Producer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, XBox One
Review Platform: PS4
+ Open world filled with details
+ Technical details and atmosphere
+ Interaction feature
+ Gameplay dynamics functioning smoothly
+ Music and character dialogues
- Minor errors in the graphical sense
All of us are waiting for RDR2, for a long time. Here is the PS4 review of Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2). I'm sure you've heard, many things are being said for this gang that is known in Mexico and even further. Their names are in the spots everywhere... Yes, I am talking about Dutch Van Der Linde and his notorious gang, terrorizing until 1900’s. Numerous robberies, raids, duels, hundreds of dead men left behind and a life spent on exile... But despite all these difficulties and lives in pursuit of the chase, they are said to be free even in their last breath…
Red Dead Redemption 2 PS4 Review
We are not very foreign to the Dutch’s gang and perhaps to the most important members of this gang. Although the stories continue to be told, we actually witnessed the end of this gang at first hand. If you played Red Dead Redemption, you already know how tragically the story ended. Although Dutch Van Der Linde remained in our minds with the words “Our time is passed, John.”, we still remember his works. We have the chance to take a closer look at Dutch, his gang, and much more in Red Dead Redemption 2.
We know gang members like Bill Williamson, Dutch Van Der Linde, Uncle, Javier Escuella, Jack Marston, Abigail Marston, and of course John Marston from the first game. In Red Dead Redemption 2, we can actually see how crowded the gang is. We are witnessing the emergence of a family rather than a gang, but as in every family, there are problems between the members. I am going to talk about much more about this family when I touch upon the camping area. As we know the end of this gang very well just like we already know the end of the Titanic, I can say that it is upsetting to witness it as we connect to the gang members.
“If we have to fight, we fight. If we have to run, we'll run. If we must die, we'll die, but.. We'll stay free.”
Let’s talk about Arthur Morgan, the character we play in the game. Arthur Morgan was raised by Dutch just like John Marston. For this reason, he sees him as a father figure and although he doesn’t say it, he shows it at every opportunity. Arthur, also known as Dutch's right-hand, is one of the most important and active members of the gang, as you can guess. Although he seems like a thick-skinned character, he is also a complete man of duty and Dutch believes in him so much.
We start the game by finding out that the gang has returned empty-handed from a big robbery. Because the robbery in Blackwater is a failure, they turn towards the north and the snowy mountains to disappear without a trace. There are also difficult life conditions and some losses caused by continuous movement of the gang. As soon as you start the game, the gang is already going through a recovery process and satisfying the needs of the gang is the first priority. In fact, I can say that these needs are not easily finished. After a while, even though we are travelling to sufficient lands, you should always take care of your gang. So you try to raise the gang’s living conditions by chatting with them, finding money, doing main and side missions given by them, gathering materials needed, and more.
Dutch has a donation box for the gang's recovery and substitution and you can put the money or valuables you earn in this box, as all gang members do. Of course, there is a logbook for these donations. In this book, you can clearly see who donated how much money. As you progress in the game, you understand that you are making the greatest contribution. You can get annoyed a little bit when you see that you donate hundreds of dollars and gang members donate only a few dollars. But remember, the family comes first and there is a significant burden for you to keep this family alive.
But how do we fill this box? In fact, the answer to this question is so difficult because there are dozens, maybe hundreds of things to do in RDR2. You are already taking your share of the missions you do. Hunting is also one of the most important sources of money. When you hunt, you can take many advantages of your prey. You can rip off its fur and use it for craft, you can sell its horns or meat. At this point, let's talk about hunting a little bit. First of all, hunting has a very important place in the game, and even according to the animal you hunt and the way you hunt him, different consequences may arise. So, instead of killing your prey with an arrow, if you use guns, you sell the coat for a cheaper price. You can put your prey on the back of your horse and take it to the campsite. Or it's possible to peel the skin and tear the meat apart. You also need to keep your hand quickly when you carry it as a whole. If you lose a lot of time, you realize this prey slowly decay and flies start flying around. I also need to mention that if your horse tip over or you pass through deep water, your load can fall. For example, I was extremely upset when I lost a bear's coat, which is very valuable, in the river during the conflict. The variety of animals in RDR2 is quite a lot and there are 178 different kinds of animals like bison, deer, bird, reptile, and more. In addition to these animals, there are 30 different fish types.
“They're chasing us hard, because we represent everything that they fear.”
Of course, hunting is not that simple, especially if you're after a special prey. You can hunt the animals running around instantly. However, you need to trace this animal if you need it personally or if it already escaped from your bows or gunshots. So if you want a new sling for your weapon which requires a special kind of deer coat, you need to find and track that deer. Tracing is assigned to a separate key. You enter a hunch mode, which is similar to Witcher sense, by pressing this button. When you enter this mode you can follow the scent of your prey and see which direction it is going. If your prey is easy, you can hunt it with a single move. But if you're after a bigger catch, you also need to set up a trap to catch the prey. You put a piece of meat on the ground and you lie in an ambush when it is needed. You need to be careful about how wild your prey is. For example, if you encounter a large bear, you must be prepared for a fight like the famous scene in The Revenant. I would like to leave the rest of it to your experience or imagination :)
We can talk about the campsite now. Because there are a lot of things to do at the campsite. For example, you can improve your camp with the development section next to the donation box. Improving the campsite is completely left to you. Moreover, these updates increase the number of ammunition as well as it increases your dominance in the game. Moreover, as you improve the camp, your supply increases and you can use these supplies in Red Dead Redemption 2.
You can chat with the gang members, dine, sing around the fire, or play mini-games like dominoes and poker in this campsite, as I mentioned before. Although I call them mini games, they're all pretty fun. Particularly, the poker game would probably be popular in multiplayer modes. I might have even spent too much time playing poker. In fact, you can play Poker as a separate game mode in both your camp and towns. You can line your pocket with just playing poker. You know, it looks like I'm stuck gambling in the game.
Other than that, you can earn money from the side missions or the big and small robberies. You can burgle any house you see on the way or stop someone and empty his/her pockets. Of course, you cannot rob anyone you see on the road. Your actions have consequences, you can regret any crime you commit. So let's say you've robbed someone and someone else witnessed this robbery. You can become guilty if you don’t shut the witness up by threaten him/her or find another way around. In such cases, you lose control over it. Moreover, all these choices have an effect on your ‘honor’. In other words, if you rob anyone you see on the road, threatening everyone, kill even the innocent ones, road jack guys etc, you become a dishonourable character. If your honour level is at the bottom or you become a violent criminal, you’ll have hard times surviving out there.
If you choose to be nice, the game becomes more generous. I will now describe these two cases with different examples. For example, when I was on a mission, I heard cries from the woods and rode my horse there. When I finally found the man that cries, I understood that he was bitten by a snake. There were three things I could do to this man who was in pain. I could blow his brains out and take his money, suck and spit the poison or give a medicine from my bag to provide healing. I stayed away from trouble as I play the game (when I play again, I'm thinking of being a bad guy), and of course, I chose to help. Fortunately, there was a medicine in my bag and I didn't have to suck the poison. The man writhing in pain took the medicine that I gave him and I left him there. After a few days, I was passing through Valentine Town. I've heard someone shouting towards me while I was walking on the muddy street. I turned around, I saw that it was the man I saved. He was telling how I helped him the other day to the person next to him. As I was walking away, he told me I could buy a gun from the gun shop for free, he would pay it himself. So, a favour I made for free a few days ago was paid back.
On the other hand, another incident led me to madness. Once again, I saw a dead man on the road and I had no penny in my pocket because I've spent all the money on the camp. I thought it would be a nice idea to check this guy's pockets(!). While I was trying to find a few dollars, someone witnessed that I was kneeling down and there was a dead man on the ground. He immediately ran away when he saw me like that, giving me no chances to explain the situation and so, I walked away thinking it was nothing. A few days later, two bounty hunters came and tried to question me about this incident. Look, I am the good guy, but not that good. I know my limits so I shot both of them. I was wanted now and other bounty hunters were after me. I found myself in the northern mountains as I ran. You cannot get rid of the men that’s after you by going into woods and etc, they are chasing you to death. If you kill them, other problems start to rise. Anyway, I managed to escape and I saw a beautiful view in the woods. I dismounted from my horse and walked into the view. When I turned my back, I saw two bounty hunters were approaching from the path and I went behind a cliff to watch them secretly. The duo, that found my horse first, were talking among themselves and saying that the tracks were going that way, pointing where I stood. When I saw them approaching me, I got panicked and immediately took up arms.
As you can see, even these two simple events show how important the balance is in the game. There are too many more examples caused by engagement with the NPCs. Wild West theme is well, it keeps your attention during the game. As the bounty on our head increases, you are forced to be on the run and open your eyes wide. Thanks to the story, it’s almost impossible to visit the areas where you are wanted. Good thing is, you can bail yourself out when you pay to the Post Office. Bigger the crime, bigger the cost.
Let’s talk about action dynamics. Gunfights are mostly based on taking covers and those actions represent Western soul nicely. Targeting dynamics feel weird at first but when you get used to it you suddenly start to feel like the most wanted gunner in Old West. The auto-locking feature goes without saying (If you are familiar with the Rockstar Games, you know what I mean). But your enemies don’t die with a single bullet – which is challenging. Shot them in the leg, they fall, shot them in the chest, they try to find a safe spot. You started to get used to headshots but it’s not that easy. All those pros and cons make you feel the gunfight. There are lots of guns in the game and all of them are fun to use. You can customize your guns at the shops.
As you can remember Dead Eye from the first game, it’s back again and it’s safe to consider Dead Eye as the main feature of the gunfights. Time slows down for a short time and you can turn back to normal with one shot if you want to. If your Dead Eye counter is full enough you can mark several targets and kill them all. When you are out of Dead Eye you feel like you are naked in the jungle without ammo. That’s why it’s important to use it wisely.
And the reason for my advice is that your Dead Eye feature runs down just like your health, endurance and etc. Also, from now on we have to pay attention to the status of our horse and our character. If we get tired excessively, we can become exhausted and breathless. We should sleep and rest when we can find the time. The same thing goes for our loyal friend. In the game, you can have more than one horse but you can only take one of them with you, for the rest of the horses you must put them in the stable. You can also name your horse. Also, when you whistle it will come if it is inside the range, but you have to watch out for your horse just like you watch after for yourself. You should clean it when it got dirty, pet it from time to time and feed it regularly. If you treat your horse right, it will pay you back with newly learned abilities. There is an advancement duration both for Arthur and for the horse. Your endurance will improve while you run, your health increases as the time goes by or you can use the Dead Eye system for a longer period of time. There is also a menu for checking the status of both you and your horse and viewing the statistics.
While we are talking about the things you should watch out for, let's talk about personal care. First of all, you can braid your horses’ mane and tail or change its colour. You can also change the blanket over it or buy a new one that comes with benefits such as giving you bonuses. Even the knob on the saddle can be changed. Character customization comes to mind when seeing such interchangeability on the horses. You can top to bottom dress the Arthur differently as you please. Also, your hair and your beard grow as the time passes, you can even cut them off. If you want to have a beard or a longer hair, you have to wait for it to grow and then you can give the style that you like.
Let's come to the point which surprised me the most. Yes, you can interact with every character in the game, it is possible to speak with them. Plenty of missions and exciting battles awaits you throughout the game. Even if we let all of this aside, you find yourself head-to-head with the Red Dead Redemption 2’s mind-blowing open-world map. The world of the game is so beautifully designed that each road you deviate, each path you follow, every case you encounter finds a way to surprise you. I was only this excited when I was in the first private presentations of the Witcher 3. But I must say that the open-world map of the Red Dead Redemption 2 is far beyond the Witcher 3 had.
In this open world, it is pretty possible to encounter the events that I have been talking about throughout this writing. You can be sure that this game is going to surprise you in point of atmosphere and fullness. You occasionally find yourself staring at the view and the beauty of the game. Dynamic weather movement and richness of the map is the cause of that situation. Snowy mountains, instant rains, fog, the rise of the sun, sunset, pitch black nights, distant flickering lights of the camps, the Milkyway galaxy that each time you stare at it you can lose your way… These and elements like these have managed to improve Red Dead Redemption 2’s wholeness. You sometimes encounter such events that make you ask yourself “Are these happening because I am here, or they would still happen without me being here?” and puts you into this dilemma. It's kinda like Schrödinger’s cat. Long story short, you don’t feel like things are happening only around you. You don’t feel like you trigger the events that are happening. Even though I am not there, I can still feel that there is life and some things are happening in the Valentine Town, Blackwater or even in near the Indian’s camps who settled to the North.
We have already seen the graphics quality of the Red Dead Redemption 2 from the trailers. But everybody was saying that the game will not be this good and Rockstar Games won’t be able to provide this quality in the current generation console, so there will be a “downgrade” before publishing. Even though how much I trust Rockstar Games, that would be a lie to say I didn’t think like that also. But I played the game, and I am saying this with all my heart that this game blew my mind right away.
Even though how much fame Rockstar Games has for their gameplay and the quality of their games, they were never this assertive about their graphics. But the new lighting techniques have ascended the game to a whole new age. In fact, if the game was released for the next generation, no one would judge the graphical quality I must say. Lights bouncing off of the objects and illuminate the scene using Global Illumination, each material absorb and reflect the light differently using Physical Based Rendering, smokes, fogs, clouds and many different semi-transparent effects dancing with the light, quality of the shadows, viewing distances that you won’t see in any other game, rendered grasses from far away, details in coverings, character models, physics engine being more realistic and gives the feeling of weight just like in the GTA IV times and many more subtle details that I can not fit into this review. Red Dead Redemption 2, managed to become my best gameplay experience so far not just in point of its mechanical side, but also with its visuals. If you value graphics as much as gameplay and story, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an art that allows you to experience the graphics of the next generation. I must also note that I played this game in an original PlayStation 4. This means all of this compliment presented with a 5-year-old hardware. Plus, graphics quality doesn’t change much on Playstation 4 Pro, it only affects resolution. And we can go back to the wild west.
I can say that there are a lot more details in the Red Dead Redemption 2. I can also talk for hours about the choices that pops-up inside the mission and changes your mission status. Red Dead Redemption 2 is absolutely the most detailed game on that one. You will know what I mean when you play the game and you will get lost in the details.
To conclude, Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the best games that has been released not only in this year but in the entire game history. Indians problem, the downfall of the greedy humans or the references to the popular western movies… Of course, you encounter with some bugs or cheesy missions somewhere in the game. But the visible side of the mountain is too small for the invisible part. In short, Red Dead Redemption 2 offers an amazing adventure that everyone must experience. Its biggest problem is that it is being a little cruel to the games which will be released after it…