Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place prior to the events of the first game. Similar to its predecessor, it is an action-adventure game with the ability to play in both first or third person perspective. You play as Arthur Morgan; a rough around the edges, down on his luck outlaw. Set in a fictitious 1899 version of the United States of America, Red Dead Redemption 2 follows Arthur and his involvement with the Van der Linde Gang as they are forced to find refuge following a failed heist.
Red Dead Redemption 2 offers a truly immersive experience from beginning to end. Teeming with life and intrigue, the areas you visit during your playthrough are so robust with things to do, people to meet, and views to behold that you can spend countless hours just exploring the vastness of the world Rockstar Games has created. From the town of Valentine, a simple livestock community of farmers, to the industrious trade city of St. Denis, a melting pot of cultures from the high brow to the destitute, each location has a rich variety of unique citizens and stories to tell. One would be amiss to simply waltz through these locales just to do the main missions. The world outside of these hubs is also full of random events to stumble upon, be it quaint like meeting a lone lost lady just looking for safe passage home to the absolute morbid scenario of finding decapitated bodies left by a serial killer playing a sick game of cat and mouse. It all makes traversing through every area highly enjoyable.
The outcome of each scenario depends on how the player portrays Arthur. Choices made by the player affect how NPCs perceive and interact with Arthur. Quest availability will be dependent upon where you are on the morality scale, which is similar to the honor system that was in the first Red Dead Redemption game. Good deeds are represented on a scale by a white hat icon and bad deeds by a red hat and as you progress through the game, the position of the icon will change depending on your choices. What’s unique about this system is that even the simplest of interactions can affect this meter. For instance, performing a catch-and-release while fishing or petting a dog will result in a positive morality gain, while harming livestock, accidentally knocking into someone as you ride by on your horse, or looting a corpse that the game considers innocent, even though you had nothing to do with their demise, results in a negative morality sway. The ease of gaining negative points can be frustrating at times for the player trying to be a righteous outlaw, but luckily there are ample opportunities to change things around in a short amount of time.
Outside of the main content, Red Dead Redemption 2 offers a multitude of activities. Fishing, crafting, robbery, heists, treasure finding, and archeology are but to name a few of the things to indulge in. One of the more involved activities available for Arthur is hunting. All creatures great and small, exotic to common, are ripe for the picking. There are well over a hundred species to track and hunt within the game. Once skilled enough, players can try their hand at capturing legendary animals located in the world. These hunts will definitely require the player to use all of their skills to slay these beasts, let alone just to survive. Hunting also provides cosmetic and game modifying benefit as the resources you harvest from the animals, such as pelts, can be used to create upgrades for Arthur and his encampment. There are varying degrees of quality for the parts you collect and this depends on the quality of the animal itself and how well you take it down. The amount of depth Rockstar has put into all these side activities is absolutely staggering in their details and implementation.
Aside from several minor flaws, Red Dead Redemption 2 is truly a tremendous accomplishment from Rockstar Games. It has improved on the open world concept and sets a standard for future games to come.