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Rage's multiplayer vehicle combat, co-op revealed

9:00 AM on 04.18.2011 // Nick Chester

An id Software shooter without multiplayer modes? What crazy world do you think we live in? Of course the developer's upcoming first-person shooter will features multiplayer game modes… but they're not what you might expect. 

Instead of opting for standard deathwatch modes, previously id's bread and butter, it's focusing on vehicle combat and two player cooperative play for Rage.

[Note: Bethesda hasn't provided any images of Rage's multiplayer offerings; everything seen here is taken from the single-player campaign.]

"What we didn't want to do is just throw a couple of guys on foot and they're fighting and call it our online offering," says Rage design director Matt Hooper. "That's not what we wanted to do. We wanted to make it uniquely Rage."

Enter "Rage Combat Rally," id software's answer to a Twisted Metal-style car combat game set in the world of Rage. This mode throws up to six players into buggy battle vehicles, and has them battling out in combat arenas. 

Taken on its own, the vehicle combat looks like it would be satisfying. At the start of a match, players choose their vehicle load out, including primary front weapons, and secondary weapons including mines. While we didn't get a chance to go hands on this multiplayer mode, it's safe to say the vehicles control as smoothly as they do in the single player campaign. And blowing the crap out of other cars is, as always, simultaneously amusing and cathartic. 

Adding another element is the secondary objective of hitting rally points strewn across the arena. Hit a rally point, earn points, and start a multiplier. You'll use that multiplier to boost the scores for your kills, but expect to have people gunning for you -- taking out the rally leader is worth huge points. 

While id's still trying to finalize some details like how many maps will ship with the game (they're aiming for "at least five"), it does say to expect a traditional online multiplayer progression system. What that means is earning some sort of XP for unlocking new weapons and such which will allow you to customize your experience. There will also be a few variations of the vehicle combat, including team-based rally modes, a "chain rally" mode (where players will have to hit three rally points to begin scoring instead of one), and a classic vehicle deathmatch. 

If you're not so much about killing your friends and more about good old fashioned cooperation, id's throwing that in too. They're calling it "Legends of the Wasteland," a mode separate from the game's single-player narrative experience. These instance missions will be unique to the co-op experience, but id says that they will still tie into events that take place in the campaign.
The mission we were shown took place in the town of Wellspring, where the Shrouded Clan have invaded the city in an attempt to destroy its water supply. The goal is to enter the town with a buddy, and disarm two bombs before purging the area of any remaining bandits. 
Gameplay remains very much Rage, with most of the same weapons and gadgets you'd find and use in the game's single player campaign. As with most things, though, adding a friend seems to up the fun factor substantially. Right now id is promising "at least eight" co-op maps, including one that they say serves as a "beta test" for the Mutant Bash TV portions of the game. 
Both modes look like they should be a lot of fun, although the lack of arenas for "Rally" ("at least five") and scenarios for co-op ("at least eight") is a bit of a concern.
When asked about the downloadable content to expand the experience, creative director Tim Willets simply said they weren't sure of its plans. Pete Hines, Bethesda's VP of public relations and marketing stepped in and added "TBD." Run through the trusty "PR Speak Translator 9000," that likely means "Probably, but we're not talking about it right now."
Rage is out September 13 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. 

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
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