Red Dead Redemption 2 is the Most Diverse and Detailed Open World Weve Ever Experienced

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the Most Diverse and Detailed Open World We've Ever Experienced

Richard Walker

I confess. I shot the defenceless blind man (not the sheriff). It was an accident, the result of an itchy trigger finger and the cause of an indelible blot on Arthur Morgan's honour. This was how I took my first tentative steps into Red Dead Redemption 2's wild west, murdering an innocent civilian in cold blood, before stashing his lifeless body in a nearby thicket. Not the most ceremonious of beginnings, but then, the world of Morgan and his fellow outlaws is a morally murky one, and wanton murder is all part of the deal. Just maybe don't kill the poor old blind guy.

Red Dead Redemption 2's world is evidently a very rich, deep one, the situation previously mentioned one that could have unfolded in multiple different ways. I could have dropped a dollar in his cup and kept on walking, simply greeted him, antagonised him, drew my gun and threatened him; and every single one of the game's inhabitants can be interacted with in the same way. It's not all about administering bullets to solve every problem; you can defuse a situation with a few choice words and avoid bloodshed altogether, if you're so inclined.

This all ties in to Morgan's honour, which like the first game dictates your standing within Red Dead 2's mixed up world, and ingeniously, also determines the style of your slow-motion killcams. Dynamically peppered into gunplay, stylish kills are rewarded with a cinematic execution that will revel in the gruesome details if your honour veers towards the bad, while killcams will be more colourful and heroic if your honour scale tips more to the side of good.

This is just one of many instances in which Rockstar injects some cinematic flair into Red Dead 2, certain cut-scenes changing the aspect ratio to letterbox widescreen, leaving you in control as the passage of time quickly rolls by. It's a neat narrative device that helps convey a long journey in a relatively brief period, and one that feels right at home within the context of a game in thrall to the finest traditions of the movie western. The devil is in the details where Red Dead Redemption 2 is concerned, and as such it feels like so much more than a sequel, fleshing out every aspect of what made the previous game an instant classic.

It's little things, like Morgan meticulously skinning a deer, rolling up the pelt before stowing it on his horse, the starry sky at night, watching folks go about their business living out their routines, or Woody Jackson's beautiful, elegiac score. Then there are the more noticeable, significant facets to Red Dead's cowboy fantasy, like hand-to-hand combat that features real-time bruising and injuries as you scuffle and grapple, or the welcome return of Deadeye that can be used to fire off lethal shots with pinpoint accuracy.

Every bullet feels impactful too, Morgan able to blast off limbs and heads, the proof in the pudding coming when I managed to blast one hapless bandit's head into a grisly pulp. Anyone you murder in cold blood can be looted for ammunition and resources, or valuables like treasure maps and weapon parts to upgrade your arsenal. Every part of your pistols or rifles can be customised right down to the finest detail too, from the barrel length, the type of metal the cylinder and hammer are made out of, to decorative engravings or the wood of the handle which can also be adorned with an ornate carving.

You'll grow attached to your weaponry, maintenance part and parcel of ensuring they continue to work at optimum efficiency, which is similarly true of your horse. Grooming your steed, feeding it and taking care of it increases your bond, bringing with it benefits like being able to beckon it with a whistle from greater distance, or have it remain calm during a gunfight. When you're hunting, a more reliable horse is less prone to being spooked by animals, so you're not thrown to the ground or forced to bring it under control. Develop the bond enough, and you can even perform a bit of dressage. Seriously. If your horse should die, however, it won't come back. You'll have to find another one, and reestablish a bond from scratch all over again.

Hands-on, Red Dead Redemption 2 handles more fluidly than its predecessor, the 'multi-wheel' enabling you to quickly access weapons and items on your person, while your horse serves as your inventory, hauling animal pelts, rifles and anything else that Arthur is unable to carry. Gunplay, meanwhile, is meaty and gratifying, Morgan able to unleash hell by fanning the hammer of his pistol or bagging headshots with a lever-action rifle. Stealth is a more viable option too, with throwing knives and the ability to carry out coordinated attacks with your fellow gang members. For instance, you're able to send John Marston (who sounds just like he did in the previous game) forward to take down an unaware enemy or conduct a two-pronged assault by commanding Bill Williamson to help out.

Shooting feels great, but can be adversely affected by failing to keep an eye on Arthur's health, stamina and Deadeye 'cores', three elements essential to survival and keeping your aim steady or ensuring you don't drown when you swim. Yes, you can swim! Your horse has its own health and stamina cores to look after too, and like Arthur's, they're replenished by eating, consuming tonics and getting some rest. And in the ongoing blood feud between the Van der Linde gang with which you're aligned, and the unscrupulous O'Driscoll gang, you'll need to keep Arthur's wits sharp.

All of this is but the tip of a colossal iceberg. There's so much more to talk about, be it the ability to play the entire game through in first-person mode like GTA V, albeit with the added bonus of mixing and matching viewpoints. You can conceivably play the entire in first-person but have the camera seamlessly switch to third-person when in cover, for instance. Managing and upgrading your camp, keeping the rest of the gang happy is another facet that can be entirely ignored if you like, but immersing yourself in its everyday management, bringing back provisions, medical supplies and ammo will help to raise morale. Pearson, the camp cook, might even rustle you up a delicious hot meal, if you bring back some nice ingredients.

Your beard will also grow over time, and can be shaved into whatever style you like, or you can just slick back Arthur's hair with some pomade. Clothing comes in individual pieces too, so you can mix and match whatever shirts, trousers, hats, jackets and boots you like, right down to whether or not you want spurs. Visit the local sheriff and you can take on bounties (lassoing and hog-tying them to bring them in alive), venture out solo as a lone rider like Marston, and you can accomplish tasks for strangers, and train heists aren't restricted to story missions either. There's a broad diversity of locations and environments to explore, from snow-capped mountain peaks to arid plains and areas of industry run by wealthy magnate Leviticus Cornwall. Oh, and there are tense pistol duels to partake in, obviously.

There's so much more to talk about, that we haven't even touched on the story itself, beginning in the wake of a robbery in Blackwater going horribly awry. The Van der Linde gang are outlaws on the run on a downward turn, Dutch's grip on his band slowly slipping away. Pinkerton agents and bounty hunters nip at their heels, leading the gang into increasingly desperate situations, be it fighting, stealing or killing whoever they have to in order to survive across hostile wild west America in 1899. It's a great set-up, and sure to be every bit the dramatic, engaging yarn that John Marston's tale was.

In just a few, all too brief hours with the game, it's more than evident that Red Dead Redemption 2 really is Rockstar's most ambitious open-world effort to date, embracing everything that made the previous game so memorable, while expanding the entire experience in genuinely meaningful and interesting ways. And still, it barely feels like we've even scratched the surface.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is out for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on 26th October 2018.

  • Just booked the 26/27th off work I cannot wait for this game
  • the next few weeks are going to feel like an eternity.
  • Ha #1 done the same booked 26th/29th off work for a long weekend.
  • Looking forward to this. Between this and AC: Odyssey imma lose my whole October.
  • because its rockstar this will get a 100 review mark my words.
  • @5 never mind that the majority of Rockstar games reviewed on this site scored less than 100...
  • @6 GTA V 100 when its not even close. GTA IV 98 again when its not even close. alot consider it to be the worst in the series. Red Dead Redemption 89 when in reality that game really isn't that good outside the story with there being nothing meaningful to do other that the main campaign.
  • @7 Subjectivity and all that. The reviewer scored it what they felt was approrpiate at the time. That's it. Game looks legit like a watershed moment in open world game design. Something well needed.
  • Reviews are always subjective. You say GTA V is not even close to a 100 whereas I would say yes it is (maybe not 100) plus for me personally RDR was much higher than an 89 and closer to 100 but that's me, I love the Wild West genre and got so much out of this game at the time. I agree with you on GTA IV, although I enjoyed it, it probably was the worst of the series.
  • I am so excited for this game. I've been dying to jump back into it. My only hope is that you can skip the skinning scenes. With the amount of hunting I did in RDR, it would be nice to skip and keep on going.
  • @8 in terms of open world design it aint gonna come close to witcher 3 and lets be honest cyberpunk is gonna shit all over anything when that comes out in terms of open world design and immersion.
  • "A game coming out in the future is going to be great so why even bother playing this" says the guy who doesn't understand how review scores differ from his personal opinions. I'll definitely be taking that advice.
  • "Morgan able to blast off limbs and heads" hehe sounds good i can already see Sly Shooter's kill compilation coming =D
  • @Night Shadow. Enjoy playing The Witcher until Cyberpunk comes out.
  • What if... just hear me out... you played games that looked fun and interesting and didn't pay attention to what score someone else attached to it? Crazy, I know, but you should give it a try Mr. Shadow.
  • Easy achievements and 100 review scores or GTFO
  • @14 i will since it shits on anything rockstar have done :)
  • I'm looking forward to it, but as is with many here, my backlog will delay when I get this game. I mostly liked RDR thought the controls weren't always the best and the world often felt too large and pushed my horse to gallop faster. The story was great except maybe the ending, but overall with the $10 I spent for the game.
  • I cannot wait to find all the smaller details in this game. I remember the first one, when you were wandering around and saw some people sitting at a campfire. You could join them and listen in on their stories. It's the small things like this that I cannot wait for!!
  • It's gonna be great. But the troll's right though, Cyberpunk 2077 is going to blow this and everything else out of the water.
  • @11 geez you seem like a really annoying and dumb person to talk to lol. anyway this game looks fire as hell and i’m getting it DAY ONE BABY
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