Community Review: Red Dead Redemption 2

Image: Rockstar

Now that everyone's had a chance to get their camps in order, I'd love to know how you're all finding Red Dead Redemption 2.

Most of my experience so far has been absorbing all of the work from our US partners - you don't get avoid spoilers, sadly - and what I've witnessed Tegan playthrough so far. Being out of town for PAX and Blizzcon means I haven't had a PS4 or Xbox with me, although fortunately there's been plenty of ways to catch up.

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The vastness of Red Dead Redemption 2’s world has less to do with the size of its map and more about the zoomed in minute details littered throughout the world. They all add up to something that bugs me out and almost makes me forget that I’m playing a video game.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 Defiantly Bucks Open-World Trends

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 are both big open-world games, and they both came out in October of 2018. Both involve a hero on a horse riding around and murdering lots of people. The similarities end there.

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My Red Dead Redemption 2 Playthrough Has Already Gone Way Off The Rails

I'm about to go away for a week, holidaying far from my PS4. I've been trying to use the last few days to get the most out of the early copy of Red Dead Redemption 2. I think I'm doing it "wrong," but having a great time along the way.

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I've heard a few people muse already that RDR2 is a little like Tarantino's movies after Sally Menke's passing. The verve and flourish is there in spades, but it's not as tight an experience as maybe it should be. Watching Tegan play, I've seen various bits and pieces that make me wonder whether some more concessions to gameplay - animation transitions, for example - might have been worth it.

But sometimes you can't make something too "gamey" lest you break immersion. It's a tricky balance. One thing that really needs an overhaul, however, is that bloody item select menu. Surely, surely there has to be a more intuitive way to design that. I can just see so many people selecting the wrong thing because they let go of the bumper at the wrong time.

That's the smallest of nitpicks, however, and just from some simple observation. You've played a hell of a lot more than me, so I want to know. How have you found Rockstar's latest trip through the Wild West? Does it deserve the praise? How's the pacing? And what'd you think of the story?


    I'm not that far into it and while its undeniably a good game it's just feels a bit slow for me and I'm also not a fan of the survival elements to the game.

    I played for about 20 hours and called it a day. I might come back to it, but for now, I don't think its a game designed for me. I think more than any other game I've played in recent memory, it's a game designed for long play sessions, not chipping at it an hour at a time.

    I'm firmly in the gameplay > realism camp. While I love the story and the setting, it is just way too clunky. The movement is frustrating, particularly indoors or getting between cover during firefights. The gunplay is rough and feels incredibly dated. And while I initially didn't have too much of a problem with the pace and watching my horse ride through the countryside for 5-10 minutes at a time, it eventually compounded and got on my nerves.

    That being said, I can definitely understand other people's love of the game.

    Last edited 05/11/18 11:56 am

    I would give it a 7.5/10 so far (about 20 hours in).

    It is an amazing piece of craftsmanship. The graphics are wild, the voice work and world is alive and excellent and attention to detail is crazy (watched a possum I was riding near suddenly drop and play dead. As soon as I reached for it, it did a runner.)

    And yet, I am really struggling to find the fun. I am frustrated with it more often than not, the game working against me on many occasions. Poor controls, annoying gameplay decisions and a lack of real decision making in the game.

    You can go honourable which is what I am doing, but then story missions throw that out the door and you slaughter a fricken town because 'script.' Or, you go, I am a bandit and should play a bandit and the game punishes you hard with full on bounty hunter ambushes, bounties higher you can pay and just unfun penalties for playing an actual bandit. Be a game or a simulator / movie - pick one.

    Also, saving sucks. If I save, save me to the location and don't wipe events that happen afterwards. Add cheap deaths, money penalties for dying that negates half my collections / hunting and a horse that flips / falls if it even brushes a damn tree or rock that are everywhere and it all becomes unfun and a chore. It doesn't respect my time.

      I totally agree with this review. Try and be nice then game makes you murder a ton of people in the middle of town. Manual saves can save your progress from hours ago.

      I messed around with the controls and found some good settings which might help you make it more fun like it did for me.
      -Set all the dead zones down to 0
      -Set all the accelerations up to full
      -Sensitivity around 75-85%
      -Turn off all the auto-centring
      -Set the aim assists down to 1 above 0 and but the horse one on wide and foot on narrow or off (depending how much of hot shot you think you are!).
      -Turn on toggle to run and set the control scheme to classic FPS (now you can click or double click the left stick to run/sprint without holding or tapping anything)(expect to accidentally crouch and stand up a few times trying to sprint after doing this!)
      -Set the first person to max FOV (when you aim the fov will be the same as any setting so it helps with moving around without making aiming harder).

      For fun I find playing for a bit and just trying things and having a break is enjoyable instead of trying to play through in long stretches, like I had fun dragging bandits through the mud on my horse and feeding them to alligators yesterday! It's a slow, make your own fun game.

      I've found that the bounties are payable from early in the game depending on what you've been doing. I had a $300 one and managed to pay it off early on.

      And I actually enjoy the fact that it's not a given that you'll have that money, it ties in to the dynamic and unknowable aspects of the game for me. I personally find it very rewarding and enjoyable to be on the more dishonourable side.

      Overall I think the game is incredible, I'd take a game that has plenty of weird and 'wrong' mechanics like this one over a 'tight' game that's overly video gamey any day.

      That's a great point. I was playing as a bad bastard, so massacring hundreds of people over the course of a game didn't seem out of place. But if you're playing honourably then I can totally see how it would not align with that.

      Last edited 05/11/18 12:49 pm

    26 hours in on Xbox. Its so ssllooww. You press the A button and just hold it down for ages to get anywhere. I have a laptop next to me so I can watch something while riding to a destination. The missions are repetitive like most games. However because of the time they take this soon becomes tiring. The feeding yourself, bathing yourself is a pain as most of the time you cannot leave an npc's side or the mission fails. Why does he put his weapons away all the time? You see a good deer and could do a dead eye shot but no. He put his rifle away. Same if someone jumps you or heaven forbid while traveling in movie mode you clip someone and they chase you. I have $3000 and I still cannot buy the animal skins I need. I don't want to travel the world to try and find 3 star pelts. I still have no idea what a core does. I know the health, stamina ect circle around the outside. But the core? In Rhodes you are not meant to use a gun because Dutch said so. Then the games makes you do this many times.
    26 hours in. About to go into chapter 4 and I am stopping. You don't get that "I achieved something", "that was fun" during your gaming session and start to mope around the house as slowly as you can walk in camp.

    Last edited 05/11/18 5:52 pm

    I don't feel like I can review it properly until I've finished it, so I'll stick with a four-word first impressions review: It's great, get it.

    I've not long reached Rhodes in the story (at the point where I've maxed as much else as I can but need to do story things to access things like horse fences to complete the challenges), but I think I'm getting a feel for the trajectory of what's going to be told, here.

    I really like Arthur Morgan, played honourably. Much like RDR1, civil when not downright polite, and a sad romantic struggling with whether it's worth hanging on to hope or not... Much as I would love to have things end at least somewhat positively for him, I'm pretty damn confident I don't get to ride off into the sunset and play 'Cowboy Western Hunting Simulator 2019' after completing the main story.

    There's a lot of mechanics which are frustrating, though. The item wheel for sure. Context-sensitive buttons not showing up until you do a fucking jig around the crate that houses the item you want to pick up. Accidentally pulling a gun on people you wanted to chat with amicably, interrupting story.

    Oh, and it's not a huge inconvenience, but I'm regularly annoyed by the minor psychological damage done by those fucking bronze and silver medals chastising you for daring to roleplay a little in this gorgeous world and appreciate its lovingly hand-crafted details, taking the time to soak up its sombre mood in thoughtful, cinematic pacing when if you wanted 'gold', you should have been racing to the next objective in under 1 minute 40 seconds, cutting short all that dialogue you were listening to with whoever you were riding with. (I know, it's meant to be replayed - but how much time do they think I'm going to spend with this game? I've got to go back to Odyssey, finish the Spider-man DLC, fucking Pokemon comes out in two weeks, then I'm all up in Ace Combat, trying to finish all the shit I haven't spent time on like Thronebreaker, Call of Cthulu, The Colonists, etc, and next year comes out and boom, Anthem et al.)

    It's a little daunting as it's such a massive game. You feel like you're missing something with the mechanics sometimes.
    I had a duel on top of a speeding train which was cool! Then I couldn't pick up the guy's unique pistol without dropping the one I had, even coming back to the train moments later, it had disappeared from next to the corpse.
    Then I shot a pelican and jumped off into the middle of a swamp to loot it. Instantly I'm being chased by lawmen, why? I got away but had to pay a bounty of 105 dollars for all that. It's not easy to get that much cash at the early part of the game.
    I definitely agree with the sentiment about shooting up that town. On the other hand, if you want an amazing time, head over to the theatre in Saint Denis.

      I am fairly certain your guns are sort of saved so if you drop one you have for that unique one you don't lose the one you were using.

        Correct. From my understanding too, any time you drop a current weapon to pick up a 'new' one you don't already have, the old one is still available from your horse satchells.
        Also from my understanding if you see a little gun icon on the minimap, it indicates a weapon you do not already have.

    Yeah, like others have said.
    There is a line between "Weighty Realism" and just being difficult. Rdr2 falls in the latter category too often. And for all its efforts at immersion then goes and breaks it with blatant gamyness all the time with huge pop-up notifications, quick time events and just horrible controls.
    Expect to marvel at the beautiful world one moment then die struggling to select a weapon the next. Appreciate the immersion one moment then rage quit the next as you sloooowly meander Arthur across the camp for the 100th time.
    And who the hell binds punch to circle and block to square? Seriously.

    Am I the only one that gets annoyed that Arthur takes every opportunity to put his weapons away?

    I have gone in to so many missions with just a pistol because Arthur decided to put away my repeater/shotgun for reasons I do not understand. I prefer the system in RDR where you would just end up carrying around 30 weapons on your body. Only carrying 2 weapons was crap when Halo did it twenty years ago and its crap now.

      That and during battle if you run or move then you have to select the weapon again. I lost count of how times I'd run to cover and then hold down the aim button only to find no weapon was active.

        That one really annoys me while hunting, I snipe something with a rifle, skin it then go to take another shot and pistol is now equipped.

        This kills my immersion because I am thinking about a game mechanic rather than continuing my hunt.

          When you ride somewhere with an npc. The story kicks in and you shoo away your horse during the story. Only to find it has left you with just a pistol because Arthur put all his stuff away on the way there. AARR

            It's worth noting that the animation of him putting the weapons away isn't actually what removes them from your selection. I'm not exactly sure what the trigger is yet, but I tested that one specifically and it seemed unrelated.

    I only got 7 or so hours in before giving up on it but it felt like enough to know what the rest of the game was like.

    If you played Final Fantasy XV and thought the best part was waiting around for 5 to 10 minutes while a car drove itself to the next part of the game then this is the game for you. For 90% of the game you are going to be holding a button while your horse travels from point A to B so you can engage in a few minutes of activity and then set out again for the next destination. Sometimes you will be on your own, sometimes you'll have someone else gabbing in your ear to fill the silence as you plod along but you'll be on that horse for so long you'll feel full well what the motivation for the song Rawhide was.

    The game is not bad, just for a specific type of person who isn't me. It's not without general problems though with a poorly designed control system full of push vs. pull, meta-buttons (ie. Holding one button to change your options) and inconsistent contextual actions being the worst. Second to that is a number of convoluted systems that feel like you're supposed to engage with them but have little impact on the game.

    In summary, Red Dead Redemption 2 is all the moseys but nowhere enough yeehaws.

      If you bought it from EB Games take it back within 7 days for a full refund!

    Loving the world, story & characters (so far) and like how i’m slowly becoming more friendly - or not - with the other gang members in camp. Missions - whilst mostly just ‘ride here, shoot this’ - are actually built out with some story and as a result are pretty memorable; far more so than in something such as AC? And the weather effects, holy heck, are amazing (mist rising off fallen rain when the sun comes up? The snow effects & how they change depending on the depth etc?).

    All that being said though, all the effort they’ve gone to with characters, banter, weather etc in order to make the world as immersive as possible, aren’t just spoilt, but absolutely ruined by some of the archaic design choices many other games have long since left behind. The incessant fighting of controls, forced walking sections, forced follow sections, the ‘shake a magic-8 ball’ to see which weapon you’ve got equipped (guarantee it won’t be the one you think!), squad mates running kamikaze into gunfire and dying forcing a reload, which brings us onto the cakes cherry; the save/checkpoint system - failing and having to do a 2-5 minute horse ride to get back to where you died is almost as insane as saving and realising it’s only saved up to the last mission, ignoring any ‘reckless pursuits’ you may have enjoyed. There’s other stuff too such as crafting requiring so many pelts yet you can only stow so many, and just the general downtime it all takes.

    There IS a great game underneath it all and I’d be lying if I said i’m not enjoying it a lot, just anyone going into it be aware that it can be as frustrating as it is compelling and you seriously have to work at it to get something out - luckily what you do ultimately get out surpasses A LOT of other games. With some pretty straightforward QoL changes this could be absolutely legendary, as it is I’ll just have to label it as ‘Very good but mileage may vary’.

    I'm really enjoying my role playing cowboy/outlaw style of play. There's a a few mission choices that seem odd, it's basically a lose tutorial until chapter 3 but without direction on some systems / mechanics.
    The GTA5 influence is huge, way too many mechanics and systems from it. It really should say powered by GTA5 at the title screen.
    The AI when riding along roads at speed is exactly the same as GTA5, everything starts crashing and darting all over the road on occasion.
    The Tarantino, True Grit style is amazing and all the cliche cowboy stuff is fun. I spend day's of my playtime just riding around, exploring, hunting and looking at the incredible scenery. The voice acting is amazing and I love the whole Arthur and John thing

    Last edited 05/11/18 1:27 pm

    I’m enjoying it ... but I don’t think I’m playing it properly. I’m basically hunting, fishing and crafting (which I’m finding fun), and playing honourably, rather than hanging out with my gang (who strike me as a pack of dumb pricks).

    And Dutch is real lucky I can’t draw my weapon in camp, as he’s taken to casually abusing me as I walk by. Screw you Dutch.

      Don't die or it will take you right back to your last mission and not save items.

        You can manually save after a point, which isn't explained at all. Start button --> Story --> Save, you might need to do a few Valentine missions first. Or the poker game, something like that.

        It saves, but for no clear reason puts you a little distance away - 20-30 seconds travel, roughly. Which in itself is mildly annoying.

    about 15 hours in. no idea how this game has a 97 meta, so overrated. no doubt a technological marvel, but beside that it's honestly not gripping me and I don't feel remotely compelled at the moment to finish it. it's slow to the point of frustrating and the controls are clunky af. hate to say it but I'm playing far more black ops 4 ATM.

    Yes agree with many of the above. About 30hrs in.

    There is a great game in there, but it is currently buried beneath layers of -

    Downtime - seriously, why is there not more fast travel options, I know, I know "realism", right. No, it is time wasting. No one said fast travel was mandatory (it never is), but for gods sake give me the option at least. I only have 1hr chunks to play in, that is about the equivalent of riding somewhere, having one shootout and then riding home before I am out of time. (yes i know i can and have purchased fast travel from camp to the other cities and there are stage coaches to the other cities, that's not enough)

    Fiddly controls - as others have mentioned the crazy item wheel (press and hold these 3 buttons in just the right order then release this one of the three to eat some biscuits), and inconsistencies of sometimes its press triangle, sometimes its hold triangle, sometimes is press square, sometimes its hold square, all to do pretty much the same action - Pick stuff up. At least after 20hrs I stopped accidently shooting guys in the head when trying to talk to them. Seriously? Talk to someone is the same button as Draw your weapon?

    Annoying head scratchers - people have mentioned the 'always putting away his weapons' schtick, the "you can't run in camp" rule (what is this? a community pool?), the fact you have to hunt sooo many perfect pelts yourself, but can only carry a handful at a time (seriously, I have $2500 at the moment, can I not choose to make money myself and then just go and buy the perfect pelts that the camp guy wants? Surely some of these other people wandering about the game are full time hunters... nooo I have to hunt each and every perfect pelt myself).

    I dunno overall there is fun to be had for sure, but it is so often clouded with all the surrounding stuff. I dunno, a lot of it to me is a half hearted attempted at "Realism", the eating, the sleeping, the dumb "cores" system (why are the meters not enough? what does the core system add?"), the "can only whistle your horse from a certain distance", the weapon degradation, the lack of fast travel resulting in soooo much just riding between places. They should just have a "realism" option in the menu or game start where you can turn all that stuff on if you want. For me though, yes there is fun for sure, but there is sooo much time wasting and brow-furrowing and eye rolling and sighing surrounding the fun.

    Graphics 9.5/10 - seriously looks spectacular.
    sound 8.5/10 - sounds very good for the most part.
    controls 6/10 - a real struggle for the first dozen or more hours. Still having issues with some parts
    Respect for time 5/10 - sooo slooooowwwww. Come on, we don't all have 8hrs a day to play this
    Fun 7.5/10 - when its fun, it is fun. But there is a lot of layers to dig through to get there
    Overall 7.5/10 - good game, but with some control changes and more options for getting around faster, could easily be a great 9.

    My eBay finishes tomorrow. I'm actually gonna make about $8 profit on what I spent for this game.

    Not for me. I need a game. Screw realism. I'm playing a game. Make it fun.

    Fake HDR? Really!

    I was expecting the same awkward controls as any Rockstar game, but saw early reviews talking up the graphics, so I thought I'd grab it on release for $69AUD ($49USD) just to satisfy my curiosity that this was the greatest looking videogame ever made....

    And they faked the HDR. There is no HDR essentially; just middling contrast. It's so shocking such a large company thought they could get away with this. There's even a screen when you first boot up telling you what contrast you should set based on your screen type - just a small error on that, when it says "Set it to 300 if you own an OLED", it should say "Damn, you own an OLED, you'll find out quickly HDR just isn't working right now".

    So the best thing about this game, is it pushed me straight back to Assassins Creed Odyssey (on Xbox One X) and God of War (Ps4 Pro). Those are the best looking games right now - and not too bad to play either...

    Well im really enjoying the game, the pace, everything. The writing is very good as well as the character development. Its just fun to be in this world and not fell like I want to just rush through and tick of all the boxes, do all the things, quite impressive really.Its great just to ride away from the camp on long hunting missions and get lost and sidetracked and eventually make your way back home. Ive found myself role playing through the game and enjoying all the realistic survival elements which by the way you can mostly ignore. im glad they didnt put a more comprehensive fast travel in. It doesnt take you long to get to the nearest stage coach or train station and then its a quick ride back to your camp. The control scheme can be a bit finicky but you get used to it. Deserves all the praise its been getting. Well done Rockstar. More of this kind of consideration please, perhaps without the crunch.

    Finished the main story.82% completion.The pace is slow,which is fine.The epilogue draaaags.i would say it's utterly magnificent except for most missions.Missions must be followed exactly how the game wants you to or failure.Wanna sneak that dude?Can't unless u told.Wanna flank that gang,then attack?Can't unless told.Most missions are the same and soon enough you can simply close eyes and fire away.Ride/shoot/ride.105 missions....At first you'd give it a ten,easy.Then you put some real time into it and the score becomes less. (reluctantly goes down to a 7.At best)I still love it.But...

    It's a game that try's way too hard to be real and forgets that it is still actually a game.

    Holding 2 Max weapons at once, no fast travels, controls are shocking, eating and drinking constantly... It's just not fun.

    It's unfortunate that I'll never finish it, there is a seriously good game hidden behind all the junk.

      Holding 2 Max weapons at once, no fast travels, controls are shocking, eating and drinking constantly... It's just not fun.

      I actually disagree with almost everything in this sentence. You can hold as many as 5 weapons on your person at any one time and loads more on your horse, which makes sense in reality. The fact that you can dual weild as well is better than most games. I honestly think it's dumb half the time when you have a dude in a bodysuit with no storage space somehow concealing 5 rocket launchers. The problem as others have said is that Arthur has so many issues putting weapons away for no reason, or not selecting them properly. There are fast travels, ride a train or a stage coach or unlock the actual fast travel system. Controls are pretty average I'll admit. You do not need to eat and drink constantly, certainly nowhere near as much as survival games. I barely do it unless I have to top myself up occasionally. I actually never run out of stuff because I hardly use my inventory. There's no real consequence from dying or getting caught either, since money is real easy to get back and respawning doesn't actually affect what you've previously done, so it means healing items aren't really that important unless you're on a mission.

        It's a game, thats my point. It's trying to be way too real and real isn't fun. I can see the brilliance behind it but my God, I don't have the time for all its time wasting realism.

    I really really enjoy it. While I enjoy both immensely, I feel like RDR2 is the opposite experience to Spider-Man. Spider-Man was easy to ingest in small doses (dont get me wrong I could play it for hours), with pockets of content that dont take up much of your time, yet also all feel connected to what you're doing. There's no real wasted content. The city is sprawling but equally compact. Web swinging is delightfully fun and makes you feel like you're flinging yourself between buildings. The story was tight and easy to follow with no real surprises.

    RDR2 is very slow paced. You need patience to play this game moreso than others. You have to like riding your horse for 10 minutes. It is very much like how a cowboy would traverse in the old days. The scenery is spectacular and it's easily one of the best looking games ever. And it would want to be since you'll have plenty of time to take it in. That's really what's drawn me in. The aesthetic of the game. I love just wandering around, talking to people, looking at scenery, exploring etc. Unlike Spidey, there's quite a lot of mechanics in game I dont think ended up how the devs thought. Hunting etc is cool, but unnecessary unless you're a completionist, so you're not tied to doing it. This is consistent with a few things. Upgrading guns is cool, but then again using your base cattleman revolver is still viable later in the game. Story wise, I haven't finished, but so far it's really a great ride with just enough tropes to not be annoying and still engaging. Unlike Spidey though the twists are great so far and I cant wait for the rest of the story to play out. Arthur himself is a deep character that suffers real conflict. The voice acting is spot on and the animations, like the rest of the visuals, are top notch. The controls could be better, and it smacks of a game that really should be played on a keyboard and mouse. Shooting in the game can be ridiculously frustrating as the aim assist just screws you over so many times, and it's really because you cant manually aim with any real precision. But when you do hit something it's satisfying, especially in deadeye and with the special kill animations. Overall, right now, pending finishing the game, I'd give it a 9/10 dropping a point for the over finicky controls...Everything else about the game is superb. I can however understand a lot of the comments above and why people would have problems with the game. I guess for me it also just fills that 10 year old kid dream of being a cowboy which is really cool.

    RDR2 is a slow, detailed, beautiful game that I can understand why people do not like, but I am very fond of. It actually reminds more of GTAIV than the original. It seems “oddly” detailed at times, but again, I’m fine with that.

    It has faults. The controls are as wobbly as most Rockstar titles, and the physics are often literally unbelievable, but these touches only add to the overall playground, really.

    Time will tell if I can actually be bothered 100%-ing this monster, though. Never got close in GTAV, despite enjoying it immensely. I guess it’s one of those titles where you can just rock up and take what you want from it.

    It doesn’t care. It’ll still be there.

    I haven’t played the game yet but judging from what people have said about a few things makes me very apprehensive:
    - not saving items collected if you happen to die.
    - context based controls being fiddly
    - rockstar ‘control schemes’
    - bad menu design
    These are a deal breaker. But hey I won’t write it off yet - my house mate will buy it and I’ll try it then.
    In the mean time, I have plenty of games to play. There is no rush. I’m pretty sure the rapture isn’t coming.
    I repeat THERE IS NO RUSH.

    I bought an Xbone 1X that came with RDR2...I could tell it was going to be a massive time sink that this dad of 3 does not have the mojo for anymore. (when I hit that nursing home in 50 years though...look out!).

    I instantly handed it back at EB, and they took $55 off the price of the X1X

    Last edited 06/11/18 1:57 pm

      My copy is going back to EB as well to get Assassins Creed.

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