God Eater 2: Rage Burst on PC
God Eater has managed to pop back into the spotlight recently thanks to the recent re-re-release of the first game in the series under the title God Eater Resurrection. It was only a matter of time before the sequel, which originally released back in 2013, would rear its head, too. God Eater 2: Rage Burst is sort of a “definitive edition” of that sequel, introducing new features and mechanics while bringing the game to the PS4 and PC as well as a return to the PS Vita. While this new release certainly improves on a lot of aspects of that original release, there are some issues that ultimately keep God Eater 2: Rage Burst from reaching its full potential.
God Eater 2: Rage Burst follows basically the same plot as its predecessors. The Aragami, beasts who are viewed as gods, appeared out of seemingly nowhere and have ravaged the world and humanity. Normal weapons are useless against these foul beasts, and they consume everything in sight, transforming normal life into Aragami like themselves. In order to cement a future for all of humankind, a military organization known as Fenrir has committed itself to pushing back the Aragami forces using soldiers infused with Oracle Cells (the same stuff that the “gods” are made out of). Their weapons, God Arcs, are man-made Aragami that are wielded in the form of melee weapons and powerful firearms falling back on the age-old saying “fight fire with fire.”
Where God Eater 2: Rage Burst differs story-wise is in the unit you join. While each game had players become a titular God Eater, you’ll join a particularly elite unit this time around – the Blood Unit. Unlike other God Eaters, you can develop a resonance with your God Arc allowing you to tap into hidden potential that will greatly increase your power and other abilities. It’s a very rare gift, in fact, you as the player will be only the second person in history to have pulled it off making it perfectly clear why you are the primary protagonist. Once discovering that you have the potential, you are assigned to Blood and sent out to hone your skills, and that’s when the game’s many systems come together for a deceptively deep combat and gear system.
If you’ve never played a God Eater game before, the best way to describe it simply is as a more mature Monster Hunter with a more rigid setup. There aren’t any exceedingly large battlefields, nor are there huge towns filled with jovial NPCs and beautiful sunlight shining through the trees. The world is dark and dangerous, so you’re confined to HQ when not on missions, and everyone you’ll need to speak to can be found in a handful of rooms. Still, your missions are all essentially hunts that task you with taking down various Aragami, usually multiple powerful beasts at once. As you destroy these monsters, you can ‘consume’ them using your God Arc’s Devour ability, which lets players collect resources and parts that can be used in the crafting and upgrading of weapons, shields, guns, and even clothing. Completing objectives, in turn, opens up newer, more challenging missions that you can embark on, and a rating system will keep you coming back for more rewards and bragging rights.
The gameplay itself is simple on the surface but allows for a lot of customization. Your God Arc has three forms – Melee, Gun, and Shield. There are different varieties of each form that you can swap out in order to get something that suits you better. For instance, when it comes to melee weapons you have options such as a Scythe, Short Blade, Spear, or the brand new Hammer. The Scythe uses large, sweeping attacks, perfect for ranged melee against groups of foes, while the Hammer delivers powerful attacks to anyone standing directly in front of you. Balance between your own set of gear and the gear of your teammates becomes important as you must endeavor to cover everyone’s weakness. Have a buddy who relies on a Shotgun/Hammer combo? Consider going with a Spear/Sniper combo to keep long ranged Aragami at bay.
One of my favorite aspects of this system is that combat is dynamic so fights are constantly in flux. One moment you may be surrounding a Kongou (a gorilla-like Aragami), only to find yourself surrounded by smaller beasts because you were too focused on the boss in front of you. If that wasn’t enough, as you weaken the more powerful Aragami, they develop new abilities and change their approach. The quick-changing weapon system is the only way to maintain momentum and was honestly one of my favorite parts of gameplay. Relenting during an assault can turn the tides against you, so the ability to quickly transform your God Arc into a powerful ranged weapon helps to keep the action flowing without awkward stops to give chase. There’s a constant shift between ranged and melee combat, and it keeps all encounters exciting. You can never get too comfortable, as anything can happen mid-battle.
Adding to the depth is the amount of customization outside of simply choosing what forms your God Arc takes. You can add abilities to weapons by salvaging old God Arcs you find in battle, or you can upgrade their base stats by using pieces of all the Aragami you have slain so far. Your companions earn experience as you use them, and you can use those points to alter how they approach battle and what skills they bring to the table, building a system that revolves around and supports your preferred style of play. You will also unlock new abilities such as Blood Arts and Blood Rage (new to God Eater 2: Rage Burst) as you progress. These new abilities help you to further fine-tune your character, keeping things fresh as the game ramps up the difficulty. They also introduce a much more strict level of dedication to your choices. Blood Arts are weapon specific and they require time as well as constant use to improve. Choosing wisely will ensure that you waste no time using something that just doesn’t fit.
The new Blood Rage mechanic tasks you with choosing a number of parameters that you must complete in a short period of time. Completing them will drastically increase your power and help to take down what may seem like unbeatable enemies, but if you fail you get nothing. It forces you to consider your abilities and then you need to execute. It’s an interesting system that is both pretty to look at and quite useful in later battles. I was worried when I’d first heard of Blood Rage that it would make God Eater 2: Rage Burst’s challenge seem trivial, but thankfully it was implemented well, and it never warps the balance of battle.
God Eater 2: Rage Burst, unfortunately, suffers from a serious framerate issue that brings down the entire experience. All of those fine-tuned mechanics and its rewarding God Arc system become garbled as you progress thanks to action dropping the motion on your monitor to a crawl. At times it felt as if I was watching a slideshow of the game rather than playing it. This led for unnecessarily challenging combat since button inputs behaved erratically at these times. The combat timing you worked so hard to master became inconsequential when everything slowed to a crawl. No amount of playing with the settings on my PC seemed to fix the issue, and it soured what was at first a solid experience.
Still, even with the horrid framerate, I couldn’t help but press on. Fighting a growing roster of more powerful beasts as I tested my skills against any Aragami that crossed my path is difficult to resist. The boss gauntlet that God Eater 2: Rage Burst eventually becomes is quite satisfying in ways that I wouldn’t have imagined. The framerate will be a serious issue for those who want to fully enjoy the spectacle of fighting a giant lion made of muscle and flames, though. It’s an unfortunate hiccup that I sincerely hope gets fixed, because beneath the stutters is a rewarding experience.
Score: 3/5 – Fair