The first thing you puts your hands on in Rage is a weapon, and you'll need a guide for those weapons to get you through the wasteland. Many have been quick to draw comparisons between id Software's newly released game and Gearbox Software's Borderlands. It's hard to make the similarities stick, however, when you compare the latter's limitless arsenal with the small but powerful assortment of firearms you'll use to gun down mutants and bandits alike in the former.
The weapons in Rage are just right; each one feels markedly different from the next and all can have their effectiveness boosted with various upgrades. It's not exactly sci-fi gun porn, but your bloodletting tools in the new Bethesda Softworks-published release all have their uses. Read on for a breakdown of the many things you can shoot with in Rage's dusty post-apocalyptic landscapes.
The Settler Pistol is the very first weapon you'll receive in Rage, though it packs quite a bit more punch for a pistol than you're probably used to in first-preson shooters. The semi-automatic weapon can be fired as quickly as its trigger can be pulled, and the 12-round clip for its standard ammunition is more than enough to take down most humanoid baddies. Fatboy and Killburst ammo, the latter of which can home in on enemies after your the first shot fired, can be used, as well as Fat Mammas, upgraded Fatboys that pack twice the punch. The Monocular upgrade, which you can get early on in the Hagar settlement, should be considered essential, adding a sniper-like scope to the weapon.
Double Barrel Shotgun (Anarchy Edition only)
The Double Barrel Shotgun comes as part of the Anarchy Edition version of Rage. Frankly, it's not terribly useful once the earliest stages of the game have been completed. While the weapon is quite powerful, the two-shot clip and long-ish reload time see the Double Barrel quickly outclassed by the Combat Shotgun. What's more, the Monocular upgrade is automatically applied to the Double Barrel once you purchase it, though it's not really clear why. Ultimately that means you won't ever really want to aim down this weapon's sights. It's either that or sacrifice the Monocular, though that reduces the Settler Pistol's effectiveness considerably. You're best off just using the Double Barrel where you can until you can get the game's better shotgun, obtained in the first few hours.
Make nice to the Combat Shotgun and it'll be plenty nice to you in return. You'll be using this weapon a lot -- a lot -- so be sure to grab any upgrades you see for it immediately. There's one in particular that's basically necessary, as it speeds up your reload time so that the animation for loading in a full clip cuts down to just one shell being inserted. The Combat Shotgun is your best tool to use against the largely melee-oriented mutants, since their general strategy is to rush in quickly, and in large groups. Don't bother with sighting; just point this boomstick in the general direction of anything you want to make die and pull the trigger. You'll get this bad boy early on too, before one of the game's very first missions. Try to keep a supply of at least 300 shots of the standard Buckshot ammo in your inventory; that's plenty for any one mission that the game will throw at you. Explosive and EMP rounds are useful as well, but you'll spend the bulk of your time firing this weapons standard ammo.
Rage's Assault Rifle is a fast-firing AK-47-alike that becomes a staple for ranged encounters during the first half of the game. Once again, the two upgrades available for this gun should be considered essential, reducing both its recoil and its bullet spread. Ammo storage maxes out at 1,000 rounds, and it's best to keep roughly that many onhand at all times for this multipurpose fallback firearm. Feltrite Rounds, which are effective against armored enemies, are also useful later on in the game, but better to spend your money on the similar AP rounds for the game's more powerful full-auto firearm, the Authority Machine Gun. This is a gun you'll have to buy, but you can do so early on once the store in the Hagar settlement unlocks.
The Striker Crossbow is your go-to weapon for stealthy approaches, as the only properly silenced weapon in Rage. Wingsticks are helpful too, as they can be thrown in silence, but those are relegated to secondary item slots. You get the Striker Crossbow before heading out into the large open world beyond the Hagar settlement. You'll need to land a headshot if you want to maintain your silence with an insta-kill, but other ammo types offer some interesting alternatives. Electrically charged bolts and explosive bolts offer pretty expected results, but the mind control bolts are really special. Fire one of these into an enemy to briefly take control of that enemy. You won't be able to shoot, but you can stagger into a nearby group and detonate your mind-controlled foe with the press of a button.
This might just be my personal style of play, but the Sniper Rifle isn't terribly useful in Rage. You'll get it as a final gift before setting out from the Hagar settlement and into the larger world, and while it performs as effectively as you'd expect a sniper rifle to, you're rarely in a situation where enemies are far enough away for it to be useful. Be sure to take the sniper sidequest from the job board in Wellspring early on, as the simple act of accepting the quest will give you the gift of semiautomatic fire for your Sniper Rifle. The standard bullets are powerful, but they're all that you get for this gun. Don't expect to be using it often.
Authority Machine Gun
The Authority Machine Gun bears a faint resemblance to the real-world FN P90 submachine gun. You can buy it in Wellspring, though careful explorers will also be able to find one during one of the early missions in that first big town (in the Shrouded Bunker, behind a locked door). Regardless of how you come to wrap your mitts around one, the Authority Machine Gun should immediately replace your Assault Rifle once you've got a healthy supply of ammo to fill it with. The only ammo type other than standard is best used against armored foes; you can buy yourself some, but you'll also find a fair amount of it scattered around. The lone Authority MG upgrade is a laser sight, which doesn't seem to have any apparent impact on its effectiveness beyond the cosmetic change.
This big fellow is most effective when used against other big fellows, particularly the larger mutant types. The standard HE Rocket ammo type can only be dumb-fired, meaning there's no lock-on. Make sure you have a clear line on your target, and hope that it doesn't move too much after you fire. These rockets travel slowly, though they dish out a lot of damage. Don't even waste your money on Viper Rockets; while these do have lock-on capabilities, they're only effective against vehicles. More often than not, you'll only face off against them when you're in your own vehicle, which you should of course equip with a chain gun and rockets as soon as possible.
Authority Pulse Cannon
This is the very last weapon that most players will receive. You don't get your hands on it until the very, very late stages of Rage, which is too bad because this thing is a beast. The standard rounds are boosted by Feltrite cores, which makes them incredibly effective against armored opponents, moreso even that similar ammo types for your Assault Rifle and Authority Machine Gun. There are also BFG Rounds, which allow you to charge up the Pulse Cannon and fire out a big, blue ball of plasma death. Note however that, much like any other explosive weapon, taking enemies out with a BFG Round means there'll be no corpses left behind for you to search.
Fists of Rage
Another Anarchy Edition special, the Fists of Rage are bladed-tipped gloves that count as the game's only melee weapon. You can throw standard punches or hold down the fire button to power up for a super-punch.
Wingstick (secondary item)
Wingsticks don't qualify as full-blown primary weapons, and that's too bad as these three-pronged boomerang-like throwing tools are very useful. You can easily, and silently, take an unaware enemy's head off at medium-to-close range. They fall apart relatively quickly, so expect to build or buy more relatively often. They're useful though, and easy enough to obtain. Make sure to keep a healthy supply on hand.
HE Grenade / EMP Grenade (secondary item)
These are your basic grenades. The HE -- high-explosive -- is a standard fragger. You throw it, cooking it first if you like (watch the on-screen meter to gauge when it will explode), and make bad guys go boom. The EMP grenade is more effective against electronics, as you're probably aware. It stuns and it powers down Authority emplacements and shields.
Balloon Bomb (secondary item)
It's a balloon with an explosive tied to it. No great mystery here. The balloon's color is red, much like the blood it scatters around the world when it explodes.
RC Bomb Car (secondary item)
The RC Bomb Car is necessary to solve a couple of simple puzzles during an early mission in the game. It's not terribly useful beyond that. The explosive blast isn't that powerful, though a later mission allows you to upgrade its effectiveness. You also need to be relatively close as you control the thing, since the radio signal can fade away at too great a distance.
Sentry Turret (secondary item)
A free-standing machine gun turret that is capable of ripping any nearby enemies to shreds. It's a fragile thing, so try to place it in an out of the way place. But it'll be a big help while it lasts, cutting down enemies as well as creating a distraction by giving the bad guys something other than you to shoot at.
Sentry Bot (secondary item)
Imagine the Sentry Turret. Then add spider-like legs. That's a Sentry Bot. They're much more useful than the turrets, for obvious reasons. You can still use them to draw enemy fire, but their ability to move around the battlefield gives them a much longer life than the stationary turrets.
Adam Rosenberg is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, NY and living at the whims of his lovable chow, Loki. You can find his work plastered all over the Internet, or just follow him on Twitter @geminibros for daily doses of his crazed, nonsensical ramblings.