IGDB/Rockstar Games

Why you should still be playing ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ in 2022

One of my favourite games in recent memory is Red Dead Redemption 2 – I consumed ‘Let’s Plays’ when they first came out, entranced by the story of Arthur Morgan and his gang of cowboys. But, ironically, I didn’t have a system able to play it until this year, so I’ve been playing through the story for myself for the first time, some three odd years after its initial release. So, does it still hold up? Is it still worth playing in 2022?

Red Dead Redemption 2 is, at its heart, a game about characters.

Well, boasting the second-biggest launch in the history of entertainment, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a video game that certainly lives up to the hype. It still remains among the best-selling video games of all time, with over 43 million copies. It is an open-world experience – and a deeply rewarding one. Playing as Arthur Morgan, the player is cast into the very end of the wild west. Set in 1899, Red Dead Redemption 2 follows a floundering gang struggling to survive as they are chased across the United States by the Pinkerton detective agency. The Pinkertons are set on removing crime and ‘savagery’ from the United States, all as part of the government’s aim to create the ‘perfect’ America. The wild west does not belong in that image, and must be removed – at all costs.

 

Red Dead Redemption 2 is, at its heart, a game about characters. Its greatest strength is the very real world it presents to the player, each character is dynamic in their own way, holding a story that influences their actions – and the story. Players are able to engage with them around the camp, whether or not the player interacts, the characters still react as if they are, indeed, real. The game’s AI endeavours to make each interaction feel real. These interactions are not limited to only members of the gang, however. Random Encounters are common; while riding across the map, you might encounter a lost dog, or a rival gang. Arthur is able to speak with these randomly encountered NPCs, sometimes making small-talk, sometimes simply walking away. It is up to you whether you engage or not – often, intervening in crime increases your honour. 

The game is dark, but it gets darker quickly – what began as a group vying for survival together quickly falls apart from the inside.

The honour system enables the player to feel that their actions have consequences: the lower your honour is, the worse Arthur’s final outcome in the game. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game about choices – and the small choices that the player makes will affect the rest of their experience of the game. The way characters react to you rests on the decisions you make throughout the story, the player is an active participant in Arthur’s downfall – or the very reason that he avoids it.

 

The gameplay only succeeds in upholding Red Dead Redemption 2’s strengths, the missions vary in theme. From horseback riding to hunting, each one situates the player within the rapidly unfolding storyline – with each mission you play, the end-game becomes startlingly obvious. The game is dark, but it gets darker quickly – what began as a group vying for survival together quickly falls apart from the inside. Between hunting, and experiencing the world, the player slowly becomes aware of the inevitable end of the story.

There just hasn’t been another open world game that has captured my interest like this one

Playing Red Dead Redemption 2 is, in many cases, like interacting with a film. Though you are free to do as you wish throughout the open-world, the ending of the game is inevitable: lives are going to be lost, tragedy is going to happen, and you are powerless to do anything other than watch. It is an exercise in futility: knowing what is coming, and yet hoping for anything but. Rockstar simultaneously rewards the player with a sprawling open world to explore, and a deeply engaging and rich story. 

 

If you are a fan of story-driven games, open world games, or simply good games… Red Dead Redemption 2 is a must-play. Even in 2022, I find myself sinking into this one to spend hours hunting, without even bothering with the storyline I know so well. There just hasn’t been another open world game that has captured my interest like this one – until Bethesda’s darling Starfield comes out later this year, I’ll keep playing Red Dead!

Comments (2)

  • Brad Trembath

    You can tell the author of this article is biased. That doesn’t make fire a good read. Red dead redemption 2 is by far the most repetitive game Rockstar games have put out. I deleted this p.o.s. after the first bar fight because the controls for combat are nonexistent. They tell you how to block and grapple but not punch. They leave you to figure that out. I died 8 times before having to skip the part because of not being told how to play the game😂 and people have the nerve to call this an amazing game?!
    If you genuinely find fun in this IP, I don’t trust your opinion.

  • J Michael Delaune

    Just picked it back up again after a couple of years of blasting my brains out with cod and halo binging. It tooo me less than 2 hours to remember why is swore to never pick it up again. I don’t mind the pacing, slow as molasses is fine with me, I actually enjoy the rides through the beautiful landscape. The lack of ads and rather janky aiming system isn’t a point of contention for me either. The story is very basic cowboy old west is dying and fine with me, not amazing at all, but fine. Interactions with the townspeople is usually funny or entertaining in a decent way. Hunting is usually fun but can get difficult, and I thoroughly enjoy the tedious hunting of legendary animals. And now for the other side. The controls are nonsensical to the extreme, are we hog tying or are we knifing to death, one can never be sure. The combat in general is hilariously unrealistic, Arthur Morgan moves like molasses even though he is supposed to be a legendarily hardened Wild West gunslinger. The law is the worst part though. Gun them all down six times in a row, that’s 36 kills, and still the local town has more bodies to send into the wilderness, some how. Sure that could have been the last witness but, he sent a messenger pigeon on to his cousin just before you blew his head off, and now everyone knows who did it and where you are exactly, fantastic. It isn’t realistic where it counts. The main story line isn’t the favorite part of the game for the hundreds of reviewers I’ve read from, what a fucking fail. If it were a cowboy simulator it would be amazing, but it isn’t, it is a tedium simulator, designed to make ever action you take have so much or so little meaning that you can never keep track and never stay ahead of anyone you are going against. I wanted to love this game like no other, I thought I was finally going to get something to come close to rivaling Skyrim, but no, all I got was anxiety. Oh shit, sorry never mind, I thought I saw witness pop up, never mind we’re good. (Gets sniped out of the saddle by a Pinkerton) son of a bitch.

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