There has been a lot of noise around Red Dead Redemption 2, especially recently. The “100-hour working week” controversy, leaked video two days before release and now, the myriad of positive reviews that just keep coming. And rightfully so, I might add.
First of all, the game is huge. I’ve been playing like a lunatic for these two days in order to give you some insight, and I don’t think I’ve seen it all. People from Rockstar Games really did an excellent job and even some bugs can be forgiven. One thing is for sure, those PlayStation 4 and Xbox One users are the lucky ones, right now, since whether you love westerns or you don’t is beside the point. The game itself shows the future of gaming that we hope will turn into a trend in 2019.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a true Western to the core, with everything you expect from the genre. Outlaws, gunfights, horse riding, camping in the middle of nowhere and civilization on the verge of industrialization. The game is set in an open world environment that offers an abundance of things to do, people to kill and maps to explore. While this is the best game Rockstar Games made so far, it certainly will be the title that the gaming community will talk about in the upcoming months.
The game takes place in 1899 when the Wild West is coming to its end and outlaws are disappearing from the scene. When the heist goes bad, Dutch van der Linde and his gang of outlaws retreat into mountains hoping to use the strong blizzard as their cover. The main character of the game is Arthur Morgan, a man who was raised by Dutch and he is part of his gang. This is his story.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is linear but in a very cunning way. The moment you exit that blizzard and free yourself of the mountains, you will get to experience the open world that not many games can offer. The landscapes are gorgeous with mountainous peaks in the distance and valleys up ahead. Forests with tall and densely positioned trees, crystal lakes, swamps with alligators and streams to refresh yourself are also there. If you don’t like mud and dirt, you’re gonna love it here since it’s everywhere, as well as dim environments and barely visible roads.
There are settlements here as well. From plantations and farms to full-blown Western towns with muddy streets and saloons. Valentine is one of those towns, with wooden buildings and livestock farming, where you expect to see a gunslinger duel every day at noon. Only, that is a cliché or at least I didn’t witness any. But you will also get to see the glimpses of industrialization in the city of Saint-Denis with electricity, modern paved roads, and Chinese restaurants since that was a period when Chinese workers were used to building railroads, among other things.
Usually, when you play a game, you get bored from roaming around the same environment for hours or meeting the same NPCs. Here, you won’t get bored at all, but rather tired since there is a lot of terrains to cover. The world is diverse and enormous which makes the gameplay extraordinarily real and tangible. You may compare it with open world games taking place in the modern age, where the environments have an abundance of people and urban scenery, but Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t fall behind those at all. There are people here who also need your help or can assist you in your quests, as well as places to discover and experience. The details in the games are amazing since so many of them have nothing to do with your story and gameplay, but are just there for the flavor.
When it comes to combats and looting, the main character does it all manually. This means that Arthur has to physically invest himself in the action and pistol needs to be cocked before firing. There is no going through the inventory to pick a different weapon. You go to the saddle to get one, just like you make your coffee if you want to drink some. For some, this will probably be ridiculous, but for me, it was real and true to the game’s open world idea. If there wasn’t for these small chores, then so vast and magnificent open world to move in would be pointless.
But this effect doesn’t come without the consequences. If you kill an enemy and then stay to loot him, you will have to physically manhandle him to do so. The whole interaction might have drawn someone’s attention and you can easily be discovered, thus running into another conflict. So, you might just kill a guy and not be able to examine his pockets or luggage, which made me angry at myself for being a coward not because the game keeps it real. I guess I’m not much of an outlaw, after all.
When it comes to the main storyline, you will go on heists, duels, chase and be chased, basically anything you expect from the Wild West world. The controller will take some time to master which is kind of a bummer at the beginning of the game, but once you figure it out, it’s a breeze.
Dead Eye present since Red Dead Revolver series is still here only with some upgrades like highlighting critical hit areas. The slow motion when you shoot someone is really cool and makes you feel like a true gunslinger. You can upgrade your camp by acquiring certain things that will prove useful like rugs, boat, and even animal skulls for decoration. It all depends on what you will need, after all.
Additionally, Red Dead Redemption 2 comes with other interesting novelties. Horse bonding for one, which is all about how you treat your animal and is taken pretty seriously. I’ve seen videos of players punching their horses and was very happy to see that those animals didn’t stand for such brutality. Good for them!
You will need to brush your horse, feed them, and be nice to them if you don’t want them to throw you off in the battle or chase. The game offers you to build a unique bond with your horse that will somewhat turn into a partnership throughout the gameplay. However, keep in mind that your horse can die and you can’t revive them. The worst case scenario, you will have to euthanize your own horse if it gets hurt, which for me is really a true and sad thought.
Another new addition to the game is an honor system. This is attached to Arthur personally and goes up and down, depending on Arthurs behavior and actions. Meaning, if you are a good-hearted outlaw who helps people and is not a gun-wielding psycho, you won’t be in danger from bounty hunters or anyone else looking to retaliate. I didn’t play as a vicious outlaw nor I plan to since I believe that it’s not Arthur’s true nature.
Graphically, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an amazing piece on the gaming market today. The sense for details is unnerving at times and really leaves me in awe. Rockstar Games did a truly impeccable job with the game, from introducing the weather and improved facial animation. The game does its best to imitate the real-life occurrences like mud on the wheels, blood stains on clothes. The narrative elements are detailed and carefully designed, from labels in the stores to newspaper articles. And all this is supported by the wonderful music playing in the background and excellent sound effects.
Everything in the game is carefully polished and barely leaves room for any errors. It is this eye for details that make this title one of the potential games of 2018. Furthermore, this might be one of the best games of the modern gaming industry. And with the multiplayer mode Red Dead Online coming soon, we are yet to see the true power of this game.