What You Need to Know Before Starting ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

Joab Gilroy
Red Dead
Red Dead

Red Dead Redemption 2 — the epic follow-up to Rockstar’s 2010 Western masterpiece — is now available on PS4 and Xbox One.

Enjoying the scenery in Red Dead Redemption 2

The Setting

Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in 1899 — 12 years before Red Dead Redemption — with the Wild West all but tamed. The steam engine has revolutionized transportation, railroads carve harsh lines through what used to be wilderness, and while many don’t yet know it, the world sits on the precipice of change.

The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 features swampy bayous filled with hillbillies, snakes, and gators. There are rolling green hills, luscious flat countryside, and snowy mountains to trek over. Cities and towns of all sizes freckle the land, many connected by rail. It’s massive in size: There are more than 1,000 things to do and discover, and NPCs sport half a million lines of dialog — more than twice the amount featured in Grand Theft Auto 5. And it’s made bigger still thanks to the technology of the setting. There are no Hydra Jets or Ocelot Pariahs in the Wild West: instead of thousands of horsepower, you’re traveling at just one.

Rockstar makes the most of this, filling every inch of the map with things to see and do — be it wildlife, other travelers, or landmarks.

Red Dead Redemption 2

The Characters

In Red Dead Redemption 2 you’ll play as Arthur Morgan, an enforcer in Dutch van der Linde’s gang. A no-nonsense kind of guy, Arthur has been a member of the gang since he was a young boy, and his upbringing as an outlaw shows.

The Van der Linde Gang is an anarchic collection of misfit wayfarers — that is to say, a bunch of scoundrels — and you’re a key member of the group. Dutch handles the strategy: He decides where you and the crew will find your next big score. That means train robberies, bank heists, assaulting other gang hideouts, and more — and as one of the best shooters in the gang, you’ll be front-and-center.

Your time is mostly your own though. You can play poker or blackjack, either at the camp or in one of the saloons in the many towns. You can tame wild horses, get into brawls, fish in the rivers, and hunt down wildlife.

If you’re looking to help the Camp out, you can lean on debtors for a loan shark friend or scramble up herbs for your friendly doctor. You don’t have to do these things, but if you do the Camp will grow as you improve it, and you’ll get access to better medicines, fast travel points, and more as you go.

Red Dead Redemption 2

The Combat (or Lack Thereof)

Rockstar is revolutionizing the way we interact with games in Red Dead Redemption 2. If you accidentally antagonize someone, sure, you could draw your revolver and shoot them dead. You’re the notorious outlaw Arthur Morgan, after all. But you’ll get a bounty on your head, and you’ll have to dodge the sheriffs until you get rid of it.

In Red Dead Redemption 2, if you keep that weapon holstered and interact with the person you’ve upset, you’ll be able to try to talk your way out of the situation.

It’s part of the revolutionary new interaction. You use it to bond with your horse, to butter up shopkeeps around the world, to pat dogs, and to start fistfights with men who look at you funny. Instead of primarily interacting via the shooting of a gun, the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 feels more alive because you interact with it in a more natural way.

Red Dead Redemption 2

The Honor System

Those interactions you have influence another new system in Red Dead Redemption 2: Honor. The actions you take will be reflected in the way people react to Arthur in the game world. Do honorable things, and people will be quicker to give Arthur the benefit of the doubt. He’ll get more offers for bounty hunting jobs, allowing him to make legal cash easier.

Act dishonorably, and things will be a bit rougher on Arthur — in law-abiding towns, anyway. People will steer clear of you, and deputies might be quicker on the draw. Outside of civilization though, robberies will pay more, witnesses will be easier to intimidate and the cinematic killshots will be more intense. Balancing Honor will play a large role in your time with the game, and will influence many of your decisions as you play.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is Rockstar’s most ambitious game yet. It’s more in-depth, more intimate and more immersive than any game they’ve ever done. It’s out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Joab Gilroy
Joab is a games critic from Australia with over 10 years of experience and a PUBG tragic.
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