Open worlds have been a staple of gaming for a long time, but recent titles like Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn have significantly pushed the boundaries of what players expect from their environments. Rockstar, of Grand Theft Auto fame, is looking to make them all look like toys with Red Dead Redemption 2 and its wild west frontier that looks to be not just huge, but refreshingly real. Rockstar is certainly best known for the immensely popular GTA series; but its arguable its most beloved game is actually 2010s Red Dead Redemption, which, though a sequel, so spectacularly transplanted the run-and-gun outlaw freedom of GTA to the American West that gamers have been clamoring for a sequel for years. RDR2 was teased back in late 2016, but only recently have we seen hints of what it will actually look like. And today brings the first of a series of videos from the developer detailing the world, character and gameplay systems. The natural beauty of the frontier is, of course, simply amazing to see rendered in such fidelity, and Rockstars artists are to be commended. And it is realism that seems to be defining the project as a whole — which makes it a departure from other games whose creators bruit a living, breathing open world to explore. Take Far Cry 5, which came out last year to mixed reviews: The natural landscape of fictional Hope County in Montana was roundly agreed to be breathtaking, but the gameplay and story were criticized as artificially and (strange juxtaposition) monotonously intense. Its clear that Far Cry 5, like other Ubisoft games, was a sandbox in which interesting but unrealistic situations were bred by the developers — a helicopter crashing on the person youre rescuing from bandits, and then a cougar mauling the pilot. Horizon: Zero Dawn and Breath of the Wild were both praised for the depth and extent of their worlds and gameplay, but they both had the significant advantage of being fantasies. A mechanical dinosaur or ancient killing machine (same thing?) arrests the eye and imagination, but because one cant really compare them to reality, they can stay definitively unrealistic. Creating a compelling sci-fi or fantasy world has its own significant challenges, but on the whole its considerably easier than creating a convincing replica of the real world. RDR2 seems to be attempting real realism in its game, to the extent that its possible. Take for example the fact that your items and cargo actually take up space on your horse. Your horse isnt 20 more grid spaces of inventory — you can tie a deer you hunted on top, but then it cant run. There are loops for two long guns but not three, and you cant carry an arsenal yourself. The flora and fauna are real frontier flora and fauna; theyll react realistically. Encounters can be approached in multiple ways, peaceful or violent. Your fabulous hide coat gets dirty when you fall in the mud. You get new things to do by getting to know people in your gang. Many of these have been seen before in various games, but what Rockstar is going for appears — and for now only appears — to be taking them to a new level. It will of course have the expected cartoonish violence and occasionally eye-roll-worthy dialogue of any game, but the attempt to realistically, and at this level of fidelity, represent such a major and well-known portion of history is an undertaking of gargantuan proportions. Will the game be as good as the amount of work that has clearly been put into it? Well find out later this year when it comes out.
Rockstars open-world Western is only a couple of months away, but were only now getting a better look at what youll actually do in the game. Given its pedigree, it might not surprise you to hear that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be huge — Rockstar is touting this as its most immersive and detailed game yet. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel starring Arthur Morgan, the leader of a group turned into outlaws following a failed bank robbery. Youll be traveling across America in 1899, avoiding the feds through environments that include cities, deserts, swamplands, and snowy mountains that will be full of predators, prey, and scavengers. And yes, John Marston will be there, as this is the same gang that made him into an infamous gunslinger. Rockstar says that youll be able to get to know the whole crew as the game will let you to talk to any member at any time — and theyll give you things to do, such as missions. You can even take people out on specific activities with you, such as fishing and hunting, and you can also play a variety of games with them. It seems that Rockstar wants to make bonding a big part of Red Dead Redemption II. As a roaming gang, your hub will be a camp that will need to be supplied with such as food and money. Unsurprising, then, that youll be able to stage robberies, though Rockstar claims that the game will give you plenty of non-violent interactions with the world as well. You can apparently talk to anyone in the game, and your options will vary depending on the context (in the video you see buttons for actions such as greet, antagonize, defuse, stop witness, threaten, dismiss, beat, and rob.) You can do everything from praise or scold a dog, to hold up stage coaches, and your choices will grant you honor that will affect the way people see you in the game. Characters will remember if you kill people they care about. Dead Eye, the gameplay mechanic that allows players to slow down time and line up shots, is also back, and the close-quarters combat system has been revamped. Guns are apparently more realistic when it comes to recoil and reloading. Also, if you wound an animal theres a chance theyll start getting away, in which case youll have to track them down, old-school. Special attention has been given to horses this time around, which will all have varying temperaments, likes and dislikes. Youll be able to feed and groom your horse, and over time, your bond will grow closer. The more experience you build up with a horse, the better stats it will have — and the easier itll be to calm it down should it ever become scared. Red Dead Redemption II releases on October 26th, 2018 for PS4 and Xbox One, making it Rockstars first new game developed for current platforms.