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Adventures in Engineering - Notes on RAGE.
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2012-02-09 14:54
  Subject:   Notes on RAGE.

I haven't had much chance to play RAGE. Job hunt is taking almost all my time. However, I think I have found some things worth sharing...

- FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: NEVER SELL DESERT SPORE! Desert Spore allows you to make Apophis Infusion, which *permanently* increases your hit points. Desert Spore cannot be bought, only found, and there are only 14 of them in the whole game! If you sell the ones you find, you will never be able to make the HP upgrade infusions!

- Don't go into the Dead City without the schematic for the RC car bomb. In other words, make sure to complete all the Wellspring Sheriff's missions before going into the Dead City. Also, bring lots of wingsticks for small mutants, and plenty of pop-rockets for krakens. You will face large mutants and krakens in the Dead City, so it's a big step up in difficulty from what you're used to.

- Keep 20 Feltrite Crystals in your inventory. There will be a chance to get a defib recharge quickener in exchange for 20 Feltrite Crystals later in the game. Until you get 20, keep all the Feltrite Crystals you find. (These are often behind doors you have to use a lock grinder to get through.)

- Wingsticks cost $5 each to buy outright, but only $3.30 each to craft. And that's assuming you buy all the parts, instead of finding some of them. (Though that excludes the cost of the schematic, which is a one-time expense.) Also, if you're a Fabricator class character, wingsticks you build will also do more damage than ones you buy. Wingsticks are cheap anti-mutant ammo, so you can save the good ammo for enemies that actually drop loot. (Small mutants are nothing but obnoxious wastes of perfectly good bullets.)

- Speaking of, I'm finding that ammo is an incredible money sink. Especially bad is the seemingly endless car battles that suck down rockets and chain-gun ammo like I eat sushi. I can easily use 15+ rockets and 800+ chaingun ammo just to take down three or four enemy vehicles. The rewards you get from Sally at the bar are not sufficient to offset this expense.

- You really should do the Comet Bloom trick for unlimited money. This video shows you the basic idea:

However, I found that the trick didn't work for me exactly the way all the online sources say it works. Here's how I had to do it...

1) Check the Comet Bloom spot immediately after every successful mission.
2) If the Comet Bloom is back, save your game before you pick it.
3) Pick it, and then go back and enter the MISSION AREA OF THE LAST MISSION YOU SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED. When you come back, the Comet Bloom should have respawned.

Notice I'm not mentioning any specific mission here. Most of the online guides say that you need to do the "Missing Person" mission to make the Comet Bloom flowers respawn. I did not find this to be the case at all. I don't believe that there is a specific mission that this trick depends on.

My experience went as follows: I did the "Stolen Merchandise" quest, which involves going through the Wasted Garage. Before I went in, I checked the Comet Bloom cactus, and there were no flowers on it. After I successfully completed the mission, the Comet Bloom flowers appeared. So I saved my game, and then picked the Comet Bloom. Then I went in and out of the Ghost Hideout as all the online guides suggest. The Comet Bloom flowers DID NOT respawn.

So then I went into the Wasted Garage (site of my last successful mission) and came back out. The Comet Bloom flowers had respawned! So I saved, picked the flowers, and went into the Wasted Garage again. The Comet Bloom flowers came back again. I repeated this until I had 50 Comet Blooms.

So in summary, check the Comet Bloom cactus after every successful mission. Then, to get the Comet Bloom flowers to respawn, go back into the area of your most recent successful mission. Which mission you completed most recently isn't important. Only that you go back into the area of your most recent successful mission.

And, to say it again - I highly recommend you do the Comet Bloom trick. You don't need to go all OCD and get 50 like I did, but get at least 10. This saves you from scrounging pennies and still being constantly low on ammo. That makes the game way less fun. And you are going to NEED huge amounts of ammo for the Subway Town missions. Trust me on this one. Everything changes when you get to Subway Town.

BTW, your money maxes out at 9999. But if you keep all your Comet Blooms, you will be able to use them to make more money any time you need it.

Overall, I'm finding that RAGE is very much Borderlands with better graphics, except more corridors and less open areas. I'm still not sure if I like it better than Borderlands or not. They're pretty much neck and neck at the moment.

Update 2012/02/22

So I finished Rage yesterday. Let me reiterate it again: DO THE COMET BLOOM TRICK for unlimited money. It makes the game a lot more fun.

Other than that, I don't feel like I have much new to say. One major thing I suppose I should tell you: the last level, Capital Prime, isn't very long. Cap Prime is almost an anti-climax - I didn't need to use a single wingstick, sentry bot or damage enhancer. If you want a challenge, you might want to hit Start and crank the difficulty up to Hard right after you enter. I went in with 1000 pulse rounds and 970 AV2x rounds, and I didn't go below 800 pulse or 700 AV2x. This is a huge change from every other level in the game, where I was always getting low on ammo by the end of the level, even when I went in with what I felt should be way more than enough.

So once you're inside Cap Prime, go wild on the cyber-mutants with your Authority Pulse Cannon and blaze away freely at Authority soldiers with your AV2x rounds. (It's easy to see why The Authority got overconfident with armament this powerful...) I personally always aim for the heads of the Authority soldiers, but that's more about putting them down fast than it is about conserving ammo. Aiming seems a bit quirky, BTW. I found I was better off aiming at a soldier's chin than at his forehead, and it's not just recoil-induced muzzle climb that causes that to work better. As for the shield soldiers, pulse shells and pop rockets from the shotgun work pretty well on them. You may want to use the rocket launcher on the Authority Heavies, as they do take more ammo than the other enemies.

The BFG rounds for the pulse cannon were much harder to use than I expected. You have to hold the trigger down for about 2 seconds to charge the BFG shot up, and then the round fires by itself. I generally found it too hard to guess when they were going to pop off, and duck out of cover at the exact right moment. The Rocket Launcher seems to do just as much damage to single targets as the BFG rounds do, and is a lot easier to hit with.

The only caution I would sound about Cap Prime is, don't back up against a laser security grid. It's true it's great protection, but you'll be sorry when a mutant in front of you melees you into the lasers and you get insta-fried.

Ummm, what else... I didn't discover until very late in the game that vehicle shields, short-lived though they are, are still quite a bit cheaper than vehicle repairs in the long run. This is especially true when you're dealing with the Authority vehicles. Their armor is no match for the pulse turret on your Monarch, but their weaponry is good and they can damage you significantly even in that few seconds they're alive. So use your shields all the time when there's an Authority vehicle near. For the drive into Cap Prime, I would bring along 30-40 shields, 10 armor restores, and 70 pulse turret ammo. That's overkill, but if you want to steam-roll every Authority vehicle that challenges you, that's what you should take. It's really quite fun to crush The Authority for a change, and the drive into Cap Prime is your last chance, so seriously consider over-arming. (You're on the very last mission in the game, there's no good reason to conserve money any more.)

Early in the game, I saved up to buy an Authority machine gun for my first gun purchase instead of the assault rifle. I think this was a good decision. But I also think that I waited too long afterwards to buy the assault rifle. You have to understand what both weapons are for, and use them appropriately. They are not competitors, they are complimentary. The assault rifle is the short-to-medium range, and the Authority MG is medium-to-long. Understand this and use the right weapon at the right time, and you'll be able to kill a lot more enemies before running low on ammo. Also, the concentrator and stabilizer upgrades to the assault rifle are both good, so buy them as soon you can spare the cash. Finally, use wingsticks and the assault rifle as a one-two punch - it's super-effective! (Takes down Jackal Clan enemies real fast.)

Story-wise, I felt a bit unmotivated near the end of the game. iD obviously tried to supply motivation by having Authority soldiers invade Subway town, and also via the things you're told in conversations with your fellow resistance fighters. But in the end I just didn't have any personal motiovation to finish The Authority off. I hate to suggest it, but maybe they should have had The Authority torture or kill some of the Hagar clan who helped you out at the beginning of the game. Going into Cap Prime not just to bring up all the Arks, but also to rescue one of the Hagars, would have been very satisfying.

I also want to commend iD for only forcing you to run a race twice in the game. I far preferred to get my vehicle upgrades by hunting bandit vehicles in the wastelands, not by running races. This strategy is especially good when you get near the end of the game, because Authority vehicles are worth 3x the normal amounts of money and vehicle upgrade certificates. (It is kinda weird that you can only buy vehicle upgrades with certificates and not with money. Not sure why that decision was made. It works out fine though.)

If there's one thing I could change about the game, I think I'd make the Ghost Clan well poisoning mission a little shorter. The approach to the pump just took too long for no adequate reason. Maybe make the battle around the pump a little more intense to compensate.

This game is another great example of how if you don't have an HDTV, you're missing out big-time. The extra width at the sides is a huge help against mutants, which move fast and tend to vault off the walls. Also, the level of detail is completely beyond what an SDTV can display. The game looks great on SD, but I'm sure it looks truly stupefyingly awesome on an HDTV.

On the whole I think I like this game as much as Borderlands. I might have liked it slightly better if I had an HDTV, since the graphics really do get amazing near the end of the game. On the other hand, it's not nearly as "open world" as Borderlands. So you have to figure which style of game you personally like better.

Lastly, the Rage Wiki has been a lot of help and I think actually enhanced the fun of the game: . However, near the end of the game I started referring to it less because I actually wanted to be surprised by what was coming. It was mostly useful in the early stages.

Since I'm done with the game now, I'm happy to loan it out to anyone who wants to borrow it. Just let me know.
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July 2014