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11 things I wish I knew before playing Rage 2

Rage 2 is home to some excellent FPS action, but the good times are nestled within a dreadfully shallow open world. And yet, it's worth playing, especially if you know how to optimize the fun, so to speak. To help out with that, we've prepared some Rage 2 tips that lean into combat and how to get the most out of it before running out of steam with the repetitive open world activities or before accidentally completing the campaign. It really is that short. We'll clear up a few unclear rules and offer some general tips along the way as well. 

Increase the difficulty 

Rage 2 is a bit challenging in the opening hour or two on the default difficulty mode, but it doesn't take long to suck up enough upgrades for guns, abilities, and health and damage output to trivialize nearly every combat encounter in the game. Bump the difficulty up for a more consistent challenge throughout. 

You can repair your car or call in another if it gets destroyed 

Hop out, walk up front, and use focus energy to zap it back to a healthy state. If you need a new ride, head into the vehicle menu and select any car you own. Just below the image of your ride there's a prompt to call one in. It's picky about where you can do this, so find an open road first. 

Remap the ability selection key 

I don't know how it got through quality assurance, but using nanotrite abilities  requires holding down a key while pressing another key. Why not just let us map the abilities directly? Worse, that key is left Ctrl by default. Pressing a Ctrl+F or Ctrl+Spacebar or Ctrl+R takes too many fingers off WASD, which is pretty valuable real estate in a shooter this fast. Remap it to something more intuitive. I went with the middle mouse button and it's worked out perfectly. 

Don't rush through the campaign 

Turn those icons grey before speeding through the story. 

It's really, really short. The meat of Rage 2 is in its side missions. Progress far enough to meet the three characters that unlock the primary Projects upgrade paths, then go to town on that open world.

Prioritize finding ARKs 

I finished the campaign without finding all the primary abilities and weapons (because I didn't think it would actually end that quickly). It's a bummer because the combat is at its best when you have as many options as possible, and some are best used in tandem. Like how Vortex launches you, which goes perfect with a follow-up Slam that squishes everyone below you. Fill out that arsenal before cleaning up too much of the map. 

Focus on upgrading your damage at the doctor in Wellspring 

Once you get to Wellspring, you'll be able to use certain rare resources to buy permanent upgrades to your health, overdrive meter, and universal damage dealt. 

Prioritize damage upgrades. You'll find plenty of health buffs in the Projects menu that make it a easy to stay alive, and enough overdrive upgrades to keep it going for a lot longer than normal. Doing more damage is the most helpful upgrade, period. They come in increments of 5%, but by the end I'd achieved a 50% universal damage increase. Crowds are nothing now. Towering monsters melt in seconds. 

Shoot Shrouded in the body 

Those guys with the weird gas masks? Their helmets are indestructible. Don't waste time with headshots. Go for the torso. 

Talk to everyone, twice 

A few NPCs in each settlement will have something to say. Talk to them for a bit of narrative flavor and, sometimes, to reveal the location of a mission. Once you complete the mission an NPC points you to, be sure to talk to them again because you might get a reward out of the exchange—not always, but often enough to make it worthwhile. 

There's no side mission menu item that says to revisit these NPCs and it's almost impossible to remember who told you what, so as a general rule, just talk to anyone if they have a dialogue prompt.  

 Don't ignore specialty weapons 

I didn't like the Firestarter Pistol at first because it didn't reduce men to giblets, but it's a great opening salvo when you have the jump on a group of enemies. Tag as many enemies as possible, light them up, then clean them up, a good chunk of damage already dealt. It's great for crowd control, too. If you're overwhelmed, tag everyone in sight, light 'em up, and sprint to cover or a new vantage to reassess the situation. 

Purchase schematics to unlock higher crafting tiers 

Rage 2's upgrade trees are pretty simple, they're still poorly explained and inconsistent. It doesn't help that the UI buries trees within trees, some of which are home to the best upgrades 

The crafting menu is comparably barren. It alludes to varying levels of upgrades for your throwable and consumable items, but you won't use nanotrites to unlock new tiers like you do with weapons and abilities. That would make too much sense. Rather, you need to repeatedly purchase schematics from merchants to unlock new crafting tiers. I thought I'd need to 'use' them or apply them in the menu. Nope. Just buy 'em and new tiers will silently unlock. 

There's stuff to find off the beaten path 

Don't be afraid to go off-roading. You'll run into something surprising eventually. Just be sure to top off your vehicle's ammunition supply before venturing out, trust me. 

James is PC Gamer’s bad boy, staying up late to cover Fortnite while cooking up radical ideas for the weekly livestream. He can still kickflip and swears a lot. You’ll find him somewhere in the west growing mushrooms and playing Dark Souls.