Whenever a new open world game comes out, or even one that’s simply story driven, I firmly believe that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be the game everyone draws comparisons to, simply because of how high it set the bar for both open world exploration, and narrative writing.
In Red Dead 2, you play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw member of the Van-Der-Linde, on the run from the Pinkertons after a robbery goes horribly wrong, wherein all of the money was lost and the leader of the gang, Dutch, was perceived killing his first innocent by-stander.
As Arthur, and as a member of the Van-Der-Linde gang, your objective is simple: Remain blindly loyal, and follow your leader into the fray no matter the cost. But as time goes by, as Dutch kills more and more innocents, members of the gang begin to leave and die without cause and the code they live by is strained to the point of collapse. Eventually Arthur begins to see the world more clearly and must come to understand that all that is left for him to do is to help the remaining members of the gang leave safely before Dutch puts all of them at risk for the final time.
The game is split up into six chapters:
Chapters one through to four are perfectly woven stories depicting the gang at equilibrium, slowly descending into the storm as their leader becomes more desperate and careless. But then Chapter five happens and, for absolutely no reason at all, the gang ends up somewhere near Cuba fighting people they have absolutely no motivation to fight. The story grinds to a complete and utter halt as you are forced to engage in some of the game’s longest and, simultaneously, most boring missions of all, wherein every time something moderately interesting happens you can’t help but think, “this story beat/character moment could have happened in America… Why the hell am I in Cuba!?”
And then by the time Chapter six boots up it feels as though it’s almost too late. The return to the wild west is welcome and fresh again, but the game still feels tainted by the boring nature of Chapter five, as the missions become more and more linear and by-the-books the closer you get to finishing the game. By a thread, the beautiful dialogue and expertly woven script hang what is left of this great game by a thread, before it descends into shlock. In truth, Chapter five is enough to reasonably ruin this game for anyone, but if those that came before it managed to successfully engage you with not only the story, but with the other members of your gang, and with the open-world at large, then Chapter six should just about reconvince you that yes, you are playing a pretty damn good game.
Not only because of the story, but because of the other activities you can engage in as well. While exploring the world alone, you can hunt animals and craft clothing out of their hides, skins and furs, find treasure maps to hidden gold and become richer than you could possibly imagine, you can rob trains, hold up stage-coaches, play poker, play black-jack and so, so much more. You can help foremen recover the missing wages of their workers, or find them and keep the money for yourself, run away from alligators while a wild-life photographer takes photos of you falling over in a swamp, help a lonely widow learn how to hunt and survive in the wilderness, or help two brothers try to prove who is better suited for the woman they are both courting.
However, it’s not just the quantity of things to do, but also the quality of how all of these things are executed. It is no exaggeration to say that, from a technical stand-point, this game is a marvel. This is unironically the prettiest, most graphically beautiful game I have ever had the honour to play, and it will probably remain that way for quite some time. Additionally, the soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal; You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t go to YouTube, right now, and listen to the track “American Venom” by Woody Jackson. It is just one of many tracks that pumps you up for action like not many games often do. In my opinion, Read Dead 2 is only rivalled by the likes of Halo and DOOM with how great its soundtrack is.
So much hard work went into this game, and it really shows. For this reason, this is one of my favourite videogames of this generation as I feel it will (mostly) stand the test of time against other, more modern open-world titles and story driven games. Because of its status as a modern classic, I’d highly recommend anyone capable play this game and experience its excellence for themselves.