We lie on the couch for a therapy session with Avalanche Studios’ narrative director Odd Ahlgren to dissect the madness that players should expect from Rage 2.
When you first sat down to work on Rage 2, what parts of Rage did you think could be improved for the sequel?
We wanted to add our expertise with open-world gameplay, which was something we felt had lacked in Rage. When we talked to id Software [makers of Rage], they completely agreed. That’s why they wanted to make Rage 2 with us.
What did you like about Rage that’s carried over?
We wanted to keep all of the cool and zany comic book-like, post-apocalyptic stuff. Having come from Mad Max ourselves, we had a lot of wild ideas that we could never bring to fruition, and we wanted to play around in a wasteland more. We felt that Rage was a perfect canvas to paint on for that.
Avalanche Studios built Mad Max. Where do you start in making this other post-apocalyptic world distinct?
Having come from Mad Max before, and id had Rage, it was a brown palette. Everything was just post-apocalyptic beige, but there was really no colour. We wanted to add colour to a post-apocalyptic world. So we came up with the idea that this world actually had greenery and it wasn’t just dead and barren everywhere.
How easy is it to differentiate Rage 2’s brand of post-apocalyptic crazy from Mad Max and the other similarly themed titles like Borderlands?
There was a credo that we used: Mad Max is serious, Fallout is dark, Borderlands is funny and Rage is insane.
Were you able to get all of your insane ideas into Rage 2?
Yeah, id said, more or less, ‘Just go to town. Whatever crazy stuff you can dig out, just throw it at us.’ And most of the stuff stuck. We really clicked immediately with id Software. Even the ideas that we thought were a little too wild made it into the game.
So you never found those madness boundaries?
Not really. I think some of the boundaries were just not possible to make within the scope that we had. That was pretty much it. But it was never that somebody said, ‘No, enough of that, sir. No more fantasising wildly!’
Can Rage players who are new to the universe jump straight into this game?
You can play straight out of the box. It’s cool if you’ve played Rage, but it’s absolutely not necessary for you to understand Rage 2. We moved the entire storyline 30 years into the future from the ending of Rage. The idea is that somebody is born anew into this world. Also, the storyline is designed like that: your character has no real knowledge of this world either because your character has grown up in a confined environment. Then you’re thrown out into this brave new world, which is equally fantastic and dangerous for the character as it is for the player.
Will fans of the original Rage have a deeper appreciation of Rage 2’s characters and world?
It is absolutely rewarding for somebody returning to Rage to see that the characters you got to know, many of them are still there. But they have changed over the 30 years. And other things have turned in different directions: perhaps, directions different than you would have expected…
Rage 2 launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 14.