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After eight years, fans of Red Dead Redemption
will finally be treated to Red Dead Redemption 2
, the game’s highly anticipated prequel.
From glimpses of a few breathtaking screenshots to a gameplay demo and enticing tidbits from developer Rockstar Studios, this Western-themed action-adventure video game looks to be as textured, in-depth, and immersive as its predecessor - if not more so.
Rockstar Studios has slated the Red Dead Redemption 2 release date for PS4 and Xbox One on October 26.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the prequel to Red Dead Redemption. It follows the story of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and member of Dutch van der Linde’s gang. This is the gang that John Marston, the first game’s protagonist, was a part of. And a Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer reveals that his family is along for the ride too.
According to Rockstar Studios, after a robbery goes awry in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the van der Linde gang are forced to flee. With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation fast on their heels, the gang must rob, steal, and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America to survive.
As deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, Morgan needs to choose between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.
Meet the new protagonist
Arthur Morgan is a cowboy outlaw and part of Dutch van der Linde's gang. There are choices that you can make about his character while playing Red Dead Redemption 2 that will affect later actions and consequences. So it’s up to you if he skews more scoundrel than honorable, or vice versa.
The supporting cast
Key players from Red Dead Redemption return. John Marston, for one, appears in Red Dead Redemption 2 in a brief scene, making eye contact with Morgan - and it seems that it’s around the time he got those scars on his face. It also looks like his son, Jack (and an important part of the finale of Red Dead Redemption) and his mother Abigail are sitting around the campfire with other gang members.
Additional key players also return, such as Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella. You’ll also meet other members of the van der Linde gang, including Susan Grimshaw, Charles Smith, Sadie Adler, Micah Bell, Hosea Matthews, Tilly Jackson, and more.
Like any good story, the setting of Red Dead Redemption could have been considered as one of its characters.
The beautifully rendered, sweeping, and lush vistas of the prairies, deserts, forests, and mountains of the Old West - from the Great Plains to Mexico and from the Texas Hill Country to the Rockies - are part of the adventure and protagonist John Marston’s story in the original.
Similarly, Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in gorgeously rendered places. This time, however, it’s 12 years earlier in 1899: a truly fascinating time period when the Wild West and the age of the outlaw were bumping up against the modern world.
The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is about 500 miles by 500 miles. So it’s chock full of places to not only adventure within, but also to explore in depth.
The Great Plains is featured once again on the Red Dead Redemption 2
map; it was a particularly visually arresting location from the first game and was where the buffalo roamed (and grazed). One of the official game trailers
shows a canoe, so there is definitely boat travel along with riders galloping alongside a mighty river, some stunning lakes, and waterfalls.
Given that the time period is 1899 and earlier than the setting in Red Dead Redemption, it’s not surprising to see more wide-open spaces and less developed and populated-looking towns. Some of the locations that Rockstar has confirmed include towns from West Elizabeth, which is part of the first game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 also includes new towns and territories such as:
- Strawberry, West Elizabeth: a logging town that is transforming into a cultural mecca for wealthy tourists
- Valentine, New Hanover: a raucous town in the Heartlands that carries out livestock auctions
- Annesburg, New Hanover: a hardscrabble mining town in Roanoke Ridge, which has been shipping coal down the Lannahechee River for 100 years
- Saint Denis, Bayou NWA, Lemoyne: a key trade gateway into North America and melting pot of cultures and people
- Lagras, Bayou NWA, Lemoyne: a small, remote settlement out in the swamps
- Mount Hagen, Grizzlies, Ambarino: a town above Lake Isabella that provides the main pass through the western mountain range and joins up with the Dakota River to the south
- Rhodes, Scarlett Meadows: a prim and proper, yet corrupt, Southern town caught in the crossfire between two warring plantation families
When gang members are forced to flee, they set up camps. Unlike other video games whose characters only seem to appear and interact with you when you’re around, characters in the camps in Red Dead Redemption 2 have their own agenda and will not necessarily be at your beck and call.
For example, if you’re out on a quest and taking longer than anticipated, your camp will not wait up for you. You’ll be able to stockpile supplies as before, and how you play Morgan may affect camp morale and the ability to equip him with more supplies.
Just like in the first game, you’ll be able to gather and use weapons while exploring and defending yourself on your quests.
Shooting and combat have been improved in Red Dead Redemption 2. However, each weapon has unique characteristics along with realistic feels for reloading your weapon and its recoil.
Interacting with other characters will be a key attribute, and you’ll be swapping stories especially with your gang members (and learning potentially important details) while around the campfire and going on missions with them.
The game world responds to your character, so you can make choices such as how you’ll talk to and respond to fellow horseback riders while passing them. You can, for instance, negotiate either out of or into trouble, and intimidate witnesses or dismiss them - either escalating or diffusing confrontations.
And you can make friends or enemies. For example, the woman who berates Morgan for killing her cousin would most certainly be in the enemy camp.
There are a number of changes that Rockstar has implemented in Red Dead Redemption 2 compared to Red Dead Redemption. This list is certainly not all inclusive, so consider it to be a small glimpse behind the curtain of the vast production that will be the game when it’s released .
11 changes in Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay:
1. Play the game in first-person perspective. This is in addition to third-person gameplay and the cinematic camera mode, which you can activate while riding or traveling fast in a wagon.
2. Spend more time examining items. Stores, homes, and other buildings in towns will have items that you can manipulate and even examine closely. You can also inspect your weapons.
3. Customize and craft weapons. Gunsmiths can customize your weapons with features such as personalized engravings and leather wraps. You can also craft certain types of weapons and ammunition.
4. Fire warning shots. With your gun unholstered, you can fire warning shots to intimidate either people or animals.
5. Carry your weapons visibly. All of the weapons that you’re able to carry will be visible, and you’ll be limited to two long guns or one long gun and one bow, two sidearms, one knife, one lasso, and several throwables.
6. Slow down time to unleash bullets. The first game’s Dead-Eye targeting system returns, but with more levels of lethalness, including slowing down time to release a barrage of bullets, selecting your targets, and using x-ray vision to specifically aim for vital organs.
7. Talk to people; don’t just shoot them. By aiming at people while your gun is holstered, you’ll be able to access a menu to chat with other characters.
8. Hunt and skin animals as realistically as possible. Rockstar pulled no punches with these new abilities. You’ll not only be able to track and hunt animals activating a new eagle-eye vision that shows you important environmental details, but also use your knife to remove their carcasses - realistically and gorily - to then sell the meat and pelts.
9. Clean yourself. This may be a challenge out on the gritty frontier, but you’ll need to keep yourself clean by washing, taking baths, and changing clothes every now and again. Non-player characters (NPCs) may react to, for instance, the unwashed stench of an animal’s rotting corpse on your body - or your unwashed self in general.
10. Eat when hungry. Your core meters are health, stamina, and Dead-Eye, and you'll need to keep Morgan sated with meals and snacks. If your health or stamina falls below a certain level, he’ll experience dizziness and blurry vision, affecting the ability to walk. But be sure not to overdo it, because you can actually gain and lose weight.
11. Take selfies. Ok, not quite “selfies” per se, but the Old West’s version of them. Since you can access a camera during one of the quests, you’ll have it in your inventory to use at any time. While some will use it to capture cool things within the game world, others will undoubtedly turn it around for some duck-lip action. Just make sure Morgan is ready for his close up.
Horses: More than just transportation
Red Dead Redemption 2 features many kinds of wildlife who respond to their environment in appropriate ways.
Of the 200 species of animals, birds, and fish, the most important of them may be horses. They are not just a means to get around the game world; they’re also important companions. You’ll need to groom, feed, pet, and care for your horse - which will have health and stamina meters, too - and that bonding will evidently unlock new skills.
There are 59 different styles of coat, and a range of customizable tack, including saddles, horns, stirrups, and spurs to create and explore with your own special horse.
From Appaloosas and Arabians to Shires and Mustangs, there are 19 breeds of horse in Red Dead Redemption 2. Each of them handles differently with its own unique characteristics. Some breeds, for instance, will be better suited to certain situations, while others will react differently to terrain, water, and fear. You’ll be able to capture unbroken horses, buy them from stables, and even steal them.
Although Morgan can only carry a limited number of weapons, your horse will be able to carry extra weapons, animal pelts, and any items that you’ve picked up. In addition to mounting it, you’ll also be able to hold onto your horse’s reins and walk alongside it. Just be sure to avoid stepping in what they leave behind.
The new battle royale mode
There is a rumor that there will be a Red Dead Redemption 2 battle royale mode. Rockstar has recently confirmed that a public beta for the online mode is scheduled for about one month after the game's launch in October, although there is not yet a confirmed Red Dead Redemption 2 PC release date.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.
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