by Daniel O’Connell
Disclaimer: This review is of the Xbox One version of the game.
Back in 2010, Rockstar Games, best known for publishing game series such as Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne, published the open world Western game Red Dead Redemption. The game took place in the last days of the Old West and followed former outlaw John Marston as he hunted down former members of his gang. It was praised for its visuals, gunslinger-style combat, and nuanced story and characters, including John himself. Fans were eagerly hoping for another game in the Red Dead series. After being delayed last year, their wish has come true in the form of Red Dead Redemption 2, a prequel to the original. And it more than delivers.
Unique, interesting characters and storyline
The game takes place in 1899, during the beginning of the end of the Old West. Rather than playing as John Marston, the player takes the role of Arthur Morgan, one of the lieutenants of Dutch Van Der Linde’s gang. Said gang is currently on the run from the Pinkerton agency after a botched ferry robbery back in Blackwater. The gang moves from place to place, trying to earn money. They primarily take on other bandits, such as a rival gang lead by the outlaw Colm O’Driscoll. They also make enemies with Leviticus Cornwall, a businessman and industrialist that the gang robs from, and Andrew Milton, a Pinkerton agent that personally wants Dutch dead. As the gang moves from place to place, things go from bad to worse and they slowly began to drift apart.
Arthur Morgan is a fantastic main character to play as. In contrast to John Marston, Morgan walks the line between being an honorable rogue and a cutthroat scoundrel. This allows the player to go with either a high honor or a low honor playthrough of the game, without it feeling jarring (like it did in the first game). He is rough sounding but has some interesting insights into the world.
Speaking of John, he returns from the first game as a supporting character. The various members of the Van Der Linde gang are a real highlight of the gang. Some of the stand outs include Hosea, Dutch’s intelligent, well-spoken right-hand man, and Micah Bell, a vindictive, violent man who always holds a grudge. This is along with a personal favorite in Kieran, a former member of the O’Driscoll gang who switches sides after being captured by the Van Der Linde gang. The bits of interaction Arthur has with the gang, as well as within the gang itself, are enjoyable to watch. It honestly just makes what is to come all the more tragic.
Beautiful, detailed world
Almost everything that was present in the first Red Dead Redemption has been taken and greatly expanded on. For example, while horses were simply disposable in the first game, their use in the sequel is much more intricate and detailed. The more that Arthur uses a horse, their bond level goes up, allowing the horse to do different moves, up to and including attacking predators. Hunting was rather simple in the first game, where one could simply shoot an animal, skin it, and sell its pelt for profit. Here, hunting is much more intricate, with different kinds of prey needing different kinds of weapons. Small game such as rabbits and birds are hunted with weapons such as the varmint rifle or small game arrows, while bigger game such as deer are hunted with rifles and regular arrows. The choice of weapon and where the shot is placed results in a different quality of pelt, ranging from poor, good, and perfect. One can even track down animals and use a special lotion to hide their scent from their game. The amount of detail placed into these two activities is very impressive, showing that a lot of thought and care went into expanding upon these aspects.
Another detail expanded would be the game’s firearms. In the first one, firearms and ammunition could be simply bought and switched out at a store. Here, firearms can be customized at a store, with different kinds of finishes and engravings on the gun’s metal parts, and different varnishes and carvings on the wooden parts. Different kinds of ammunition, such as high velocity and express rounds, can be bought at the stores as well, improving on things such as range and stopping power. Different kinds of ammunition and arrows can also be crafted at a campfire. The amount of detail put into these aspects make it a much more fun game to play.
Excellent, top notch gameplay
What helps enhance the characters and the detailed world would have to be the gameplay that accompanies it. Like in the first game, there is the Dead Eye meter, which allows the player to slow down time and aim their shots. However, in addition to these, there are health and stamina meters. Similar to Bioshock, these meters are capable of being refilled or decreased by eating food, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol and various tonics. What comes with these meters are cores, which when filled, effects how fast the meters regenerate.
Another great addition to the gameplay is the combat. Morgan has access to various handguns, rifles, shotguns, and melee weapons to use in combat. Morgan is now capable of dual wielding revolvers, making the player feel like a real gunslinger. In addition, he can also carry two long arms on his person, letting the player have a lot of options when it comes to a fire fight. Morgan is also capable of using throwing knives, dynamite, and fire bottles, letting them deal more damage than with firearms. Combine this with the Dead Eye, and it leads to some fun and exciting gameplay.
Featured Image: PlayStation
Red Dead Redemption 2
‘Red Dead Redemption II’ is nothing short of excellent. Arthur Morgan and the members of the Van Der Linde gang are engaging characters to follow. The amount of detail placed into every aspect of the game is nothing short of inspiring. And the gameplay is fun and action packed, making one feel like they’re in a western movie. It marks another hit from Rockstar Games.
Daniel is a Journalism major and a History minor. Daniel’s hobbies include playing video games, watching movies, writing short stories and fan fiction, and listening to music. He hopes to use his work at Byte as a stepping stone for his journalism career.