The episodes are short and sweet. In this case you disarm the first bomb quite swiftly, then move through the streets of Wellspring clearing Shrouded. The detail level of id Tech 5 continues to astound, and the Wellspring design is interesting too - bright, unrepeated and eccentric, with touches of oriental influence alongside the pseudo-western futuristic gizmos.
The effect should be doubly interesting for players, as Wellspring acts as an otherwise-peaceful hub in the main game.
It's far from peaceful here though. You and a buddy crouch behind pushcarts and packing crates as Shrouded fire out of windows and advance through the dust and brush.
Once you've fought through to the end of the street you can defuse the second bomb in the upstairs room of a tavern, but you then have to defend the position against attack from the street you just fought your way up.
In our case, one player goes down to the street and works along it with the shotgun, while the other provides overwatch with a fancy sniper rifle. The guy on the street goes down at one point and needs to be picked up with a revival grenade.
id says it isn't sure whether the Wasteland episodes will unlock sequentially (right now they do), but they will all draw on campaign events in some way. For example, there's an episode inspired by the Mutant Bash TV arena section.
Nobody from id will admit as much, but the Wasteland episodes also seem like obvious candidates for expansion via downloadable content. Speaking to id's Matt Hooper after the presentation, he says DLC for RAGE will probably be reactive rather than prescriptive, so it will be up to you to tell id what you want.
The hands-off presentation continues with our first glimpse of Subway Town, the other big hub area besides Wellspring, which you reach at the start of the last chapter of the campaign story.
We pick up as the protagonist disembarks a huge balloon thing in an underground cavern and is greeted by Captain Marshall, a terse chap with a robotic prosthetic leg. He leads you into the rebel base beneath Subway Town where the group resisting The Authority - RAGE's fascistic boogeymen - are assembled.
As with Wellspring, you quickly get a sense of how the game will revolve around these hubs. Each of the resistance crew has a role that supports you - weapons, comms, vehicle maintenance, etc - and up above are shops, mini-games and other quest-givers.
Marshall shows you a rescued Ark - one of the pods in which potential survivors are frozen and buried during RAGE's apocalyptic opening - which is being used to track Authority movements and power resistance efforts, and then says you should head upstairs and check in with the local mayor, Redstone.
Subway Town is a mixture of railway station, caravan park and engineering works. There's a bar, people offer you missions as you wander around, there's a bit of gambling to be done, and there's a talkative weapons dealer. There's even a Guitar Hero-style banjo mini-game called Twitch.
id then jumps us back to earlier in the game and a mission called Prison, where you've been sent to rescue the leader of the resistance. The prison is very beige and stony, pierced by thick sunlight, and a bit like Half-Life 2's Nova Prospekt there are hexagonal floor tiles, laser grids and other glimpses of alien or futuristic tech amidst the American penitentiary design.
It's also in a bit of a state of disrepair, with holes in the ceiling opening the air to the sun outside, and skeletal steel struts bent inward.