Give me a home where the buffalo roam!
Last week Rockstar released their much anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2. There was much hype going into this release from fans and journalist alike. After sinking in 33+ hours into it myself, this game is as good as I had hoped. I will state this right here, Red Dead Redemption 2 is Game of the Year. It is FANTASTIC! I have not finished the main story line yet, and that is mostly because there is so much to do. From hunting and fishing, to treasure and dinosaur bone hunting, to side missions that randomly spawn from random NPCs. The depth and detail of this game is mind blowing and much like Witcher 3 the standard for which all future open world rpgs will be held to. What is even more insane, is that the multiplayer that is slated to come in the near future hasn’t even been put out for beta.
Man this game is beautiful. The graphics are so damn pretty it is insane as to how smooth this massive game (over 80GBs original install) runs on my first generation Xbox One. The details of the environment are amazing, snowflakes have random paths, the snow and mud moves around footfalls leaving impressions, mud and blood collect on your clothes and horse. I dragged a man to his death behind my horse and upon inspecting his corpse to loot, his battered face covered in dirt and grime caught me by surprise. The animals are gorgeous and life like, and your horse’s coat shimmers differently depending on lighting. Let alone the vibrancy of the world around you from the flowers growing in the meadows, the leaves rustling in the wind to the robin fleeing as you approach.
And the world interacts with you as you travel across the land and water. Animals scamper and flee if you are upwind or making too much noise. Predators stalk and attack without much warning. NPCs respond to the way you look, smell, or any prior interactions you had with them. If you robbed their store they make comments about you. If you helped them when they were bit by a snake in the wild they will thank you again. You can greet, insult and apologize all in one conversation and the character will respond accordingly. These small things are enough to have kept me entertained for hours.
As for the story, well so far (about 50% of the way through) we experience much of the story that happened prior to Red Dead Redemption. We learn where John Marston received his scars on his face. Their are nods to the first game quite a bit through out the story. Even a few Easter eggs off the beaten path. But you choose the path Arthur Morgan goes down, you decide if he is a ruthless killer or a chaotic neutral ruffian or a rogue with a heart of gold. We get a peak at what Javier, Bill, and Dutch were like before the end of the gang that John Marston ran with prior to Red Dead Redemption. And even if you never played the previous title, you never feel like you are out of the loop with this game as it stands alone very well. You learn that living the life of a wild west outlaw is not as romantic as we all want to believe.
There are some socio-political aspects of the game as well. You come in contact with Civil War Vets, crooked law enforcement, a woman suffragette, and EVEN THE KKK (hint don’t go guns a blazing when you come across them as they end up being great scenes to watch). Racism, and anti-feminism creep its head into the world as it would have at the time and regionalism is strong through out the game. But the game handles them really well. The Van Der Linde Gang (the gang you run with throughout the game) is as egalitarian as possible with a few outliers with Micah and his racism and Pearson and his misogyny, but for the most part the rag tag group of liars, cheaters, and thieves is accepting of all shades and shapes, and their interactions with the world reflects this.
Honestly, I can’t wait to spend more and more hours in this game. I am interested in seeing the Multiplayer aspect. But by far, this game is the best damn game to come out this year. And probably the best game since Witcher 3. If I had a vote for Game of the Year I without a doubt would chose this game and it isn’t even close!