Red Dead Redemption 1 on PS4/Switch – Everything You Need to Know

Rockstar's Wild West epic is coming to modern platforms- here's what newcomers should know about it.

Posted By | On 16th, Aug. 2023

Red Dead Redemption 1 on PS4/Switch – Everything You Need to Know

Obviously, we all would have preferred if Rockstar had remade, or at least remastered, Red Dead Redemption for modern consoles, but though the 2010 Wild West open world epic is getting a re-release in the most monkey’s paw way possible, it is getting one. From its price to its lack of upgrades over the original release, there’s plenty of reasons not to buy the upcoming port, but then again, for someone who may have never played the original game before, it’s also a chance to get it on a PlayStation or a Switch and see what all the fuss is about. For all you newcomers out there who’re looking to experience Red Dead Redemption for the first time, here are a few key things you should know about it. 


Red Dead Redemption is, of course, a Wild West story, though it differs from other stories in that genre a little bit by being set towards the end of that era. Set in 1911, the American Frontier in Red Dead Redemption is on its last legs and is being replaced by modern civilization, governed by structure and strictly enforced laws. For protagonist John Marston, who used to be an outlaw himself, that presents more than a few problems.


Red Dead Redemption focuses squarely on John in the aftermath of his escape from a life as an outlaw. After falling out with his former gang, he lives with his wife Abigail and their son Jack, though the Marston family is kidnapped by the federal agents, who tell John that if he wants them back, he’s going to have to hunt down fellow members of his former gang. Of course, for those who’ve played Red Dead Redemption 2, many of them will be familiar…


Red Dead Redemption - PS4_07

Red Dead Redemption 2 was, of course, a prequel, and set up much of its predecessor’s events, showing the final months of John’s time with the gang through the perspective of Arthur Morgan. Red Dead 2 builds up to John’s falling out with Dutch van der Linde, the leader of the old gang, who serves as the primary antagonist in Red Dead 1. Red Dead 1 picks up roughly four years after the events of Red Dead 2’s epilogue, which itself is set about eight years after the main story.


Though Red Dead Redemption 2 protagonist Arthur Morgan himself obviously doesn’t show up in Red Dead 1 (for obvious reasons), there’s still plenty of characters beyond John himself who show up in both games. There’s Abigal and Jack, whom we mentioned earlier, and Edgar Ross, the federal agent who holds them captive. Uncle, a fellow former gang member, lives with John and his family, while other fellow gang members in Bill Williamson and Javier Escuela also have important roles to play. And then, of course, there’s Dutch van der Linde himself, the leader of the gang and the big bad in Red Dead 1 (and, to a great degree, in Red Dead 2 as well).


Red Dead Redemption - PS4

Red Dead Redemption came out at a time where games didn’t feel the need to be large just for the sake of being large, something that open world games in particular are weighed down by all too often in today’s day and age. Though it is, of course, a suitably large open world, the main story itself is briskly paced and quite focused, which means it can be completed in about 20 hours. Of course, if you decide to take your time with the game and fully explore and immerse yourselves in its world – which is the best way to play this game – it can take you anywhere between 30 to 50 hours, if not even more.


The Rockstar of 2023 might be a company that seems almost allergic to the very idea of single player DLC, but back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the exact opposite was true. In fact, one of the best pieces of DLC we’ve ever seen for a game was Undead Nightmare for Red Dead Redemption, which, of course, is included with its upcoming PS4 and Switch release. Undead Nightmare adds an entire new non-canonical single player campaign that’s set in an alternate timeline where, after being done with his mission for the feds, John is back living on the ranch with his family, only for them to be ambushed by a plague of zombies that’s sweeping over the frontier.


Red Dead Redemption - Nintendo Switch_03

Undead Nightmare isn’t nearly as long as the base game, obviously, though it’s still quite a meaty experience. If you’re just going through the main story, you can finish it in about 8-9 hours. However, depending on how much you engage with the side content, Undead Nightmare can provide over a dozen hours of gameplay.


Red Dead Redemption had a meaty multiplayer component (if not as meaty as Red Dead Online), while Undead Nightmare too came with its own suite of multiplayer offerings. The upcoming PS4 and Switch re-release, however, is going to be focused exclusively on the base game and expansion’s single player offerings, which means those looking to hop back into the multiplayer will have to do it in the original game itself.


Red Dead Redemption - PS4_03

Red Dead Redemption’s open word is still one of the best we’ve ever seen in games, and though it obviously doesn’t have the obsessive attention to detail and sheer emergent complexity that Red Dead 2 boasts, there’s no shortage of things to do across its vast map. On top of a healthy smattering of excellent side quests in its Stranger missions, it also lets players engage in a variety of side activities, such as dueling, hunting, bounty hunting, collecting herbs, and more. And of course, those who want to go on wanton rampages of crime and violence can always go ahead and do that and try and avoid the law as long as they can- this is a Rockstar game, after all. Speaking of which…


The Bounty system is Red Dead Redemption’s take on Grand Theft Auto’s Wanted system. Any time you commit a crime, if there are witnesses present, they’ll run to the nearest sheriff’s office, and if they can make it before you can bribe or kill them, the law will put a bounty on your head. The more crimes you commit after that, the higher that bounty will go, and the higher the bounty goes, the more aggressive the law will become in its attempts to track you down. Make your bounty go high enough, and the army will eventually get involved.


Red Dead Redemption - Nintendo Switch_08

Back in 2010, when Red Dead Redemption first came out, many were operating under the assumption that it would essentially just be a Wild West take on GTA, but that’s only true in a very superficial sense. In terms of pacing and how its world is designed, Red Dead is entirely different, and a lot of your experience will be spent riding on horseback through vast stretches of wild, untamed lands. Riding on horseback, taking in the scenery, and making ample use of your camps is a crucial part of the experience in Red Dead Redemption, so keep that in mind if you’re jumping in for the first time.


Though not a masterclass in morality mechanics, Red Dead Redemption does offer some control over what kind of an outlaw you want to be. The Honor system serves as the framework for that, with moral actions – like bringing in bounties or helping civilians – increasing your Honor rating, and criminal actions – like killing or stealing – lowering it (though you can prevent that by wearing a bandana and ensuring no one can recognize you). The Fame system, meanwhile, determines how NPCs will react to you based on what your Honor rating is. For instance, if you have high Honor, you might receive discounts at some stores, while on the flipside, if your Honor rating is low, some shops might flat-out refuse to sell to you.


Red Dead Redemption - PS4_05

Combat in Red Dead Redemption is a very stick affair- literally. The game makes liberal use of aim assist, rigidly snapping your reticle onto targets when you’re aiming. If you want even greater precision, however, you can use Dead Eye, which not only slows down time to a crawl and lets you aim freely, but also lets you mark multiple targets and then take them all out in a quick burst of gunfire.


Red Dead Redemption’s upcoming port is making little to no changes or additions, though Rockstar has confirmed that it will, at the very least, feature support for several languages that the original release didn’t. Namely, those are Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Latin American Spanish.


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This is probably one of the biggest sticking points most people have with Red Dead Redemption’s upcoming re-release. Launching nearly a decade and a half on from the launch of the original game, you’d think that the upcoming port would be reasonably priced, especially given the fact that it makes next to no enhancements. At a price of $50, however, it’s decidedly not reasonable, especially when you consider that you can buy both Red Dead and Undead Nightmare for a combined $40 on Xbox consoles, and get access to multiplayer and system-level 4K upscaling, which isn’t true for the upcoming port.

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