Rockstar Games: Red Dead Redemption II Review

Story posted November 3, 2018 in CommRadio, Sports by Zach Hall and Owen Paiva

Red Dead Redemption II is a prequel to the original Red Dead Redemption, taking place 12 years before the start of the first game. In Red Dead Redemption II, you play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw trying to survive in the west at the turn of the century. In 1899, outlaw gangs were becoming a dying breed and were being hunted by the law. Dutch Van Der Linde, the leader of the Van Der Linde gang helps lead their band of misfits and killers to prosper in the west before they’re wiped out completely.

Along with the help of his right-hand man Arthur Morgan, the gang must go through a plethora of challenges and roadblocks along the way in Rockstar Games most heartfelt and gritty story to date. Impressively, the campaign of Red Dead Redemption II alone is close to 60 hours, not counting the seemingly endless side missions and strangers to meet along the way across the massive open world. 

Following the format of Red Dead Redemption, Redemption II is a western themed action-adventure game, playable in either a third person over the shoulder view or a first-person view. The former is the preferred style, as it is the default. Redemption II is a lot like its predecessor. Deadeye, one of the most important features from Redemption returns, allowing time to slow down, and the player to pick their shots whether it be on enemies or when hunting.

It features a large map featuring many types of biomes such as snowy mountains, swampy bayous and sweeping plains. Similar to Redemption, there are “stranger” missions, which are side quests that you can do for various rewards. Things like challenges, collecting herbs, hunting, gang encounters and bounty hunting all return from Redemption.

There are a lot of updated mechanics from Redemption. The revamped hunting system shows how the Rockstar crew really expanded on features, adding more to the gameplay. You can track animals with the new Eagle Eye feature and scout them to find out more info.

Another addition to hunting is the varying qualities of animals. To get the best pelts, one must use the right equipment and aim for vital areas for the animals deemed pristine. The new horse bonding system allows the player to maximize the effectiveness of their mount by spending more time with it and taking care of it.

New features include being able to swim, fishing for over 30 different species to find in rivers, lakes and swamps. There are also boats for the player to row out to the middle of bodies of waters to help angle the large fish of the region like Catfish, Sturgeons and Gars. Weapon maintenance and different types of ammunition have both been added to improve gunslinging. 

The drastic gameplay change comes in the form of cores, for both Arthur Morgan and his mount. Each core has three different levels, gold being the best, white, and red being the worst. The quality of the core affects the amount of each thing you have. The player has a health core, which can be affected by temperature and taking damage, a stamina core, which is affected by sprinting, swimming, and other strenuous activities, and a deadeye core which is affected by the player’s use of the mechanic. These cores can be maintained by eating food, sleeping, and various consumables such as health cures and snake oil. The player’s mount also has its own health and stamina cores that must be maintained.

Rockstar Games has proven themselves in the past to be one of the best when it comes to presentation in their games. With Red Dead Redemption II, Rockstar has once again raised the bar, crafting one of the densest and gorgeous games of this generation. The sheer amount of detail that has been packed into this open world is simply astounding, helping Red Dead Redemption II’s version of the west be the most visually immersive games of the last decade.

Trees blow in the wind, snow deforms around your feet and stays that way as you continue to walk, mud and water cover you specifically where you make contact. Little details like these and many, many more all add up to a game that feels so incredibly realistic that you may forget you're even playing a game.

The same can be said for the sound design with every little flutter of the leaves and crunch of the snow coming across seamlessly. The soundtrack has over 110 contributors, even boasting performances from Willie Nelson and Nas Every bit of the graphics and sound in Red Dead Redemption II make for a game that is just as fun to look at as it is to play. Rockstar Games continues to be top tier when it comes to game design, with Red Dead Redemption II being their magnum opus.    

Compare to other games out: In 2010, Red Dead Redemption had an impressive following for what was described as a niche game, a very well made and in-depth niche game, but in a genre that didn’t have many games as of recently. Back then, first-person shooters dominated with Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops the latest releases with all three of these games having large player bases. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield: 1943 both released that year so that genre dominated.

Minecraft was two years off being ported to consoles, and Red Dead helped fill the void between GTA IV and V. Fast Forward to 2018, and a new subgenre dominates. Battle Royale shooters are the hot ticket currently with games like Fortnite and Playerunknown's Battlegrounds dominating and even the newest Black Ops has a battle royale mode which is a hunger games like mode where players fight off up to 100 players in teams of one to four players.

Another game on the horizon is Fallout 76 which is a multiplayer version of the apocalyptic action-adventure game. The demand from players who either don’t care about or are tired of the battle-royale genre is evident through Redemption II’s gargantuan sales numbers.

Impressively, the video game now holds the record for the largest opening weekend for any entertainment property at $725 million, greater than the recent Star Wars and Avengers movies, and is the second highest three day opening for any entertainment property ever. Not bad considering Grand Theft Auto V, another release by Rockstar Games, is number one.

Rating: 5/5

 

Zach Hall is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email zth5043@psu.edu.

Owen Paiva is a sophomore majoring in film/video. To contact him, email owenpaiva@sbcglobal.net.