My Thoughts On Red Dead Redemption 2

Like pretty much all my other video game posts, I’m severely late to the game (no pun intended). Today I’m here to talk about the wildly popular Rockstar game, Red Dead Redemption 2.

Even though it came out two years ago, I only got around to playing it this year. I started it around April, played like half of it in one week, and then dropped it for a few months. I ended up finally reaching the very last mission back in September, but dropped it again before winning. So, I have never technically beaten Red Dead Redemption 2, however I played a fuck ton of it before reaching the end, so I feel like I’m qualified to give a solid review.

The only Rockstar game I played before Red Dead Redemption 2 was Bully, back when I was in junior high. I have never tried any of the Grand Theft Auto games, but I could see a lot of similarity between Bully and Red Dead Redemption 2. I also have never played the first Red Dead Redemption, but the second one is a prequel, so I didn’t see a need to play the first one beforehand.

In case you don’t know the premise, Red Dead Redemption 2 is about a group of outlaw bandits on the edge of the 19th century, trying to find their way in a quickly progressing and modernizing world that has no place for their kind anymore.

You play as Arthur Morgan, one of the most essential members of the gang, and throughout the game you realize that being a crook ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Things you thought mattered seem to be insignificant now; the heists, the robberies, the money. Arthur realizes all the wrong he’s done was for nothing, and seeks some kind of redemption.

But this is a very slow process, as most character development is, and relies on you as a player choosing to make Arthur good. You have to consciously pick to be a good person, again and again, and your choices affect Arthur’s “honor level.” Depending if you have good or bad honor, you get different game endings. You can gain honor in the smallest ways: by saying hello to strangers, giving money to a nun collecting for orphans, giving someone a cure for poison after being bit by a snake. You can also lose honor just as easily, and more often than not, accidentally. Like when you hit a pedestrian with your horse. Did I mean to? No. Are the cops after me now? Yes.

I love any game where you can choose whether or not to be a good person. It’s one of the things I love most about the Fallout games, too. In a world where everyone is struggling to survive, you can choose to be selfish and evil, or choose to be generous and kind. And I will always choose kind. In Red Dead Redemption 2, I got an achievement for maxing out Arthur’s honor, and I worked to keep it as high as possible. It was important to me. I wanted Arthur to be different, to become better. I knew deep down he was capable of being a good man, all I had to do was make a few good choices for him for it to kick in.

Throughout the game, your gang leader, Dutch, keeps talking about how your posse just has to make one more big score, and then you can all live happily ever after in Tahiti. A lot of the game is going through with all these heists to become rich so you can all finally get away to paradise, and escape this ever-advancing society.

On the surface, it seems like just a normal, bank-robbing, gun-slinging, shoot ’em up kind of game, but it’s actually so much more than that. With over 100 missions, there are so many ways to play this game. If you want to focus on the story of the gang and get through the main quest, you can do that by playing only the main story missions. If you want to develop Arthur’s character more (like me), there are tons of honor-specific missions you can play through. If you’re interested in side characters, there are lots of little quests that pertain to them that you’re free to explore in your own time. You can be collector, a hunter, a fisherman, a bounty hunter, a train robber, a king of poker, a serial killer puzzle solver, and so much more.

This game is truly what you make of it, and I love it for that. Other things I loved include the outfit choices, the ability to cook and craft, the voice acting, and of course, the beautiful graphics. And the ability to pet dogs. Thank goodness for that.

Alternatively, here are some things I did not like that really bug me about this game:

There is so much horseback riding. I mean, just a ridiculous amount of the game takes place on horseback. For starters, the map is huge. Secondly, the game uses horseback riding alongside your companions as a way to cram dialogue into a scene, so you have all the info you need for the mission you’re embarking on. However, when they do this, you can’t ride past a certain speed, because they’ve allotted the dialogue to take up a set amount of time. You can’t skip it.

While the game does have a “cinematic view” option, where it basically autopilots horse riding for you, it still takes a decent amount of time to get from point A to point B. Bandits can interfere with you and attack while you’re in this autopilot mode, which is a huge inconvenience. Basically, there’s no fast travel, unless you count taking the trains, but even then that involves going to a station and purchasing a ticket.

I have never pressed “A” so many times in my life. Even the fastest horse in the game, the Elite White Arabian (which I acquired right from the beginning), seems slow when you’re going from one side of the map to the other. It just makes for boring gameplay, and I despise how much time riding around takes. I suppose it’s realistic to the time period, but still.

Red Dead Redemption 2 was a pretty difficult game for me. For instance, I found the aiming mechanism hard to work with; the way guns work in this game are very different than what I’m used to. You have to be way more precise than I ever have in a game before, which was a pain. I had to get good real quick.

The way health works is odd to me, too. Of course, you can eat food and that replenishes some health, or take medicine to heal, that’s pretty standard. But the health and stamina had cores that could be depleted, and that affected your overall health and stamina levels. I don’t know, it was just kind of odd to me, but maybe that’s more common than I think it is.

My biggest problem with this game was the epilogue. FUCKING BORING AS SHIT. I have never wanted a game to end so badly in my life. The epilogue just kept going and going and going, and it wasn’t any fun whatsoever. It mainly consisted of doing chores around the farm, all of which you could not run during, so basically you just slowly walked everywhere and did dumb chores for days on end. It was infuriating, and I spent hours doing almost nothing. It felt like such a waste.

And there’s two separate parts to the epilogue, both equal in levels of boringness. Plus, you lose everything in the epilogue, so any money you had saved throughout the game is gone, which is a huge pain in the ass. Other than the epilogue, I don’t have many problems with this game.

THE NEXT PARAGRAPH HAS SPOILERS. 

That being said, there is a big chunk of the game that I don’t necessarily hate or anything, but just feels odd to me. I’m referring to Chapter 5: Guarma. I didn’t really enjoy playing this chapter, because you are obviously lacking in the weapons and resources department, which I just didn’t find to be very fun. However, I can see how someone who likes a challenge would enjoy it. The plot of this chapter was very out-of-nowhere in my opinion, and the whole island adventure seemed like it didn’t really serve a purpose. Or, if it did serve a purpose, I feel like it could’ve happened sans the boat ride south. So, yeah, weird and not very fun, but I didn’t hate it or anything. Just not the best part of the game.

OKAY WE’RE DONE WITH SPOILERS NOW.

Overall, I really liked Red Dead Redemption 2. I can see why it’s so popular and beloved by many. My favorite Rockstar game is still Bully, but that’s probably only because it was a childhood favorite and not because it’s actually a better game or anything. I would highly recommend Red Dead Redemption 2 if you like games that let you choose your own destiny, have a lot of shoot-outs, and where every character has a Southern accent.

I’ve never been one for Westerns, but this game single-handedly made me enjoy the whole “wild west” scene. Especially because they really nailed the whole “turn of the century” vibe. The characters are bewildered by new, bustling cities, far from their usual territory of podunk towns with dirt roads and one sheriff per 50 mile radius. The game addresses issues regarding Native Americans and women’s suffrage, and you can be an ally in different groups’ fights against the American government, which I really appreciate.

So, yeah, I liked this game a lot, and would definitely recommend it. It’s pretty, it’s fun, there’s lots to do, and you can wear tons of spiffy outfits.

Have you played this game? What’d you think? Who was your favorite character? Were you an honorable person or a crooked bandit, through and through? Let me know in the comments, and as always, have a great day!

-AMS

25 Comments on “My Thoughts On Red Dead Redemption 2”

  1. RDR2 is one of my favorite games ever. I’ve taken close to two years to play through it — I tend to play games slowly to begin with and thoroughly explore my way through them, and this one in particular had a couple of missions that I just did not want to do. After having a really bad experience with an unexpectedly awful mission in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (“No Russian,” which the devs realized was going to be controversial and made it optional, and STILL got a lot of deserved blow-back for) my policy now is that I accept spoilers for a game so I never make that mistake again. So I had watched a Markiplier play-through before I started playing RDR2, and whenever I had any missions involving Micah I really just took my time in getting to them.

    I’m working on my 100% playthrough and I think I have around 40 of the challenges left to do to finish it off. I kept Arthur mostly honorable (got the max honor achievement, got the “all honorable side missions” achievement, etc.), and have generally been taking my time to enjoy the sheer beauty and scope of activity in the game.

    There is a way to fast travel to specific spots if you’ve upgraded the gang’s camp enough — you can select “well known” spots like the various towns, etc. to fast travel to from either the gang camp or your campfire in the wilderness. It helps cut down the time involved, but I didn’t really catch on to how to use it until I was most of the way through the story.

    The original RDR is one of my favorite games of all time — I am not at all ashamed to say I cried my eyes out at a certain plot point — and RDR2, while being a prequel, gives us a lot of emotional follow-up for that game. Seeing how things go down with Arthur and John/Abigail/Jack and Dutch — and the final scene in the gang camp with a few members choosing sides — really sets up John’s emotional journey in RDR nicely, while still being focused on Arthur’s story.

    Favorite characters — Arthur, of course, and Sadie — I really appreciated their friendship and that Rockstar didn’t take the trite way out of making it a romance option. I took the opportunity to talk to Mary-Beth in camp every chance I had and it was worth it totally. Lenny. Abigail, oddly enough — I didn’t like her much from RDR, but RDR2 gave me a lot more of what she’d been through, so it was a lot easier to empathize with her this time around. John’s lucky to have her.

    I used fast travel a LOT in the epilogue to go do interesting things like bounties and such in between bouts of chores. Once the final eiplogue missions are over, there’s still quite a bit to do and see in the world. It was interesting to match the expanded territory out west with my memories of RDR and see where RDR2 compressed the world a little bit.

    I have some chores to do this morning, but now I might just go turn on the Xbox and go knock out a couple more challenges..

  2. You can get all your stuff back in the epilog after one of the missions. Don’t remember which one though.

    I hated fishing. Really hated.

    Finished most of the game but didn’t catch all the legendary fish (did I mention fishing sucked?), and didn’t finish all those forget what they’re called but had things like jump 3 things on a horse, shoot 3 birds from the top of a train, etc.

    One thing I hated was I found a special object, like captains binoculars, or something, and sold it. Found out later I needed it for something but couldn’t buy it back, and it didn’t respawn. grrr.

    Bully was a great game that didn’t get any love when it was out. You should try GTA V, it’s even better than RDR2.

  3. You should play the first game. It has a lot of the virtues, but it is less “immersive,” i.e. you can get from Point A to B a hell of a lot quicker.

  4. Devin, you didnt have to shoot anyone in the “no russian” scene. I dont think you could do anything to stop it, but you didnt have to partake. As soon as the scene opened, i was like “nope” and never fired. I think that character is killed at the end anyway, wasnt he?

  5. Jody Kruskal, an excellent concertina player and music educator living in Brooklyn (not putting links here, but he’s eminently googlable), did the music and motion capture for Simon Pearson’s concertina-playing scenes. He didn’t say Pearson’s lines, though.

  6. Even though rdr2 is probably the better game rdr1 will forever go down as one of if not my all time favorite game. If you haven’t played it I suggest picking it up with undead nightmare. I played both awhile back and they both have half up well and you get to see how it all ends. A remaster would be ideal but I suggest playing them all. Just my opinion.

  7. So, it looks like there are some people here who are doing fly-bys who aren’t particularly up to speed on the comment policy for the site, which has resulted in me deleting a few comments. So: Read the comment policy, won’t you? And also, if I think your comment is dick-headed, I’ll just snip it out. So don’t be a dickhead, okay? Thanks.

  8. I also enjoy open world games and games with moral choices that have consequences and found RDR2 quite satisfying overall. I was sort of bummed when I figured out where the main story arc was headed but it didn’t ruin the game for me or anything. There’s so much to do in this game you can literally spend years trying to complete it all as someone else mentioned. I also thought the epilogue was boring AF and sort of pointless. One thing you didn’t mention that I really enjoyed was the music in this game is really excellent. There’s a Spotify playlist with some of the songs and I added some to my regular listing playlists. Can’t think of too many games where that’s been the case for me.

  9. Rdr2 is not only one of my games (resident evil games are my top), my daughter plays the hell out of it and loves it more than I do. Our favorite part of the game is finding the secret spots and people. There’s a ton of Easter eggs to find and it’s fun finding them. Some aren’t so good like the swamp guy raping you lol. I really hope they make another for the new consoles. Playing it on my Xbox one x in 4k it is the best looking game I’ve ever seen. I can only imagine how it would look on the new consoles.

  10. someone may have already mentioned this but you can fast travel by setting up a campfire! (outside settlements of course) i actually didnt know this my first playthrough but it really makes a difference lol

    replaying rdr2 probably bumped it up to my 3rd or 4th favorite spot, i loved it the first time but i took a lot more time on the second and for some reason it stuck to me a lot better. Most of what makes the game for me is arthur and his development (and the changes based on his honor) but collecting everything is pretty fun in its own right

  11. Remember when hero John Marston was butchered by the govt. in one of the most tragic scenes ever in a video game? That epilogue was everything!

  12. docprov – Hello, I am a motivational expert and I would like to begin some dialogue with about your motivatioanal situational
    Cowboy

    Basically, it’s the go to game for westerns. There was only an arcade game called McCallaster that was similar and that cost me a fortune. I like the story but sometimes I am being chased by a bear or have to kill a rabbit to eat so I get sidetracked in the multiplayer. One mission i was trying because I was told to go to town but I had to fight in a bar and I had to be drunk and imprisoned like a typical Saturday night in the old west. You really are drunk. Tough fight too. No friends there in multiplayer and people are somewhat mean but it’s the nature of the west. Get good quick or you will feel like you are bullied. Lots of woman now or men playing them and they are all good. Better. Oh, just as in red dead one, going into town will get a blue dot to be a red dot quickly because there are not too many friends. And sometimes cops jump in for some reason. Keep bounties low or none. I find more friends in red dead one. Which I never finished and still play okay occasionally. If you are a gamer, or become one don’t let the negative stuff get to you because it’s just a game. Keep time for your significant other too. Don’t be selfish. Like road rage it’s hard to not be upset in this game due to hateful players tying you up but take it with stride. It’s just a power play for people so laugh it off. I try not to look at names or characters to keep my mind of the hate but you have to know who to look out for too. Oh, always be aware that if you shoot someone they are going to get ya. Lol

  13. If you enjoyed the good-vs-evil choices, you might want to check out some BioWare games – Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Dragon Age. The graphics on the older games are dated, but Dragon Age: Inquisition is recentish.

  14. Loved the game! Loved the story, and just the epic western story that was created. If you played the Red Dead Redemption, you knew the game was going to delivery more than just a shoot em up western GTA. The in depth slow burn story of Arthur Morgan was exactly what I wanted from RDR2. The honor system was weeved into Arthur’s story perfectly I think. The honor system is not just good and bad decisions, but it serves as a way for you to actively participate in the transformation of Arthur. Yeah some of the horseback dialogue moments were slow and drawn out, but it served it’s purpose. I loved it. Oh, and the stagecoach was a fast travel between all the towns.

  15. Just deleted a couple of comments that started “I stopped reading when,” because if one doesn’t read the piece I’m not sure why anyone else should be obliged to note one’s commentary on it.

  16. You may also like Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. It’s a lot less immersive, in that it’s basically a first person shooter. However, it’s got a great little story where you are reenacting stories in a bar to a greater or lesser level of truth. I thought it was a great fun game.

    Would be significantly faster to get through than a game like Red Dead. It’s only 5-6 hours long.

  17. My wife wanted me to try RDR2 but I haven’t. It sounds somewhat like a harder version of Streets of NY (for the PS2 – it had a police officer, ex-gang member, hunting the crime groups that may have killed his mentor) in that, depending on how you and what you did, you got different endings. I liked it (and the significantly harder – at least for me – Streets of LA). I don’t know if there are versions for more recent game systems.

  18. RDR2 is probably my favorite game, ever and that’s saying something. The story is an absolute masterpiece and while the “slowness” of some activities drives me crazy it does serve a purpose. I cried many times during the game and I almost appreciated the pace of the epilogue for two reasons: 1. I was so stunned at the end of chapter 6, I needed some time to find normalcy and 2. It was great to spend time playing John and learning more about his story with Abigail and Jack. I loved RDR1 and for me RDR2 blew it out of the water. I’ve played through many times and each time I find new things, new dialogue, new markers which is just amazing to me. The game isn’t without its flaws but to me the story more than makes up for it. I imagine I’ll still be playing through the story many years in the future! (Also, I love horses so all the horseback riding was a perk for me. Give me a horse and beautiful scenery over cars and cities any day!)

  19. Can we take a moment to laugh at a news outlet that allows feedback fra n thoughts, but then deletes it if it does not agree with the article, censoring is snotty. – JS also the no russians mission in cod was awesome, it proved that you can get sucked in to a game and feel stuff for digital pixels.

  20. Leaving aside the fact that news outlets delete comments all the time, this is not a news outlet, it’s my personal site, and I don’t delete comments for disagreeing with me, I delete them when I think the person is being a jerk. As noted in the comment policy. If you don’t like it, don’t post a comment and/or don’t visit the site. I’m fine either way. The site’s been here for two decades and it’s not going anywhere.

  21. I TRIED playing rdr2. For me, it was just to dang slow. Cut scenes seemed to just drag on and with no way to skip past them, made the game insufferably slow and boring. It looks great but for me, that’s not enough of a reason to suffer. Some folks here have said it’s one of there all time favorite games. That’s cool and all. But there is also a ton of gamers that just can’t deal with slow moving games. I’m a gta5 guy to the bone. I had high hopes for rdr2. The commercials had me hyped up and ready to go. Once I downloaded and started to play, my hopes were dashed.

  22. RDR2 is a great, great game.

    I have three daughters, but the only one that likes video games is my five year old. I must confess that I started her early, and now she loves open world games. But she absolutely loves RDR2 more than any other. More than Fallen Order. More than GTA. More than Fallout. More than Spongebob Squarepants. It’s a good way to spend time together.

    Yes, I play GTA-V with my five year old. She thinks carjacking and running from the cops is high comedy. And she’s right. It’s “The Stealing Cars Game.” RDR2 is “The Cowboy Game.”

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