Game of the Year


Image from Rockstar’s Twitter

“Red Dead Redemption 2” pushes what it means to be realistic

by Alexis Tucker, Managing Editor

This game is truly awe-inspiring from the very first moments of the game, and dare it be said, even better than the first “Red Dead Redemption 2.”
“Red Dead Redemption 2” (RDR2) does just about everything right with some tedious aspects, and it has become what “Red Dead Redemption 2” wanted to be. At times, the game may on the surface appear complicated, but Rockstar makes sure to explain how to do everything before letting the player roam completely free in the world. However, the tutorial section is quite long, but it is enjoyable as the tutorial is hidden like most games within the story.
The story is long and beautiful, and while players of “Red Dead Redemption 2” may feel like they know where the story is going to go, they actually don’t. It is a slow burn, so it may be unenjoyable in that respect for some gamers. It really shines in that respect because gamers get to spend so much time loving or hating characters. Arthur lends a different perspective on the events John Marston discusses with people in the first game, so the players see the gang as it actually was. In a lot games where gamers play the bad guy, it is really hard to feel for them most of the time as they are doing terrible, despicable things. “Red Dead Redemption 2” doesn’t even really feel like playing a bad guy because John Marston is an Outlaw turned “Government Contractor”, so the player doesn’t have the same cognitive dissonance.
“Red Dead Redemption 2” makes it clear that they are bad people with a code, and yet, the player feels good doing terrible things while also feeling justified in their actions. There is a choice to be a “good” outlaw, but it is very difficult because everything has a consequence. Decide to be a true outlaw that murders and steals? Expect to pay the price with every store hiking their price to do business with Arthur, and also expect non-playable characters (NPC) to pay close attention to everything Arthur does. On the flip side, be an outlaw with a moral code, and players will receive discounts everywhere. NPCs will ask for help often.
Rockstar went all in with the realism, which is impressive in itself considering how large the game is on its own. There are a set number of NPCs in the game, so if Arthur crosses paths with one, that NPC will notice his absence once he returns to town after a long adventure. The NPC will make a comment such as “Well, look who’s come back to town,” or some similar comment, which really immerses the player and makes them feel a part of this world that Rockstar built. In the same vein, Arthur can talk to everyone in the game, and yes, that means absolutely everyone. Arthur from day to day will lose health, stamina and dead-eye based on how well he is fed or how clean he is, so the player will literally have to maintain Arthur’s health and weight (yes, he loses weight as well) to prevent from dying so quickly. This is less of chore than some may think, as the camp provides free (to some extent) food, tonics and other necessities such as cigarettes and alcohol (both of those increase stamina and dead-eye but decrease health). The players “cores” is a meter that decreases based on health, but it doesn’t actually decrease the bars themselves. What that means is that it will prevent the player from recharging their health, stamina or dead-eye as quickly (or at all if the core is completely drained).  The core system works the same with maintaining Arthur’s horse, and the more time the player spends with their horse, the increased bond they’ll have, which correlates with a more responsive horse and unlocks more moves such as drifting, rearing and sliding.
Some aspects of the realism may hurt the user experience such as the fast travel system as just with everything, Rockstar was realistic about how to fast travel. To fast travel, there are 3 options via train, horse or stagecoach. To unlock the ability to fast travel from camp via the player’s horse, the player must invest in the camp and pay to upgrade Arthur’s camp, which buys the player a better tent with a map. To travel via train or stagecoach, the player has to go to either a stagecoach stop or a train station, and they pay a few bucks to travel from one city to the next. The problem comes in when the player can’t fast travel straight to camp in any option, so the player has to choose the closest city and ride back to camp on their horse. It isn’t that big of a challenge because it is enjoyable to ride around the beautiful landscape that is created.
“Red Dead Redemption 2” is a beautiful experience and it really pushes the envelope in what a video game can be in terms of realism, writing and worldbuilding.
“Red Dead Redemption 2” makes you feel like an outlaw.