I like games and sound design stuff. I also write from time to time.
October 26th 2018. A day expected for greatness and to be remembered for generations to come. Set the date in your calendars as we’re now just around a month away from the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2).
First let’s talk about the change of scenery and by that I mean the change of protagonist. We now follow the story of Arthur Morgan who runs alongside John Marston, Bill Williamson, Javier Escuella and, of course, Dutch Van Der Linde as a part of the original Dutch’s Gang – albeit as an enforcer and one of Dutch’s most trusted protégés. We don’t know much at this stage about Arthur’s backstory other than that he has spent his life on the run, but it’s not clear as to how he ran into Dutch – although I’m sure all will be revealed in due time. What has been made clear is the overall size of Dutch’s gang within this timeframe, comprising a total of 23 members. The gang forms an important part of the gameplay in that, the more time you put in; the more you’ll be rewarded. But Rockstar has stated that players won’t be penalised for spending their time exploring instead. So you can go off taking in the sights, or you can check up with your gang to see how everyone is ticking along; the choice is yours.
The New Bits
Moving on, RDR2 seems to lean more in favour of survival games than that of Red Dead Redemption (RDR), but not as far as to do a full lean – Michael Jackson style. We can expect to see needs like hunger and energy factor in to cause fatigue if neglected, with food directly and visually impacting Arthur’s weight. Alongside this, keeping Arthur’s general hygiene in check such as grooming and clothing is essential to get the most out of social interactions. These social interactions have had quite the overhaul; when you target individuals by holding L2/LT you now have the potion to engage in various social interactions by pressing the face buttons, whilst still having the option to aim your gun if you see fit.. This new method may allow Arthur to talk his way out of crimes he’s committed with the constabulary, or dispel the crime from the get-go by threatening witnesses. We can expect these features to make RDR2 feel more realistic and immersive – who doesn’t like that?
We can also expect animals to remain an integral part of the gameplay and economy of Red Dead Redemption 2, but on a much more expansive scale. Rockstar has announced a total of around 200 separate species (yes, you read that right), but that’s not all. Rockstar has also confirmed that these animals “form part of a complex ecosystem and must fight for their position in the food chain”. This complex ecosystem may indicate that removing or impacting certain animals in the food chain may also significantly affect other animals above or below in the food chain. Mind. Blown. Now, this isn’t confirmed, but with the attention to detail that Rockstar boasts, it wouldn’t surprise me. With this sheer amount of animals, it can be deduced that hunting will form an essential part of gameplay, alongside the new addition of fishing. Players can expect to find their hunts dependent upon gun choice and shot placement, as these will affect the quality of the meat and pelts. Kills you make can be sliced and diced on the spot, transported on the back of your trusty steed to a butcher or tradesman, or taken back to the Van Der Linde camp to be turned into stew or various pieces of clothing. What can be said is that if hunting is anywhere near as satisfying – or at times as nail-biting – as it was in the first game, this is not going to be one to miss.
It’s also worth mentioning that horses, whilst forming an integral part of the first RDR, will form an even more integral part of RDR2. Your horse is effectively your brother, your loyal companion through thick and thin. As such Rockstar has made some changes to the way in which you care for your comrade. As was the case in the previous game, your bond with your horse will grow over time, but this time only as a result as to how much time you put into caring for it, such as feeding and grooming. This may lead to further movement mechanics such as strafing and galloping from stationary, alongside the obvious increments to stamina. It should also be mentioned that if your horse is sadly taken from you in battle, or if you just shot it in the face (we all did this in RDR, don’t lie everyone), you will lose your pre-existing bond and will have to start again. On the lighter side of things, we can also expect to see a staggering 19 different breeds of horse – from Arabians to Shires – along with more customization options than you can shake a stick at, meaning you can go overboard on pimping your Red Dead ride and become the illest cowboy in the New Frontier. Colonel Allende would be proud.
Finally I want to talk about the graphics for this game, but I also want to include some of the visual effects – it’s these that have really sold the game for me. If you take a look at any of the screenshots Rockstar have released so far, it’s clear to see that the graphics for RDR2 are spectacular; definitely on par with those we saw in the GTA V release for the PS4 and Xbox One. There’s one screenshot in question that draws my attention the most, which is that of a Gila monster (Lizard) on a rock – I had to do a double take to check it wasn’t real. This is the sort of level we can expect from the release of RDR2 next month particularly if you have the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. But further to this, Rockstar has thrown in some lovely little details that just add so much icing and so many cherries on top of the cake. For instance, in one of the videos, we can see Arthur being thrown out of a saloon window into some mud, his body actually leaving an imprint in the mud. Later on, in the same video, we can see the way that various plumes of light interact with snowdrifts in the mountain biome. If that fails to pique your interest, just take a look at the stunning particle effects that billow out of the barrels of rifles and revolvers. It’s all getting my spurs a lil’ tangled.
So, by this point, you shouldn’t need much convincing that Red Dead Redemption 2 is definitely worth your time and has a right to be one of the most anticipated releases of this year. Every bit of news that is released just hypes me up further for this game, as such I’m so excited to see what other stuff they plan on releasing and I really cannot wait until this game is released – it’s going to be like Christmas all over again. But should you indeed need any more persuading to go and pre-order this game: Woody Jackson, the original composer of the score for RDR, was reinstated for RDR2 and has produced 192 separate pieces of score – not including ambient themes (I. Can’t. Even.). That’s all I can say at the moment without having a breakdown from excitement, until then if there’s anything I’ve missed off that you’re really looking forward to – leave us a comment and let us know!