Red Dead Redemption 2 came out three years ago on 26 October 2018. Riding on the critical acclaim and commercial success of its predecessor, Red Dead Redemption 2 immediately became one of the greatest games ever made. Players quickly immerse themselves in the world of the Wild West, embodying the outlaw group the game revolves around.
Three years have passed since the game first appeared and it has been slowly made available for various platforms. Red Dead Redemption 2 has been lauded for its writing, visuals, the expanse of the map and abundance of unique events and characters.
The world of Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is an action-adventure game published by Rockstar. It acts as a prequel to Red Dead Redemption (2010) and is the third in the Red Dead series. Whereas the 2010 game follows the character of John Marston, in Red Dead Redemption 2, players are introduced to Arthur Morgan - a gruffy, weary veteran of the Van der Linde gang.
The game is an ode to the dying age of the outlaws. The Van der Linde gang, headed by Dutch Van der Linde, is constantly on the move away from a world that is no longer theirs. The progress of civilization, especially depicted in the industrial town of Saint Dennis, is running the outlaws out of a place and way to live.
The game begins with the gang hiding in the mountains in a snowstorm after a bank job goes awry. They had to flee without their stashed money and cannot go back to retrieve it.
The game picks up from there. The map spans from snow-capped mountains to dusty deserts to alligator-infested bogs. There are towns that look as if they were taken directly from a Clint Eastwood film.
The landscapes are serene and picturesque. So much so that they have even been mistaken for actual outdoor shots by a local news channel in Oregon in their ‘Out & About’ segment. The voice actors do an impeccable job in bringing the characters to life.
There are drunken brawls, hold-ups, roadside robberies, and pistol duels to only name a few. The galore of NPCs adds variety to the gameplay and provides numerous ways of interaction. And much like in real life, there is a sense of accountability to the player’s action.
Saving a person’s life out in the wild may get the player a reward in the next city. Red Dead Redemption 2 excels at creating an intricate web of correlation and causation in its depiction of frontier America and its people at the turn of the century.
The game also has an honor scale, which affects the overall ending, and a bounty level that can be paid off.
After descending from the mountains and as the map opens up, players can spend countless hours engaging with the innumerable things that the game offers without progressing through the primary narrative. There are legendary animals and fishes to track, catch and kill.
The side-missions are often long and extremely detailed. Unlike many open-world games, they do not feel repetitive or extraneous. There are strange mysteries to discover. Unmarked graves, animal skeletons, serial killers, time travelers, meteorites, cults, and even a spaceship - players have been forever finding newer mysteries and connections up to this date.
The central attraction of the game lies in its story and protagonist
Fans of Red Dead Redemption were apprehensive of the shift from John to Arthur. They did not know what to expect and were unsure of not being able to play with their already familiar hero. Rockstar allayed any such fear when the game came out.
Arthur Morgan is the right-hand man of Dutch. He is a true believer in his leader and would do anything to ensure the survival of everybody in the gang. He performs the tasks given to him. Adept with both his fists and guns, he can take a beating and dish out one. Yet, he is not cruel.
He is teetering on the edge of good and evil and as mentioned previously, the player can take him to either side of it. He has a broken heart and a lover he cannot marry. As the game progresses, he slowly figures out the disillusioning nature of what he has been doing and how little of it makes any sense to him.
The game captures a poignant moment in its portrayal of Arthur, Dutch, and others in the group as the world around them changes beyond their recognition. Youtuber Cl4y’s video captures beautifully the collapse of the gang along with Arthur’s doubts and eventual demise.
The player gets to experience the regret and anger that Arthur feels, the pain when he holds his dying horse at the end, and when he tells Dutch that he gave him his all. The haunting music seems like an homage as Arthur lays dying watching his final sunrise.
The chaotic beauty of Red Dead Redemption online and the legacy of Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption online is filled with a similar amount of chaos that one can find in Rockstar’s other IP’s online mode, GTA 5. Although published independently of Red Dead Redemption 2, players can make a custom character in Red Dead Redemption online and freely explore the environment of the game. They can band together and make their own posse.
Rockstar’s official synopsis states:
"Build a camp, ride solo or form a posse and explore everything from the snowy mountains in the North to the swamps of the South, from remote outposts to busy farms and bustling towns."
Players can take up specialist roles - bounty hunter, collector, trader, naturalist and moonshiner.
Gripes with Rockstar Games and eventual updates
Unlike GTA online, the main complaint of the community against Rockstar has been the lack of meaningful updates to the MMO. In 2020, players found a creative way to protest against this.
Feeling like they were the clowns for expecting something from Rockstar, the players dressed up as clowns and dropped into the game. Organized mostly by the player OnlyPVPcat, the servers were soon overtaken by clowns and their shenanigans.
Rockstar, in a blog post, dated February 2021, announced newer missions for the game moving forward. A slew of updates have followed since, the most recent being the Halloween update mentioned in an official post. There is a new Halloween Pass 2 to pick up for "grim and ghoulish gifts."
Red Dead Redemption 2: A seminal title in gaming history
The impact of Red Dead Redemption 2 has been unfathomable to both the world of gaming and beyond. An article published on 8 July 2021 discusses how players of this game are better at identifying flora and fauna than those who have not.
The game has also accumulated multiple Game of the Year awards and continues to appeal to newer players. Looking over the past three years, the game is indeed a visual masterpiece.
Very few open-world games can boast of the finesse that Rockstar has been able to emulate here. At the end of the day, a player can simply log in, take a leisurely stroll through the fields on their horse, go into a bar, have a drink and play some cards. Sometimes that is all a video game needs to be.