‘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!


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


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.


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


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!

9. The Dialogue

Red Dead Redemption 2

Sure the game is beautiful and it's fun to duel other outlaws, but what first pulls people into Red Dead Redemption 2 is the sharp writing and dialogue. Every character, from the protagonist Arthur Morgan or his colleagues in Dutch's gang to the random interactive individuals the player bumps into, has sharp, unique dialogue. Despite the similarities between many characters, they all have something interesting to say and add to the world. More than just time-filler, the background conversations in this game often fill people in on the details of the world and give hints about other people's backgrounds. Sitting down at a local saloon to play poker is more than just an entertaining way to lose some money, it's also a way to collect information. Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in a rough setting, so it's fascinating to learn what people are thinking and stressing about at that time through their dialogue.

8. Open World

Red Dead Redemption 2

Instead of being restricted to one town, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open world game in every way imaginable. Once the game loads up, there is no loading as the character traverses the massive map. Instead, the game seamlessly transitions from one area to the next as Arthur rides around on his horse. Then, once you finally settle on a town or a camp you like, the people are already walking around and talking, waiting for some interaction. Once this game boots up there is nothing that takes you out of the moment, giving the game a very fluid, life-like quality.

7. John Marston and the Gang

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption became an immediate classic for many reasons. An incredible plot and slick game-play certainly helped, but part of why audiences truly connected with the classic game was the protagonist: John Marston. A former outlaw who has since found a new path, Marston is an ethical individual trying his best to survive as the west slowly transforms into an industrially controlled zone. Over the course of the first game, players truly grow alongside Marston and watch as he interacts with people from his past and hatches a plot to keep his family safe.

Red Dead Redemption 2 may be a prequel that sees players control a different character, Arthur Morgan, but that doesn't mean Rockstar forgot about their original sweetheart. Marston is back, and this time he's much younger, meaner and stupider as he's still a young man trying to make his mark on the world. His family and many of the shady character's he crosses in Red Dead Redemption are here too, giving audiences even more information about Marston and the way he likes to live his life. At the moment, Red Dead Redemption 2 seems to be setting Morgan and Marston up for some kind of confrontation, but I'm just happy to see the classic cowboy back after all these years.

6. Staying Alive

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is more than just an intense single-player game, it's also an RPG that makes players take care of themselves. It's not enough simply to heal yourself, to stay at top performance, players have to make sure Arthur is constantly nourished and well-rested. Over fatigue is a big deal in this game, and if you find yourself too far away from your horse you may have to start foraging for food in order to make the long trek back.

Not only do players have to keep Arthur alive, but they also have to take care of their horse. It may sound tedious, but ensuring that the players horses are at top strength is an essential component of the game. No one in the west just jumped on a random horse and immediately bonded with them, it takes time to cultivate that relationship, and Red Dead Redemption 2 allows this simple, realistic side of the cowboy lifestyle to shine through.

5. Hunting Simulator

Red Dead Redemption 2

There are a lot of ways to entertain yourself in Red Dead Redemption 2's massive world, but one of the most interesting things to do is go hunting. Whether your skinning animals to make money in town or finding something to eat for dinner, the game takes the act of hunting very seriously. Everything from foxes to grizzly bears are roaming this big world, and players need to stay alert as to where they are on the map or they may just cross a hungry predator. There are multiple levels to hunting in this game, including tracking and laying out bait, making it a long-process where players need to patiently stalk their prey instead of simply pointing their gun and shooting into the forest.

4. Choose for Yourself: The Rockstar Formula

Red Dead Redemption 2

Like most games with a major story running through it, a lot of the character's actions are predetermined. But, as with any Rockstar game, players can choose to cause a ruckus or follow society's laws. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Grand Theft Auto is just letting loose and causing some trouble, and while the carnage isn't nearly as destructive in Red Dead Redemption 2, running from the law is just as fun. Having a large bounty on your head may make things inconvenient in major cities, but it's easy enough to pay it off at a local train station. What makes playing an outlaw so entertaining is that they get to be a hero on one day and a scoundrel on the next without feeling like they are abandoning their personalities.

3. The Beautiful Music

Red Dead Redemption 2

No game is complete without a beautiful soundscape, and Red Dead Redemption 2 has just that. Not only does it have a sprawling soundtrack that includes everyone from Willie Nelson to D'Angelo, but the score, recorded with over 100 artists, is wonderful. Woody Jackson, the composer on the original game, returned to score this new one and his pieces are as effective as ever. Whether you're just riding around the country or engaged in a vicious shootout, the music is right there accompanying you, dragging out the intensity or serenity of each moment.

2. The Scope

Red Dead Redemption 2

As entertaining as Red Dead Redemption 2's core story is- and this is speaking as someone who still hasn't defeated the massive game- it's really the side-missions and random interactions that make the game so enjoyable. Immersion is a word game critics and developers throw around a lot, but it is a central component of Red Dead Redemption 2. Whether you're just walking around the town or riding your horse through the desert, odds are someone is going to talk to you and introduce you to another part of this massive world. Everyone here has a story and something worth saying, making the amount of content shoved in the game seem almost daunting. Sometimes it's hard to choose which mission to continue because some of the side quests are equally or more compelling than the core story line. The game has 60 hours of story and over 500,000 lines of recorded dialogue, and this doesn't even include the upcoming online mode that will keep players engaged long-after they've defeated the solo mode.

1. Getting Back on the Saddle

Red Dead Redemption 2

There have been some big releases for game franchises over the last few months with both Call of Duty and Assassins Creed introducing new titles. What makes Red Dead Redemption 2 so special is that this is the first time gamers have stepped back into this world. Sure, there was the Undead Zombie expansion for the original game, something that added hours worth of content to the game, but this is a brand new experience that seemingly elevates everything that made the first one so special.

Players may control Arthur Morgan this time around, but that doesn't change much about the interactivity with this world. With the inclusion of cinematic mode, it's easy to truly get lost in Red Dead Redemption 2 as Arthur gallops across the plains. Whether you're taking in the sites, playing some poker in the local saloon or looking for trouble on the road, it's just so damn fun getting back into the cowboy mindset.

What do you think of Red Dead Redemption 2? Sound off with your thoughts below!

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