Venture forth into the Wild West once again.
One of the biggest releases of the year (if not the biggest), Red Dead Redemption 2 is – finally – almost here. Rockstar shook the world with 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, one of the finest games of the previous generation, and fans are understandably ridiculously hyped for the upcoming sequel. As we gear up for the launch of the open world wild west experience, let’s talk about some of its biggest, most notable pieces of information in this feature.
Red Dead Redemption 2 may have that “2” in its name, but it actually serves as a prequel to the original Red Dead Redemption, taking place in 1899, twelve years before the beginning of its predecessor. The game begins as the van der Linde gang attempts a seemingly routine robbery in the town of Blackwater, but when robbery goes wrong, the outlaws are forced to flee from the law, as law enforcement and bounty hunters chase them across the American Frontier.
THE VAN DER LINDE GANG
Red Dead Redemption 2 will see Dutch’s gang at the “peak of their notoriety” according to Rockstar, but also at that pivotal moment in time when everything starts falling apart from them. Being constantly on the run, things will obviously not go smoothly for them the entire time, and the game will see internal strife and other major factors ripping the fabric of the infamous gang of outlaws apart.
While we played as the memorable and beloved John Marston in Red Dead Redemption, in Red Dead Redemption 2, we’ll be playing as a different character- Arthur Morgan is also part of the van der Linde gang. He is, in fact, one of Dutch van der Linde’s top enforcers, and seems to have a pretty big role in helping his fellow gang members stay alive and healthy. It’s interesting that in spite of having such a major presence in the gang, Arthur Morgan’s name wasn’t ever brought up in the original Red Dead Redemption- so we’re curious to see how his story plays out.
But of course, just because we’re only playing as Arthur Morgan doesn’t mean we won’t get to see John Marston at all. Given the fact that the game focuses so heavily on the van der Linde gang, it makes sense that Marston, who was one of Dutch’s top guys as well, will be part of the story as well. Rockstar have confirmed that John Marston will indeed be appearing in the game as an NPC- we’ve even seen glimpses of him here and there in trailers, fact. How big of a role he will have is a question that all Red Dead fans have been asking fervently, of course, as we can’t wait to find out the answer to that question.
But of course, John Marston won’t be the only returning character in Red Dead Redemption 2, which makes sense, given that it’s a prequel. Several other characters from the first game will appear in the sequel as well. Uncle, Abigail, and Jack have all been confirmed to be in the game by Rockstar, while the more obvious inclusions, such as, of course, Dutch van der Linde, and the likes of Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella, will also play a part.
It won’t just be the old guard that forms the game’s cast of characters though. Red Dead Redemption 2 will feature several new characters that will play a major role in the story. Other than, of course, Arthur Morgan himself, Rockstar have confirmed the likes of Hosea Mathews, Dutch’s closest friend and right hand man, and a “master con artist” and gentleman thief; the gun toting Sadie Adler, a relentless widow looking to avenge her dead husband; Reverend Swanson, an “ex clergyman now lost to debauchery”; and many, many more. The van der Linde gang definitely promises to be a colourful and interesting group of people.
On the gameplay front, the feature that Rockstar have been hyping up the most in the build up to Red Dead Redemption 2’s launch is its dynamic NPC interactions. While Arthur Morgan is very much his own character, players can make choices in how they interact with NPCs to decide how honourable he is (or isn’t)- for instance, he can negotiate with law enforcement to get out of trouble, he can assault people, he can talk his way out of situations, he can choose whether or not to intervene in situations, and all of these are decisions that will determine how, in turn, NPCs treat him too.
Horse loyalty – yes, that’s a thing – is going to be a pretty huge deal in Red Dead Redemption 2, and the bond between player and horse is something you’re going to have to pay attention to in the game. Players will be able to build up their bond with horses by spending more time with it or by treating it right, which in turn will allow you to control the horse better and for it to be more responsive to your commands in all sorts of situations. The horse will also be very important for storage, carrying everything from the carcasses of animals you’ve hunted to additional weapons, so if you ever fall in need of stuff you may not have on your person, you might want to remember where you left your horse.
The van der Linde gang will put down its roots in the form of a camp, and as Arthur Morgan, players will return to the camp often for several reasons. Here, players will be able to build their relationships (or deteriorate, as the case may be) with other members of Dutch’s gangs, while this will also be a place where players can return to get new missions or engage in other side activities. Of course, given the fact that the van der Linde gang is going to be on the run for the entirety of the story, the camp will also be changing its location regularly.
Maintaining the camp and making sure it’s well stocked with supplies and provisions will be a major part of the gameplay loop in Red Dead Redemption 2. Different activities and responsibilities will fall to different characters and NPCs in the gang, but Arthur can also choose whether or not he wants to contribute. If he does contribute, it will lead to rewards, as well as improved relationships with other members of the gang. So kinda like the loyalty missions in Mass Effect 2… but not exactly.
Of course, one of the provisions that the camp will always be in need of will be food, which is where hunting will come into play. Hunting isn’t something that’s new to Red Dead by any means, but in Red Dead Redemption 2, it seems like much more of an important activity. What’s also interesting is that carcasses you gather after hunts will decay over time, and may not be edible if you let them decay too much, so you’ll want to get them back to the camp as quickly as possible.
Of course, any hunting you do won’t just be restricted to feeding people back at the camp- it will all also contribute to the game’s economy (if you wish, at least). Any animal pelts, for instance, that you get from hunting activities, can all be traded in the various vendors you will come across in the world, from saloons, to gunsmiths, to shops, and other establishments, to upgrade your own equipment.
One other thing that Rockstar have put a lot of focus on while hyping up Red Dead Redemption 2 has been its side quests and the nature of these activities. Rockstar’s games, especially Grand Theft Auto, have been known for having some not-too-great side activities over the years, but with Red Dead 2, they’re looking to improve on that front heavily, by having side stories that interact with the main story. This is something open world titles have been attempting with more frequency lately, and not as many have been as successful at it as we’d like- if anybody can knock it out of the park, though, it has to be Rockstar.
One of Red Dead Redemption’s biggest strengths was its setting, one that is inherently fascinating and interesting to so many people, but also one that provided visions of stellar beauty and sweeping scope. Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to have all of that, but it’s going to go even deeper by having a deeper and more interactive world. From what we’ve seen so far, it looks like it’ll have several systems and mechanics working together in cohesion, from its weather, to its NPCs, to its wildlife, and a lot more, to deliver a very cohesive and immersive setting.
While we don’t know the exact numbers with respect to how large Red Dead Redemption 2’s map is going to be, we can probably guess that it’s going to be pretty damn huge- it’s a Rockstar game, after all. What’s interesting, though, is that Rockstar have stated that it’s perhaps the largest world they’ve ever built- again, this isn’t with respect to numbers, as much as it pertains to the fact that, unlike GTA, your modes of transportation will be much more slower paced, which means the world is obviously automatically going to feel a lot bigger at any rate.