The game is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland created by an asteroid impact, based on the real life asteroid Apophis, which is on track to pass near Earth in 2036. In Rage's story, the asteroid hits, and the few pockets of survivors are forced to start a new civilization.
The world is populated by human survivors of the impact, who have come together to form settlements around oases and other practical or habitable locations. These fragile homes are diligently defended by the inhabitants against bandits and mutants, which have organization of their own. Bandits and mutants serve as the player's main enemies for much of the game, although id Software has hinted at some sort of significant change around the halfway point in the storyline.
The player emerges into this setting after being preserved inside an underground shelter called an Ark. The Arks are the direct result of the Eden Project, a massive international undertaking in which hundreds of Arks (cryogenic pods) were sealed under the surface of the Earth with twelve people inside each. Each passenger possessed a special skill or trait that, combined with those of the other members, would help them rebuild human society. The Eden Project, however, was far less successful than hoped. The player's Ark in particular is in sorry shape upon the start of the game - all of the other residents of the player's Ark are dead (presumably because of the impact), and the equipment of the Ark is destroyed as well, and so the player wakes up alone and uninformed. With no memory of his identity or objective, the player is forced to head for the surface to find sustenance and allies.
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