Why You Should Be Excited About Red Dead Redemption 2 Coming on PC
Red Dead Redemption 2 is confirmed for PC finally. This amazing Wild West adventure is Rockstar’s most grand open world to date, telling the tale of the Van der Linde gang: outlaws trying to make a living as a bandit in a fast-changing world. I completed the game last year on Xbox One X, but I can’t wait to endure it all over again with enhanced visuals. Until then, here are some reasons why you should be very passionate about Red Dead’s PC release.
It’s a massive cowboy RPG
Red Dead 2 isn’t just a collection of Wild West-themed missions: it’s a whole-on cowboy simulator. Your character, Arthur Morgan, belongs to a traveling band of outlaws, and within missions you can help look after the camp—running jobs for people, hunting for food, or giving a portion of your ill-gotten gains in trade for rewards and upgrades. You also have stats that can be developed over time, letting you run faster and hit harder.
And it comes with the honor system, which is comparable to Mass Effect’s paragon/renegade choices, but more complex. Your behavior during missions, and in the open world, can drive missions and story beats in various directions. If you’re bad person, there will be consequences—but rewards too. This is a game about being fully involved in the life of a cowboy drifter, even down to your beard growing wild and unruly if you don’t shave.
The world is greatly mind-blowing
Red Dead Redemption 2‘s large slice of the Wild West is one of the best digital illustrations of the natural world I’ve ever seen in a video game. It includes a huge range of terrain, from boggy, wet swamps and grassy fields to snow-filled mountains and huge deserts. And every place is not only beautiful to look at but completely immersed in the atmosphere. I’ve wasted hours just aimlessly wandering on horseback, exploring and looking at the scenery.
The countryside is breathtaking, but there are bustling towns too which teem with life and movement. There are a number of tiny towns including a dreary, muddy small burg called Valentine that’s straight out of Deadwood, and Strawberry, a sleepy, picturesque settlement nestled in the mountains. But there’s an enormous city too, Saint Denis, which features rowdy saloons, factories pumping out black smoke into the sky, and rattling streetcars.
And it sounds amazing too
A large part of why Red Dead’s world is so immersive is the sound design. There’s a fabulous score, but it’s used scarcely. Often the only thing you can listen as you explore are the sounds of nature: wild waterfalls, chittering insects, animal calls, the wind in the trees. It’s a very absorbing, realistic soundscape, adding an additional layer of accuracy to the world. Seriously, plug in some decent headphones, stand still, and just hear the world around you. It’s like you are there.
The soundtrack is excellent too. Nobody uses music like Rockstar they are pro at it, and as well as a stunning original score by Woody Jackson, which reacts dynamically to what you’re doing in-game, Red Dead 2 also features original songs by artists as diverse as D’Angelo, Willie Nelson, and Josh Homme. Remember in the original Red Dead Redemption when Far Away by José González played as you ride into Mexico for the first time? Red Dead 2 has a musical moment to challenge that.
It’s every Wild West fantasy into one packed game
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a love story of the Wild West: both the romantic, fictional version and, in a few ways, the reality. It has details of every kind of cowboy fiction, from Clint Eastwood westerns to starker, realistic stuff like HBO’s Deadwood—and even characters as relatively far afield as Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian. It’s also going in the past, evoking the real-world history of a United States transitioning into the industrial age.
You get the amazing horse chases, shootouts, train robberies, and pistol duels you might expect. But you also have the passionate and sensitive, introspective elements of darker wilder Wild West fiction too. It’s surprisingly slow and melancholy for a hit game, and the story is genuinely heartbreaking at times. Don’t demand a raucous, rootin’-tootin’ spaghetti western: it clearly has a few moments like that, but for the greatest part, this is a really quite somber and peaceful experience.
The freedom is exhilarating
When you think of the Wild West outlaw, you think of freedom and vastness. That’s a huge part of the genre’s interest: a life on the edge, roaming wherever the wind takes you, free from duty and reality. Red Dead Redemption 2 twists this idea by introducing the game at a time when, with civilization sneaking into the west and the rise of organizations like the Pinkertons, that lifestyle is more difficult to maintain. But that feeling of liberty is still out there in the wilderness, away from the masses and gaslights of civilization.
There’s a composition to Red Dead Redemption 2, similar to GTA V. You finish story missions, often in an order of your choice, until it starts the next big story beat. But the game also helps you to walk off the beaten path, meeting strangers, hunting and riding in the woods, fishing in rivers, searching for hidden treasure, and all manner of compelling diversions from the main game. One of the most fun ways to play is just choosing a direction and start riding, and seeing what you hit into.
The world reacts to you in interesting ways
One of the most entertaining things about Red Dead Redemption 2 is how active and reactive the world feels. If you rob a store and beat up the shopkeeper, not only will they remember you the next time you go into town, but they’ll have a black eye or a wrapped head as well. If your honor is low because you’ve been doing crimes or frequently acting like a jerk, people on the street will be suspicious of you, whispering under their breath as you go by.
There are hundreds if not thousands of these little details; more than I could ever list. You can also tease a response out of literally any NPC by approaching them and starting a discussion. You can be kind and indulge in some small talk. Or you can offend them, which usually results in a fistfight, a gun being taken out, or them escaping in terror—all depends on what kind of person they are. If you go swanning into a saloon hurling curses at the rough folk drinking there, it won’t end well.
The characters have genuine depth
The Van der Linde gang is a group of misfits, drifters, and dreamers and all are enjoying the freedom of the open road. The crew’s charismatic leader is Dutch, who has great plans for the future but needs money to obtain them. Then there’s Sadie Adler, a rancher who is saved by the gang early in the game and soon becomes one of its most spirited, likable, and fearsome characters. And, of course, hero Arthur, who acts as Dutch’s right-hand man and go-to guy.
The characters are all engaging in some way, particularly the gang members, all of whom have sneaked depths and interesting quirks. None more so than Arthur himself, who is apparently one of the most intriguing, flawed, and hopelessly human lead characters in a videogame. It helps that the acting is excellent across the board: especially Roger Clark, who brings a pleasing warmth and weariness to our troubled, conflicted hero. It’s one of gaming’s most famous ensemble casts.
You never know where the story’s gonna go next
It took me 80 hours maybe a little more to finish Red Dead Redemption 2, the story kept me excited all the way through. That’s because the narrative is totally unpredictable, with many twists and turns, some of which radically alter the dynamic of the game. Just when you get comfortable, it throws a curveball at you, and the ending completely destroyed me emotionally. It’s an epic game in every sense of the word.
It is also brilliant how the game took you on guided tour of the map. The Van der Linde gang is continually on the move, on the run from the law, which is a big excuse for them to set up camp in a diversity of locations, introducing you to various parts of the map. This is also, by far, Rockstar’s most sophisticated story, but it still has a sense of humor too. A mission involving a drunken night out in a saloon is really hilarious.
Playing online is quite a ride
The story is just the starting because Red Dead Redemption 2 comes packed with a fully-featured online mode. There are a lot of ways to play Red Dead Online, including more popular competitive games such as horse races, deathmatches, and even a battle royale. But the most interesting mode for me is Free Roam and it is simply awesome, which populates that big open world with real players. When you’re sharing that space with other people, quickly the Wild West feels really wild.
This makes the world around you feel radiantly alive and unpredictable, whether it’s a huge gunfight breaking out in a town or crashing into a couple of hunters in the mountains and saying hello. In this mode you can have fun with many of the same activities as singleplayer, including hunting and fishing which are quite fun, but with the added excitement of running into real people. But there’s also a variety of fun co-op missions if you fancy a more guided experience.