Late last month, Rockstar dropped its first teaser trailer for the brand new Red Dead Redemption 2. A series of persistent rumors had popped up some months before hinted that a sequel to the very popular Red Dead Redemption was in the work. It seems that, thankfully, they turned out to be true!
In a way, I feel like I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption for a several years. I first played it in 2013, and then I played through it again, fully, earlier this year. But during the between years, I’ve played the game sporadically, just to pick up missed side quests, do a little treasure hunting, or spend a little time meandering through its wondrous landscapes on horseback. The game is just one of my favorites, from the story to the music to the environments, and I simply need to revisit it every now and then.
The big question in my mind concerning Red Dead Redemption 2 is will it become my new favorite game? Because, it certainly seems like it could. First and foremost, the trailer featured some stunning landscapes. The notion of riding over those pretty, pretty fields and forests and deserts is a huge draw. Second, the minute of music that plays in the background packs a punch. It’s not overwrought, but rather starts out in forlorn tones, and then kicks over into something meatier as the trailer ends. And finally, tying everything together is a keen sense of place. Red Dead Redemption gave us a circa-1911 American West setting, and it looks like the second game might take place within that same sphere, or maybe a tad earlier, as in the turn of the twentieth century. Either way is quite alright with me.
The Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer also left me with a lot of questions. I’m most intrigued by the grouping of riders at the end. While it makes me think that multiplayer is going to be a hefty component of the new game (and it is, according to Rockstar), it also makes me think that maybe we’ll have the chance to form a team during the game, or at least, work with a team. That would be a step up from living the solitary life of John Marston, Red Dead Redemption’s protagonist. And then there’s that lone voice. The speech, the tone…to me he sounds a lot like Bill Williamson, the primary antagonist from Red Dead Redemption and leader of a gang that once counted Marston as a member.
It’s this voice that makes my mind gallop into the sunset with hopes of what Red Dead Redemption 2 might hold in store for us. I know I’d like to see an excellent single-player campaign, one that allows for character- and story-building. And if the Old West/aging Victorian/riding the Great Plains setting sticks, then the game can be as open world as it wants. Give me as many reasons to explore as to follow the story! Give me a bigger map and more towns and more adventures! Though, I will say that I could probably do with more meaningful sidequests. Not that I minded taking the time in the first game to have Marston collect flowers for the skeletal remains of some crazy guy’s wife, or chase down a cannibal in the plains, or help an inventor with his unsuccessful flying machine, but none of those quests lent anything to Marston’s story. I get that you need achievement quests in games, but they don’t all have to revolve around achievements.
I’m also all for seeing more of John Marston, only this time, he’s the younger gunslinger and gang member. Maybe we’ll get to build the Williamson gang – finding the biggest and baddest outlaws in the land! – and then ride along with Marston, Williamson, et al. as they discover town after town and make deals, friends, and enemies. And then maybe we’ll also be treated to witnessing the development of the rift that eventually severs Marston from the gang, and from Williamson specifically.
Furthering my John Marston hopes, why not let us experience Marston, the farm-owner and the father? If there was one thing that I didn’t care for in Red Dead Redemption, it was the tacked-on epilogue involving John, his wife Abigail, and his son Jack. The whole things just felt hokey, and it conflicted with everything that John was up to that point (even though the crux of his entire plight was saving his family). It’d be great if Red Dead Redemption 2 changed all that by giving players the chance to build Marston’s farm and to cultivate a relationship with Abigail.
(All this said, if the second game moves on from John Masrton, so be it. I might be a little upset, but it’ll only take a few horseback rides for me to get over it.)
Whatever comes of Red Dead Redemption 2, I remain excited, and I look forward to making it my game of Christmas 2017 (hopefully, because delays do happen). I will also likely try to remain in the dark as more information about the game is released. Unless I happen to hear that the sequel is online, multiplier only, (which would make me very, very sad, Rockstar) I’d like to go into the game mostly sight unseen. I enjoyed Red Dead Redemption unfettered and I want to keep that trend going for as long as the Red Dead franchise stays alive.
RDR fans, what are your thoughts, hopes, and dreams for Red Dead Redemption 2?