I wanted to say “Hi, mister!” but accidentally ended up choking half of Valentine to death.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is an ambitious masterpiece, but as the months following its release have shown us, it’s also somewhat divisive. Here at GamingBolt, we’re huge fans of Rockstar’s open world magnum opus, but there are many who have brought up multiple issues with the game, many of which are more than valid. In this feature, we’ll be taking a look at ten issues with Red Dead Redemption 2 that have been brought up quite frequently by those who’ve played it.
Before we begin, we feel compelled to tell you that this isn’t a list that’s about “hating on” the game, or about debunking the belief that it’s an excellent experience. Take a look at any one of the gazillion features and videos we’ve written about it in the past few months, and you’ll probably notice that we’re big fans of Red Dead Redemption 2. Hell, it was our Game of the Year. In the interest of a balanced discussion, however, here are ten things that fans and players dislike about Rockstar’s latest crime epic.
The one criticism for Red Dead Redemption 2 that has been brought up more than anything else is its controls. And the issue with the controls isn’t that they are bad- but that they can be confusing at times, mostly because there’s just so many actions you can take in the game at any given time. The radial wheel for weapons, food, and tonics, the inventory menu, managing your horse, the contextual commands for dialog choices. Depending on your own experience you may or may not have had issues with this, but given how many times commands for different actions can overlap and intersect, it makes sense that a lot of players have had issues in this area.
ARTHUR IS A TORTOISE
We all love Arthur Morgan. He’s one of the best, most well developed characters we’ve ever seen in a video game. But holy moly does he move like a tank. A lot of that comes down to input lag, which Red Dead Redemption 2 employs almost like a design choice, while areas such as the gang’s camps are also areas where the game consciously makes you slow down. But Arthur, in a lot of situations, walks way too slow- there’s an argument to be made that that fits with the game’s overall deliberate pacing, but for those who’re looking for a zippy, fast-moving open world experience in line with something like, say, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Red Dead Redemption 2 is not it.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that relies a great deal on combat, with a lot of its encounters and scenarios being intense shooting galleries, and surely, mechanics such as the incredible vastly improved Dead Eye make many of those encounters immensely memorable. But there are noticeable issues that are also present in its combat mechanics, the most prominent of which are its cover mechanics. Cover in Red Dead Redemption 2 seems like a cross between the sticky cover mechanics from a decade ago and the more organic cover mechanics of modern third person shooters, but as a result it ends up feeling a little sticky and finicky at times. The fact that the lock-on aiming can also be a bit too sticky at times can also be a bit detrimental to combat scenarios.
STRICTLY LINEAR MISSION DESIGN
The vast, open ended nature of its open world is perhaps one of this game’s biggest strengths, with the player being set lose in a massive, incredibly realized map with endless possibilities. The mission design of the game, however, feels at odds with that- that’s not to say that the mission are bad, of course. Some of the most memorable and thrilling moments from the entire game are ones that arise in the middle of scripted set-piece missions. But their design is overly linear times, with there being a very specific thing that you have to do accomplish the objective, and deviating even slightly from that leading to immediate failstates. There are occasions when the game does give you choices with how to proceed, but by and large, Red Dead Redemption 2 expects you to follow a very strictly prescribed path during its missions, which, given its many interlinked systems in place, can be a bit disappointing at times.
OVERSENSITIVE WANTED SYSTEM
Playing the role of a wanted outlaw on the run, you’d obviously expect Red Dead Redemption 2 to be a game that has you being on the wrong side of the law a great many times. But it feels the game can be almost too harsh with its penalties at times. Even in instances when, for instance, you’re defending yourself against overly aggressive NPCs, the law of whatever area you’re in seems all too happy to start a witch hunt in your name. Stealing a single apple from a store can result in lawmen letting loose upon you with a barrage of gunfire, and while that does undoubtedly make sense in the context of you, as a wanted outlaw, having to lay low when there’s lawmen about, it can also lead to frustrating moments of agony when the wanted system reacts harshly even to mistakes that you may not have had any control over.
PAYING OFF BOUNTIES IS TOO EASY
Following on from our previous point, when you do find yourself in hot water with a high wanted level or with large sums of bounties on your head, Red Dead Redemption 2 can also be a little inconsistent with how it chooses to handle such situations. Walking into Saint Denis, whose streets are crawling with cops and lawmen, can be a fatal task in such situations, but then again, paying off bounties feels almost like a cheat, where all you have to do is find a remote railway station and pay a sum to clear your name of all wrongdoings. The fact that coming by vast amounts of money is almost never too hard in Red Dead Redemption 2 also means that you’re never too concerned with paying off large bounties either. It just feels, at times, because of such issues, that there’s a lack of real consequences for grave and heavy actions in the open world. After all, saying “Hi there, mister!” to random strangers a few dozen times is, for some reason, also a perfectly viable method for getting your Honor meter back up to respectable levels.
NOT ENOUGH FAST TRAVEL POINTS
The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is absolutely massive, and it’s a joy to not only explore in this world, but to simply exist in it. Like an open world game, however, there’s a lot of going from point A to point B in Red Dead 2, and more often than that that results in a lot of horse riding. There are fast travel options through railway stations, but it feels like there just isn’t enough of them, especially given how expansive the game’s world is. Once again, it feels like this is in line with the game’s deliberately slower pacing, and its insistence on wanting to thoroughly ground the players in its world, but for the kinds of players who want, more than anything else, to just quickly move from one story beat to another, all that downtown can feel a bit boring- to put it bluntly.
UPHOLDING THE TRADITION OF HAVING A TERRIBLE SWIMMER AS THE PROTAGONIST
John Marston was a terrible swimmer, in that he was no swimmer at all. Red Dead Redemption 2 itself pokes fun at John on multiple occasions for this shortcoming, and thought Arthur is more durable in aquatic environments than John was (which isn’t a high bar to begin with), he’s also not at his best when he’s trying to swim- to say the least. His stamina and heath deplete rapidly when he finds himself in deep water, while his swimming speed is quite slow too (which makes sense, actually). The long and short of it is- Arthur might be a better swimmer than John, in that he can at least swim, but still, it’s best that you stay as far away from water that is more than waist-deep as possible.
CHANGING YOUR LOADOUT
Your horse is your best friend and most trusted companion in Red Dead Redemption 2, and no matter where you’re going and what you’re doing, he or she is always right there with you. What this also means, however, that as soon as Arthur gets into his saddle, he proceeds to put all his guns away. Which means that as soon as you get off again, you have to set your loadout again. If you make the mistake of forgetting to do so and then going into a gunfight or into a mission, you’re pretty much stuck with the most basic loadout possible (unless you pick up weapons dropped by dead enemies, of course). Having to select your loadout every single time can, as such, feel like too much busywork at times, and can be a tad annoying.
LACK OF EMPHASIS ON DUELING
Red Dead as a series is a celebration of the classic western genre, and captures everything that is great about it almost perfectly. One thing that is associated with the genre more often than most others is one on one duels, as two gunslingers stare each other down in the lead up to a competition of being the fastest draw, before gunning down their opponent in a blaze of furious gunshots. Both Red Dead Revolver and the first Red Dead Redemption banked on one on one classic duels quite a bit, but this is something that is much less prominent in Red Dead Redemption 2. There are still plenty of optional activities, side quests, and even moments during main missions that put you into dueling situations, but we’d have liked to see just a little bit more of such situations in the game.