One of the biggest topics surrounding Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2 has been the horses (particularly that the horses' balls shrink in cold weather), and it's quite clear that what Rockstar has done with their 2018 installment is truly a game-changer for the industry. In a game about cowboys and the Old West, it's not that surprising that a lot of time and effort (perhaps some of those 100-hour work weeks) went into developing the horses in Red Dead Redemption 2.
It wasn't until this decade that horses started to become used more and more often in triple-A video games, and that's thanks to the normalcy of open-world titles hitting the market. However, they haven't been a focus as of yet. Even as recently as a few weeks ago with the release of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, horses have primarily been tools for players to traverse the open world, but they've been largely underutilized. For years, all players could do was simply mount their horse and go from point A to point B. There was little to nothing they could do with the horse in-between, aside from maybe upgrading its speed or defense. But they've become characters in their own right in Red Dead Redemption 2.
In addition to riding horses for hours and hours in Red Dead Redemption 2, players are responsible for making sure their horse is being well kept, including feeding them, grooming them, and, most importantly, bonding with them. A horse in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the player's best friend. Each different horse breed has a different personality that needs to be learned and adapted to - and that includes how certain horses react to the environment and Arthur himself. Not every horse will follow players off a cliff if need be (or, more commonly, through a harrowing snowstorm).
Furthermore, improving one's self in the game is only the first step in conquering the Old West. Players can't ignore their horses in Red Dead Redemption 2. A player's bond with their horse is can ultimately improve their companion, giving them a boost in stamina, health, agility, and more. Plus, players will be thankful they have a horse around them when they come into contact with legendary animals. Essentially, think of horses in Red Dead Redemption 2 as if they're cars in Forza Horizon 4, but living and breathing, and of course requiring care. Unlike in racing games where cars are simply repaired when a race is over, Red Dead Redemption 2's horses need to be looked after, even while on the move. They can - and do - die.
Given the fact that Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open-world Western game, seeing how much detail has gone into the horses is to be assumed, but this much detail is truly astonishing. Players even can even store their equipment and weapons in the pouch on the horse's saddle. Even though this is a game, the horse's realism has gone above and beyond all expectations.