This place. Ain’t no such thing as civilized.
When the reveal trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 was released in 2016, there was nonstop conversation and hype surrounding the game. Since then, it was pushed back twice, which only led to elevate intrigue and excitement. I’ve been looking forward to this game the most out of any other games in the last two years. Eight years in the making and after all that wait, Red Dead Redemption 2 finally came out on 26th and it was all worth it.
Rockstar created a world that pushes the open world genre than it ever had before. Whereas many open world games feel like the world operates around you and reacts to your actions, Red Dead Redemption 2 feels the complete opposite. The world doesn’t revolve around you—it is a world you are immersed in. The game is beautiful and alive; you will rarely ever find any popping up issues or any sort rough textures.
Animals and people interact and behave realistically without your involvement. Of course, you can interact with them, but they don’t always need you to do something. For example, I was riding through woods during the night when I stumbled upon a hermit in the swamps asking me to come to his house and have a drink. I went in to see what would happen only to find myself kidnapped and thrown into the swamp with my money stolen. This is just one of many random events you will see that will create their own mini side quests. These quests never pop up on the map nor does the game give any hints—the game lets the player explore and fend for themselves. From KKK initiations to cannibals, the world is immersive and constantly breathing. I have spent hours just exploring the entire map trying to find secrets and things to do. This might be a problem for some people, but for me, it felt like a reward for exploring on my own rather than playing the game with a checklist of things to do.
The gameplay is the smoothest it’s ever been in a Rockstar game. If you’ve played any Rockstar games previously, the controls are the same, just more improved and less rough around the edges. I would put the controls of Read Dead Redemption 2 on the same level as Witcher 3—it is a lot to take in at first, but once you get a hold of the controls, it is a much more refined experience. I have heard some strange complaints regarding the gameplay mechanics such as calling it “clunky”, but I couldn’t disagree more. There were plenty of games that have come out with clunky controls this year. For example, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey‘s gameplay mechanics feel like a chore rather than something enjoyable. Read Dead Redemption 2 controls are definitely not something I would put in the same category as ACO.
I really love the mechanic of storing equipment and guns on the horse, restricting you to only carry a certain number of weapons on you as a person. This allows you to think and choose carefully what arsenal you want to carry with you and for the game to fit every player’s different playstyle with their own personalized arsenal.
The honor system has returned from the original game but it has been improved greatly. For example, if you make bad choices or break the law too many times your honor lowers, which means people will be more afraid of you. You will get better tonics but you also won’t allowed in some stores or be allowed to use trains. Having a high honor means you will get high discounts in stores and the people you help might reward you. Most players will probably find themselves killing, stealing, and bullying whoever they like, as is the case with more open world games, and that can be really fun (look at GTA V for example), but Read Dead Redemption 2 rewards its players for being good.
I won’t spoil much about the story a lot, but it is easily one of this year’s best written and is acted out on the same level as God of War. The characters are rich and multi-layered. You really get connected to all the characters and get to know some of them really well, and even go on separate adventures with them. Arthur Morgan, the main character, is one of the most complicated and well-written characters you can follow in video games—his arc is compelling and filled with drama and great dialogue. The game is filled with heartbreaks and shocking twists, which is no surprise given that one thing Rockstar always succeeds at is creating great stories. Another complaint I have heard a lot regarding the story is that it is “too predictable because it is a prequel”. I would strongly recommend not going in with that mindset because then you rob yourself of some of the best writing and character development in video games history. See the game as a downfall of a family rather than just a prequel.
Overall, Rockstar has pushed the open world genre to new lengths creating one of the most beautiful looking and well-made games ever. If you like games or even want to get into games this is a perfect game for you. It offers so much content with its single player alone which is filled with side quests and missions, letting the player really feel satisfied with the game. Red Dead Redemption 2 is an amazing game with very little in the way to ruin the experience this world offers. A lot of other open world franchise will be playing catch-up to this game for quite some time, as it truly shows the potential of the next generation of games. I can’t recommend this game enough.