In my 36 years of gaming, there are but a handful of games that elevate themselves so far beyond other titles of the same time frame, I forever place them on a pedestal. After more than 130 hours of residing in the greatest game world ever developed, Red Dead Redemption 2 now stands firmly among the remaining few.
I could, and likely will, eventually write about all of the facets of this title that are remarkable. But that is a substantial endeavor. So let me explain briefly why this game is so special.
First let’s get all of the basics out of the way. Graphics? Remarkable, and in native 4K, absolutely breathtaking at times. Sound design? Superb in all areas with memorable voice acting (particularly from the core characters), realistic weapon effects, accurate world sounds from the more than 500 animals you’ll find in the environment, and an expansive, superb soundtrack. Controls? The sole area I can’t rave about. They are serviceable, and with some adjustment and practice you’ll have few issues, but they certainly aren’t the most polished.
Now, onto the two areas in which Redemption 2 separates itself from nearly every game before it; starting with the plot that encompasses the writing, characters, and story. The cast of Red Dead 2 is highly memorable with the “camp” setting taking the forefront throughout the game. Via the camp, the development of relationships is endearing and because the core characters are so well developed, it invests you in the world with them. The development of Dutch and Arthur as the game unfolds in particular, is some of the greatest character development we’ve ever witnessed in gaming; right up there with The Last of Us. Just as Red Dead Redemption 2 has firmly taken a spot in my favorite games of all-time, Arthur is also now also one of my favorite protagonists.
The second area, and the ace of spades for Rockstar with this title, is the world itself. For years now, the gaming community has considered a few titles the pinnacles of interactive game worlds. I can say, unequivocally, that none of them are as expansive nor interactive as Red Dead Redemption 2’s re-creation of the early 20th Century. It is quite frankly impossible to accurately describe the breadth of the world and the depth of its design. It is staggering. When Rockstar marketed the title with the statement of “You don’t play in the world of Red Dead Redemption 2, you live in it” it came off as nothing more than marketing hype at the time. It wasn’t. I have never been as engrossed in a game’s world as I have been with Redemption 2 and it has surpassed The Witcher 3 in my opinion as the greatest ever created.
There are games that stay with you long after completion. The ones that you catch yourself thinking about while trying to fall asleep at night. Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of those titles through and through. The stories told within, the characters that endear themselves to you, the development of Arthur, Dutch, Sadie and others, and the evolution of John during the prologue(s) which eventually connect to Red Dead Redemption 1 are all remarkable. The fact that all of it takes place in the most impressive world ever developed is the equivalent of yelling “Domino!” There is no game in recent memory more deserving of our top honors than Red Dead Redemption 2. It is indeed “Historic”.