[Possible Story Discussion] Red Dead Redemption 2 First Impressions


This game is starting to win me over on the back end, which maybe makes me weird because from what I understand most people felt it went on too long (I actually liked Guarma sue me), but that may be because I took a pretty sizable break in the middle.

My ongoing gripe is very similar to something that bothered me about God of War 2018, which is that the open world sections are so much fun but they’re entirely divorced from the story missions and in this case – for me at least – there’s almost nothing I enjoy about the story missions.

My highlights have legitimately just been Arthur (particularly dressing him up and otherwise messing with his look) and my horse who is my shining star.

That said there are some weird characterization issues with Arthur, which is understandable in an open world game of this depth, and when it almost entirely won me over I hit a really gross mission that reminded me how shitty RockStar can be.

Ultimately I can easily identify this as a “good” game, but I’m still not entirely sure if I like it.


Y’know, I actually made a joke list about me losing my mind over how long the game is, but I think God of War may have still felt longer. I don’t recall Red Dead’s narrative stopping dead because you didn’t have a magic object.


I think largely the difference for me is I very rarely enjoy playing story missions in either Red Dead game.

Although both of these series generally only give you “kill” as a verb in any given mission or story segment, for me that was generally more fun in GoW than anything in Red Dead.


I’m deep into chapter 6, and, while I have as many complaints about the mission structure as everyone else, I have at least been relieved that R* has written fewer missions in which I run errands for objectively shitty people with whom the protagonist absolutely disagrees. The stranger missions have largely been for neutral or good people, save for the Edison one, and even those that are for shitheads either end with the shithead getting what they deserved, or letting you choose their fate.

The problem, though, is that I’m at the point in Arthur’s arc wherein he is trying to do good things for people, but the game keeps making me run missions with fucking Micah, the worst piece of shit in the game. Again, I find my character loudly protesting having to work with this asshole, as is so common in R* games. It’s so thematically inconsistent, and he is so terribly unpleasant, that I don’t want to pick up the controller again and finish this sucker off. I also know that whatever I’ll have to do with him will be another fuckin shootout. god

Anyway I came around on this game in a big way. I got halfway through and thought “well thats it, thats all I can stomach”, but after taking a month-long break and getting back into it, the second half is better than the first. I’m excited for the final act, but I do hope it comes sooner than later, as I am ready for the structured stuff to end so I can fully fuck off into the wilderness.


Was the terrible mission that you hit one of the stranger missions that involves I guess, a giant man with a brain injury who’s part of a carnival or some shit? I remember stumbling on this side mission, which stands out so starkly from everything else you can do at the same time in the story and all the stranger missions that open up in that chapter - everything else is so down to earth and emotional and good, and here’s this one that’s total dog shit. After initially stumbling on that stranger mission I just ignored that storyline the rest of the time, and I’m 100% sure my time is better for it.


Yup, that’s the one! On top of how just generally messed up that portrayal was, I particularly hated that you can’t take any kind of pacifist route.


I may have mentioned this before, but would it shock you to discover that it was originally designed for the previous game?


I am not at all shocked. How do we know that?

Yeah after the first encounter with those folks I just didn’t do any more because it was so at odds with every other part of the experience. I just decided, “Well, I can ruin the tone of this game in some effort to be completionist, or I can not do that?” And that was an easy choice to make. I’d seen plenty of other Rockstar Bullshit derived from the South Park School of Writing, and was way more interested in Rockstar’s First Actual Good Story (okay I think people like GTAIV but I never finished it, it sounds good though).


That explains EVERYTHING.


Have you played the mission where you explore the old plantation house yet?

I feel like that’s one of the strong highlights of the game.


With the slave driver/catcher guy? Yeah that was pretty intense. The “I still exist” thing was a little on the nose for me though. Hard to decide where I land on it, because I liked how the man delivered it, but it felt so “this is like what’s happening right now guys, wow,” that it fell a touch flat.


I thought his demand to be recognized for what he is, in spite of the world around him demanding he change his ways, spoke to the old fucks in our world who demand the world allow them to remain shitty, and to the Van Der Linde gang and Arthur’s repeated lamentation that there isn’t a place for “people like us” anymore.

It helped - it might even have been the thing that made it work - that, when the mission is over and you are free to go on with the game, if you kill him, your honor increases. All of which (intentionally?) serves as foreshadowing of what is to come of the Van Der Linde gang.


Thanks for that read on it, that helps me appreciate it more.


The more I realize how universally beloved the Chapter 6 stranger missions are the more I feel this game duped me into liking it and frankly … that makes me mad.


Unearthed voice lines from RDR1’s files I think. It’s changed somewhat, but the basic premise is the same.


This was a lovely, informative, and somewhat sad little article about a Birder’s perspective of the wild life of RDR2.

There are some minor errors I noticed, however, that as a birder and critic of these things I feel obligated to point out. In addition to the Snowy Egret, there are quite a few Little Egrets in Saint Denis, which would have been a truly rare North America sighting. What’s called a California Quail is actually a Northern Bobwhite. Tanagers are, for some reason, referred to as Scarlet Tanager Songbird and Western Tanager Songbird. But that’s all. Overall, RDR2 is absolutely the best and boldest representation of American birdlife in any video game. It’s not even close.

Of course, unregulated hunting was a major, very real threat to birds at the time. The demand for egret plumes for fancy hats was driving several species toward extinction. (Snowy Egret plumes can be sold in-game for $2.50 apiece.) Habitat loss and overhunting contributed to the extinction of the Carolina Parakeet soon after the game’s timeframe, in the early 20th century. (Carolina Parakeet flight feathers can be used to make far-flying arrows in the game.) The type of wanton destruction encouraged in Red Dead Redemption 2 is what led the National Audubon Society to lobby for, and Congress to pass, the real Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, and other environmental legislation in the following decades. But in the game, the player must kill to progress.

The trouble is, as a birder, it’s not a lesson I needed to learn. I know full well about the continued decline of bird populations, habitat loss, and environmental degradation. That the game could elicit such deep feelings of sadness and regret is to its credit, but I was often left feeling hopeless and wanting to get outside to enjoy real nature while I still could. My mom always used to tell me to stop playing video games and go outside, but this is the first game that made me want to.


I’m at the second epilogue and this article is really cementing my plan to kinda rush through the rest of the story missions to restart the game and start making my hunter/nature Arthur from the beginning. I feel like I didn’t get a handle on the hunting mechanics until Chp. 6 and I didn’t feel like I could enjoy the cosmetic upgrades I got at the camp then as much as I could from getting perfect pelts and spending most of my time in that games wilderness.


I restarted specifically because I just want more time to hang out as/with Arthur. I did a lot of Stranger mission stuff but a lot of the weird stuff and collectible-type things, and general weird business I didn’t get around to, so I want to spend time doing that and also just hang out with Arthur (like I said).


I would just go ahead and restart but I’m really enjoying the mundanity of the epilogues.

Epilogue 2 spoiler

Building a house may be the overall highlight of the game for me.


Helping birth a foal was my favorite part, but the house building was a really neat sequence/mini-game too.

I would love for them to release a spin-off with the same basic activities as the epilogue, but without any shooting. Farmsteading narrative, maybe with some explicit anti-expansionist criticisms embedded. Who needs cowboys anyhow?