Rage 2 is out this week, and it’s the long-coming sequel to id Software’s game from 2007. Both games are open-world first-person shooters set in an apocalyptic wasteland, with a lot of Mad Max influence and plenty of driving. By all accounts the new game is a lot of fun, but is it worth playing Rage 1 first? Do you need to play Rage 1 before Rage 2?
While the new game is undoubtedly different to the original game from 2007, there are still a lot of similarities. Is Rage 2 a direct sequel to Rage 1, continuing the same storyline? Are characters from the original game back in the sequel? Is the gameplay the same? Overall, is it worth playing the original before the sequel? We’ve played Rage 2 and Rage 1, so we’ll give you your answers below. Only minor spoilers for the beginning of Rage 2 will follow, although we will discuss the ending of the first game.
Does the Rage 1 storyline continue to Rage 2?
The most important question is, is Rage 2 a direct sequel to id Software’s original game? Alternatively, is it a similar game but a different world, like Quake 2 was to Quake 1? Or does Rage 2 sort of continue the story, but mostly it’s original, like Wolfenstein: The New Order? Like Rage 2, the Wolfenstein games have changed developers a few times, and they’ve only had superficial continuation of their storylines.
Rage 2 is almost right in the middle. It is indeed a continuation of the storyline of Rage 1, although it’s by no means a direct one. Rage 2 is set many years after the events of Rage 1. At the end of the first game, Ark survivor main Ranger character Nicholas Raine and the Resistance lead a successful attack against the technologically-advanced army of The Authority. This battle seemingly saw the death of its leader General Cross, and all the other Ark survivors were revived by Raine to combat The Authority.
Rage 2 continues after this ending, with the Rangers and other Ark survivors having set up a strong settlement called Vineland. However, they are quickly attacked by a resurgent Authority, who have been rebuilding underground and are now back in force. A very much alive but basically Strogg-ified General Cross leads the attack. However, this is all explained right at the very beginning, if you haven’t played the first game. Authority is bad, basically.
What characters from Rage 1 are back in Rage 2?
There are a number of major characters from Rage 1 who are back in the sequel, and all of them have an important part to play. There may be others, but we don’t want to spoil too much about the events of Rage 2. The following characters are introduced within the first hour of the game, and you’ll have to visit all of them to continue the story.
Loosum is the daughter of Dan Hagar, the first character you meet in the first game (voiced by John Goodman), and you meet her very shortly afterwards. She’s the girl who teaches Raine how to throw one of the game’s iconic Wingsticks. She’s back in the sequel, obviously a lot older now, and she’s the mayor of Wellspring (a town that features in both games). She actually died in the tie-in novel to Rage 1, so she’s lucky that’s not canon.
Kvasir is a scientist kept alive by machines, living on his own in the wastes. Not much has changed between Rage 1 and Rage 2. He knows a lot about the Arks, and while he once worked for the Authority he left them, first to work on his own projects, then to make weapons for the Resistance. You’ll need him if you want to get better upgrades in Rage 2. Like Loosum Hagar, he also died in the Rage novel. Man, that thing killed all the good characters.
Marshall is the leader of the Resistance in the first game, and like Nicholas Raine is an Ark survivor. He leads the fight against the Authority and Capital Prime at the end of Rage 1, but was strangely absent from the game after the battle, suggesting he was captured. In Rage 2 he’s at the town of Gunbarrel, serving drinks in the Dud Primer Tavern, and stocking up on weapons. He’s happy to help you take down the Authority, provided you help him with a mutant problem first.
General Martin Cross, also called “The Visionary”, never actually made a physical appearance in Rage 1, but he was mentioned many times as the leader of The Authority. It was always assumed he would be the main villain of a second game, and apparently that’s correct. He now looks like a Strogg from Quake II.
Is the gameplay similar between games?
Yes, although there are major differences. Both games are first-person shooters with an open-world style, set in a Mad Max-y post-apocalyptic landscape, complete with a lot of insane vehicle combat and crazy characters. Rage 2 has had a massive upgrade, however, and in many ways feels like the game id Software wanted Rage 1 to be. It’s a proper open-world, most obviously, with the player able to go anywhere and explore anything right from the start. Rage 1, by comparison, has a big world but is by-and-large pretty linear in its progression.
The other big difference between the games is the inclusion of superpowers. The Arks give Rage 2‘s Walker a range of awesome abilities, from double-jumps to lethal Force-shoves. They’re central to the gameplay and plot of the sequel, but they’re entirely absent from the first game. Obviously the characters learned a few things in the 30 plus years since Rage 1.
Is Rage 1 any good?
That’s a good question, but it’s entirely subjective. Metacritic scores for Rage 1 were generally pretty favorable, although user reviews have been less kind. Generally, the shooting and combat parts of Rage 1 were pretty fun, but the large world area was actually pretty empty and made the game a bit of a drag. There was also barely any story, and the fight against The Authority only really came into the game around the halfway point. It’s not bad, certainly, but there are better shooters out there. It’s arguably id Software’s worst game.
Overall, do I need to play Rage 1 before playing Rage 2?
A tough question, but in general we’re leaning towards “no”. Everything you really need to know from Rage 1 is summed up right at the beginning of Rage 2, and a few simple images and brutal actions in the opening cutscene lend a lot more towards making The Authority evil techno-Nazis than the whole of the first game did. While it would be nice to have some more context about the world of Rage, as well as some knowledge about the characters and factions, everything important is already in Rage 2. The game assumes you have not played the first Rage.
If you desperately want that context, however, then by all means pick up Rage 1. It’s not a perfect game, needing to be either more or less open-world than it actually was, and Rage 2 seems to be vastly superior. Nevertheless, if you’re really enjoying the story of Rage 2, you may enjoy learning more about it and the world from the very beginning. You’ll at least get to find out who Nicholas Raine is.