They invented the term, so why isn't deathmatch available in Rage? The notion of players fighting against each other in a first-person shooter is so tied to the genre that it's surprising when it isn't included as a feature. More surprising though, is the idea that the people who may have coined the the term deathmatch would decide to not include it in their first major new shooter in decades.
"Deathmatch" was likely coined by John Romero and John Carmack back when they were building a local area network version of the mode for proto-shooter Doom, or so the story goes.
"Sure, it was fun to shoot monsters, but ultimately these were soulless creatures controlled by a computer," Romero said in an interview for book Masters of Doom. "Now gamers could play against spontaneous human beings-opponents who could think and strategise and scream. We can kill each other!"
While players can join each other to play through a set of cooperative, stand-alone missions, or they can fight each other in a series of online race combat matches, Rage has no classic competitive shooter play. So why did id Software decide to exclude deathmatch from Rage?
What's With the Defibrillator
When you die in Rage the game drops players into a defibrillator mini-game. The better you do at it, the more damage you inflict on nearby enemies and the more health you regain. But the PC and console version are drastically different.
The console version has players manipulating both thumbsticks to match patterns and then pulling both triggers to hit a target. The PC version has players pressing a single button. Willits tells Kotaku that they went through four versions of the defibrillator. "On the PC the defibrillator turned into a series of button smashes that wasn't fun, or was too hard, or way too easy." In the end they decided to go with a timing based system that "allowed for players to quickly get back into the action."
"We have always said we wanted to do something different with Rage," Tim Willits, id Software creative director, told Kotaku. "We didn't want Rage to follow the same pattern of our other titles; we wanted it to be unique amongst our IPs."
In Rage, id Software wanted to create a single-player-centric shooter that was more about the campaign than it was about the multiplayer, Willits said. The multiplayer of Rage, he said, was meant to be an add-on, not a focal point.
id decided to stray from the norm because they wanted to try something different, he said, to take some chances and attempt to design something they've never done before.
"The easy path would have been to create a classic deathmatch game but if no one takes risks anymore the entire industry will begin to get stagnate," Willits said. "I think gamers are quite shrewd these days and appreciate developers trying to explore new game types that aren't done in every other title they release. The response to our multiplayer offering has been quite positive and I'm happy we did something different."