Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to 2011’s Red Dead Redemption. It stars Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and a part of the Van der Linde gang. It tells the tale of the various characters present in the gang and how they aim to survive in the wild west.
Combat feels extremely similar to Rockstar’s previous games. It has the familiar lock on system with head shots killing enemies with one hit. The shooting sequences are both fun and intense, as you are often surrounded by enemies. When coupled with the soundtrack which kicks in during combat, it often leads to many memorable shooting encounters. Players can use dead eye, which slows down time and allows you to target multiple groups of enemies or specific body parts of your foe.
The main camp of the gang acts as your base. Here you can pass time, play mini-games, interact with fellow gang members, initiate quests and much more. You can choose to provide funds, provisions, ammo, medicine and other useful items to help the camp grow. You can also upgrade the facilities that unlock other useful gameplay features and craft satchels or decorative items. There is an honour system that is determined by your actions in the world. Perform wrongful deeds and you will soon find a bounty on your head.
I found the game to be forgiving enough if you did not want to indulge in the many sub-systems. There is an in-depth methodology to hunting, which is great for anyone who wants to experience it, but you are free to engage in whatever piece of content you prefer. It is very much the opposite of modern open world games, which enforces side content by level gating the main story. The open world is there to facilitate the journey you undertake in Red Dead Redemption 2, instead of being a playground as is the case in most other games.
The game is indeed beautiful to look at, but the staggering attention to detail is even more impressive. The voice acting, nuances in character interaction, how even the smallest actions have a full animation to accompany them; the presentation is best in class. The world is filled with a wide variety of locations, but it’s the memorable cast of characters that make it worth it journey.
My biggest issue with Red Dead Redemption 2 is that Arthur feels un-responsive and slow, and you never feel in complete control of his movement. Going in and out of cover, something has been refined and perfected in the last decade, is far too clunky. Some of the button prompts either don’t make sense, or clash with one another. As an example, L2 is the button used to initiate conversations, but it is also the standard button used to aim your gun and can lead to some awkward situations.
RDR 2 has fast travel, but it is extremely limited and you need to upgrade your camp to unlock it. Otherwise, you have to keep going to and from your camp in order to complete missions which quickly becomes tiring. In addition, interacting with the world feels clumsy due to the realistic approach to animations, instead of being smooth and snappy. These issues, when combined, often result in frustrations that are not present in other games.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a gorgeous, vast and ambitious open world game that aims to buck the trends associated with the genre. At times, it goes too far with that idea, resulting in an often frustrating control scheme and missing QOL features. But the benefits of the immersion, depth and the sheer number of systems present in the game cannot be understated. Even if it fumbles along the way, especially if you are used to modern open world games; Red Dead Redemption 2 needs to be experienced as it may change what you expect or want from this genre going forward.