When it comes to open-world games, there can be no question that Rockstar Games is at the top of the pile. Over the last two decades, the developer has punched out sprawling adventures in both its Grand Theft Auto series and with the likes of the first Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire.
While other developers have used the open-world template that was established way back when in 2001 with Grand Theft Auto III with varying successes, Rockstar consistently supplies players with games that practically glow with quality. The reason for this is that the developer consistently pushes the borders of the medium, innovating with every release.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is no different in this regard. The sequel (or in terms of its story, the prequel) to Rockstar’s 2010 smash hit is filled to the rafters with content, story, side missions, mini quests and activities for players to get stuck into. The game’s map is the biggest the developers has ever created and as players explore every inch of it, their adventures will take them from snow-slogged hills to open plains, to rain-slick towns to towering forests. It’s a world one can easily become lost in.
The game’s story centres on the outlaw Arthur Morgan, the gruff-voiced, weather-beaten second-in-command of an outfit called the Van der Linde gang. The gang’s leader, Dutch, is something of a father figure to Arthur – the latter has been in Dutch’s company since he was a boy – but his recent erratic behavior is starting to give Arthur pause for thought.
The story begins with the gang on the run and penniless after a botched robbery in a town called Blackwater. In order to stay one step ahead of the law, Dutch proposes to rob a train of bearer bonds. This, however, puts the gang in the crosshairs of a wealthy railroad magnate, who sends hired killers to hunt the gang down. As the net closes in on them, Dutch – under the influence of a malevolent new recruit called Micah – starts taking more and more chances and the gang’s luck starts to run out.
To say anything further would be wandering into spoiler territory and really, the less players know about the plot going in, the better. Just be forewarned, Rockstar is as ruthless with its characters as the showrunners on Game Of Thrones, so players can expect a lot of drama and plot twists packed in with some of the best action they can currently find on a console (PC elite players will have to wait a while before getting to play RDR2).
The smorgasbord of activities players have is mind-boggling. If they fancy robbing a train, they have the option to do so. They can venture into the wild to hunt and skin animals and then sell their pelts in the nearest town. There are countless random encounters to experience and how the player navigates them contributes to Arthur’s fame or notoriety. The level of realism in the game is staggering; not only is the environment intricately detailed, but Rockstar has added touches that put a premium on immersing the player into the role of Arthur, such as his need to care and groom his horse or the ability to threaten NPCs with a cocked pistol without needing to fire a shot.
There is really too much to go into in the paltry space provided on this page. It feels suffice to say that Red Dead Redemption 2 crosses into ‘essential’ territory with ease. This is one of the best games released all year and one of the best games of this generation. Where Rockstar goes from here is anyone’s guess but the developer will have its work cut out for it if it hopes to top this game.
- Red Dead Redemption 2 was reviewed on a PS4. A retail code was provided by the publisher.