Red Dead Redemption 2 (by Rockstar Games) was released last October, 2018. While the first reviewers were rushing through the game to provide the initial gameplay videos and reviews, I was becoming completely engrossed in the game. Rather than stick solely to the story progression, I delved into every side mission, and spent hours upon hours exploring the map.
This is my collective gameplay experience and review of Red Dead Redemption 2, as played on Xbox One.
My Red Dead Redemption 2 Review
Let me start by saying that RDR2 had some high expectations to meet.
Those of us waiting for its release, intently, but cautiously, ingested claims of uber impressive dynamic gameplay with stellar graphics, and couldn’t wait to test it out on our own screen.
On release day, I picked up my copy for Xbox One with probably the most anticipation I’ve ever felt for a video game. I just knew that this was going to be one of my favorite video games ever.
The Journey Begins
Meet Arthur Morgan; a man of opportunity you could say. Intelligent, and mindful of the company he keeps, he is one of a group of men comprising the gang led by Dutch Van der Linde. While Dutch is quite charismatic and heavy tongued, Arthur is often a man of few words.
The story begins in the late 1800s, when outlaws were still prevalent and making a living by robbing those who have what they want; predominantly large amounts of money.
Dutch is a notorious outlaw, on the run and trying to accumulate enough riches to disappear into the newly evolving industrial world so as to escape spending his final days behind bars.
He sees that life is changing as they know it, and though it gets increasingly difficult to maintain their criminal lifestyle, the gang continues to seek their next big score while outrunning lawmen, and escaping the clutches of pursuing bounty hunters.
[ We can already see by this point in the game that the graphics in RDR2 are AMAZING! ]
Loyalty, Looting, and Locomotives
Dutch’s gang, a small and loyal group of seasoned criminals, almost immediately falls upon the opportunity to overtake a train, and thereafter spends their time contributing supplies to their base camp while planning their next move. Every lead takes the group on a new mission, each time (hopefully) returning with more money and living necessities.
True to any Wild West story, this gang is a horse riding, double pistol slinging, do-what-it-takes group of boys… and ladies. Oh yes… Where the gang goes, the family goes, and that includes both women and children. Enduring a lifestyle of robbing, running, and often defending, these ladies prove they have what it takes to survive, and sometimes ride alongside the men in their missions.
The only child that’s part of the RDR2 story, Jack, resides at the camp for the most part, but is included in side missions such as a fishing lesson with Arthur.
Trains are often seen and heard crossing the land, and are intermittently written into the missions either as a target for looting, or for completing challenges such as shooting a specified number of birds while riding atop a train.
When robbing a train, Arthur may find cash, savings bonds, notes or letters, food, valuables like pocket watches, or even treasure maps.
Scavenge and Collect
Besides the obvious role of being an outlaw, which does mean plenty of gunfights, robbing, stealing, language, and alcohol, Arthur must hunt for food, as well as collect various things including animals, berries, plants and herbs, weapons and tools, notes, letters, cigarette cards, and various maps.
As items are collected, Arthur stashes them in his (magic) satchel. Let me tell you, he fits more things in that bag than there are stars in the sky. It’s every outlaw’s dream bag.
Treasure maps are presented throughout the game, and reveal hard to find locations where Arthur discovers special items, such as gold bars. When he studies or gathers something new or unique, he adds it to his journal.
Unbelievable Design and Graphics
As gameplay continues, it’s evident just how dynamic this game is in every way; from character evolution, to environmental features, to details in town development.
There’s one particular building on a street corner that, when you first see it, is just being framed, and throughout the story progression, you witness the building process, little-by-little, and then finally the completion of the structure! It’s amazing!
Mixed Reviews Explained
In the wake of high expectations, and a rather eye-pleasing beginning, RDR2 takes a slow turn into the missions with a lot of cinematic story taking place in between. Even I questioned whether I loved this, or was greatly disappointed.
Determined to play the entire game, I hung in there when the going was at a snail’s pace, and continued with a positive mindset that while the action had trailed off a bit, the graphics were, in fact, stunning.
Admittedly, it took some time for my initial expectations to meet what was the reality of RDR2; that the story of Arthur Morgan was not all fast action and gunfights, but also a story of life in 1899 which, for an outlaw on the run, meant primitive camping, hunting, fishing, and gathering, all of which are activities that take time.
Red Dead Redemption 2: Plot Delivers
The more that I pushed the boundaries of the map, and extended the lines of exploration, the more excited I found myself to discover new places and things.
It wasn’t enough to simply hunt the buck lurking around camp to help feed the gang. I wanted to find the Legendary Moose, or any Legendary animal for that matter. (And I did!)
I wanted to find the small island, in the small lake, where the small X marked the spot. (And I did! Ask me in the Comments below if you want to know what I collected there!)
I was on my own mission, aside from the Gang’s, to complete as many challenges as I could.
It was then that I knew this game was going to be months in the playing for me, and that I would not write a review until I had either finished every challenge, or Arthur died of tuberculosis.
Dutch Van der Linde
The End of the Story
It’s no spoiler alert that Arthur dies.
1. He’s not in Red Dead, so we all knew he was going to die.
2. Tuberculosis was all over the first gameplay videos and reviews. Everyone found out pretty fast that there was no alternative ending.
When Arthur got TB in my play, it seemed to progress fairly quickly, at a speed that had me wondering if I would even finish the main story line before he died. Though blurry vision at times, and coughing up blood periodically is definitely not good for keeping one’s ‘health level’ up, he hung in there for longer than I thought he would.
When Arthur finally died, I thought it was game over, and I was disappointed that I was unable to fill my Compendium with all of the collection items. (Has anybody filled it completely? Is it even possible?)
I wasn’t able to collect everything, but I did end the game with the expected character change to John Marston, which leads perfectly into Red Dead. So everything was as it was supposed to be.
Will I Go For ROUND TWO?
Hear my resounding, “Oh, YES!”
I loved this game so much that I plan to start it over as soon as possible. I can’t imagine ever getting sick of it. Making alternate choices the second time around will change things up a bit, and now, having knowledge of certain events and scenarios, there are several things I would approach and execute differently. (2nd article coming up perhaps?)
Though I still see some negative reviews (difference of opinion is what makes the world go round), I see more people like myself, who were initially extremely excited, then somewhat disappointed, then completely 100% into it.
Here are the Current STATS of RDR2:
- #5 Best Selling Xbox One game rated 4.6 / 5 stars with 575 reviews
- #1 Best Selling PS4 game rated 4.5 / 5 stars with 1368 reviews
- Brand new for $40!
Do I Recommend Red Dead Redemption 2?
Definitely, yes. It’s a keeper. I’ll be playing this for years to come.
Why the Rated M for Mature?
Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs
Modded Xbox One Controller – Learn all about these CUSTOM controllers, and why YOU might want one! (Plus… they’re not just for Xbox!!!)
Red Dead Redemption 2: The Complete Official Guide Collector’s Edition 4.7 / 5 Stars
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