Need a guide to the vehicles of Rage? Look no further. You end up shooting a lot of things in the broken-down remnants of Rage's post-apocalyptic Earth, but id Software also placed a considerable amount of focus in the game on Mad Max-style vehicular slaughter. The dusty roads and broken streets you drive along as you move from mission to mission aren't exactly empty. Quite the contrary, buggy-riding bandits are everywhere, and they'll happily spend their entire supply of chaingun rounds and rockets on making your own vehicle go boom.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Like getting better vehicles and upgrading the ones you have. I'm going to help you out on that front with this little guide. Read on to learn about the vehicles of Rage and how you can use them to your advantage.
Welcome To The Car Show
There are only a handful of rides available in Rage, though each one feels fundamentally different from the next. Not necessarily better, though there's definitely an upward-sliding scale as you gain access to the game's later vehicles. Think of these as different classes of vehicle, which the game already does anyway with its racing side missions.
Jetter - The Jetter is a pretty basic four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle, the first one you'll receive in the game. It has no weapons, but it's a quick and maneuverable little thing, perfect for navigating the tight roadways you see in the starting area of the game. It's quickly outclassed by other vehicles though, especially since it can be neither upgraded nor raced.
Dune Buster - The Dune Buster is your Rage equivalent of a dune buggy. Small, nimble and lightly armored, this is the first proper vehicle you'll be putting any serious time in with. It's the lowest class of vehicle you can race in, and the first that supports weapon emplacements. Really, the only reason not to use the Dune Buster is if you have the Anarchy Edition of Rage, which gives you the...
Rat Rod - The Rat Rod is basically a cooler version of the Dune Buster, and it's got a much better name. The upgrades you can buy for it are fundamentally the same. It looks a bit different and it may or may not drive better -- any difference between this and the Dune Buster is marginal -- but it's still got that cool name. Upgrade one or the other, but not both. It's a total waste.
Cuprino - The Cuprino is your basic Mad Max car. It's the first vehicle you get that can be upgraded with a ramming-friendly super-grille and more powerful armor. It also offers the same engine, boost, suspension and tire upgrades that you get with the two buggy-class rides. Racing side missions put you in all of your vehicles (except for the Jetter), but you'll start using this to get to and from missions and never look back once you unlock it.
Monarch - This is the Cadillac of Rage's vehicles. No, it's not a Cadillac. It's a beast though. The only vehicle to include a pulse weapon in addition to the chaingun and rocket launcher, the Monarch is the biggest, baddest thing roaming our post-apocalyptic planet. You get it late in the game, after reaching the second town and racing the local vehicle merchant for his pink slip. You might even want to skip all non-weapon vehicle upgrades for your other rides, and save your Racing Certificate (vehicle upgrade currency) for when you unlock this fellow.
The Arms Race
Racing is a mostly optional activity in Rage, but it's one of the only ways you'll be able to earn Racing Certificates, which can be traded for vehicle upgrades. You can accept a side mission from each town's local bartender that awards you with one Certificate for each bandit vehicle you destroy in the wasteland (two for Authority vehicles), but with awards of 5, 10 and 15 Certificates for third, second and first place race and rally wins, respectively, racing is a much quicker option, provided you can handle yourself behind the wheel.
The races of Rage are broken down into multiple circuits. The base level (read: easiest) of races is always unlocked, though the higher level ones require you to win a certain number of Certificates -- you have to win them; Certs earned from bandit vehicle kills in the wilderness don't count -- in order to unlock them.
Each individual race is further broken down by a set of parameters. All of them are vehicle-class-specific, meaning the Cuprino-only races you come across early on won't be accessible until you have that ride (same goes for the Monarch later on). Some races allow weapons, some don't. All give you a set number of quick-use items to work with; your personal stock of supplies is off-limits during a race, so you're restricted to using what the game gives you.
There are also three types of events. A basic time trial challenges you to circle a particular track a few times as you try to beat a par time. Races are what you'd expect; multi-lap competitive showdowns between a group of same-class vehicles. First across the finish line wins.
Rally events are more ununsual; you've got to drive around on a section of map collecting Rally points, which appear in the environment as small pickups highlighted by a shaft of blue light that rises up to the heavens. The first person to reach the target score by collecting enough Rally points wins. These events can be tricky; always prioritize those Rally points, but try not to get stuck in the midst of the pack. Tables can turn very quickly in a Rally event, so don't despair if you get off to a rocky start.
Buffing Things Up
Much like the on-foot gameplay in Rage, vehicles have access to a range of quick-use items that can be activated with a press of the Left Bumper (on an Xbox 360 controller). You can map up to four of these items to D-pad controlled slots, allowing for easy access to more than one quick-use item without having to wade through menus.
Armor Restore - Without a doubt the most useful of the vehicle quick-use items. It's pretty simple, really: use one to fully repair your vehicle, no matter how close to death it is. Never leave home without one. or five.
Shield - Activates a bubble shield around your car for a limited amount of time. A great way to avoid damage when a *DANGER* prompt appears at the bottom of the screen the inform you that a missile is speeding its way to you. Also very useful, especially when you're setting out with the express purpose of earning some Certificates from dead bandit vehicles.
Drop Mine - It's a mine. No mystery here, really. Drop it when someone's behind you and you want to make them explode. Not too close though; you can easily be caught in the Drop Mine's blast. Try to place it in the narrowest area possible, to ensure that it does its job. Minimally useful out in the world, but it's great when a race includes a few of these for you to abuse your opponents with.
Aftershocker - This one basically turns your vehicle into a moving EMP bomb. Set it off to unleash a damaging electrical charge, pushing any nearby enemies away from you and stopping them in their tracks briefly.
Escort Bomb - Remember the red shells in Mario Kart's race and battle modes. That's the Escort Bomb. Only in Rage it's a little RC car that automatically targets and pursues a nearby bandit, dealing out a damaging explosive blast when it catches up.
Hover Turret - The Hover Turret is the vehicle equivalent to Rage's Sentry Robot. Release one of these into the battlefield and it'll fly around, blasting any enemies that it can spot. Your own vehicle's rockets and chaingun are often more than enough to deal with any opposition, but offense-oriented quick-use items like this can still be fun to use. Only Shield and Armor Restore should be considered essential though.
The Sky Is Falling
Occasionally when you're driving through Rage's wasteland, the game will start squawking at you about a Feltrite meteor shower. This is a good thing! Watch the world in front of you and you'll see chunks of rock start to fall out of the sky. A timer appears on the screen alongside a counter; it's up to you to collect these Feltrite droppings -- they typically appear along the path that you're traveling and are easily spotted thanks the giant shaft of light that points to each one -- before the timer runs out.
A good way to quickly earn some scratch, as Feltrite is a valuable commodity in Rage. Unfortunately, these occurrences seem to be totally random, so there's no way to farm for the space ore.
Tow, Tow, Tow Your Boat
Always remember that warping quickly back to the nearest town is as easy as calling for a tow. It'll cost you some money to get one, though you do get a free repair thrown in as well. It's typically not the route you'll want to take -- driving back yourself is usually not a problem, and certainly not worth the $150 you'll spend on a pickup -- but it's not always the wrong move. Dying anywhere in the game means reloading to an earlier save, and that includes anytime the vehicle you're driving explodes. If you've got almost zero armor left and no quick-use items to help you out, suck it up and pay for the tow or risk losing some progress.
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.