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Rage 2 beginner’s guide

Welcome to the Wasteland

An in-game screenshot of Rage 2 id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Rage 2 is a pretty simple game — shoot the mutants, save the world. But beneath that simplicity, the game’s mechanics are a lot more convoluted. It’s often hard to decide what missions you should be doing, what to upgrade, and how to go about it.

We put a lot of hours into the game, did some good things, and even made a few mistakes you can learn from. In this Rage 2 guide, we’ll help you navigate labyrinthine menus, decipher its many currencies, and give you a few suggestions to make your time in the Wasteland less daunting.

Just shoot the crates

Rage 2 crate id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

The hardest thing in the beginning of Rage 2 might be the weirdest thing, too, so let’s get our simplest advice out of the way: Just shoot the plywood supply crates that you find pretty much everywhere — especially if they’re just sitting on the ground.

Don’t try to melee them because you’re going to miss, somehow, way more than you think you should. Don’t burn a single calorie worrying about the two bullets that you might have to sacrifice to blow them up. It seems like it should be easy. It’s not. Just shoot the damn things, collect your loot, and move on.

Embrace the open world from the start

When you leave the game’s introduction, you get the keys to a (talking) car pointed toward the open road. You’ll get a hint to head to the closest of three waypoints on your map, so it’s tempting to assume this means “stick close for now.” But that’s not true.

Rage 2 map and location information
Each location has an Enemy Difficulty rating.
id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks

The entire map of Rage 2 is open to you. You’re not limited or level-gated. Your map will give you a helpful shorthand about each location with the Enemy Difficulty right under the name. Don’t worry too much about the actual number next to the encounters. It’s just a scale — 2 is easy, 9 is hard.

The Wasteland of Rage 2 is oddly crowded (there’s more traffic during the apocalypse than we expected). And each location you visit will give you a list of Items of Interest to find there. These are things like Ark Chests and Storage Containers that contain very valuable goodies.

So wander. Check out everything that catches your fancy. Run away if you get in over your head, but always feel free to check it out. Just about everything you do will get you stuff — ammo, crafting materials, upgrade parts, or NPC XP (more on this in a second).

Upgrades are buried in menus within menus

Your menu has seven tabs across the top. Map, Log, and Inventory are self-explanatory. The other four are these confusing combinations of lists and upgrade trees. But they all follow the same template: Spend Feltrite to unlock tiers of upgrades, then spend a dedicated currency to unlock individual upgrades within those tiers.

Rage 2 weapon upgrade and mod menu
Weapon upgrade menu
id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Take weapons, as an example:

  1. You unlock the first tier when you find the Ark to claim that weapon.
  2. You’ll spend Feltrite to unlock the next tier.
  3. Then you’ll spend a Weapon Core Mod to use an upgrade (for weapons, the upgrade is called a Mod).

Projects are a little different (but not much).

  1. The first tier of Project upgrades unlock when you visit an NPC. You don’t have to spend Feltrite to unlock additional tiers of upgrades (Projects, in this case), though. Instead, you unlock the next tier by buying two Projects in the current tier.
  2. To unlock the individual Projects within those tiers, you’ll spend Project Points.
Rage 2 Project menu
You’ll earn XP for John Marshall by completing these types of tasks.
id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks

You earn Project Points every time you level up one of the NPCs, after completing tasks that those NPCs are interested in — like finding Datapads or clearing out Mutie Nests. (Also, Project Points are universal, so it doesn’t matter who you level up to get them — you can spend them on anyone’s Projects). You can see what encounters level up which NPC by highlighting them on the Projects menu tab.

It’s all confusing at first. There are too many currencies and requirements to track. But these menus are your way to turn Walker into a Wasteland-striding death machine. Take a couple minutes to understand them early, so you know what to look for later.

Meet Doctor Kvasir early

Speaking of Projects: Every Project is tied to an NPC — for example, the Basic Project tree belongs to Lilly back in Vineland.

The game will tell you early on to visit the closest Project Dagger NPC, John Marshall, first. He’s tied to the Kill & Destroy Project upgrade tree which has combat-related upgrades. Just as important, there are three Arks near him that earn you the Combat Shotgun, and the Shatter and Grav-Jump Nanotrite abilities. They’re all invaluable, so it makes sense to visit him first.

Rage 2 map Doctor Kvasir laboratory location
Speak to Doctor Kvasir in the Sekreto Wetlands early.
id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks

But before you go any farther into the Wasteland, make your next priority to visit Doctor Kvasir in the west. Kvasir’s Search & Recover Projects are all nanotrite-focused and will make your life a lot easier.

Rage 2 Search & Recover Projects
Kvasir’s Projects include locators.
id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks

As soon as you can, head into the swamp to speak to him. Complete his Ground Control mission, then unlock the Datapad Tracking and Storage Containter Tracking Projects. (You can add on any — or all — of the rest you want.) These two will make clearing out all those locations you visit a lot easier.

Rage 2 finding a Storage Container
Storage Container Tracking makes finding Storage Containers a lot easier.
id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks

We should be clear here: All of the locators Kvasir lets you add don’t make it easy to find all the squirreled-away items in a location, but they do make it a lot easier. Your locator is a little Wi-Fi symbol that appears under your compass. When you’re close to any of the things you can locate, it’ll start lighting up. As you get closer, it’ll fill up more until you’re really close, at which point it’ll turn pink. But the locator(s) are two-dimensional — they’ll tell you if you’re close horizontally, but not vertically. You’ll still have to look above and below you to find what you’re after (which, again, could be any of the things).

Buy intel in every town (and talk to NPCs)

Now that you can find things more easily inside locations, it’s time to get some help finding those locations. Each town has three ways you can find things.

  • NPCs. Talk to everyone with a speech bubble over their heads. They’ll fill in information in your Log, and usually point you to a location in the Wasteland on your map.
  • Job Board. Each town has a Job Board where you can pick up bounties and activities. Think of these like little side missions — you’ll earn some cash and visit new places.
  • Intel Traders. Every town also has an Intel Trader. You can buy locations of Ark Chests for $250 each.

Upgrade everything, all the time

Most of our tips (and, frankly, most of Rage 2) are about getting you stuff. But what are you supposed to do with it?

That’s where your familiarity with the menus comes back. All of your trips into the Wasteland are going to earn you things that you can turn into upgrades. Keep checking back in your menus to see what you have and what you can improve.

Rage 2 Nanotrite upgrade menu
Whenever you finish a location, check to see what you can upgrade.
id Software, Avalanche Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Earning Feltrite means you can unlock new upgrade tiers. Finding Nanotrite Boosters means you can unlock new Perks. Weapon Mod Cores (either found or bought) mean new weapon mods. Completing tasks earn XP that periodically turn into Project Points.

Check your Nanotrites, Weapons, and Projects menus often, and just keep improving yourself.

Don’t forget your (super fun) abilities

So, we’ve covered a lot of mechanics and systems. Now it’s time to talk about gameplay. Rage 2 is a shooter (and a very good one at that). But it’s not just a shooter.

You have abilities that go well beyond shooting guns good. They’re easy to forget about, but they’re what make the game special. Sure, your shotgun sends people flying, but you can also do that with a flick of your wrist. You’ve got grenades, but you also have the Slam Nanotrite ability that all but turns you into a living grenade. You’ve got Overdrive that sends you into a killing frenzy.

All of this is to say: Have fun. There are no rules in the Wasteland. There’s no one approach that’s correct. The less you play Rage 2 like a standard first-person shooter, the better it will be.

The next level of puzzles.

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