Red Dead Redemption II Gameplay First Impressions
Almost two years after it’s announcement, Rockstar Games finally blessed us with some actual Red Dead Redemption II gameplay footage. Suffice to say, it was worth the wait (and delays). With RDR2, Rockstar says they set out to not just make another massive, beautiful looking world, but a living world with much more depth and player reactivity than any they have created previously.
The biggest example of this is the character interaction system. Players controlling protagonist Arthur Morgan can seemingly go up to any NPC in the world and interact with them at the press of a button, either by greeting them with small talk, antagonizing them with an aggressive comment, or of course, pointing a gun at them. We are shown a few examples of this in the trailer, and the button indicators change dynamically depending on the situation. In one instance, Arthur calls out to a passing rider and compliments his horse. In another, Arthur tries to defuse a sticky situation he got into with the local sheriff. In yet another instance where the player has a wanted level (a similar witness/justice system to the one in RDR1 has returned) the player can choose to intimade the witness into silence by either pointing/shooting his gun, or beating the witness. The button indicators change again when Arthur comes across a robber on the side of the road, Arthur could choose to rob the criminal himself, but instead chooses to let him be. This system should give players a variety of choices in every situation, and allows for much deeper role playing. Many of these interactions also seem to lead into Stranger missions (hopefully they’re as good as the very memorable ones in RDR1). Rockstar also says that these choices will have consequences, and it’s up to the player to decide just how honorable Arthur is. What remains to be seen is how much of an impact these choices will have on the player’s story and the world. There was a morality meter in RDR1, but it had no real effect on the story or the world. If Rockstar is following the cues of The Witcher 3’s heavy choice and consequence, players will be in for a real treat. At the very least, it is nice to actually be able to interact with npc’s in the world in ways besides just murdering them like in RDR1 or GTA V.
A screenshot showcasing the new npc interaction system (bottom right)
RDR2 also is placing a heavy emphasis on the interaction between the player and the other gang members in your traveling camp. It seems all the members of the Van der Linde gang will be fully fleshed out, and Arthur can get to know each one (including John Marston) personally, unlocking secret missions and side activities such as card playing and drinking. One of the most exciting moments of the trailer for me was seeing the return of the Poker minigame. The first RDR basically taught me how to play Texas Hold ‘em, and I spent more time racking up digital chips than I’d care to admit. I’m especially looking forward to getting to learn more about the Van der Linde gang members featured in RDR1 such as Bill Williamson and Javier Escuela.
Poker playing with fellow gang members in RDR2
Rockstar also says they have vastly improved melee and gun combat to be “deep and engaging at all times”. While this is nice to hear, it’ll be hard to gauge if they delivered on this promise until we play the game ourselves. Ragdoll physics also seem more realistic as well. One thing is for sure however, those reload animations are clean as fuck.
Another way RDR2 is deeper than its predecessor is with horse mechanics. No longer just a mode of transportation, the horse is treated as a living being, and your treatment and bond with it will determine how useful your horse is in combat situations. I can see myself getting very attached to my horse, lord have mercy on the poor soul who harms it!
Overall, there seems to be an incredible amount of depth and detail in RDR2, rivaling that of any open world game ever released. This game has been in development for quite some time, and is the first combined effort of all of Rockstar’s Studios (over 1000 people), and it shows. RDR2 is also stunningly beautiful running on a PS4 Pro (one can only imagine how it would look on PC), and absolutely nails the Western aesthetic, while seeming to achieve a level of immersion that just was not possible in 2010 when RDR1 released.
The man, the myth, the legend: John Marston
Rockstar has only scratched the surface however, as we will find out more about the story missions, side activities, and dead eye sharpshooting in the next RDR2 gameplay video, hopefully coming soon. Quite surprisingly, RDR2’s inevitable Online mode has not even been mentioned yet, which should allay any fears some may have had that Rockstar would lose focus on single player after the success of GTA Online. I cannot wait to see more about this game, and you can bet your wolf pelts that I will be here discussing any future RDR2 gameplay!
Red Dead Redemption 2 (developed by Rockstar Studios) releases October 28th, 2018