We played Red Dead Redemption 2

Recently we had a chance to play special version of a game that everyone waits for either they are a Rockstar fan or not, Red Dead Redemption 2, with Rockstar Games representatives at a cozy café in Athens. The duo sincerely explained everything I was wondering about the game, without giving any spoilers, and without breaking the Rockstar‘s “you can’t get any information we don’t want before the game is out” policy. If you want to know what I learned about the game and what I think about the game, let’s go into the details without wasting too much time.

First, I want to mention the most important issue that Rockstar Games representatives told me about the game. Throughout our conversation, the issue was about getting as close as possible to reality without boring the player. The ability to reflect the game world as if it were really alive is always a feature that attracts the player. More detail in the games we play, the more real it feels. But of course, there is a limit to be boring. Nobody wants to experience the 100 km road in the game as if it were really 100 km. If the real life was not boring from time to time, we wouldn’t play games for fun. Moreover, I would like to tell you a detail that Rockstar Games representatives me about the game. While developing, the team added a detail which the main character changed the gun magazine from the bullet slots on the top of his clothes. When the character changed the magazine for the first time after the feature was added, everyone liked it, but when the magazine changed the same way each time, the producers realized that it exceeded the line between reality and boredom that I was talking about. That’s why they didn’t put this in the game. In short, altho Rockstar Games is focused on getting as close as possible to reality in Red Dead Redemption 2, it protects its limit to be boring. 

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The story of the game takes place 12 years before the first game, in 1899. With the new justice system, law enforcement officials are in the process of finishing outlaw gangs all over the country. After the unsuccessful robbery at Blackwater at the beginning of the story, our main character, Arthur Morgan and his gang Van der Linde, are trying to survive by escaping the law. This gang whose has a price on their heads, are trying to stay alive by stealing, organizing robberies, and of course going into a gunfight when it’s needed.

Our main character Arthur Morgan is guarded by Dutch van der Linde, the leader of the gang, when he was a child. Arthur learns “What’s a family?” with the gang and sees the gang as his own family. That’s why he wants to protect the gang at any cost. In short, Arthur appears as a gang member who can do anything to protect his family. While playing the game, you can see the human relations within the group. After the failure in Blackwater, you watch the position of Dutch, whose authority is questioned by other members of the gang, through Arthur’s eyes. You are waiting for an adventure that you are trying to keep both your gang and yourself alive in the times when the outlaw gangs are being hunted down.

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I’m going to talk about the game’s atmosphere and graphics before moving to the gameplay because the first thing that deeply affects the player is the amazing graphics. From the horse’s tail swinging while riding the horse, to the horse’s feathers appearing one by one, and even to the smallest piece of cloth in our character’s clothing is very well designed, showing how detailed the graphics are. You find yourself in a cowboy movie while playing it. You can play the game as FPS or TPS if you want. You can switch between the two at any time by clicking on the touch pad on the gamepad. The team considered all the fans who preferred FPS or TPS and added both of them to the game. I need to mention that you can see the details in front of you much more with the FPS perspective. The team also added a feature which you can watch yourself cinematically while riding with your gang. With this feature, by only holding down the X / A button, you can continue on your way by listening to the gang members talking and enjoying the view. This saves a long journey from boredom and allows you to learn more about the story or the characters. Even though Red Dead Redemption 2 has fast travel feature, you don’t want to use it in order to enjoy this moments. I can say that the game world is very successful when it comes to attracting the player.

Let’s continue to the next one of the team’s most ambitious issue. Your interaction with the world, or the interaction of the world with you, because the world of the game is really alive. I’ve witnessed weather changes three times while playing this special demo version. By the way, Rockstar Games representatives told me that they don’t know what would happen as I played the demo and added that everyone had a unique experience playing it. About five minutes after starting to play the game, it was suddenly dark as I was walking around, the sky was covered with clouds, and lightnings began to flash. This random event causes you not to know what happens in the game. Dynamic weather conditions have been one of the most important factors affecting realism of the game in a positive way.

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In another, I entered a hotel to give Arthur a little rest. By the way, yeah, Arthur’s getting tired. He is a human after all and he has his needs. That’s why you need to find a place to sleep or you can sleep while camping. Of course, sleeping also makes you go forward in time. It was raining when I came out of my place. Because of the rain, the ground outside was muddy, traces of the waggons were left, and there was even mud on the wheel of the waggons. This is the clearest example of how the team cares about such details.

I mentioned Arthur’s fatigue above. Arthur gets tired, gets drunk and even gets cold. That’s why you have to take care of your character. For example, dressing Arthur with a shirt in a snowy place causes the character to feel cold and affects the character’s durability. The world’s communication with you also depends on Arthur’s situation. If you are drunk, the interactions with the people will take shape. You can change Arthur’s appearance in detail. You can cut your beard and shape your hair. Of course you can’t grow a beard immediately. After you cut your beard, you have to wait in the game to grow it again. It is in your hands to change Arthur’s clothes in detail. It’s even up to you wear your boots tucked.

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In the game you can interact with everything around you. You can salute whoever you want, threaten whoever you want, or point your gun without interacting at all, so that people can hate you (don’t do such a thing, it gets worse). For example, when a random dog comes to you, you can pet the dog or you can trim your horse. By the way, your horse plays an incredible role in your in-game progress. So you must keep your bond with your horse properly. If you are planning to play without the horse interactions, unfortunately there is no such an option because your gang rides horses to places and you eventually get on that horse’s back. If you have a good relationship with your horse, you can teach your horse things such as curvet and dancing. You can carry the goods you can not carry with your horse. It is in your hands to change the appearance of the horse. Let me add that all of Arthur’s weapons are visually visible on Arthur. So you do not have a bazooka in your trouser’s pocket like in some games. ”NPC”s in the game is not really ”NPC”s. Everyone has a character. Yes, everyone. Therefore, you can establish different dialogues with everyone you meet. Even though the game is so big, the team has successfully avoided repetition. Most of you know, the most annoying point in the games which you can have dialogues is to have the same dialogue with sixty people.

The biggest mistake I made in the game was to enter the town with a gun in my hand. People perceive this as a threat and you find yourself in conflict. Of course, if you go and apologize to the people who are scared or threatened by you, you can calm things down. If you look at someone for a long time, whether with a gun in your hands or not, they can shout “What are you looking at?” and the situation may end up with conflict. So if you are going to eat or go to the toilet while playing the game, I suggest you stop the game because the world around you will be alive and living. If you enter a conflict in a village, you enter a WANTED situation, similar to the GTA’s “stars” when you are tracked by the police. This situation slowly ends when you move away from the village.

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Arthur has a level of “honor”. This level of honor can change with the decisions you make in the game. Just because you’re making the decisions doesn’t mean that you can change Arthur any way you like. Remember, he’s an outlaw. So there are no options like “I’ll be a very good person”. For example, if you kill someone who you can release without damaging him/her, it will drop your level of honor. As a result, people’s interactions with you will shape up. This feature also affects how much money Arthur gets. If you choose to play dishonorable, you will get more money from robberies and watch how your enemies die from the kill-cam. If you are an honorable Arthur, you will get more money from the bounty hunting jobs and you will see Arthur’s heroic actions on the kill-cam. Of course, you don’t always watch kill-cams. If you hit a critical shot or the middle of your enemy’s forehead, you can watch this moment from the kill-cam.

A Craft system is also available. You can craft with the materials you collect, but the game won’t force you to do it. The equivalent of the items you can craft can be bought from the sellers in the towns. You can earn money by selling the animals you hunt or from the robberies. I’d like to give you some detail about hunting. There is a hunting mode mode where you can switch to while hunting an animal. With this mode you can trace the scent of the animal and find out where it is. But don’t forget, Arthur has a scent too. You can see that your scent is released in the direction of the wind. If the animal can smell your scent, it will run away so you have to be careful. Of course your money or your food runs away with the animal that escaped. After you hunt the animal, you can eat, sell or share it with your gang. Let’s say you shot a deer with a shotgun in the stomach. You shot another deer in the head with the arrow. The less damaged deer is going to earn you more money because the animal is not deformed. As you hunt animals, you can see animal’s icon on the map which shows you where you can find that animal around.

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It is left to you how often to go to camp where you can meet your gang, but I must say that your relationship with the gang is as important as your bond with your horse in the game. Arthur interacts with the gang members the most. You are slowly starting to understand the relationships between the members while playing with Arthur. As you pass by someone in the camp, you can hear them talk about a man you just killed. You can see that gang members are aware of everything you do and the decisions you make. When you supply the camp with food and money, you increase morale and this affects the daily life of the camp. You can understand this through the interactions you enter with the members and even the stories told beside the campfire. I suggest that spend more time with the gang members if you want to feel the atmosphere of the game more. In this way, you can better analyze Arthur’s relationship with the gang. It is possible to make fast travels in the camping area but I do not know how much you would want that. Because when I play the game, I guess I’m going to hop on my horse’s back everywhere because I don’t want to miss anything around.

You determine how Arthur will behave in the conflicts you enter. You can move silently with the knife or you can lead the way with your revolver gun. There is a warning fire in the game by firing your gun in the air and I like this detail very much. It will give you an advantage to determine which weapons Arthur will carry before the conflict. But of course it’s up to you to do it. The game doesn’t force you to do anything, but it also allows you to make strategic moves. Arthur can carry a certain number of weapons and you can use all of the weapons you have on you during the conflict. Also, if your horse is next to you, you can go to your horse and take one of the weapons you left on it. Of course, the importance of your bond with your horse is emerging here. If your bond is not good, your horse can run away because it does not feel safe during the conflict. Or if you are trying to get rid of a place, you are going to have trouble calling your horse back to you. The Dead Eye system, which you will remember from the RDR, has also been improved. You can upgrade the Dead Eye feature in 5 stages. These upgrades serve to slow down the time or see the areas where the target will receive critical hits.

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You can also upgrade your weapons or change their appearance. There are some features such as fire rate, accuracy, range etc. You can change the appearance of the guns from the carvings on the gun, and to the color of the grip.

Long story short, Red Dead Redemption 2 awaits for you with a living world, whether you are there or not. I can say that Rockstar Games has successfully managed to provide the demanding statements they made. When you play this game, you won’t find yourself in a outlaw gang member simulation, nor will you be just a companion to the story. Of course, to have this unique experience, you have to wait for October 26, 2018.

Murat Oktay

Video games have been my passion for as long as I can remember. I have been writing and managing in the game industry for more than 30 years. I've been playing Diablo 2 nonstop since it first came out.

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