It’s been a long time coming, but Red Dead Redemption 2 finally has hit our consoles. Rockstar’s Wild West cowboy lifestyle adventure has had overwhelming positivity throughout the gaming community, and has already been awarded some of the highest praise, such as Best Game of 2018 and so on. The game has been out for over a week, and for the best part of that week I’ve been indulging in all of Red Dead’s glory. So here is my impressions of RDR2.
I don’t plan to reveal any spoilers of the game’s story, but I still have to cover it. It’s good. I mean REALLY good. It revolves itself around a time where outlaws are being slowly hunted and phased out, thanks to the government and law enforcement. Straight away from the beginning, you understand that the gang you are a part of, the Dutch van der Linde gang, are at a struggle. Constantly fleeing from those who wish to end their campaign, they rely on each other’s contribution to camp life to survive, including chores, eating, sleeping, and probably most important, earning and donating money. It’s a little slow to get going but impossible to let go once it does. What’s great about the story is that it ties in well as a prequel to the first Red Dead game. Not only do you experience your character Arthur Morgan’s past, struggles and persona, but you see how other characters, old and new, develop and act towards one another, as well as Arthur as well. I can’t wait to explore and complete the rest of it, but it is really building up slowly and nicely; a classic Rockstar approach to the game’s story as it has shown throughout their previous games.
Content and features
This game has a ridiculous amount of content it’s seeming out of my controller.
Let’s start with camp life. Camp is a fundamental part of the game, as it is where you live your life as an outlaw. You start mission, robberies, fishing and hunting expeditions, favours, mini games like gambling and Five Finger Fillet, sleep, eat, drink, and much more. The main part of camp is donating and making contributions to the camps funds. With this you are able to upgrade and improve camp life with a number of items and homely changes, like upgrading living quarters and tents, to acquiring more resources for your camp, like ammunition, food healing tonics, and food which can be donated to the camp Trapper. Improving camp life causes less tension although you wouldn’t be able to tell, as well as provides bonuses and makes gameplay generally easier for you. Happy camp, happy campers.
Expanding out from camp to explore the world of RDR2, and you’ll be spending a lot of time exploring its rich regions; Industrial and Rural towns, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Marshlands, dense Forests, this game has them all. Each region meticulously detailed with their own unique features and wildlife, making no two regions feel the same. No surprise then that the content and society you encounter are different within each region also, giving players a wide variety of gameplay approaches to choose from.
It’s quite important to know that the game features a morality meter. The choices you make in the game have an impact on those around you, and effectively open up and close opportunities depending if your good or bad. Generally, as an outlaw you’re not great, but Arthur’s code usually is they only steal from those who are bad, no innocent casualties, or unless necessary. This of course is affected on how you play the game. If you wanted to rob every single person you encounter, or shoot every horse you pass, that’s your decision, but you will be inherently bad on the morality scale.
But trying to be good is not exactly a walk in the park either, believe me. It doesn’t matter how many times you ‘Greet’ a passing citizen, they can always be in a grump and pull a shotgun on you. Depending on what your status is mortally will depend on how citizens react to you. Also, a good thing to note is if you do cause any trouble in a region, a bounty will be put on your head, depending on the crimes you have committed. They can be cleared, but if not, then bounty hunters will always be on the hunt for you, regardless of your morality status. This game has a funny way of keeping you on your toes at all times.
Speaking of giving you content, I’m having real trouble focusing on doing story missions, due to any time I travel on my trusty steed to the mission start point, there is always some sort of encounter I investigate. Encounters happen nearly 90% of the time. They can be both dangerous or profitable. Some of them involve helping out individuals, which can sometimes give you a boost to your morality, a new weapon or even a hint to a potential heist. Some encounters on the other hand, can be quite fatal, which I’ve suffered the fate of many times. Your gang attracts a fair bit of attention from time to time, especially from rival gangs you steal from. These gangs can hold you up at any given moment when roaming around, and if you don’t play your cards right, you will find yourself in dead place very quickly. One time I was minding my own business and they stopped me on a bridge, blocked both entrances, and told me to surrender. I’d love to tell you how I epically saved the day at that point. I was quickly turned into a bullet magnet in seconds. Either case, these encounters are fantastic and shouldn’t be ignored.
The shooting mechanic is extraordinary. You have a proper feel of how the weapons react and feel when you use them. You don’t just rush in with a revolver or a repeater, as you have to cock the weapon or pull the hammer back with each shot; it adds incredible realism to gun fights. It’s a tactical decision to wait for your shot to be more accurate, or whether to go balls deep and draw duel pistols and blast away at close range. Although it isn’t necessarily realistic, the Dead Eye feature is still as interesting as it was in the first game. Dead Eye slows down time which allows you to plant where shots land on a target. This can help you disarm or hinder opponents, as well as score a critical headshot on 5 enemies at once.
Recently I took my time to get some 3-star animal skins, to help with crafting upgrades for camp. It’s utterly staggering that Rockstar have managed to fit around 200 species of animal in the game. From predators to prey, pack animals to dangerous lone hunters, land, sea and air animals, wildlife in RDR2 is everywhere. When you go hunting you feel like it’s a completely separate game, as you have now entered Hunter Simulator. Acquiring a perfect pelt of specific animals can upgrade features for your camp, but there are some special cases too. 16 legendary animals roam the wilds, and catching each one provides an additional challenge. But risk in this case equals reward, and acquiring the pelts and items from a legendary animal kill will provide trinkets which will benefit you tenfold. Acquiring a perfect pelt is also challenging too. If you study an animal and read its description, it will recommend what weapon is best to use to preserve the pelts condition. I would strongly recommend getting your hands on a varmint rifle, to help with the smaller animals, and also a rifle to help with larger animal. Other items of use will help you lure and take down specific animals depending on the items use, but essentially, hunting is a fantastic and possibly the biggest sub-feature of the game.
Other content included in the game is the customisation of your horse and weapons; being able to improve their stats and their looks, so you can shoot and ride your steed in style. Horses can be different classes which provide bonuses in different areas, such as higher stamina or higher top speed. Arthur also has 3 stats, Health, Stamina and Dead Eye, each with their own core and ways to upgrade each one. The Cinematic Camera can be used to travel at a set speed along a path without having to manually control the horse. However, with great hilarity, the horse doesn’t stop on its own for other citizens, horses, trains, buildings, anything the horse can collide with it will do. A number of videos have emerged with the dilemma of horses crashing into things.
Audio and Visuals
This game has one of the best audios I have graced my ears with. The music, sound effects and even the speech dialog are so authentic it complements the gameplay extremely well. I could be roaming around the country at night and my senses are overloaded with the sounds of the entire animal kingdom at times, it’s great. Can’t say I haven’t seen any issues with the visuals either. Just as good as the audio, incredible design and beautifully crafted world, it’s definitely one of those games in which you travel to a high point and look at the view beyond. The only thing I would say, which is scraping the bottom of the moonshine barrel, is that the Day to Night time changes happen quite quickly. Meaning it isn’t dusk for very long or dawn for long either. Like I said, it’s very specific but I am trying to find faults with the game so far. So far, I’m struggling to find any.
A true contender for the Best Game of 2018. Funny, tough, expansive, immersive, and realistic. A true single player experience that you will love and cry at. Red Dead Redemption 2 will bring back your faith in single player games and then some. Get on your high horse and rob some shit fella’s, just make sure your horse doesn’t faceplant a saloon on the way into town.