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Should RAGE 2 Have Been Developed In-House at Bethesda?



Rage 2

Following swirling rumours and a carefully crafted social media campaign, Bethesda revealed the unexpected “shooterverse” sequel, RAGE 2. For this new project, the single-player focused publisher has drafted the services of external developer Avalanche Studios. With the team’s previous credits including Mad Max and the madcap mayhem of Just Cause, a more fitting studio to follow up on id Software’s ambitious 2011 shooter could scarcely be imagined. The debut gameplay trailer, characterised by fast-paced action and lurid colour schemes, is a testament to the insanity sure to be rife throughout the title and provides a hook for players seeking a different kind of shooter. RAGE 2 is almost certain to be a winner, however, to play devil’s advocate, its publisher may have benefited immensely from keeping development in-house at Bethesda Game Studios (BGS).

Given the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls developer’s reputation for ropey, bug-filled products—contrasted against the sublime execution of the original RAGE—such a suggestion may raise ire, but the possibilities are enticing. Most prominent among the potential advantages is the studio’s legendary open-world design prowess. Despite the rampant popularity of sprawling RPGs and survival games in recent years, few teams have proven as adept as BGS at creating universes that inspire exploration and a convincing sense of presence. Compared to the grounded regions of Skyrim and The Commonwealth, Just Cause 3’s archipelago is little more than a playground, while the wasteland of Mad Max is not among that title’s most fondly-remembered elements. Similarly, the post-apocalypse of the original RAGE was almost unanimously criticised as being uninspired as a result of lacking character and any sense of narrative cohesion. The debut trailers for RAGE 2—dominated by portentous proclamations and furious action—do not instil confidence that its world will rectify these flaws to offer anything more than another hollow space. Handing the reins to a developer foremost in the construction of fictional societies may lend the game world a much-needed sense of identity beyond bombast. However, the potential perks extend past a single production.

Considering the sublime gunplay of RAGE, BGS’s notoriously average combat systems would not pass muster were it helming the sequel. To that end, the publisher has made clear that the new game is a collaborative effort between Avalanche and original franchise developer id, yet that situation would be the case no matter the developer. Such partnerships have reaped long-term benefits in the past. For example, when comparing the responsiveness of Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the latter is forged more finely through the fires of DmC: Devil may Cry, for which the developer teamed up with Capcom. Fallout 4 was an improvement over its predecessor, but the shooting remained almost laughable in its lack of intensity. With 2016’s DOOM, id proved itself as capable of crafting some of the smoothest, most satisfying gunplay yet seen in any game. Moment-to-moment gameplay of that calibre being deployed in Fallout 5 would be revelatory.


Additionally, the world of RAGE is not that of Tamriel or a vast radiation-ravaged retro-future. The game may take place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but it is designed as a tighter and more controlled take on the setting than most. While the Fallout series is not void of spaces carefully tailored to provide engaging combat encounters, RAGE puts a higher premium on traditional level design. To match that 2011 title, BGS would have to step beyond its comfort zone and explore ideas with which it has never had to previously engage. The same sentiment extends to the racing and vehicular combat components that were as important as on-foot gameplay in RAGE and are set to return in the sequel. By undertaking a project that blends aspects of its specialty with others deviant from the norm, the developer would be forced to push boundaries and adopt a new design ethos that could be reused to diversify future productions.

Finally, although the publisher has managed to raise considerable excitement around the upcoming sequel, an outsourced product—even when handed to a team as established and popular as Avalanche—does not carry the same cachet as one handled by a flagship developer. To be fair, outsourcing is not an uncommon practice, having resulted in the likes of God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Gears of War: Judgment, and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, but it also raises echoes of Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, Silent Hill: Downpour, and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. The pedigree of Avalanche makes a disaster on the scale of those latter titles extremely unlikely, yet the situation remains mildly discouraging. Bethesda Softworks has made a statement that no IP is to be left behind, but appears to be hedging its bets and showing less confidence in the prospects of RAGE than would be the case if the sequel remained entirely in-house.

However, Bethesda Game Studios is rumoured to working on a new IP. With Tamriel being a more engaging world than those of Fallout or RAGE, something fresh from the talented team is more enticing than another rehashed apocalypse. Furthermore, despite the potential in having BGS take the reins, few teams would make for a better choice than Avalanche Studios. The Just Cause developer is renowned for engaging, pulse-pounding experiences, and its reputation for satisfying gameplay is a close match for id Software’s, ensuring the collaboration is one to be remembered. Of course, the debut trailer also speaks for itself.

Damien Lawardorn is an aspiring novelist, journalist, and essayist. His goal in writing is to inspire readers to engage and think, rather than simply consume and enjoy. With broad interests ranging from literature and video games to fringe science and social movements, his work tends to touch on the unexpected. Damien is the former Editor-in-Chief of OnlySP. More of his work can be found at


Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019



Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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