Will 'Rage' Elevate First Person Shooters to the Next Level?

At E3 2010, Bethesda Softworks and id Software featured a twenty-minute long demonstration of their upcoming first-person shooter, Rage, which is powered by the new id Tech 5 engine and is in development for the PlayStation 3 and PC. First impressions here.

What we're talking about: Rage, id Software's anticipated post-apocalyptic first-person shooter, which is powered by a new engine, id Tech 5.

Where we saw it: At Bethesda Softworks' E3 booth in the West Hall of the L.A. Convention Center. A massive concrete dinosaur stood in the middle of the booth in honor of Fallout: New Vegas.

The details:

  • Tim Willits, the creative director on Rage at id, explained why they're introducing a new IP when they already have flagship franchises with Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein. "We invented the first-person shooter genre," said Willits. "With Rage we want to take the FPS genre and elevate it to the next level."
  • Rage takes place in the "near future," after an asteroid crashed destroying most of the world.
  • While Rage is a shooter at its core, the team has integrated racing and vehicle combat into the game. A dune buggy was shown racing through the canyons of a wasteland before encountering a group of enemy vehicles, which the player took out with the buggy's mounted machine guns.
  • The id Tech 5 engine was described by Willits as "cross-platform technology," that runs at 60 hz. "Mega-pixels" are what id calls their hand-crafted environments, buildings, characters, and plant life. "Everything is hand-crafted," said Willits. "Gone are the days when you're running around in a game seeing the same or similar environment over and over again. Every rock, bush, tree, is placed in Rage by an artist."
  • The government in Rage put together an Ark Program, where they buried arks into the ground. You're the sole survivor of your ark.
  • The first environment demonstrated, wasteland, featured a swamp surrounded by a rocky canyon. This takes place roughly three hours into the game and showcased our first taste of Rage's combat. The player decapitated one enemy and ended the lives of several others by blowing them away with a pistol. After riding a buggy through the desert, the player toppled an attacking guard tower by firing a rocket launcher at it, which sent it to pieces as though it was assembled with popsicle sticks.
  • The second environment demonstrated, Well Spring, was an indoor setting with a "wild-west" vibe to it. "Rage, however, is not a western," explained Willits. Seedy bars and people playing a holographic gambling game in the streets are in Well Spring, in addition to an actual well, which Willits emphasized is an "important" part of the town. Once the player finally reached the well, satanic-like symbols could be seen drawn on the walls in chalk, which denote that this is where the ghost clan dwells.
  • The final environment demonstrated, Dead City, is described as a place where "no one comes out alive." Collapsed skyscrapers and shattered roads are everywhere in this city that looked like it was ripped apart by a devastating earthquake. Before long a humongous enemy showed up before the screen faded to black signaling the end of the gameplay demonstration.
  • As the player walked under a leaking water pipe, Rage's realistic liquid effects were demonstrated as water splattered and then trickled off the screen.
  • Every new environment in the game features either a new weapon or engineering item for the player to use. One of these is the armored crossbow loaded with electrified ammunition. Since this area is nearby a well, large puddles of water are everywhere. The player fired an electrified round with the bow directly into a puddle that enemies were standing in which instantly shocked them to death. A remote control car rigged with an explosive was also demonstrated as it was sent into a room where it reduced a pack of enemies into chunks of meat. The last thing shown was an engineering item called the lock-grinder, which as its name suggests eats its way through locked doors.
  • Rage utilizes a damage system, which has dynamic animations for when enemies are attacked. To demonstrate this, the player fired on different parts of enemies' bodies, which caused them to react to the trauma in a variety of ways.
  • Bandits in the game don't just run at you. The way they attack you varies as they sometimes perform flips and even run up on walls Jet Li-style before trying to kill you.

Point in development cycle: No hard release date has been revealed at this time, but it's scheduled to come out some time next year.

My take: Easily one of the best looking video game I've seen so far at E3 2010 (there's still a day and a half of the show left), Rage blew me with its rich, vibrant settings powered by id's new graphics engine. Oddly enough, for a game rife with gore and killing, what made the biggest impression on me wasn't the action or the violence but the gorgeous, "hand-crafted" environments that Rage creative director Tim Willits was enthusiastic about showing off to the audience. The tremendous level of detail on Rage's settings is emphasized by the game's powerful id Tech 5 engine. The Dead City, which is essentially a giant pile of collapsed skyscrapers, road signs, and concrete debris, was particularly impressive. If you're a fan of shooters, you're definitely going to want to get excited about id's immensely promising new franchise.

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