We're fast approaching the release date for Red Dead Redemption 2 and the two-year mark since the game's first trailer. For those two years, the few trailers that debuted focused on cinematic teases of story and landscape but no actual gameplay which raised some criticism amongst media and fans.
That changes this week with Rockstar Games revealing the first actual look at Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay. The new extended trailer breaks down what returns and is improved from the the prior game in the series, but how does it compare? Does it offer enough newness and what does it build off from the record-breaking success of Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V?
Some of Screen Rant's gaming writers and editors weighed in the share their thoughts after viewing the official Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay trailer.
Red Dead Redemption, like Rockstar's flagship property, Grand Theft Auto, doesn't need much in the way of marketing. Rockstar stands in a unique and powerful position in this respect. They don't attend E3 or other gaming conventions because they don't need to. They don't need traditional media previews, and overbearing amount of trailers and dev diaries to promote their game. The brand promotes itself so much so that any small piece of info or rumor gets picked up and shared across the community and media.
We know Red Dead Redemption 2 will be massive, full of wonderful and over-the-top character moments, and we know it'll get an impressive multiplayer suite building off its predecessor and the success of GTA Online. What matters to me, and what this gameplay showcase doesn't detail enough, is how the gameplay mechanics and controls are improved. Is it still a pain to change direct when running? Is gunplay still too arcade-like? What sort of content will keep players active in multiplayer?
Can Red Dead Redemption 2 live up to the hype? Based on the gameplay reveal, apparently so. Open world games are nothing new, and it's a genre that Rockstar has done exceptionally well in exploring in the past, but it seems like they're setting a benchmark this time around. Everything from the animations (such as reloading and holding one weapon while holstering another) to the interactions with the general population to the lighting effects are utterly fantastic.
Rockstar has created a true living and breathing world, one that looks like players can lose themselves in. It looks more like an RPG than an action-adventure game. Plus, they're bringing everything back from the last game, while also improving upon virtually all those aspects, including the gunplay and the exploration. As a fan of the first Red Dead Redemption who has also grown skeptical of open world games in recent years, this looks marvelous.
One of the most interesting things to take away from the Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay trailer is the way that Rockstar appears to be placing an emphasis on relationships. Everyone expected the game to look stunning, as shown in this new reveal, so a lot of gamers were instead intrigued to see more of how the game operates.
What could make Red Dead Redemption 2 absolutely great is how it builds the idea of the gang, and there’s a lot to take away from this brief trailer already. A roaming camp with bonds to build with your fellow outlaws seems like great way to incorporate both strong characters and give access to a subtle trickle of the gang’s history to boot. Rather than the more solitary figure of John Marston in Red Dead Redemption, its sequel could build a strong character piece beyond even that of Grand Theft Auto 5.
The gameplay trailer shows just how deep the game mechanics and storytelling goes. It seems as if no stone has been overturned, right down to how the horse reacts to its treatment by its rider and how interactions with others determine their attitudes towards the player. The idea of the camps seems to add even more story and background, as well as serve as a good base of operations for the gang. The concept of choice in how to tackle confrontations is especially impressive. Overall, the gameplay looks incredibly rich, with a lot of detail, as well as opportunities to play outside of the main mission. It's almost like someone set Skyrim in the Wild West, but with much more focus on the story.
Red Dead Redemption 2 looks like the kind of game I expected it to be - and I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the first one. The strange thing is that despite my instinct to shy away from wild west fantasies, the gameplay trailer has somehow gotten me hooked all the same. Sometimes things just look too well-executed to be ignored, and that's the case with Rockstar's follow-up effort, at least at first glance. Southern drawls and showdowns at high noon might not do it for me from a gameplay perspective, but have you seen the reload animation for that revolver? The sheer amount of stuff to do, each element looking like it has its own nuances and skills involved? To be honest, I think that freedom is too tantalizing to ignore, and I've gone from zero interest in the title to a likely day one buy.
Red Dead Redemption 2 looks far more social and interactive than the original game. The first gameplay trailer for the sequel really embraces the concept of being a member of the Dutch van der Linde gang. The first Red Dead Redemption had a pervasiveness isolation while playing John Marston. John was an outcast, both to his former gang members and the “civilized” world around him. Red Dead Redemption 2 though really makes it seem like protagonist Arthur Morgan will be more incorporated into his world. The idea that Arthur’s actions will have direct consequences on how the environment, gameplay and story develops is very exciting. It could represent a whole new era for Rockstar Games as their previous sandbox titles always have a static status quo. This could make the game so much more personal.
In many ways, Red Dead Redemption 2 is looking like a predictable (but no less exciting) evolution of the original, which emphasized environmental beauty and a storyline based around the cultural friction emerging in the early days of American industrialization. The gang-based hub and plot structure look reminiscent of the GTA IV DLC “The Lost and the Damned,” but the graphical upgrade in the gameplay reveal is especially exciting; those forests and bogs look astounding, with sun-dappled trees, foliage, and dangerous swamp wildlife an effective contrast to the wide open plains that made up the majority of the first game. Rockstar also looks to be continuing its emergent moral-choice gameplay, but the most interesting development has to be the “greet” and “antagonize” buttons, which might allow RDR2 a heretofore-unseen level of interactivity in an open-world game."
What do you think of the Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay reveal?