns to feel more awesome, I wanted damage stats to be more transparent, enemies to be more challenging, and the whole thing to be visually more varied. I stopped playing Borderlands around the time when you fought that huge boss that spit fliers at you. Graphically the most impressive thing in the game that far, and at the same time gameplay-wise so very empty. If Rage can deliver on some of Borderlands’ promises, I’d love it for that already. I really dig the post-apocalyptic setting.)

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      “That they were also the ONLY two examples in game was conveniently omitted”

      Well, there was also: shoot oil with fire, wait for flaming splicer to run into water, then shoot water with electricity. Theoretically there was also sabotaging the health dispensers, but I never really noticed that in practice.

    • StarDrowned says:

      If it’s any help, id had good ol’ Mr. Lightning Gun, way back in the day in Quake 1, and if you used it to shoot a pool of water while someone was swimming in it, they’d die.

    • Damien Stark says:

      Well, you left out “freeze enemies then shatter them with the wrench”, but your point remains valid.

    • Kast says:

      There was also clever uses for proxy mines – like attaching them to trash cans and throwing them with the telekenisis plasmid, placing them in the path burning splicers would take to water, sticking them to those flying sentries that then suicide bombed their targets, placing them on the ceiling above wind traps…

      I only wish they’d stolen Dark Messiah’s trick of ice-patching the ground then watching splicer’s slip and slide to their doom. I think they might have fallen over but that was it.

    • Steelfists says:

      They even had electro-water killing in Dark Messiah… Its not exactly a thing to be touted anymore.

  4. Stijn says:

    “You’re like a buck rogers man from the past stuck in this world where every thing’s very rustic, but ultimately you find out there’s more to this nanotrites than than meets the eye. Are the mutants mutants because of cosmic rays, or is it to do with the nanobots?”

    My guess is that it’s to do with the nanobots!

    • jonfitt says:

      My guess is the mutants are due to the nanobots having gone haywire through age, neglect, or some other influence.
      The Authority wants the Ark survivors because they are a source of untainted nanobots.

      Or something along those lines.

    • suibhne says:

      My money’s on the Authority producing the mutants through experimentation on nanobots, which oh wow it turns out they harvest from the corpses of Ark survivors, but uh oh they’re fresh out of survivors and you’re pretty much their last hope, as well as maybe the last hope for humanity, because see you provide the sole untainted reservoir for nanobot research and therefore the sole possibility of finally solving the encroaching doom of nanotrite-induced mutation, so boom! pow! the question becomes do you support tyranny or independence, but really it’s an “open but directed” game so you don’t actually have a choice, so there.

      Given that the plot I just fabricated is actually better than those of many so-called AAA games, yet is still pretty bad, I weep for this industry.

    • Spacewalk says:

      I’m betting that mutation is punishment for Authority employees getting caught stealing office supplies.

  5. Sobric says:

    I was going to make the same point CMaster made above (it’s exactly what struck me as well), but as I read on I realised that id seem to be cherry picking bits of story/gameplay/design from other games and putting into their own, especially Bioshock and Fallout.

    But then, WoW cherry-picked all the good parts from other MMOs and that was an utter failure wasn’ it?

    I do like the punk bandit group in Union Jack outfits though. More of that.

    P.S.
    “Are the mutants mutants because of cosmic rays, or is it to do with the nanobots?”

    It’s because of the nanobots isn’t it. Talk about revealing your hand.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      The nanobots are revealed to have been mutated by the cosmic rays. The cosmic rays are revealed to be the prayers of sentient suns who believe planets are angels. So, like, global warming is being caused by religion. The final level involves blowing up the sun.

    • Sobric says:

      Ahhh that makes a lot more sense!

      I had assumed that the Nanobots had been created by the Authority by way of an out-of-control mutant called “The Boss” who you will eventaully have to kill, before going to try and defeat the leaders of the Authority on an oil rig off the coast, to stop them meddling in nanobots any further.

    • Jad says:

      The cosmic rays are revealed to be the prayers of sentient suns who believe planets are angels.

      So it’s a JRPG then? Excellent.

    • Alastayr says:

      @ Sobric’s second comment
      Like, erm, I’v heard that somewhere before? Man, it just eludes me. Probably some unimportant game, like from the nineties or not in 3D or some such. Probably deserved to be forgotten, OR HOLY SHIT IT’S FALLOUT 2 ISN’T IT?!?

      They had this PR page for RAGE a while ago where you could explore a backdrop and it felt essentially like a successor to the good Fallouts. Blue Vault suits, leather jackets, water canteens, flares, broken cars and the desert… it was all there. There’s nothing wrong with a spiritual successor to the Fallout games being a first person manshoot, and I secretly hope they keep the atmosphere low-key apocalyptic instead of bombastically overwrought.

  6. Demon Beaver says:

    Is that Neil Patrick Harris in the second screenshot?

  7. the wiseass says:

    You know, if Id would have a game-play designer equal to the tech-god that is Carmack this game would be a lot more convincing. Also, why the fuck do they showcase this game on an Xbox? Dammit, show us some love Id or are you too turning your back to us? I feel betrayed :(

    Also that chick is ugly, did you try and zoom into her face? She’s freakin’ me out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Chaz says:

      I think they showcased it on an Xbox, so it would make you think something like, “Wow if they can get their engine looking that good and running that fast on a 360, then think what they can achieve on other platforms.”

  8. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    Whilst I’m sure the engine is all very snazzy, the actual game itself is sounding rather underwhelming to me so far, but I’ll reserve my judgement for the final thing. However I just can’t help but feel that by the time it gets a release next year that it’s going to seem decidedly old school.

    Mind you that new Bulletstorm game from Epic is also looking rather crushingly unoriginal, and looks like a cross between Gears of War and Unreal Tournament.

  9. Turin Turambar says:

    The PR guy is one of the lead designers, i think.

    Yeah, it’s not going to be a revolutionary game (when was the last time we had one of those??) but it looks very pretty, i love id shooting style, fast and engaging, the more “tactical” combat with ammo types and engineering items will give it an updated feel, and i hope for a Stalker-like variety with some straight fps action in the main missions, some exploration and trade on the outside world, and some racing/combat with vehicles between both things.

    I am more worried about the nanotrites thing. Autoregeneration health and vitachamber “effect”. DO NOT WANT.

  10. Jimbo says:

    Fallout: New Vegas is also going to hit the shelves in time for holiday season, whereas this is going to miss it. Then there’ll be inevitable New Vegas DLC to contend with. And if they end up slipping too far into 2011, they’re probably going to start bumping up against Borderlands 2. Both Fallout 3 and Borderlands established themselves really well first time out.

    Fallout has its RPG side (and maybe even a decent story from Obsidian), Borderlands has a lite RPG side, its art style and its tons-of-guns hook. I’m still not seeing what this has to offer over its competitors.

    Rage *might* offer a slightly better shooter experience (not that Borderlands was exactly bad), but I don’t know if that’s enough anymore. I think if they’re going open world they need to commit to it wholeheartedly, not try and keep one foot in the corridor genre, even if they are id. I think id are trying to go multi-plat with what feels like a 90′s PC mindset to me. They have their work cut out for them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Chaz says:

      The other thing they haven’t mentioned is whether it’ll have any co-op play, which was hands down the best thing about Borderlands.

  11. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    ID are what U2 would be like if they didn’t reinvent themselves in 1991.

    Or, to put it another way; I’m still waiting for iD’s “Achtung Baby”.

    P.

    • RedFred says:

      I’m waiting for John Carmack to start preaching to me about saving people in Africa while not condoning the use of condoms.

  12. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Being apparently one of the few who actually liked Doom 3, Id has yet to disappoint me.

    Meanwhile, very little in this game worries me. My main concern is the part vehicles will play in the game. But it’s a selfish concern since I don’t particularly like the Drive & Shoot combo, and especially on FPSs. I don’t like, because I lack the skill to do it.

    Unless something comes out deadly wrong with this game, it’s almost a sure bet I will buy it because of my collector side that demands I have all titles from a few select companies (in which Id is included), even if I don’t come around to play the game.

    But thanks Alec. You removed some of my minor concerns about the game and eased somewhat the major one, which was this nagging thought that drive & shoot was an essential aspect to the gameplay.

    • jonfitt says:

      I liked Doom3 too. It didn’t compete with HL2′s narrative, but I’d argue that Bioshock was more a descendant of Doom3 than HL2.

      It was fun for what it was, and while monster closets may have been old hat, they still scare the shit out of me. Perhaps it’s my Doom1 upbringing, but turn out the lights, make creepy noises, and go boo and I’m cowering in a corner shooting wildly.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Yeah. It actually took me a little using to Doom 3 sound effects and general atmosphere to actually be able to play the game for more than a few minutes without quitting because it was affecting me.

      But it’s not just that. Simply the idea of being chased, which Id games excelled at up until that point. But above all I liked Doom 3 over it’s attempt at bringing the doom corridor fps style into a more modern engine. Not all aspects of the game were to my liking. But generally speaking, Doom 3 was to me yet another great game from Id.

    • MadMatty says:

      I liked Doom 3 aswell! Hell, i even completed Quake 4 (even tho that was Raven).
      I´ll probably need a computer upgrade to get into this shinyness tho.

  13. Edawan says:

    they’re handing players a lot more keys than has been their tradition.

    You mean more than the blue, red, and yellow keys ? Madness !

  14. Tei says:

    “while Rage is inevitably going to draw many comparisons to Borderlands, in terms of life and detail it beats Gearbox’s game hands-down.”

    You can have more than 70 hours on Borderlands, and you still see people puzzled about the decorative doors you can’t open but you can use. Is like the devs of Borderlands, with all the tools to make a live world, decided to convert some NPC’s into decoration and some decoration into.. i don’t know.. a 3D texture you can look at with dry eyes. No other game is like that. On other games where most of the stuff is not interactive, you learn it the first 5 min. I think games like Half-Life 2 has set on us the expectations that we can shot to chairs|monitors|other props, to make then fly.. so we don’t understand how other games could work different.

    • bob_d says:

      “I think games like Half-Life 2 has set on us the expectations that we can shot to chairs|monitors|other props, to make then fly.. so we don’t understand how other games could work different.”
      This attitude by gamers (feature X was in this game, now I expect it in all games) is what is making game development unsustainable. Every feature costs time and money to implement. Half-Life 2 had six years, 40+ million dollars and all the middleware (including physics engine) they could want. Interacting with the environment was an important part of the gameplay in the Half-Life games; it wasn’t in Borderlands. So yes, Borderlands could have included detailed interactions with the environments, but it would have been expensive to implement and would have added nothing to gameplay. Most developers have to look at the features that are most important to the gameplay and cut everything else. Only the biggest developers get to add all the features they want, usually because the games are also game engines that they’re licensing or otherwise using for other games, e.g. Unreal, Crysis and yes, Half-Life’s Source engine.

  15. Robbie says:

    This most definitely looks pretty, but after that insight I just want to reread The Authority. Superman & Batman dating is always hilarious.

  16. nine says:

    Yes, there are infinity textures, but does the game have destructible environments? After the recent tide of games with at least basic destruction bolted on, playing in a static world feels so noughties!

  17. DarkFenix says:

    Hmm, what have I picked up from all the recent coverage of this game? It’s a cobbled together mix of ideas straight out of other recent titles. The graphics will be pretty, but the vehicle sections will be awful, enemy ai will be awful, weapons will be unsatisfying to use, the game will be completely linear (however much they want to pretend otherwise) and the whole experience will be shallow and repetitive.

    This is id. I see no reason to believe their collective mindset is not still stuck in the 90′s. Or perhaps this is their thing; since we’ve now moved into the next decade, they’re going to spew all the ideas of the decade just passed at us. So we’re seeing a mishmash of Bioshock, Borderlands and Fallout 3, all wrapped around a mesh of mediocre FPS.

    • the wiseass says:

      This game will be many things except a mediocre FPS.

    • Jad says:

      While many of the things you say may be true (but I don’t see them as quite the negatives you see), I take exception with “weapons will be unsatisfying to use”.

      Id had never made an unsatisfying weapon. Everyone else tries to do the bare-metal shooting mechanics as well as id, and there are very few that can even come close. Maybe Valve and Epic.

    • DarkFenix says:

      I take it you’ve never played Doom 3 then Jad, where guns looked, sounded and felt about as threatening as a broken peashooter. Whenever I used any gun in Doom 3 I felt as though I were simply going through the motions, it was about as engaging as watching an enemy’s health tally drop in a text based game.

      I want weapons that look, feel and sound powerful. I want enemies to react as though my weapon is powerful. Hell, I want the environment to reflect that my weapon is powerful.

      As far as I’m concerned there are three main elements to good shooter gameplay. Weapons, enemies and environment (ie. level design). Doom 3 failed miserably on all three counts.

    • Jad says:

      @DarkFenix

      Ah good point, I probably shouldn’t have spoken up. I did play the Doom 3 demo. I don’t remember the guns being particularly awful or impressive, but the game had enough problems that I knew I wasn’t going to pick up the full game anyway. It just seemed that someone saying an id game will have “unsatisfying weapons” and being so certain about it seemed so wrong and depressing that I didn’t even think about if it could have happened already. I have lowered my expectations of Rage down a notch.

      I thoroughly agree with you on what is important for a FPS game. So many (critically-hailed) modern FPSes really drop the ball on one or more of those. It’s depressing.

  18. yabonn_fr says:

    I understand postapocalyptico fps thingies will look a certain way no matter what, but still : Borderlandish or what?

    • jonfitt says:

      Surely they’re all Mad Max-ish?

    • yabonn_fr says:

      “Surely they’re all Mad Max-ish?”

      Also, true.

      … But very, very _very_ Borderlandish? As in “more like Borderlands, in fact, than like any of the others games in Tei’s list?” As in “even if poor Alec tries to get us over this likeness in his post and in the very title of his post, godsdammit, it looks like Borderlands?”

      Because damn. It does.

    • RAGE says:

      I used to really want a Mad Max game, but now the genre is being overwhelmed :/

      I think rather than leaving zombies and going to giant robots or something we left zombies and went to post-apocalyptic mutants.

  19. Metal_circus says:

    Seems like they’re doing the typical id thing and making a techy lightshow first and a proper, engaging game second. I’m more excited about this tech being applied to other games and given to real creative developers than the acctual game itself if i’m being honest.

  20. HexagonalBolts says:

    Funny how the 2007 demo you link to looks better than anything I’ve ever actually seen on my (more than adequate) computer’s screen by 2011. How come these tech videos always look so much better than the actual thing?

    • RedFred says:

      Because the tech demos are a rare insight into John Carmack’s mind. That’s actually what he sees. Amazing.

  21. gulag says:

    Looks like id are late to the post-apoch party, and wore the same dress as another girl there.

    If Borderlands taught me anything, it’s that I want more RPG in my FPS, and I don’t mean leveling, I mean world, story, characters, plot, choices. I can’t believe none of these Western developers have looked at the likes of Stalker, and not gotten it yet.

    • jonfitt says:

      I didn’t see anything in that preview that implied that there wasn’t going to be world, story, characters, and plot.

      HL2 had all of those things and I don’t think anyone ever said it had any RPG in it.

      Choices I think is the main non-levelling element of an RPG and I don’t think Rage will have that. The only choice will probably be: “Which method of injury application will you apply?”

      I’ve not played Borderlands, but did that have any real choice in it?

    • Jad says:

      Stalker was a fantastic game with a incredible world and unparalleled atmosphere, but in terms of “story, characters, plot” it was pretty thin. Certainly nothing to the level of HL2, and HL2′s story was scant compared to an actual RPG or adventure game. I don’t particularly see that as a flaw, however. Immersion and atmosphere and world-building are the most important things for a FPS after good shooting mechanics and level design, well before characterization and a dense plotted story. And Rage has a chance of pulling off those important things. We’ll see.

    • jonfitt says:

      I didn’t want to knock Stalker because I liked it very much, but yes, the story, characters, and plot was weak.
      I wouldn’t say HL2’s story was scant though, I’d say it was focussed. In a way that can make for a better story. Tolkien wrote some rambling tales, but not once did someone grind pigs for levels or find the need to join every guild, rob every house, and find a lost cat, when they got to Edoras and Minas Tirith.
      That’s what I’d hope to see from Rage, a focussed story in a well rounded world.

  22. laikapants says:

    I’m now in Cautiously Optimistic mode about this. After being let down so very much by the hollow drudgery that is/was Borderlands’ single player, I’m a bit hesitant to get all giddy about another semi-post-apocalyptic shooter. Good thing I have plenty of time to read up on the impressions of this before the release.

  23. westyfield says:

    Edit: This is meant to be a reply to HexagonalBolts’ comment a few above this one.
    As you’re clearly from the future, could you tell me who won the 2010 election please? I’m sure it’s not too late to place a bet.
    /snark.

  24. Tei says:

    Tired of comparing Rage to Bordelands, I have written this, to add more options and help other people:

    I list of Games That Are Nothing Like Rage (full list):

    - Gears of War
    - Startcraft 2 ( Rage is nothing like it )

    And here is a list of games that are like Rage (not complete):
    – Rage
    – Borderlands
    – Bioshock
    – Fallout 3
    – Stalker ( may contain russians )
    – Metro 2031 (may contain russians)
    – L4D ( the game with more Rage per minute )

    Heres a list of games that are not enteryly like Rage (undecided about this one, actually some of these games can result LIKE rage):
    - Halo ( may contain health regen )
    - Modern Warfare 2 ( may not contain russians )
    - Brink ( may contain stereotiped frenchs)

  25. jonfitt says:

    Yeah, it got a haircut; if you know what I mean.

  26. Brumisator says:

    Alec needs better proofreading
    SUperman
    Vite Chambers

    Captain nitpick away!

    • durr says:

      “tricsky”

    • Alec Meer says:

      If no-one blocked our ads and everyone subscribed, maybe we could afford a proof-reader. But they do, they don’t, and we can’t. So levae it out.

    • TeeJay says:

      How about us readers do the proof reading for free & make a polite & helpful comments to help the authors make corrections and edits, instead of phrasing it as a complaint?

      For example:

      Thanks for the great article Alec. I have spotted a couple of typos: SUperman, Vite Chambers. Please feel free to delete this post after you’ve read it.

    • MadMatty says:

      Nah, i kinda like the times where we bash at them for being incorrect, gloat a bit n feel good about ourselves, then gloat a bit more cause we just busted an industry proffessional ;)

    • RedFred says:

      I don’t block your ads and what do I get? Evony etc crap blasted at me from all angles.

      The things I do for the hivemind.

  27. Vinraith says:

    There’s certainly potential here. Oddly I just realized I’ve never owned an id game. Sure, I’ve played the shareware iterations of Doom, Doom 2, and Quake. I played the demos for several of the later games, as well. I’ve never actually given them a cent, though, which seems strange for one of PC gamings more venerable development houses.

    • jarvoll says:

      I bought the id pack on steam over christmas, and have been going through the games in chronological order (currently half-way through Doom 2). I can confidently say, as someone who’s really only experienced these games as an adult WAAAY late to the party, that these games are just as good as everyone says they are. Sure, there’s nothing to them but shooting stuff (well, Doom 2 has some pretty interestingly convoluted level design), but shooting stuff FEELS SO GOOD. Old id rocked, and even if you have a pile of unplayed games, they’re totally worth picking up for a weekend when you just want to kill stuff, because when you get around to it, it will be one of the best killing-stuff weekends you experience.

  28. RagingLion says:

    This was a very good preview Alec and the one that’s given me the best sense of the game and it’s place in the wider gaming sphere.

    Still almost certain not to play this though. I’d love to explore the world but the gameplay isn’t for me I don’t think – I’d like to watch someone playing it for a bit.

  29. OldManTick says:

    Well I hope for a combination of Doom3 and Interstate 76. I liked Doom3 (and Quake4) tho I cheated to finish.
    I loved the vehicular combat (and soundtrack) of Interstate 76 even if I wasn’t very good at it The whole concept of gaining wealth and parts from killing other vehicle drivers sounds very much like Interstate 76.
    I certainly hope that among the list of games they borrowed gameplay ideas from is Interstate 76

  30. durr says:

    id Software, around the time Doom 3 came out, became the victim of a horrible case of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I was a part of it!

    I was so hyped for HL2 (for good reason) that I looked down at Doom 3, based on early previews and announcements alone. I was so excited about supporting my beloved saviors of the FPS genre (Valve) that I felt like I had to “fight the power”– then still, id Software and their anachronistic behemoth status they still had around 2003.

    I didn’t play the Doom 3 demo until 2006. And I was absolutely blown away. Edgy shadows and strange shotgun sounds or not… this game had atmosphere. Style. It was actually scary. All the little things it “stole” from previous titles (just as any other shooter had stolen from id before, I might add) they took from the absolute best games out there. The sound design from System Shock 2. The level design from Half-Life (monster closets my ass, the levels were well designed and fun to explore).

    The “martian temple” twist towards the end of the game was a great change in settings to what I always presumed to be an always repeating metal corridor design. The in-game monitor interfaces are very elegant to use and practical. And the graphics are great.

    Doom 3 is an excellent, excellent game. They actually learned how to tell an atmospheric story in-game. They made full use of the technology. And so I have full confidence that Rage will be excellent as well.

    “Linearity” isn’t an insult, it’s a genre. I vastly prefer post apocalyptic deserts over boring present-day warfare simulations. And the crafting system sounds excellent.

    Let’s not turn this into another self-fulfilling prophecy like Doom 3…

    • DarkFenix says:

      Self fulfilling prophecy? Excellent game? You must be joking. I personally got my hands on Doom 3 shortly after its release, not pre-judging it based on any rival titles. In fact I was reasonably hyped up about it, how could I not be having seen preview footage?

      The game did indeed have a decent atmosphere to start with, but for every nice bit of shadow or monster-in-closet scare, they shot themselves in the foot with something frustratingly awful. For instance the terrible level design; they clearly thought at great length about the textures and the lighting for the levels, but then they forgot to consider that gameplay might need to be interesting too, or that a bit of variety might be nice.

      Then they fell into another trap, predictability. By the time I was a few levels in I could tell you when and where a monster would pop out with distressing accuracy, because one popped out pretty much every time. Talk about atmosphere destroying.

      Ooh, ooh, another trap they practically jumped on. Frustrating gameplay mechanics. Flashlight or weapon. Has that ever been a good idea? Could it ever conceivably have been a good idea? It turned what had the potential to be creepy atmospheric dark sections into a frustrating, immersion breaking mess.

      And while I’m ranting, I’ll flog the “awful weapons” dead horse some more. They really were terrible. Then when you killed an enemy, what happened to it? Were we treated to a thoroughly perforated ragdoll slamming back against a wall leaving a bloody stain? No. It would fall over and disappear, as though it was never there at all.

      Oh and on the topic of linearity; no, linearity is not an insult in itself. Obvious linearity on the other hand is a lazy habit the gaming industry should shake off. Doom 3 was a horribly obvious corridor shooter that made no efforts to conceal the fact it was a 90′s game being released a decade late. Even nowadays the majority of games are essentially linear, however most of them have the sense not to rub it in our faces, instead giving either a degree of freedom, or the illusion of freedom.

  31. Spectre-7 says:

    Given word has it John Carmack didn’t even want a Use button in Doom 3, an economic model is a big step forward for id.

    Errrr, unless I’m grossly mistaken, there is no use button in Doom 3. You just walk up to an interactive console and hit fire/mouse1… and that’s actually one of the design decisions I admire in the game. Their method for interacting with in-game interfaces still feels a lot more organic and immersive than similar features in other first-person shooters.

  32. Radiant says:

    So they’ve taken the worst tropes of recent shooters and thrown them into one game?
    Re-naming them doesn’t make them any less old.
    Additionally adding more content doesn’t make the game less varied.

    Looking back at Doom 3 I really wished Id had based the game around one mechanic or weapon.

    The Soul Cube was a GREAT idea; killing beasts to charge up a smart bomb is a brilliant take from 2D shoot ‘em ups.
    But it seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought in Doom 3.

    Like Valve found with the grav gun or Crysis did with the nano suit Rage and Id really needs a single dynamic to base the game around.

    The fact that 3 years into development they still can’t tell you what the game is, is a bit worrying.

    Also Meer: Letching… I was letching at the girl in the screenshot.

  33. manveruppd says:

    Hey Alec, how much of the driving did you get to see? Is there any actual “vehicular combat” either in the sense of shooting from the vehicle or slamming it onto other vehicles? Or is it just driving around and racing?

    Oh, btw everyone, you forgot to namecheck FUEL in “games that are like Rage”! :p

  34. Dreamhacker says:

    Anyone up for more Daikatana?

  35. archonsod says:

    “There are opportunities to play the game differently, but it’s a single narrative that’s open but directed.”

    There’s my interest killed right there.

  36. Berzee says:

    Tei, thank you for that comprehensive and useful list! I will use it for future comparisons. (I would have replied to your post, but didn’t feel like working so hard).

  37. Back to the classics says:

    I wish deveolpers got back to the basics. Someone should pick up doom, doom2, quake, and study those games carefully, from the gameplay to the level design to the monsters design and so on and then trying to recreate them using modern technology. Hell, even not so modern technology.

    Serious sam got close, but it was a little bit too goofy for my liking. Also the level design wasn’t really on par with the id’s classics.

    As for rage, who cares, it doesn’t look like it is something particularly interesting. Modern day id is completely different from the id of the old days, they are not important anymore.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Modern day id is completely different from the id of the old days, they are not important anymore.

      I have to agree. In the technical department, Id can still impress, but there’s no guarantee they can deliver in the X factor that distinguishes jaw dropping games from merely good games. Certainly there is nothing in these snapshots and the bits of game action we’ve seen that transpire any of the greatness of the old days’ Id.

      And there’s no shame in that, really. Being an eternal fan of this company (unless they drop a nuclear bomb or rape a minor), I’m in no way bothered by the fact Id isn’t just anymore that great game studio. In fact, it would be troublesome if they still were. These things come and go naturally. Id did their seminal Wolfenstein and Doom. Others then take their seat, inspired by they work, and set on to do even greater things, like Valve did with their Half-Life and Half-life 2. Currently we may be sitting on the threshold of a new name to take Valve’s place in the FPS genre.

      If instead, today, 18 years after Wolfenstein, we were still singing praises to Id innovation and game design, something would be seriously wrong with an industry incapable of breeding new innovators. And if in 5 years we are still looking up to Valve to bring us innovation and great gameplay in this genre, then we should worry too.

  38. Memphis-Ahn says:

    Man, that chick is so hot.

  39. MadMatty says:

    Yeah ok i get it- its more of the same, and it ain´t good enough anymore. Just a bit of extra gloss (tho personally i think Carmack is THE Glossmaster!).
    Kindof the same way i felt with Dragon Age, tho different genre..

    Can´t say i enjoyed Borderlands that much, even tho the weapons were kindof fun… it was basically like diablo FPS, although much more linear… i dropped it in singleplayer after 3 hours of play.
    Bioshock: I didn´t like it
    Fallout 3: me DID like- open areas, character progression, semi-interesting quests, gore and money!

    I think Doom 3, and even Quake 4, still had some “COOL!” moments, even tho im inclined to agree with many of the complaints with it. I dont know if its the general visceral nature of it, the nice glossy graphics,they always seemed to nail the style of the art pretty well, or was it just the combined essence of many little things i cant really name at the moment….
    ID Software is still good in my book, xcept for Quake Wars- that was a dull Battlefield rip-off if there ever was one!

  40. Spd from Russia says:

    Sounds great overall!
    How about the trailer\teaser – was it all ingame?

  41. MultiVaC says:

    I like the name “nanotrite”.

    “As part of the Ark program you’re injected with nanobots” These heal and defibrillate you when you die, so presumably are Rage’s answer to Vita Chambers”

    It’s so descriptive; using nanites for trite gameplay mechanics.

  42. Quercus says:

    Hang on, didn’t ID announce that Rage would NOT be released on PC?