RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
The cowboy-’em-up has (r)evolved
We form a posse and round up the latest details on the wildest western.
Like a veteran prospector trying to hide their latest discovery to hold off a second gold rush, Rockstar has been hard at work in its game dev mines, easing out the treasure that is the extremely anticipated sequel to its 2010 Wild West open worlder. With its release on the horizon, the now-steady drip of info has made it clear that Rockstar has indeed struck gold with Red Dead Redemption 2.
It’s almost not fair it has that little number ‘2’ after its title. Yes, it’s a sequel that shares a lot of its DNA with its predecessor. But Red Dead Redemption 2 is a brand-new thing – Rockstar Studios building on everything it’s learned. A new frontier. A combination of the sheer fidelity and attention to detail present in GTA V, and the exciting pulp adventure and sense of freedom in the first RDR.
Set in the late 1800s, it’s a prequel to the first game, and takes place during a period of cultural spreading across untouched lands, on the cusp of Western civilisation, but still fresh for the settlers. The days of lawlessness are coming to an end, but the Dutch Gang (which your player character Arthur Morgan is a member of) still have a few tricks up their sleeves, and they’ll camp up as you go with them from area to area over the course of the story.
The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is a huge one. The sprawling vistas really capture that
“REALLY EXPLORING WHAT UNTAMED EARLY AMERICA HAD TO OFFER.”
“WITH MUCH MORE REALISTIC RECOIL AND RELOADS, EACH WEAPON FEELS UNIQUE TO FIRE.”
feeling of a young America, still teeming with new things to see. Arthur Morgan’s outlaw journey will see him travelling through some very varied environments. We’ve been shown glimpses of mountain trails, forests, deserts, and swamplands, as well as a combination of smaller frontier towns and young versions of bigger American cities. Red Dead Redemption 2 is really exploring the breadth of what America had to offer before the arrival of European settlers, and the taste of freedom that is so inseparable from those early American dreams.
Yes, it’s an open world. A damn big one at that, where you can follow your own trails wherever they lead. But it’s a living world too. Nature still has a big hold on America at this time, so expect to encounter a lot of wildlife native to different regions – moose, alligators, bears, and of course, wolves (what game with the outdoors doesn’t have wolves?). Hunt them down – Morgan even has a sort of ‘tracker vision’ – and you can honour every part of the animal. Whack your prey onto your horse, and you can trade meat and hide at towns, or bring it back to the Dutch Gang’s camp to boost morale.
WILD WILD WORLD
You can go on your own way, of course, but Morgan feels like part of something much bigger, and the way you choose to interact with the world has consequences. People will react differently to Morgan depending on the circumstances in which they meet him, whether that’s crossing paths on a lonely track, Morgan coming across someone in a suspicious situation, or you calling on them at their house.
A whole new interaction system comes into play for this, with you focusing on the character with p, and always having the option to draw your weapon with i (though you’d better be quick on the draw, cowboy). Depending on the situation you can use the face buttons for different interactions. That stranger riding by? You can greet them with r, or antagonise them with e. Being interrogated by a sheriff? Maybe try reaching for the r in your holster to defuse the situation rather than your gun. Get in a scuffle? You can hit e to beat your target, and then w to threaten them, or dismiss them with r.
Your horse is your constant companion. As well as hauling around your fresh kills and larger inventory items like big guns, you need to give a little something back by keeping the beastie happy and well groomed. Do so, and your trusty sidekick will be much less likely to get scared in horseback encounters such as shootouts, giving you the edge with deft manoeuvring.
Combat has also been improved dramatically, even though the gunplay in the first game was already pretty stellar. It’s the guns themselves that have received a lot of love, with much more realistic recoil and reloads – each weapon feels unique. Of course, dead-eye slow motion makes its welcome return. And what’s a western without a few brawls? Rockin’ ’em and sockin’ ’em feels brutal and solid, meaning your fists can be just as deadly. With such a big game, there’s always so much more to see, and so much more to do. Luckily our itchy trigger fingers are in for a treat, as we’ll be getting hands-on next issue just ahead of RDR2’s release. Yeehaw.
Above We haven’t seen much of him, but already we’re not sure we can trust gang member Micah Bell. “Brothers make mistakes,” eh, Micah?
Above Is Morgan a people person or not? The power of interaction is in your rough wrangler hands.
Above Expect the outlaw life to take some queues from GTA V, especially with things like bank heists.