Red Dead Redemption 2 has been in the making for eight years. Eight years! That, in addition to the hype, and the first Red Dead being a really really good game, meant that the stakes were pretty high. Red Dead Redemption 2 would have a lot of high expectations to meet. So how does it fare? Was it the behemoth of a game that it was expected to be? Short answer, yes. Long answer, read on.
Go hard or go home
One thing we had to realize first in order to truly enjoy Red Dead Redemption 2 was that this game takes itself very seriously as a simulator. Rockstar has gone all-in on that, and so, if you’ve wanted to live an alternate life as a cowboy, this is as realistically close to that as you can get. From a video game anyway. Even for a video game, the attention to realism is phenomenal, and while we were initially annoyed by the slow pace of things, eventually, we started to appreciate it.
We’ll keep this bit short to avoid spoilers. Red Dead Redemption 2 acts as a prequel to Red Dead Redemption, with you playing as Arthur Morgan, one of the top dogs in the Van der Linde gang, a name players of the first Red Dead game will be familiar with. The story revolves around the gang as they try to survive in a rapidly evolving world that wants nothing to do with outlaws. One bad bank job later, and the whole posse is on the run, using whatever means necessary to survive.
You don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy this, most of us here at Digit haven’t (it’s a PS exclusive after all), but there are certainly a few call-outs.
Starting things off, you have five cores in the game, and these five cores are accompanied by meters. We found this system unnecessarily complicated. Especially for something that we don’t pay attention to most of the time.
As for the cores, you’ve got Health, Stamina, Dead Eye, Horse Stamina and Horse Health. Now, the meters that accompany the cores drain on use, so if you sprint, your stamina meter drops. However, your cores drain over time, and drain faster with use. With us so far?
There are consumables you can take to replenish cores and meters, some that replenish a certain core greatly while damaging another core, and others that replenish both cores and meters. It’s all rather (did we mention unnecessarily) complicated, but also hardly affected us during our gameplay, so whatevs.
Dead Eye is pretty cool, and if we’re not mistaken, was present in the first game as well. You activate Dead Eye to slow down time for some easy headshots. Speaking of headshots, or just shooting in general really, we weren’t too keen on playing a shooting game on controller since we suck at it and can’t for the life of us figure out how some people manage. Then when we saw the aim-assist it was laughably easy. We didn’t really even need to use Dead Eye to land headshots. The game does all the aiming for you, all we had to do was pull the trigger.
There’s also an Eagle Eye mechanic which you use when out hunting. This lets you pick up on a trail for animals you’re hunting. Hunting takes some preparation, especially if you’re into collecting stuff, as you’ll need to hunt down certain legendary animals in order to craft some fancy looking outfits in the game. This involves you requiring to craft special munitions, traps, bait etc in order to acquire perfect pelts required to craft the skins.
The rest of the controls are fairly straightforward and very reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto V, even the way you fall if you crash into a tree or something (we obviously never did, we’re amazing horse riders).
Red Dead Redemption 2 has an amazing open world, there’s no two ways about it. It’s a world that actively reacts to you and when you’re doing nothing in the game but simply existing in it, it’s amazing. The attention to detail is simply mind-boggling. The way the animals behave, the way the people behave, it’s all on a scale that’s never been done before. Often times, the game’s more enjoyable when you simply deviate from the story and go do your own thing. There’s magical moments to be found around every corner, and there’s definitely no shortage of them.
The realism that we originally found annoying eventually crept up on us and we slowly began to appreciate the little things. You could stop and talk to just about any NPC in the game and more likely than not they’d have something to talk about. Things like bonding with your horse, going out hunting, playing poker with the gang, spending the night out drinking, it’s all so authentic and you start appreciating the fact that the game takes its time with these things and doesn’t rush you through them.
The world and story are amazing because the characters help make it happen. And the characters in RDR2 are phenomenal, thanks in no small part to the amazing voice acting. Every member of your gang has a story to tell, and interactions with the group actually make you feel like a part of the group, or the family as they call it. The way conversations begin and segway into quests and even the conversations during transitions is handled beautifully. Rockstar have done a phenomenal job overall with the way they introduce you to new characters, and somehow manage to make them memorable as well.
Take your time
In order to appreciate the attention to detail in the game, it’s important to take your time. There’s no point rushing the game. The pacing is intentionally slow. If you picked up RDR2 expecting a quick playthrough, you’ve chosen the wrong game, as just rushing the story will take you upwards of 60 hours. Your best bet is to take it slow and enjoy the ride. Don’t spend all your time with the gang and on missions. Leave camp, roam around, appreciate the open-world that has had so much work put into it, and that’s when you’ll truly enjoy what Red Dead Redemption 2 has to offer.
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Played on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Verdict – Red Dead Redemption 2
What began as mild annoyance turned into appreciation, Rockstar has created one of the best open-world experiences to date, one that you can truly get lost in for god knows how long. The voice-acting is amazing. The soundtrack, is AMAZING. The story is also compelling and keeps you hooked. It would be easy to recommend this game to RPG-lovers but one has to keep in mind the simulation like nature of the game, lest you get bored of the slow pacing.
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Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.