Red Dead Redemption 2: A gorgeous game about an ugly era

Eight years on from Red Dead Redemption (RDR) being released to universal success, Rockstar’s release of Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) is largely viewed as one of the most ambitious gaming productions of our time.

RDR2 is a sprawling Western tale, in which you play as Arthur Morgan, a member of the Dutch Van der Linde gang. Starting from the beginning – it’s 1899 and outlaws in America are becoming a wanted species as the lawless era is starting to be left behind.

Arthur and his gang find themselves on the run from Blackwater after a failed bank robbery means they have to leave everything behind to escape the law.

With a blistering blizzard covering their tracks from the bounty hunters following them, there is enough time for us to slip into the character of Arthur Morgan and get settled in for a whopping 60-hour game-play story.

Red Dead Redemption 2’s sweeping vistas are some of the most captivating in gaming // Rockstar Games

The Map

It’s very difficult to exaggerate just how big this map is, it’s far bigger and more beautiful than the one explored in RDR, with far more side-action with nature involved too. Between the alligator-infested swamps, deep forests and great lakes surrounding the city of Saint Denis, there is plenty of travelling to undergo as you travel through this game.

RDR2 keeps its cards close to its chest, meaning that even after long hours spent playing, you will still be presented with new reasoning to travel to parts of the map you have never seen before, keeping the joy of new discovery apparent throughout.

The in-game experience has the ability to keep each mission fresh despite the massive length of the story mode.

Teaming up with your outlawed brothers will inevitably lead to a shoot-out // Rockstar Games

This comes from how alive each area of the diverse world is, and with loud wildlife and various characters to interact with along the way it is hard to be bored.

The best part about this open world is the feeling that your presence does not seem to matter to the everyday-life of the NPCs. Routine is carried out all around you regardless of your interaction. While lumberjacks cutting down trees may not be crucial to Arthur’s story, it adds to the real feel of the game, making you a passenger instead of the centre of all attention.

The Gameplay

The gameplay throughout is almost flawless, with exception to a few minor bugs when the game was first released.

Missions effortlessly take you through the vast map, introducing you to new friends along the way.

Though Arthur Morgan is labelled as a ruthless outlaw, his quiet moments of humanity allow the player to develop an overwhelming fondness for the protagonist // Rockstar Games

However, you don’t have to partake in the main storyline if that isn’t to your liking. There is a slow-paced nature that is set by Rockstar outside of the missions which allow you to mosey around and do whatever you like.

Around your gang’s camps, you can hear conversations entailing interesting stories about a member’s life, or you may witness a heated bust-up amongst friends over drunken arguments. Either way, it makes for a different gaming experience.

Outside of the gang, there is still lots to see. Newspapers reporting the gang’s exploits can be bought on street-corners, theatres can be visited and you can saddle up and ride to any destination you like. It’s really up to you what Arthur gets up to in his spare time away from the gang.

Dutch van der Linde leads a group of complex and wholly flawed characters through the sprawling Wild West // Rockstar Games

The Good: Red Dead Redemption 2 is perhaps the most ambitious game ever to be released, containing an incredible amount of content in a vast and open world. Each mission is filled with memorable scenes which build up relationships with characters throughout.

The Bad: Very hard to name any. However, one flaw may be the style of the cowboy lifestyle. At times, it can feel like the game is dragging, but that’s about it.

The Verdict: Red Dead Redemption 2 is an incredible achievement by Rockstar in almost every sense of the game.

It’s a shoo-in for one of the best games of this generation, and personally, I feel it is unrivalled. The game is a beautifully aesthetic display of what was an ugly time in America, combined with one of the best story-lines I have ever found myself immersed in.

This is a game of rare, well-rounded quality and is easily the best single-player action packed game I have ever experienced.


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