Six years.

XBox: The Official Magazine - - RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 -

That’s how long we’ve waited for Rock­star to get back in the sad­dle and craft an­other won­der­ful vir­tual Western. Red Dead Redemp­tion was one of Xbox 360’s very best games – a poignant sand­box love let­ter to the Spaghetti Western, full of doomed hon­our and snappy shootouts. Now its brand of out­law (or should it be out­laws?) has re­turned, and it looks like Xbox One is go­ing to be treated to the most sen­sa­tion­ally de­tailed open-world Rock­star has ever made. Get ready, part­ners… this is go­ing to be quite the ride.

The big ques­tion go­ing into Red Dead Redemp­tion 2 is just how many out­laws will you be play­ing as? Con­sid­er­ing the qual­ity of the last game, epic fron­tier scenery, fran­tic pis­tol-du­elling and lots of am­bi­ent horse-rid­ing all seem as­sured. What we can’t bet the farm on is whether or not Rock­star is go­ing back down GTA V’s mul­ti­ple char­ac­ter-switch­ing route.

Both the art re­veal and the de­but trailer’s big clos­ing shot hint you could swap be­tween as many as seven dif­fer­ent out­laws. We look at who each of these scoundrels may be on page 47 (see The Scan­dalous Seven), but re­gard­less of their iden­ti­ties, the no­tion of hav­ing that many an­ti­heroes to switch be­tween is dizzy­ing.

Out­law and or­der

Switch­ing be­tween GTA V’s triple threat of car­jack­ing crims worked a treat, but the me­chan­i­cal com­plex­i­ties of be­ing able to swap be­tween seven char­ac­ters dur­ing missions seem seis­mic. Then again, we thought that back when switch­ing be­tween three seemed tech­ni­cally im­pos­si­ble. Imag­ine the po­ten­tial for set-piece spec­ta­cle. Re­mem­ber the snip­ing, ab­seil­ing, copter-down­ing de­lights of GTA V’s Three’s Com­pany mis­sion, where you switch be­tween Michael, Trevor and Franklin on-the-fly as they bust into IAA head­quar­ters to kid­nap a fed­eral wit­ness? Now pic­ture that but played out in a Western set­ting, say a train rob­bery, with you in com­mand of an­other four char­ac­ters who must si­mul­ta­ne­ously shake down pas­sen­gers for cash, keep an eye out for law­men, and try to make a clean get­away.

This is all just spec­u­la­tion, of course. With so few con­crete game­play de­tails to go on, we can only try to make ed­u­cated guesses based on de­sign de­ci­sions from past

“Red Dead Redemp­tion was one of Xbox 360’s very best games – a poignant sand­box love let­ter to the Spaghetti Western...”

“The ac­tual head­liner is the ob­scenely gor­geous chunk of Wild West real es­tate Rock­star has once again crafted”

Rock­star games. It seems likely the story will re­volve around a gang of out­laws, true, but that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean you’ll get to play as all of them.

SIM­PLY THE WEST

In the case that you play as a sin­gle gun­man, we’ve got money on it be­ing the chap who ap­pears 48 sec­onds into the trailer, a ban­dana mask­ing his face as an oil field burns in the back­ground. Could this fel­low’s name be Marston? If Red Dead Redemp­tion 2 is a pre­quel, it could well be a young John, back dur­ing his wild days of run­ning with Dutch van der Linde and Bill Wil­liamson. Con­versely, if the game takes place af­ter his death in 1911, it may be his son, Jack. There are so many cow­boy ques­tions that need an­swer­ing.

Not least of which is: when ex­actly is the game set? See­ing as the last Red Dead Redemp­tion was such a com­pre­hen­sive nod to the dy­ing days of the Old West, we doubt the game will take place in the early 20th cen­tury again. It seems more likely Red Dead Redemp­tion 2 will be a pre­quel – wit­ness the old-timey car­riages in the trailer. If that’s the case, set­ting the game in the mid19th cen­tury would al­low Rock­star to touch on the Amer­i­can Gold Rush, an era thick with crim­i­nally greedy the­matic po­ten­tial.

None of the mysterious out­laws are the real star of the trailer, though. No, the ac­tual head­liner is the

ob­scenely gor­geous chunk of Wild West real es­tate Rock­star is once again craft­ing. Golden, yawn­ing prairies stretch­ing out to­wards a sim­mer­ing fron­tier sun­set. Dense forests that are so thick only dap­pled rays of sun­light can break through their canopies. Gap­ing gorges with un­tamed rivers stretch­ing as far as the out­law eye can see. The orig­i­nal Red Dead Redemp­tion is one of the most tac­tile, ef­fort­lessly be­liev­able open-worlds ever cre­ated. Yet with the power of Xbox One now at its fin­ger­tips, Rock­star’s cur­rent-gen slice of Amer­i­can Fron­tier is clearly go­ing to blow Mr Marston’s six-yearold sand­box away.

With such a seem­ingly var­ied land­scape to roam, our mag­nif­i­cent (and prob­a­bly quite mur­der­ous) seven are go­ing to need some new forms of trans­port to get around. In the last game, John was pretty much re­stricted to loyal steeds, the oc­ca­sional car­riage, and if he was re­ally down on his luck in Mex­ico, a wheezy lit­tle don­key. If he even went near a body of wa­ter it was cow­boy cur­tains – there were no boats to com­man­deer in New Austin. Thank­fully, that’s some­thing the se­quel has al­most cer­tainly fixed.

Skip to the 31-sec­ond mark in the trailer and you can clearly see two fig­ures pad­dling up­stream in a ca­noe. Un­less Rock­star is be­ing an un­bear­ably dirty tease, it looks safe to say boat travel has fi­nally come to

Red Dead. And so it should – af­ter all, GTA an­ti­heroes have been able to nav­i­gate that se­ries’ crim­i­nal waters since GTA III. It’s high time Rock­star’s Wild West caught up. To com­ple­ment these ca­noes, don’t be sur­prised if your out­laws aren’t also dab hands at the front crawl. GTA V’s un­der­wa­ter sec­tions were fan­tas­tic, so it wouldn’t be sur­pris­ing to see a proper swim­ming sys­tem make the cut in Red Dead Redemp­tion 2.

horses for cour­ses

Not that the se­ries’ tra­di­tional neigh­ing bread and but­ter is be­ing forgotten. In­deed, it looks like Red Dead’s horses are get­ting an up­grade. About half­way through the trailer there’s a glimpse of a rancher walk­ing next to his steed, a deer car­cass slumped over his pony pal’s back. This would seem to sug­gest you can now use your horsey chums to ferry around dead an­i­mals. Last time out, John could merely skin crit­ters for their pelts. If you can now move an en­tire car­cass, could that mean the fur sell­ing sys­tem from the first game has been ex­panded? Per­haps de­liv­er­ing an un­sul­lied deer or boar to a lo­cal mer­chant will net your out­laws more coin than just sell­ing a skinned pelt.

Camp­fires also seem to be back. In Marston’s som­bre sand­box, these burny mo­bile sites per­formed two func­tions. You could ei­ther rest, sav­ing your game and fast-for­ward­ing time by six hours, or you could use them to fast-travel around John’s sprawl­ing wilder­ness. There’s only a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of a camp­fire in the trailer – around 27 sec­onds in – but we’d be sur­prised if they don’t per­form the same func­tion in the se­quel. Speak­ing of said scene, is that not the most spec­tac­u­larly starry in-game sky you ever did see?

Rock­star has clearly been beaver­ing away on this Western for years and, bril­liantly, you won’t have to wait too much longer to see if the stu­dio’s lat­est epic en­deav­our can match the sand­box splen­dour of Mr Marston’s quest. Red Dead Redemp­tion 2 is slated to hit Xbox One next year, mean­ing we could all be sad­dling up with these out­laws in eight or so months’ time. Will our Wild West the­o­ries pan out? We’ll find out soon enough. Yee-haw, in­deed.

“Rock­star has clearly been beaver­ing away on this Western for years and you won’t have to wait too much longer”

top Look at all that Western wilder­ness. Let’s hope you can scale those snowy moun­tains.

far left A lone fig­ure trots over the hori­zon. Could this be RDR2’s lead out­law?

above No­tice the dead deer on the horse’s back. It looks like you can now trans­port car­casses. right Will cat­tle-herd­ing re­turn? RDR1’ s A Tem­pest Looms mis­sion had some ace cow ac­tion.

left Is this our star? This pose is a dead ringer to a shot of Michael from GTA V’s first trailer.

above Talk about squalor. Ar­eas of the game’s map have ob­vi­ously fallen on hard times.

top left Could this ranch act as a base for the game’s cast of out­laws? Also, nice skull!

above It looks like camp­fires make a re­turn. They’ll likely act as fast­travel hubs, but what other ac­tiv­i­ties might they al­low?

left Judg­ing by this shot of a ca­noe, wa­ter will be way less deadly than in Red Dead Redemp­tion 1.

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