[Possible Story Discussion] Red Dead Redemption 2 First Impressions


#181

I’ve just gotten into Chapter 3 and I gotta say this game would be so much better written if they weren’t trying to crowbar in Themes. Like, if they just let the landscape and the spaces speak for themselves instead of, for example, having a “using all of the bison” quest to make a crack-handed point about how Native America’s sustainable hunting practices (Charlie isn’t voiced by a Native American, go figure), it would actually approach the quality of a contemporary art house western. They clearly want to say something Big and Profound about the closing of the west but a) they haven’t done their homework; and b) the story they’ve told so far is a character study that would benefit from double the focus on Dutch and the gang. If this game said less and didn’t use its side quests to wax lyrical in classic Rockstar fashion, it would be so much better for me.


#182

Just wanted to post a bit about early on in Chapter 6.

I really like the turn on the mood in camp, it is so sad to spend time in camp now. Everything is going to hell, and seeing Micah staring you out whenever you go near Dutch…man. I really like the side quests in this chapter so far too, it isn’t particularly deep but seeing Arthur’s mood switch towards ‘damn, I don’t have long left, I should do better for the people around me’. Meeting the widow in the North, the veteran by the lake, and how the debtor story line ends have been great to me. This game is flawed in so many ways, but I Arthur so much and the interactions he has had later on in the game. I hope it sticks the landing in that regard.


#183

To those of you who have also beat the game:Which of the four endings did you get? Have you seen the others? Which do you like best? I got the full good guy ending which is helping John+high honor, but after watching them all, I think I’d go back for the money, just to try to get some payback against Dutch and Micah.


#184

I feel like we’re still waiting for the game that literally has you pilot your character against their wishes in hilarious but also horrifying ways. Mostly horrifying ways. It would make for a good original superhero game. Or a mech suit video game, in which you play the mech that requires a host inside.

I do like Arthur as a character, perhaps more so than Marston in the first game. I think it’s clever the way there are layers to the character that you only get a sense of by reading his journal. It’s as if the game is encouraging you less to play as a GTA esque murder bot and somebody who is more in line with the actual character. It’s by no means perfect, but I expect to be very sad when Arthur presumably succumbs to his illness by the end of the game.


#185

I’m so up and down on this game. I’m really just trying to mainline through the story, because I want to play other games like Hitman 2 before end of the year podcasting starts. I’m into Chapter 6 now and I feel the story has picked up again. Played through all of Guarma in one sitting throughout the weekend, and I don’t know what I think about it. At first I was like ‘oh shit, there’s a whole new playable area here’, having been impressed by the environments of the game, I wasn’t expecting to have a tropical island as well. At this point however, I’m not sure if it is fully playable, since there wasn’t much time to explore it and I don’t think I encountered any hunting there either. It all felt kind of redundant, only to serve a whole by the numbers ‘viva la revolution’ story and I guess rule out the possibility of leaving the US completely

I guess the thing I really dislike about the game, is the same thing I didn’t like about the first game or GTAIV and V. Some of the sidequests just seem to involve the same old stereotypes, namely foreign perverts - especially around San Denis. It’s the way everything feels so overplayed and theatrical, as if it’s meant to be hilarious yet it just feels boring and redundant. Really shows insight into the way in which the Housers see the world around them. It just makes me want to switch off completely.

With that said, I spent a good portion of yesterday exploring the Northern mountains and just found it all so engrossing. I think the game is about to add a new war plot involving Native Americans to the story but as I was just ambling around the hills exploring stuff and interacting with strangers (the veteran) you really get a sense that this is where Arthur feels most at home. I think the whole plot almost lost me completely in San Denis and it still feels like an outrage whenever I have to do a mission in which Arthur takes orders from Micah or Dutch.

If the game would allow me to just shoot Micah in the back of the head. I think I would be much happier. I assume he will get his comeuppance but I’m guessing I have to wait until the climax or end of the game.


#186

Everything with chapter 5 is an exercise in creative lead indulgence. Nothing that happens there is important to the overall narrative, and it’s tonally disconnected from everything else in the game. The only purpose it seems to serve is to create the same “wow” moment as going to Mexico in RDR1.

As if there was any doubt, parts like that of the game show that the worker exploitation was rooted in wild project over-scoping and an unwillingness to cut back on scale when it doesn’t serve any purpose to the creative work as a whole. And also the melancholy horse-ride back to camp after that whole diversion was a baffling attempt to mine some amount of pathos from an act that was devoid of emotional investment.

We’re about a month past release, it might be time for a full story discussion thread since that’s about where the discussion has reached.


#187

I don’t think Guarma is unnecessary in terms of narrative, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have all been accomplished in, say, a particularly long cutscene.

And I concur that, by now, we should just have a full story discussion thread.


#188

well arthur has done the movie cough so i guess i know what happens!!

on that note, considering the direction this appears to be heading, I also noticed Arthur shaking his head as if dazed, and rubbing his temples as idle animations. I hope there is more of this, and honestly I wish they did this sort of communication of his presumed illness through more (or even exclusively through) idle animations. It’s less hokey and more honestly indicative of feeling unwell than having a character cough mid-sentence. The only downside (and it’s pretty major) is that I play the game in first-person, so I don’t see these.

As an aside, I’m in the middle of chapter 3 and I am very much ready for this game to end.


#189

So I finally finished writing papers for my first semester of grad school and have dived into this game. Because I decided to go back and replay the first game before starting this, a lot of my initial thoughts are comparisons to the original.

This games seems way tougher than the first one for some reason. I feel like I die pretty often. Wild animals are no joke in this game: some wolves near Horseshoe Whatchamacallit straight up murdered me the second I jumped off my horse to deal with them. I guess I’m okay with this, but it is a bit frustrating at times (mostly when I die on the way to do something / in the process of dealing with a stranger, etc). Any survival tips would be much appreciated.

Speaking of wild animals, hunting seems a lot more complex and difficult this time around. I’ve killed two animals close to the camp with the bow, but when I brought them back to the butcher they were in poor condition, so I’m not totally sure what I’m doing wrong. Also the animals seem to be way smarter about getting the hell away from you. Also that bear from the Hosea mission murdered the shit out of me.

One of the things I loved about the opening of the first game is that you could take things pretty slow; I spent a lot of time in the beginning playing poker and doing night watchmen jobs, etc. That seems harder to find here so far. No poker in Valentine that I could find and no fun little jobs to do. Please point me in the right direction!

Also, does anyone have suggestions on what sort of missions to do first? There are so many icons on my map now I feel a little overwhelmed.

Okay thanks everyone I love you!


#190

@mundanesoul Uncle’s is really good and Swanson’s unlocks poker, so do those.

And hunting is a pain, you have to find three star animals, you do this by using your binoculars, study them and then look up their entry in the compendium to see which weapon to use. The bow with regular arrows are always good against deer, but you can also use a rifle, the trick is getting a headshot.


#191

Finished the main campaign yesterday and am now in the epilogue. Figured this would be how the game would end, given how everyone hated playing as Jack after John in the first game. I guessed that Rock Star were going to make good with the second game but damn it… I really really miss Arthur.


#192

Jakey just dropped a FANTASTIC vid about why RDR2 tries to hold your hand WAY too often. It’s seriously one of his best vids.

CW on some language: He drops the C-word in one instance.


#193

For starters, I don’t feel totally confident having a definitive take on RDR2’s general game design. While I definitely had moments where the game decided to be a real prick it never detracted too much from my experience, and that seems to be the minority opinion, which is why I’m looking forward to replaying it soon and seeing if I’ll think differently. On my first run, it was probably a mix of being too wrapped up in the story to notice issues and good ‘game feel’ possibly not being a reason I’ve played so many R* games, idk, never really pondered it.

That being said, to give some credit to R*, I believe the kind of problems that Jakey describes are part of a larger issue with open world design, the tension between narrative and player expression, that I’m not sure anyone has reconciled. He uses MGSV:TPP as a counter-example to Red Dead and, sure, the former has a more interactive, open-ended, world and mission design than the latter. BUT, by the standards of MGS, TPP is still kind of a trainwreck that critically fails in the area that MGS is not supposed to fail and it’s definitely my least favorite entry in the series and maybe if it had been more linear, I wouldn’t have the problems I do. I genuinely have no idea. I know that I’d make the trade in a heartbeat though.

I guess, if I were to take a stance, it would be the extremely unhelpful: “It’s a process, y’know?” followed by a shrugging motion.


#194

I think TPP succeeds better at being an open world than it fails to be a good Metal Gear game, if you get my drift. His point that neither R*'s impressionistic open worlding nor its cinematic Naughty Dog-style action sequences realise their potential is pretty spot-on imo


#195

It IS a great open world game (although it does have a lot of tedious bullshit if you wanna complete it), but the fact that it’s such a limp MGS finale still bums me the fuck out and I don’t think the possible, because maybe I’m way off base in my speculation, trade-off was worth it. I brought it up not to say Jakey’s opinion is straight up wrong, just to attempt to make the point that I think RDR2 and TPP are squaring the same round hole, only in different ways.

Shifting the focus back to Red Dead Redemption 2, I guess I want my cake and to eat it too, because I personally found myself enamored with both its contrasting halves. I loved wandering through the snowy Grizzlies, just me and Emma (my horse), “roughing it” and then when I got tired of that, I bought a ticket to the haunted house ride of a story. It was never a tough switch for me and if you were to change it to favor one or the other, maybe that special “thing” will be lost for me. I don’t know.


#196

I get where you’re coming from. At no point did I actually want RDR2 to become an actual survival simulator. I loved drifting along in this impressionistic cowpoke simulator going to sleep when the sun went down, cooking, hunting, and robbing like a good little outlaw. Waking up at the crack of dawn and walking down the main street of Valentine with the fog still in the air. All that great stuff. But the game slowly revealed none of that to be in anyway meaningful, and shifted its emphasis gradually onto its explicit themes and storytelling. It rendered the “feeling” of being a slow, simple man living out the last days of a dying era moot in the face of the game saying that explicitly over and over again, and in doing so robbed a lot of the charm of open-world cowboying for me.


#197

Finally got this game as an early Christmas prezzie. Very early on and I have some serious problems with the interface. It reminds me of going to my friend’s house in 2007 to watch the original Uncharted being played on a 19 inch CRT. It’s barely readable.

I have a 32 inch 1080p TV, surely one of the most common configurations right now. I also live in a small Japanese apartment, so I’m not exactly very far away from my TV. But I feel like I need glasses half the time while playing. I can’t imagine how much harder this game would be for a visually impaired person.

The minimap is pretty much unreadable unless I sit a foot away from the TV, and don’t get me started on the health bars. I still don’t know when I’m running out of health or stamina.

The tutorial dialogue boxes flash up while so much other stuff is going on that I never actually read them and the game just carries on assuming I know what they flashed up for 2 seconds.

I have to squint to read any of the in-game letters or store catalogues, even when holding down the zoom button. I know the read option is there, but I love all the beautiful font-work and hitting a button to pull up a sans-serif box in the middle of the screen is very immersion breaking.

This is more of a problem with the contrast on my TV but on more than one occasion I’ve had Arthur affirm that they see someone in the bushes that I just can’t make out. I can’t tell the difference between a bush and a turkey or an ally or enemy unless I hover the cursor over the thing and it turns red.

I could go on about the cluttered inventories (!), the needless button holds and just general inconsistencies between dialogues but I’ll stop there.

If I had a better TV the problems would probably be lessened. But it’s still a huge step back from GTAV which had an elegant and readable UI.


#198

I stumbled upon this video in my YouTube recs the other day and it completely nailed how I feel about this game.

I attempted the one robbery side quest he mentions and it’s just so empty and disappointing.

Also, as time has gone on I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the controls. Maybe it’s because I’ve resigned myself to just gritting my teeth and finishing the game even though I’ve largely decided I don’t really like it, but in my recent play session I encountered so many moments where I meant to complete a simple action and wound up accidentally committing acts of violence and running up a bounty or losing honor.

Most egregious was when I errantly tapped R2 and wound up assaulting a man in the middle of a busy street in Saint Denis.


#199

Hey, to those who’ve beaten the game:

I basically know that Arthur is going to die, and I’ll play as someone else after a certain point. Will this affect the side quests I can do, or things I can encounter in the world? I don’t want to know more about how the story unfolds, but I do want to know if anything gets gated, and if so, when.

Thanks!


#200

Hey, I finished this game today and I like it a lot. It’s very long, but I enjoyed all my time with Arthur still. He is a nice man, I like him, and I refuse to imagine that he can be played in a not honourable way. The game has many sweet and funny moments, in missions (few missions that are not shoot-outs (god, there are a lot of shoot-outs)) and randomly in the world. I needn’t remind you that the world is very beautiful.

Very cool to see Colin Stetson’s name in the credits, I knew I heard him somewhere in there. The music is really fantastic overall. Somehow having music with lyrics in games is rare, maybe seen as a little try-hard?

Just on some of the discussion above, it’s very easy to get the illusion that this is some sort of systems game, with freedom and shit, because you can ride to a lot of places and hunt animals and sell the skins and greet people and all that, but Rockstar likes making cinematic, linear games, and this is one. That’s not a bad thing in itself, and I don’t think the contrast between the open-worldy type gameplay and the mission gameplay is a problem. The problem is that a lot of the missions are boring (shoot-outs), and that there are so very many of them. I’m sure someone already said that, but my two cents.

Good game/10