2018 video game
Red Dead Redemption 2[a] is a Western-themed action-adventure game developed and published by Rockstar Games. It is a prequel to the 2010 game Red Dead Redemption, and the third entry in the Red Dead series. Set in 1899, it follows the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang, and also details the time of a younger John Marston in the same gang and his eventual departure.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26, 2018. It was universally acclaimed by critics, who praised the story, characters, open world, and considerable level of detail. The game generated $725 million in sales from its opening weekend, shipping over 17 million copies in two weeks.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Synopsis
- 2.1 Setting and characters
- 2.2 Plot
- 3 Development
- 3.1 Marketing
- 4 Reception
- 4.1 Sales
- 4.2 Controversies
- 4.3 Awards
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The player may choose to respond positively or aggressively to non-playable characters throughout the game world, which affects their reputation within the game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a Western-themed action-adventure game set in an open world environment. It is played from either a third or first-person perspective and the player controls Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and a member of the Van der Linde gang. The game features both single-player and online multiplayer components.
The game brings back and deeply refines mechanics from the previous game, such as the combat, gunplay, honor system and more. It also has many new features, including dual-wielding and swimming.
The game focuses heavily on player choice for the story and missions. Certain moments in the story will give players the option to accept or decline additional missions and lightly shape the plot around their choices. During IGN’s first look preview on the topic of how player choices can affect interactions and missions, Rob Nelson, Co-Studio Head at Rockstar North, said: “We try to give you options within a lot of these missions to choose how you approach it, whether you’ll send your buddies in first or whether you’ll go in first.”
Players can communicate with any non-player characters (NPC) in dynamic ways new to the series. Arthur can choose different dialogue trees with NPCs as having a simple friendly chat with an individual, or threaten them for the player’s own personal interest, or they can kill them and loot the corpse.
Red Dead Redemption 2 features item degradation, with equipment such as weapons requiring cleaning and oiling. The player can visit a barber to change hairstyles; however, styles are only available to players depending on how much hair their character has, with hair growing realistically throughout the title over time. Arthur can also gain or lose weight depending on how much he eats, a feature absent from previous Rockstar games since Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Characters have different sets of clothes for different weather conditions and also have to regularly eat and bathe. Some actions that were once more automatic have been greatly expanded upon in detail, including skinning a kill and examining objects.
Red Dead Redemption 2 features both hunting and fishing, which provide food, income and materials for crafting items. When hunting an animal, players will need to move slowly and carefully and watch the wind direction to avoid alerting their prey. Choice of weapon and shot placement are also important and will affect the quality of the meat and pelt, which in turn affects the price that traders will pay for them. If prey are injured, they will try to escape.
After a successful hunt, players can either skin and butcher the animal on the spot or take it with them whole. Animal skins and carcasses will rot over time if not properly tended to, and this both decreases their value while making them stink, and makes the character a target for wild animals when out of town. Skins, parts, meat, and entire carcasses can all be loaded onto horses to be sold to the butchers or the general store in town, taken back to camp for the stew pot, or crafted into clothing or other items. Trappers can craft more exotic goods for players.
Setting and characters
The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 spans five fictitious states of the United States. The states of New Hanover, Ambarino and Lemoyne are new to the series, and are located to the immediate north and east of Red Dead Redemption's world. The states of New Austin and West Elizabeth return from Red Dead Redemption.[b] West Elizabeth has also been expanded to include new regions. The states are centered on the San Luis and Lannahechee Rivers and the shores of Flat Iron Lake. Ambarino is a mountain wilderness, with the largest settlement being an Indian reservation; New Hanover is a wide valley that has become a hub of industry; and Lemoyne is made up of bayous and plantations resembling Louisiana and east Texas and is home to the former French colony of Saint Denis. West Elizabeth consists of wide plains, dense forests, and the modern town of Blackwater. This region has been expanded from the original Red Dead Redemption to include a vast northern portion containing the small town of Strawberry. New Austin is an arid desert region centered on the frontier town of Armadillo and the MacFarlane Ranch, also featured in the original Red Dead Redemption.
The player takes on the role of Arthur Morgan (Roger Clark), a lieutenant and veteran member of the Van der Linde gang. The gang is led by Dutch van der Linde (Benjamin Byron Davis), a charismatic man who extols personal freedom and decries the encroaching march of modern civilization. The gang also includes his best friend and co-leader Hosea Matthews, Red Dead Redemption protagonist John Marston (Rob Wiethoff), Bill Williamson (Steve J. Palmer), Javier Escuella (Gabriel Sloyer), Micah Bell, the elderly Uncle (James McBride and John O’Creagh), African-American member Lenny Summers, native-American hunter Charles Smith, Sadie Adler, Irishman Sean MacGuire, cook Simon Pearson, loan shark Leopold Strauss, Dutch’s lover Molly O’Shea, taskmaster Susan Grimshaw, Tilly Jackson, Karen Jones, Mary-Beth Gaskill, reverend Orville Swanson, and Abigail (Cali Elizabeth Moore) and Jack Marston (Marissa Buccianti and Ted Sutherland), John’s partner and son respectively. The gang’s allies include conman Josiah Trelawny, and Arthur’s former partner, Mary Linton.
The gang’s criminal acts brings them into conflict with various opposing forces including the wealthy oil magnate Leviticus Cornwall whose assets become a gang target. In response he recruits a team of Pinkerton Detective Agency agents, led by Agent Milton and his subordinate Agent Edgar Ross (Jim Bentley) to hunt down the gang. The gang also encounterthe Saint Denis-based Italian crime lord Angelo Bronte, and Dutch’s nemesis Colm O’Driscoll, leader of the rival O’Driscoll gang. Other rivals include the Del Lobo, Laramie, Skinner, and Murfree gangs, and the warring Gray and Braithwaite families. Other characters include Rains Fall and Eagle Flies, members of the Native American Wapiti tribe.
Main protagonist Arthur Morgan.
After a botched ferry heist in 1899 results in the deaths of several members, the Van der Linde gang flees Blackwater, forced to leave behind their substantial money stash. Realising that the progress of civilization is ending the time of outlaws, the gang decides to gain enough money to escape the law and retire. They rob a train owned by Leviticus Cornwall, who responds by hiring Pinkerton Agents led by Andrew Milton to apprehend them. The gang perform numerous jobs and heists, as Dutch continually promises that the next heist will be their last.
Following a successful bank heist in Valentine, and a deadly shootout with Cornwall’s men, the gang relocate to Lemoyne. They meet the Grays and Braithwaites, two warring families potentially hoarding civil war gold. Dutch pits the families against each other, but his actions are uncovered, resulting in an ambush by the Grays, and the Braithwaites kidnapping John’s son, Jack. The gang retaliates against both families, and learns that Jack is with crime lord Angelo Bronte. Bronte returns Jack and embraces the gang, but then lures them into a trap. Dutch seeks vengeance, kidnapping Bronte with the gang and then feeding him to an alligator.
Later, Hosea and an unconfident Dutch lead the gang in a Saint Denis bank robbery. The Pinkertons intervene, killing Hosea and Lenny, and arresting John. Dutch, Arthur, Bill, Javier and Micah escape the city via a ship heading to Cuba. A torrential storm sinks the ship, and the men wash ashore the isle of Guarma, where they become embroiled in a war between the tyrannical sugar plantation owners and the enslaved local population. The group successfully aids the revolution against the plantation owners, and secures transport back to the United States.
The group reunite with the rest of the gang, and Dutch obsesses over one last heist. Although he insists that they must wait to liberate John, Arthur and Sadie disobey Dutch to rescue him. Dutch begins to doubt Arthur’s loyalty, in part facilitated by Micah’s manipulations, who has eagerly taken Hosea’s role as Dutch’s advisor. Arthur meanwhile becomes concerned that Dutch is no longer the man he knew, increasingly resorting to murder and paranoia, and abandoning their ideals. Arthur later discovers that he has contracted tuberculosis following an altercation with a diseased farmer, giving him only a short time to live. Faced with his own mortality, Arthur reflects on his actions and how to protect the gang following his death.
After fending off a Pinkerton assault on the camp, Dutch becomes paranoid that a gang member is working as an informant, causing their failures. After relocating again, Dutch manipulates a local Native American tribe into a conflict with the United States Army to draw attention away from the gang. Several gang members become disenchanted and leave, while Dutch and Micah arrange one final heist of an Army payroll train. Arthur convinces John that following the heist he must leave and start a new life with his family. Dutch later murders Cornwall, blaming him for the Pinkertons actions. Arthur’s faith in Dutch is shattered when he seemingly abandons Arthur to the Army, leaves John for dead during the heist, and refuses to rescue John’s captured partner Abigail. Arthur and Sadie again disobey Dutch, rescue Abigail, kill Milton, and learn that Micah has been working for the Pinkertons since returning from Guarma.
The gang collapses after Arthur returns to Dutch, openly accusing Micah of betrayal. Dutch, Bill, Javier and Micah turn on Arthur and John when the Pinkertons arrive, but all six manage to escape into the wilderness. Under pursuit, Arthur accepts his impending death, and either aids John’s escape by delaying the Pinkertons, or returns to the camp to recover the gang’s money. Micah ambushes Arthur and Dutch intervenes in their fight. Arthur convinces Dutch to abandon Micah and leave. If Arthur was played honorably, Arthur succumbs to his disease while watching the sunrise, otherwise Micah executes him.
Eight years later, John and his family are leading an honest life. Finding work at a ranch, John is forced to fight back against outlaws threatening his employer. Believing John will never escape his old life, Abigail leaves with Jack. This encourages John to take out a bank loan and purchase his own ranch, working with Uncle, Sadie and Charles to build a new home. On Abigail’s return, John proposes to her. Against her wishes, the gang pursues Micah after learning of his location. They find that Dutch and Micah are again working together, but Dutch shoots Micah and leaves in silence, allowing John to finish him off. The Blackwater stash recovered by Micah is used to pay off John’s bank loan. Afterwards, Sadie and Charles leave for other pursuits, John marries Abigail, and they start their new life on their ranch, alongside Jack and Uncle.
The final scene shows Pinkerton agents Ross and Fordham observing John’s ranch, initiating the events of Red Dead Redemption.
A billboard advertising the release of the game in Edinburgh.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was developed by Rockstar Studios, a collaborative effort between all of Rockstar Games’ studios functioning as a single team, using the proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE). Woody Jackson, who co-composed the score of Red Dead Redemption, reprises his role. The game was announced in October 2016. In the two days prior, the company had used various social media platforms as well as their own website to release two teaser images in the color and theme of Red Dead Redemption. The teaser images led to considerable attention and raised the stock price of its parent company Take-Two Interactive by nearly six percent. On the day of its announcement for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, some fans started petitioning Rockstar Games for the game to be made available on Microsoft Windows as well. Per an exclusivity agreement with Sony Interactive Entertainment, certain online game content will be timed exclusives for the PlayStation 4. Originally due for release in the second half of 2017, the game has been delayed twice: first to Q1/Q2 2018, and later to October 26, 2018.
An online multiplayer portion of the game called Red Dead Online is also in the works and is planned to release as a closed beta on November 27, 2018, and unlock for all players on November 30. During an IGN Q&A session with various Rockstar developers, when asked why it will not be available simultaneously with the base game, design director Imran Sarwar answered “Red Dead Redemption 2 is an absolutely massive story-based game that we hope people will be lost in for a long time and we want people to experience everything that world has to offer before we build on that with the Online experience” while also stating that “we [at Rockstar] see them essentially as separate products that will grow and evolve independently of each other” and saying that the team has learned after launching online games that there are bound to be a few issues and that they wish to roll out the game as smoothly as possible. It is also mentioned that the game takes many of the favorite elements of Grand Theft Auto Online while also further expanding the original game’s ideas.
The game’s debut trailer was released on October 20, 2016, depicting the open world environment, and the second and third trailers—released on September 28, 2017, and May 2, 2018, respectively—introduced the game’s characters and story. A trailer released on August 9 features the first gameplay footage. It demonstrates the shooting and horse mechanics, and the ability to maintain the player’s gang and camps. To spur pre-order sales, Rockstar collaborated with several retail outlets to provide special edition versions of the game. The “Special Edition” includes exclusive single-player content, while the “Ultimate Edition” features additional online content. The “Collector’s Box” is a collection of physical merchandise relating to the game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 received “universal acclaim” from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic. It is the highest rated PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game on Metacritic along with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V.
Game Informer awarded the game a perfect score writing: “Rockstar Games has outdone itself again with Red Dead Redemption II. The up-close portrayal of the outlaw Van der Linde gang’s unraveling is a compelling companion story that blends seamlessly with the original game, and depth and breadth of the open world is a technical triumph that every gamer should experience.” IGN also awarded the game full marks, commenting “Red Dead Redemption 2 stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Grand Theft Auto V as one of the greatest games of the modern age. It’s a gorgeous depiction of an ugly period that’s patient, polished, and a huge amount of fun to play, and it’s combined with Rockstar’s best storytelling to date. Even after finishing the lengthy story I can’t wait to go back and play more.” In another full score review, Electronic Gaming Monthly wrote: “Criticisms often come easier than compliments, but in the case of Red Dead Redemption 2, I am at a loss. This is one of the most gorgeous, seamless, rootinest, tootinest games ever made, and if you voluntarily miss out on it, you’re either not a gamer or in a coma.”
USgamer said, “[i]s Red Dead Redemption 2 better than the first game? Very much so. Is Red Dead Redemption 2 perfect? No. Rockstar Games has crafted this huge, beautiful world with an attention to detail that’s astounding…” and summarised by saying “Red Dead Redemption 2 is a fantastic game that should keep players satisfied for another eight years.” Alessandro Fillari of GameSpot praised the story, characters and animation and said “Red Dead Redemption 2 is an excellent prequel, but it’s also an emotional, thought-provoking story in its own right, and it’s a world that is hard to leave when it’s done.” Peter Suderman, writing for The New York Times, considered Red Dead Redemption 2 as a example of video games as an work of art, comparing the game’s abilities to “[tell] individual stories against the backdrop of national and cultural identity, deconstructing their genres while advancing the form” to the current state of film and television with similar works like The Godfather and The Sopranos.
Some criticism focused on the game’s control system, which was described as “clunky” and “outdated”. Push Square called the controls “serviceable” but at their worst “infuriating”, and that the button layouts for various actions were too convoluted. Forbes criticized the game for having a noticeable input lag and found that “things aren’t as tight as they need to be”, in another article writing that it “often feels like an absolute slog when it comes to the actual controls, mechanics and UI of the game”. USgamer was disappointed that the game fundamentally used the same control scheme that had been present in Rockstar titles since the release of Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008, and questioned why it had not been sufficiently improved upon in that time.
Reviewers also critiqued how the focus on authenticity translated to gameplay and player convenience. Gaming journalist Jim Sterling felt that the sheer amount of realism in the game limited capabilities and caused various scenarios or animations to be prolonged. Additionally, Forbes and VentureBeat found that despite its focus, the level of realism was concurrently lacking; discrepancies were noted between the game’s sense of immersion and its presenting of mechanics which defied the laws of physics and animations they considered unrealistic. VentureBeat also felt that in spite of presenting a range of options, the gameplay was still notably restrictive. Wired were also mixed on gameplay elements relating to the well-being of the player character and the required dedication, writing “In its perfection, RDR2 exchanges immersion for observation. At times, the constant character maintenance feels like a chore…” and that it “sometimes gets bogged-down in the RPG-like intricacies of keeping going in the game world.”
Since the previous installment in the series was among the best-selling games of the seventh generation of video game consoles, many analysts believed that Red Dead Redemption 2 would be one of the highest-selling games of 2018 and would have a great effect on other game sales during the fourth quarter. When discussing the delay until October 2018, a writer from Forbes said “A huge arrival for [Red Dead Redemption 2] could be a crater that dampens sales of all competitors in that window, so I have to imagine this shockwave is being felt pretty hard right now around the industry.” In July 2018, The NPD Group, a market research company, published an article titled “Video Game Industry Predictions for Holiday 2018”, where author and industry analyst Mat Piscatella predicted that Red Dead Redemption 2 would be the best-selling game of 2018, outselling other blockbuster titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, and Fallout 76.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the best-selling retail game in its first week of release and the second-fastest-selling game of 2018 in the UK, behind FIFA 19. The game’s opening week UK physical sales were doubled from its predecessor’s with 68% of sales being the PS4 version and the remainder on the Xbox One. Red Dead Redemption 2 is also the third-fastest-selling non-FIFA game released this generation, behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Within its first week on sale in Japan, the PlayStation 4 version of Red Dead Redemption 2 sold 132,984 copies, which placed it at number one on the all format video game sales chart.
Rockstar Games announced that Red Dead Redemption 2 had the largest opening weekend in the history of entertainment, making over $725 million in revenue in three days, and over 17 million copies in total in two weeks, exceeding the lifetime sales of Red Dead Redemption. Additionally, Red Dead Redemption 2 is also the second highest-grossing entertainment launch (behind Grand Theft Auto V) and set records for largest ever preorders, largest first-day sales and largest sales for the first three days in market on PlayStation Network.
In an interview with Harold Goldberg of the New York magazine published on October 14, 2018, Dan Houser, Rockstar Games’ co-founder and vice-president for creative, and head writer for Red Dead Redemption 2, stated that they had been working 100-hour weeks “several times in 2018”. Many sources interpreted this statement as “crunch time” for the entire development staff of the game, comparable to similar accusations made by wives of Rockstar San Diego employees in regards to the development of the game’s predecessor, with Rockstar Games receiving strong criticism. In a statement sent by Rockstar to various media outlets the following day, it was clarified that the work duration mentioned by Houser only affected the senior writing staff for Red Dead Redemption 2, which comprised himself, Michael Unsworth, Rupert Humphries and Lazlow Jones, and that the duration had only been the case for three weeks during the entire development. Houser also added that the company would never expect or force any employee to work as long as was stated, and if anyone was staying late at the development studios, it would be due to their passion for the project. However, other Rockstar employees have come out arguing that Houser’s statements were broad, and do not give an accurate picture of the “crunch-time culture” at the company that many employees work under.
In early November 2018, YouTuber Shirrako posted several videos of his player character murdering a female suffragette NPC, including feeding her to an alligator and dropping her down a mineshaft. The videos were both applauded and criticized by viewers. In response, YouTube suspended the channel for violation of their community guidelines, citing its graphic nature for shock purposes and for promoting violence. Audiences, including other channels, protested the decision. Conversely, the channel had also published additional videos of similar actions to other non-playable characters, such as those from the Ku Klux Klan. On November 8, 2018, YouTube restored the channel and designated an age restriction to the suffragette videos, commenting “Sometimes we make mistakes, which is why we have multiple escalation paths for reviewers to raise tough decisions and we give creators the right to appeal. The reviewer will be educated on this outcome and on how to avoid repeating this mistake.”
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