By now, all serious gamers have likely tried their hand at Red Dead Redemption 2, the much-awaited prequel to the original game of the same name brought to use by everyone’s favorite publisher Rockstar Games.
The game is set in 1889 in the Old West and follows the story of Arthur Morgan, one of the top members of the Van der Linde gang, as he attempts to survive as an outlaw. In the game, players are faced with vengeful bounty hunters, fellow vigilantes, and a whole slew of out-of-the-box characters that make it such a detailed and well-thought-out game.
One point that proves just how much effort Rockstar Games put into making this game as epic as possible is how historically accurate it is. Many of the characters and events are based on real-life people and occurrences that took place in the Wild West. Even details like the color palette and animation style of the scenery have stayed true to the historical accuracy, meaning not only will the player have fun playing this game but they might also learn something in the process.
Read on to discover what aspects of the game players likely didn’t know were based on actual historical events and people. And be prepared to take a trip back in time!
10 The Aberdeens Were Actual Siblings
The Aberdeens are two of the most interesting characters players will come across in RDR2. As a player approaches the farm, Bray Aberdeen offers an invitation to stay for dinner with him and his wife, Tammy. If the player agrees, the next thing they know Arthur wakes up in a mass grave with all of his valuables stolen. If the player go back to the farm, they'll quickly realize these two were siblings with a huge secret.
What’s even more interesting is that the Aberdeens are actually based on real-life people. Siblings John and Kate Bender were found to be responsible for the disappearances of at least eight people after remains were found on their farms in the 1870s.
9 Edmund Lowry Jr. Was Also Real
Throughout RDR2, there are hints (aka bodies) that there’s a Ted Bundy type on the loose. The more investigating the player does the sooner they realize that Edmond Lowry Jr. is responsible, a dapper but odd fellow who they probably would’ve turned a blind eye to otherwise.
Just like the Aberdeens, Mr. Lowry was based on a real-life criminal by the names of Stephen Richards. He targeted a variety of different victims (just like his RDR2 incarnation) between 1876 and 1978, before finally being caught by police.
However, will the player be able to stop Edmond Lowry in the game?
8 Cars Are Few And Far Between
Considering that Rockstar is the company that brought us Grand Theft Auto, some fans were curious as to whether we'd be able to hijack cars in Red Dead Redemption 2 or not. But if a player hasn't nabbed themselves a classic vehicle in the game, then don’t be disappointed because they’re few and far between.
Cars were invented in 1885, and though RDR2 takes place in 1899, cars still hadn’t become widespread by this point. Players might run into a car if they come across some very wealthy travelers (hint: check the ports), as it was only the rich and famous that had cars during this time.
7 The Suffrage Story
While playing RDR2, players are bound to come across one of the suffragettes campaigning for women’s rights to vote. The game’s inclusion of this storyline has received some criticism as some players have used it as an opportunity to bring a brutal fate to the activists.
But Rockstar included this element because of its historical relevance- if we'd been an actual cowboy during this era, we would have witnessed the suffrage movement in its full glory. The American women’s suffrage movement started in the 1840s and gained a lot of tractions in the ‘70s and ‘80s. However, it wasn’t until 1920 that women were granted the right to vote.
6 One Of The Feminists Is Based On Sophia Duleep Singh
Like we mentioned, players will stumble into various women’s rights activists during the game. And it turns out one of them was inspired by a real-life English suffragette named Sophia Duleep Singh.
Many RDR2 fans have drawn comparisons between Singh and the activist players meet in the center of St. Denis. Singh was known for campaigning on busy streets with a large wooden sign, just as the character in the game is. She was one of the first South Asian women to fight for their rights and was most remembered for her activism in the Women’s Tax Resistance League as well as the Women’s Social and Political Union.
5 Saint-Denis Is A 19thCentury New Orleans
If players have ever been to New Orleans, then they were probably shocked at the similarities between the modern-day city and RDR2’s Saint-Denis. And that’s no coincidence since the animated town is actually based on what New Orleans was like in the 1890s.
The town square looks strikingly similar to New Orleans’ Jackson Square, even featuring a small park outside of an ornate building. From the Spanish-inspired architecture to its swampy marshes on the outskirts of town, Rockstar really nailed the details on this one.
4 The Pinkertons Were The Original Cops-For-Hire
Many of RDR2’s characters complain about having unpleasant run-ins with the darned Pinkertons - and that’s because these were real people causing a ruckus amongst outlaws back in the day.
The Pinkertons were essentially cops for hire who would contract their services out to private businesses and even the government. They founded their company in 1850. They’re most famous for foiling an attempted assassination against Abraham Lincoln as well as hiring one of the world’s first female detectives.
By the 1890s, estimates suggest that there were more Pinkertons than soldiers in the US military, which is why we guess everyone has such a hard time avoiding them in the game.
3 Cowboys Of Color
One thing some fans of RDR2 have noticed is that there is an increased amount of cowboys of color, particularly compared to RDR1.
While the game is still a long way away from having equal representation, this is a welcome improvement that’s historically accurate, as there were many cowboys and outlaws who were also people of color in the Old West. Many times people of color fled from slavery to find freedom in the West.
“Historians agree that black people made up around ¼ of all cowboys, but in Red Dead Redemption 1, the only black characters were bounties that players hunted down or NPCs with forgettable one-liners,” IGN explains. “Red Dead Redemption 2 is primed to help normalize conversations about race in games.”
2 The Landscape Is Based On An Art Movement
Anyone who plays Red Dead Redemption 2 will marvel at how gorgeous the scenery in the game is. Rockstar paid extra close detail to the animation and detail in this game. So much so, the landscape is actually based on a 19th century art movement, The Hudson River School.
The school was essentially a group of painters led by Thomas Cole who became known for their elaborate and sometimes exaggerated depiction of the American frontier. The painters would go on dangerous Western expeditions just to get inspiration for their artwork- now that’s dedication.
1 Tuberculosis Is The Real Deal-Breaker
Warning - there are some major spoilers in this entry!
Given all the chaos Arthur faced one would assume his fate would come to the end during a shoot-off with police or by being betrayed by one of his men. But Arthur’s ending isn’t really violent at all. But it is realistic.
In the end, our favorite cowboy succumbs to Tuberculosis, which seems so anti-climatic given the action he’s seen. But Rockstar made this move to stay true to history, as TB was the number one reason for mortality in the 1890s as no global cure was available. Doesn’t that make us glad for vaccinations nowadays?