A Deeper Look into Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2

Game Review 

            Red Dead Redemption 2 made by Rockstar games, came out in fall of 2018 as a prequel to the original Red Dead Redemption which was released all the way back in 2010. With Red Dead Redemption being one of Rockstar’s best delivered game, Red Dead Redemption 2 was much anticipated for and fans were expecting something big, to which, their wishes of another iconic title being delivered were answered.

            The story of Red Dead Redemption 2 follows the life of Arthur Morgan, the character you play as, and his fellow gang named the “Van der Linde” gang. Among this gang are a few recognizable characters. Firstly, John Marston, the character you play as in the original Red Dead Redemption, along with the gang leader, known as Dutch Van Der Linde, played integral roles in the original game as they are eventually pitted against each other in the original game. So, what led to them having to go against each other? Well, in Red Dead Redemption we learn that both John and Dutch used to be in a formidable gang with each other, so what went so wrong that they are now willing to kill each other in order to save their own lives? Therefore, what the story of Red Dead Redemption 2 illustrates to us is the hey days of the gang and its eventual steep downfall through distrust and betrayals within the gang, which as we already know, would carry on into the events of the original Red Dead Redemption.

Campaign

            The story telling of the campaign is leaps and bounds beyond many other games. Rockstar has been able to consistently captivate the players consisntely over the past years throughout their story telling and this is no secret. This includes their most notable series, “Grand Theft Auto” along with some of the smaller name titles like “Bully”.  When the game starts off, the player is seen travelling around the country with the Van der Linde gang, doing multiple missions with the goal of money behind every task. Dutch, the leader of the gang, is seen mentioning a big heist that they’ll eventually do, and once they do, they will leave the country with all the gold they have. Needless to say, a lot of things go south before that point. I won’t say much more about the campaign, as I feel it’s an experience that any avid gamer, not even a fan of the Red Dead series, can enjoy very much. A comparison I will make to it is almost like a modern day “Romeo and Juliet” in that, we know what the ending is, but still, we want to know “why” things turned out the way they did. The end itself is irrelevant, but rather, it’s the process that brought us there that matters.

The open world

The open world that the player can explore is like none other. Being that the game is set back in 1899, the world itself is very different than a lot of other games. Instead of cars, there are horses, and instead of your typical full automatic assault rifles, semi-automatic rifles are used. The attention to detail by Rockstar is so intricate, that even the smallest things, like bumping into someone by accident will trigger a reaction from them. Apart from missions, the player can choose what type of civilian they want to be through an honor system, which ultimately decides the type of ending you get. If you want, you can rob stores, kill civilians, and treat people poorly which will give you low honor. This is what I did because I figured I was already an outlaw, so why not portray myself as such in my day to day life? If you do this, people will naturally be more scared of you and treat you more as a criminal. People will snarl at you in the streets, will generally be more aggressive and you will miss out on benefits such as discounts at certain stores. Alternatively, should you be ethical in your day to day life while still robbing banks as a side gig, you will be rewarded with a higher honor and a better ending. In total, there are 4 possible endings, but in all honesty, the main outcome is still the same either way, and no you cannot prevent the downfall of the gang by having high honor. Therefore, what the player decides to do in the open world of Red Dead is in essence, very important to the story arc, as the smallest of mistakes will sway people against you. 

Multiplayer    

            The multiplayer aspect of any Rockstar game is a big deal because it encompasses an open world which people can now explore with their friends. The online model is the same as the campaign model when it comes to health, stamina, weapons, character customizations, etc. It even has its own mini story that it follows to introduce the player to Red Dead Redemption’s online side of the game. The online story missions play very similar to the campaign as well, consisting of a series of rides, chases, and or gunfights stitched together. Interestingly, Rockstar also added four missions that are exclusive to people with high honor and four other missions for people with low honor. On top of the regular online story missions, there are “stranger” missions where there will be side characters at random areas of the map who will give you playable missions. These missions include tasks such as assassinations, robberies, deliveries, etc. All in all, there’s a lot of fun missions that you can do with friends to further explore the world of Red Dead Redemption.

            If you want to get more competitive, there are also a plethora of activities you can partake in. To start off, there is your typical “Team Deathmatch” game mode that is 8 versus 8 for the regular version, or 16 versus 16 in the large scale version. There’s also a variation of this game mode, known as “Most Wanted”, where the more players you kill, the higher your bounty becomes and subsequently other people will get more points for killing you. Remember the “Battle Royale” game mode? Well if you fancy that game mode, then you’ll enjoy the “Make it Count” mode where everyone starts off with the same gun and the last one to stay alive wins. Additionally, if competitive gunfights aren’t for you and casual activities are, there are horse races which include circuit races, point-to-point races and open races. There’s also “Archer”, where you build up point by hitting bullseyes hung around the map with a bow and arrow.

            Overall, Red Dead online has a lot to offer beyond the single player campaign. It may be a lot to take in initially, but it shouldn’t take long to find that one game mode or activity you enjoy the most.

Business Model

            The business model for Red Dead Redemption is nearly identical to its sister game, Grand Theft Auto V. In Red Dead Redemption, you can opt to purchase gold bars, which is a secondary form of currency next to dollars, whereas in GTA V, you could buy dollars under the form of “Shark Cards”. In hindsight, they work the same way as each other. So in Red Dead online, if you’re buying a weapon, you can opt to pay in dollars, or you can pay in gold bars. Of course, you can earn gold bars too, but it’s at a much slower rate and is a lot more rare to come across. Although the idea of only being able to purchase micro transactions in the online world is the same on both Red Dead and GTA, GTA only has one form of currency as opposed to two. Ultimately, it’s the same thing and it doesn’t make a difference in terms of a player’s net wealth. But you could say that Red Dead Online offers a bit more opportunities to increase net wealth because you can earn both dollars and gold bars. Although there are far more ways to earn money in GTA, so in the end, it kind of balances it off to essentially the same economy in both games.

            Having played both GTA and Red Dead online, I’ve experienced first-hand how long it takes to earn a money in both games. For GTA, it was only after the first couple of years where Rockstar added more downloadable content (DLC), most notably the ability to do bank heists and run drug businesses, that gave the players more opportunities to earn more money. The great thing about this is that Rockstar released all this DLC for free through game updates and patches, so not only did we not have to pay a single penny, we were also given more opportunities to earn money. Additionally, there were many money glitches and exploits that would allow players to “cheat” for their money. I’ve attached a video below that shows one of the more infamous GTA money glitches. Even during its birth, GTA money glitches have been around throughout the entire life cycle of GTA online. They have never been fully patched, and with every update, comes a new money glitch. There are countless content creators that focus solely on GTA money glitches, and usually it will be a person with a thick accent, stretching the video out for more than 10 minutes to earn as much ad revenue as possible. Still, watching these videos is the price you have to pay if you want to earn quick money. Now, why is this relevant? Because Red Dead Online has been following the exact same model. Just like GTA, they have been releasing updates for free, and these updates have helped grow money earning opportunities. The game hasn’t even been out for a full year yet, so it’s still very young in its life cycle. GTA online has been around since 2015, and it still receives big updates every now and then, so sure enough, Red Dead online will more than likely be receiving the same type of treatment as well. Of course, there are also money glitches in Red Dead online that can be exploited.

            Overall, all of this may make it seem like Rockstar probably does poorly with their micro transactions. Well, even if they are, it doesn’t really matter because the titles they release become household titles for gamers. Their sales for their games are ongoing, such as the case with GTA V. Additionally, Rockstar probably doesn’t even do poor sale numbers for their micro transactions, because not everyone is willing to cheat in the game and may therefore resort to micro transaction purchases. The thing with Rockstar is that if they usually discover money glitches pretty quickly, and once they patch it, there will usually be a dry period in which there are no glitches until the next one is discovered. So even for the cheaters, they may buy the micro transactions at some point as well. Nevertheless, I think Rockstar has done a fairly ethical job with their business model. They could easily charge us $10 for every new update, but instead, give it to us for free. Their prices for micro transactions aren’t the best bang for your buck, but even at that, they’ve continued giving us free new content and ample opportunities to earn more money. They even have sales for their micro transactions and will even give money to us at random times. Hopefully, Red Dead online will have the same fate as GTA online and will have a life span of many years to come.

Final Verdict

            Rockstar is one of the best game developing companies for a reason, and it’s because of their attention to the games that they release and the ability to maintain a positive reputation among their fan base. They don’t try to milk their fan base for every penny they have and provide us with a very good product. They have a very good track record and so there is no reason to doubt their ability to uphold Red Dead online. Even if we don’t take into account the online aspect for their games, the campaign is enough for us to fork over the money to experience it because it’s leaps and bounds better and different than any other games out there.

      

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