‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ Review: We’re Back In The Saddle Again, Folks

Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar only released Red Dead Redemption 2 on October 26th, but it’s already one of the most financially successful games of all time (and micro-transactions haven’t even been added yet, people). In its first three days, the game made $725 million, roughly $80 million more than Avengers: Infinity War made during its opening weekend.

The game may be a financial hit, but is it any good? Jump back in the saddle and come check out Heroic Hollywood’s official spoiler-free review of Red Dead Redemption 2!

Story

So take this with a grain of salt because I still haven’t defeated the massive game, but Red Dead Redemption 2 has an engaging, thought-provoking story. A prequel to the classic Red Dead Redemption, this game is set a decade before the original, the new title brings players on a complex journey that sees the characters question their place in a rapidly changing world. While it hasn’t grabbed-hold of me in the same way the first one did yet, the game still explores interesting themes and comes up with new ways to challenge and intrigue the player. Not only does Red Dead Redemption 2 excel at giving audiences emotional moments that make the characters uncomfortable, but it’s also chopped full of lighter, comedic moments that give the outlaw lifestyle a gentle glow.

The game drops players in a world on the brink of major change. Outlaws flee civilization’s encroachment from the east and they’re quickly running out of places to hide. Arthur Morgan, Red Dead Redemption 2’s protagonist and a worthy follow-up to John Marston, is a good man who has been a member of the Van der Linde gang ever since he was a boy. The gang’s leader, Dutch, is desperate to cling onto the past, and the insane pressure of latching onto a fading lifestyle impacts everyone in the gang. As Arthur lusts for the West, it seems like the east, and all the trouble that comes along with it, is inching closer every day. It falls to the player to juggle industrialization’s influence, the ever-changing loyalties of a familial-like gang and the personal cost of being an outlaw as the world evolves around him.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Characters

While many players may have been initially disappointed when they learned they wouldn’t control John Marston in the sequel, Arthur Morgan is a worthy successor with his own unique personality and way of doing things. I don’t want to go too in depth talking about the character’s personalities and how they each grow and change on their journey because that dives into spoiler territory, but I’ll say that everyone, from the camp cook Pearson all the way up to the gang leader Dutch is fleshed out and given a personality, motivation and backstory. Every random individual in town and each outlaw in your gang has something to contribute to the world and a way of pushing Arthur’s story along. With over 500,000 lines of recorded dialogue, it’s worth it to take some time and explore what everyone has to say in Red Dead Redemption 2. 
Since Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the original, it’s fitting that many of the outlaws we see Marston confront in the first game are back in a much younger, healthier state. For people well seeped in the franchises lore, there are some fun nods to the previous games and the situations players experienced in Red Dead Redemption. It’s also a treat to see Jack and Abigail Marston living freely before being forced into hiding in the original game.

Gameplay

It may take some time to master Red Dead Redemption 2’s controls, but once the player has them down participating in this world feels seamless. Whether you’re walking around foraging or quickly trying to evade some bandits while zigzagging on your horse, the controls feel intuitive and switching between guns or lassoing up a deer comes easily.

Cinematic mode is definitely a neat detail that helps display the open world, but I prefer getting around the old fashioned way: tapping the A-button repeatedly. Like in any Rockstar game, there were a few bugs that took me out of the game for a moment, but the company has already stated they are working on patches for the massive title.

Open World

Red Dead Redemption 2 has a thick, 60-hour story, but one of the biggest draws is just how massive the world feels. Not only does the map have numerous towns to explore, but the frontier setting truly seems never ending. It doesn’t matter which direction you look, there are far-off smoke stacks or groups of deer beckoning the player to explore every inch of the setting.

While crisscrossing the map, players will run into countless people going about their daily lives. Some of these non-playable characters are down on their luck and need a ride home, but some are bandits, waiting to prey on random passersby. Whether you want to perform a good-deed or you’re itching to steal someone’s wagon and ride off into the sunset, the open world and allows the player to control the time they spend within the game.The inclusion of a cinematic mode, something that allows players to kind of zone out and just enjoy Red Dead Redemption 2’s scenery, is a nice touch, but over reliance on it takes something away from the game’s immersive feel.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Design

Having an open world is important, but if it’s ugly or slow to render no one cares. Fortunately, Rockstar spends just as much time thinking about the design and look of their games as they do developing action-packed moment and witty dialogue.

I’m playing the game on an Xbox One with a standard HDTV and the game looks beautiful. It’s clear Rockstar took their time and allowed technology to develop before returning to this world- and the wait paid off. The gorgeous environments appear almost immediately and even tiny details like light shining on some mud or leaves blowing in the wind are breathtaking.

To make a great game even better, Red Dead Redemption 2 has a massive soundscape that drags players even deeper into the world. The score is simply beautiful and the game is jam-packed full of melodies that come up when Arthur is in a specific location on the map or certain story points take place.

Final Thoughts

Rockstar has done it again. Red Dead Redemption 2 has stunning design, striking music and intense story beats, but it really is more than just a sum of its parts. Sure, there are moments where the game feels buggy or tedious as you have to gallop across long distances or complete minor challenges, but overall this is an unbelievably fun, immersive game. With the introduction of an online mode on the horizon, which will surely have numerous bugs for the first few months, the future seems bright for the title.

Final Score: 8.5/10

The 9 Best Things About ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

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Red Dead Redemption 2Well, cowboys and cowgirls, Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally here. Eight years after the original title took the gaming world by storm, Rockstar is back with a prequel set ten years before the original. For people who like horses but may not want to ride them in real life, they’re in luck, because anyone who plays Red Dead Redemption 2 will be sitting on a horse for quite a while. As you pursue an outlaw life, jumping from town-to-town, players explore a world full of danger and excitement behind every corner.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has already broken pretty much every entertainment record imaginable. It’s had the most successful opening weekend for any entertainment product ever, so you don’t need to take my word on why this game is so good, just go look at the numbers. Underneath the massive, 60-hour story, is a beautiful world layered with complicated characters, powerful predators and painful memories. So, what are you waiting for, go jump on your horse and start playing this game!

Hit Next to discover the 9 Best Things about Red Dead Redemption 2!

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  • Max Harton

    I certainly recommend this game. After all It did win the most number of awards at the The Game Awards. Click this if you still aren’t convinced about buying this game.