An Addicting Adventure: Reviewing ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

Week of 11/25/2018 – Video Game recommendation – Red Dead Redemption 2

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If, like me, you love video games; specifically open-world adventures, then you’ve probably been binging on Rockstar’s latest hit, Red Dead Redemption 2. Since its release about a month ago, I’ve slid down a dark rabbit hole and have played nothing else but this game. Luckily, I finished story mode in Marvel’s Spider-Man, so I’m glad I’ve been able to fully immerse myself in to a different world and experience almost everything this game has to offer. With RDR2 Online getting ready to launch in a few days, I thought I’d share my likes, dislikes, and ideas I wish were added to the game itself. Be warned, if you haven’t played the story all the way through, there may be some spoilers up ahead!

Let me start by saying that RDR2 is one of the best open-world games this year. It can be overwhelming at times because there is so much to do and see; you never feel completely done even once you’ve completed the main story. Stranger quests, although some a bit silly, allow you to really explore every inch of the map, so I recommend doing those in between main story missions. The details in terms of landscape, character building, and story are insanely well-done. With both first-person and third-person POV’s available during gameplay (I prefer third-person as first-person was a bit difficult for me to control), you can see new details during certain tasks you might’ve missed the first time around. Eagle eye / dead eye add incredible detail to action sequences and hunting; the slow motion effects allow you to kill multiple enemies at once and it is easily one of my favorite aspects of gameplay. Even small things, such as the blood on Arthur’s shirt after hunting / skinning animals or the water on his pants after stepping in a puddle, make you really appreciate the time Rockstar spent in to building this world.

The protagonist, Arthur, is extremely likable; in my opinion, more likable than John (the protagonist of RDR1). Arthur’s story can be drawn out throughout the game during side missions, but I had trouble understanding his and John’s friendship. Maybe it’s because there was no mention of Arthur in RDR1 or maybe it’s because I might have missed a few details, but I felt like Arthur’s relationship with other gang members were stronger compared to his relationship with John. **SPOILER** For example, when you play as John in the Epilogue, John claims he was such great friends with Arthur, but I never really felt that playing the story. I understand that Arthur can relate with John on some level, given that he once had a son, but I had a difficult time transitioning from playing as Arthur to John. In terms of dialogue and voice acting, I felt like these two aspects of the game were incredible–it gave the characters substance and I’m all for character building.

I also love how the honorable / dishonorable options were carried over in to RDR2. Because of this, there are several possible cutscenes and endings to the story, so it makes you want to replay the story to experience those various perks. I played as an honorable Arthur Morgan during my first round of the story and I am currently restarting the journey as a dishonorable character. Already, I can see the differences of gameplay–I feel like being dishonorable has shown me the “darker side” of the world whereas playing as an honorable character allowed me to run in to nicer strangers during my adventures. It’s awesome talking about this game with my brother and comparing / contrasting our gameplay experiences or what we’ve come across while wandering in the wilderness.

As much as I love the story and venturing around, I’ve had trouble with controls; specifically when riding a horse. Camera panning can be a mess when your horse is agitated and it’s difficult to shoot at enemies while also trying to ride to a certain destination. Additionally, mounting your horse happens to be the same button as “choke,” so I’ve had difficulty mounting my horse when townspeople are standing by my horse (I’ve gotten so many annoying bounties because I’ve accidentally choked someone instead of mounting).

Speaking of annoying bounties, one of the hardest aspects of this game is not pissing off the public. You can just accidentally bump in to someone and before you know it, have a $300 bounty to pay off simply because you’re trying to defend yourself. Depending on how small of a crime you commit, it is possible to surrender to lawmen and not pay the bounty at all, but every time I’ve tried to do that, I end up somehow drawing my gun instead to the point where surrendering is no longer an option. The bounties can make gameplay a more challenging experience, so there are times when I like it and there are times when I hate it.

When it comes to ideas that I wish were added, I’ve been thinking about how much I’d appreciate a companion option. There are optional gang missions where you can go hunting with a companion, but you never actually continue riding with them upon completion of that mission. It would give a more Fallout-esque vibe, but for those who will play the story more than once, it would be awesome to have someone other than your horse by your side. There have been times where I’d be riding back to camp, but end up getting ambushed and killed by another gang, so having back-up would be an cool addition. Moreover, having a companion could help more with character / relationship building…maybe if John could venture alongside Arthur, it would give the player more of an understanding in to their relationship.

Personally, character customization is one of my favorite features in RPG’s. I love buying outfits and changing the character’s appearance throughout the game as a way to fully immerse myself in to the world, but I felt that the character customization options lacked in RDR2. Sure, you can cut your hair and facial hair and buy different outfits, but I feel like there could have been more options than what we’re offered. Although there are many outfits you can purchase in the game, I feel like certain outfits should / shouldn’t be available to you depending on what town you’re in. Additionally, different options for shirts, pants, and boots would make a nice addition. Unfortunately, clothing options were repetitive; you can buy the same clothing items at any general store or tailor. For example, in GTA5, shopping in higher-end stores offered more expensive outfit options compared to lower-end stores. I would’ve liked this aspect to carry on in to RDR2 where you can buy more expensive / different clothes in Saint Denis and cheaper clothes when shopping in Strawberry, Valentine, or Tumbleweed.

Overall, there are far more pros than cons when it comes to RDR2, and I hope the greatness carries on when online gameplay launches. Rockstar really set the bar when it comes to open-world video games; RDR2 is probably my favorite to release this year. If you’ve been binging on this game like I have the past month, what are your likes / dislikes? Let me know in the comments below!